January 18: To Live is to Worship

 

To live is Christ. To live is to worship. To live is to desire. Therefore to live is to align my desires with Christ’s.

As we have seen from Genesis, man is a living soul. Man is desire. First and foremost this is what makes us human. This is image bearing – to desire and to desire God. What this means is that one of the most important questions that we must be asking every single day is “what do I desire?” Or in discipleship, “what do you desire?”

We have been told we are primarily thinking creations. “I think therefore I am.”

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But what if Rene Descartes was wrong? What if our thinking is influenced by something even deeper? Just think about all the times you have known something but acted differently (maybe like Paul’s self description in Romans 7). This is not to say that we need less knowledge. We need more. But we need to understand that love must precede knowledge if there is actually going to be life change.

Philippians 1:9-11. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Note Paul’s progression here. Love must abound first, before knowledge. Knowledge without love is actually dangerous. And knowledge alone can’t change anyone’s heart. But love can. Love is poured into us by God himself. It comes to us in the indwelling life of Christ. It is from this Spirit induced love that we then seek knowledge- knowledge that won’t be used to destroy but to build up. Knowledge used to increase and display the love that is inside of us.

We live to love. We live to worship. We are all seeking something. Something to worship. And we are seeking it all the time.

The question of life is not “do you long for something?” It is “what do you long for?” Jesus Christ and his gospel gives us an ultimate reality to long for. Ultimate love. Ultimate grace. Ultimate healing. Ultimate purpose. Ultimate glory. Ultimate life. To live is to worship, and worship (desire directed love) is what will keep us running towards Christ’s life.

January 17: Desire v Desire

We are souls, which means we are desire. The imago dei in us means that we not only have desire like God, but that we also desire something beyond us, that is God.

Often Christians think that the key to the successful Christian life is to suppress or deny all desire. In this sense we are adopting an Eastern way of thinking. The Eastern religions tell us that the key to happiness is to desire nothing so that you are never disappointed. Attachment, they say, is what causes suffering, therefore the way to eliminate suffering is to eliminate desire or to not love anything too much.

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But this is not the way of the indwelling life of Christ, and it is not the path that the Bible teaches for us.

Galatians 5:16-17. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

The path of life is not one of desire suppression. It is one of desire fulfillment. Galatians 5 (above) describes a battle of desire happening in our souls. Victory comes by “walking with the Spirit” so that the desires of the Spirit over power the desires of the flesh (selfishness).

Now don’t worry, on our journey together this year we will talk all kinds of ways about the Spirit, and the flesh, and how all of this is connected to Christ. But for now, what we need to understand is that desire is good. Desire comes from the source of life (God) and is a sign of life. Desires are proof of life.

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To live by the indwelling life of Christ is to live from desire. It is to let all desires lead to Christ himself. It is in this way that we will find victory over all other desires that would compete for our deepest affections and thus seek to enslave us. The desire for Christ must outweigh the desire for the things of the flesh. And of course it can, because Christ can fully satisfy all of our deepest longings.

January 16: Deeper Desire

As we saw yesterday, we are living souls. That is, we are living desire. To be alive is to desire. When we talk about living we are talking about desiring.

Humans are living souls, but so are the animals. We have desires and so do they.

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Genesis 1:24. And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures [souls] according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.

So what separates us from animals? The image of God. And the desires we have that flow from the imago dei. Humans desire love, justice, grace, forgiveness, righteousness, honor, security- in short we desire things that are bigger than us.

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Our spirit of life was breathed into us by God. Therefore our desires image God’s desires. Yes we have base physical desires, but unlike the animals, our physical desires reflect deeper emotional and spiritual desires.

This truth becomes very important if we want to understand how to live, and how to live with and from desire. We always choose what we desire. Our affections drive our transformation.  In short, we become what we love (we’ll come back to this later).

2 Corinthians 3:18. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 

We are transformed into Christ by beholding Christ, worshiping him. If “to live is Christ,” then living is desiring Christ. Letting all of our lesser desires point us to a deeper desire for the glory of Christ. And then letting that fulfilled desire for Christ transform all of our lesser desires along the journey, or “from one degree of glory to another.”

 

January 15: Life is Desire

Back on January 11 I got ahead of myself and introduced the idea that we are living souls, but I hadn’t finished laying the foundation of imaging God through impact and intimacy. But today we are ready to pick up that discussion. Go back and read the January 11 post if you can, but here’s a summation: We have been given a body and a spirit from God, which together creates our soul. We ARE a soul.

Genesis 2:7. then the Lord God formed the man of the dust of the ground [body] and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [spirit], and man became a living soul. 

The word “soul” is the Hebrew word nephesh. This word comes from the root word for throat. We are living throats. The throat is how we eat, drink, and breathe. It is how our physical desires are met.

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The Source of Life

God is the source of life and he is the source of desire. God is a desiring God. He desires love, glory, honor, and respect. But remember, God is not just a giant cosmic egomaniac. He is a Trinity. So when we say God desires things like love and glory, he is thinking of the other members of the Trinity. The Father wants love and glory for the Son. The Spirit for the Son. The Son for the Father, etc.

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The Sign of Life

To be alive is to desire. We are desire. How do we know that we image God? Because we desire. How do we know that we are living from Christ’s life inside of us? Because our desires have changed. Our desires are the same as his.

Stay with me over the next couple of days as discover the importance of desire and its connection to “To live is Christ.”

 

 

January 14: Intimacy With Others

 

We’ve said that God made us to image him through impact and intimacy. Yesterday we explored intimacy with God (a topic we will come back to many times on this journey). Today we want to understand that God doesn’t only want us to have a relationship with him, but also with others.

Genesis 2:18. The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Consider the radical statement that God just made. “It is not good…” As you probably remember so far in the text everything has been “good.” But now suddenly something is “not good.” But that is not the most radical part. God has made a perfect place, a copy of his heavenly temple, in a garden paradise, and has put a “perfect” person there. But this person still needs something more.

Think about the humble nature of our God. He is essentially saying, “people need more than just me, they need each other.” You see God can meet all of our deepest needs, but he can’t meet every need we have. We need other people for that. We need intimacy, love, and acceptance, from each other.

But why would God make us to need other people?

Here again we go back to imaging God. God is a giver. A sharer. A sacrificer. This is what love is. If all we had was God we would not be able to sacrifice and give. We wouldn’t be able to love unconditionally. So Adam alone would not be good.

Christ came to give us his life. And this life includes intimacy with God, but also intimacy with others. It includes learning to love unconditionally. Christ himself is the fulfillment of Genesis 2:18. It is not good that man should be alone. Because of Christ we are never alone. Never separated from the God-man. We can have intimacy with God and intimacy with mankind. And that is good.

 

January 13: Intimacy with God

Life is imaging. And imaging is both impact and intimacy.

God wants us to have intimacy with him and with others. Today let’s look at intimacy with God.

Genesis 2:8. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 

Genesis 2:15. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 

God put the man in the garden. The word “put” in 2:8 means appointed like a job. The word  “put” in 2:15 means rested. God safely and gently placed man in the Garden where he would work and keep the garden, and this would be restful or peaceful. It would be shalom. Why? Because God himself would live there.

 

Stay with me…

More and more scholars are seeing the Garden of Eden as a form of temple in which God would dwell and man would be his priests. We have already seen that the words “work” and “keep” in 2:15 are words associated with worship and more specifically temple worship in the Old Testament. Genesis 13:10 and Isaiah 51:3 refer to Eden as the “Garden of the Lord.” Ezekiel 28 describes Eden as the “garden of God,” with cherubs, gold, and precious stones. All of these same things appear in the garden in Genesis. When the Israelites built the temple in Jerusalem, it was decorated like a garden with angels (1 Kings 6:29-30).

But why would God bring his heavenly temple, his dwelling place, down to earth?

Because he wants to live with us. He wants a relationship with you and with me. He wants intimacy between God and man. He wants to share his own life with us. If we are made in his image then we too would need and desire this level of life sharing. Living face to face with God, coram deo, in his presence in his garden throne room.

To live is Christ. Christ came to give us this intimacy with God back. He reconciles us to God and becomes the temple dwelling of God. Then he turns us into the temple dwelling of God. Our hearts are a garden paradise where we meet God and live fully alive in pleasures of his presence.

January 12: Life is Intimacy

Oops…I got ahead of myself yesterday. We are not quite ready to get into what it means to be living souls.

First we need to finish talking about what it means to image God.

God is the source of all life. We image him. To image him is to have impact. To have impact is to work and keep (go back and read the previous posts for more on these two words).

To image God is not only IMPACT. It is also INTIMACY.

1 John 4:8. God is love.

God is an intimate community. His life is love. His life is communal. Why? Because he is a Trinity. The Father, Son, and Spirit live together in eternity in perfect intimacy and respect for one another. We could never say what John says above (God is love) if he were not a Trinity. If God were only one, he could not have loved much less BE love. But because he is Trinity he has loved and will love perfectly forever. In fact all intimacy flows from him, because without him there is no love.

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So life is love. If “To live is Christ” and Christ came to restore real human life, that is, image bearing, then he must have come to restore love. He came to restore intimacy. He came to restore true community.

By the way, impact without intimacy is a dangerous thing. Intimacy without impact is simply a sentimental thing. Thank God Jesus gives us back both.