Greet Jesus and Enjoy His Grace
Greet Jesus and Enjoy His Grace
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Let’s turn to Galatians 2:20. It’s the basis of that ministry described in 2 Corinthians 4. Galatians 2:20-21: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
I just remind you (I said the same thing in London last week) that the correct translation into English of the Greek at the end of that verse is, “the life I now live in the flesh, I live not by faith IN ,”en” the Son of God, but it is simply, “teé(cid:160)toú” — but the faith OF the Son of God. That of course brings immediately to our minds, “But wait a minute! Who’s having faith here? Of course, we normally translate “IN the Son”, but this, “the faith OF the Son of God?” Now, WHO is having the faith? But you have to face it, it’s the Son of God who is having the faith. The Son of God is at the right hand of the Father and he lives this life in us through his faith. HE exercises the faith so that in his Spirit, he is living this life in us.
I just wanted to say again, Irene [wife] has already heard it before, but she patiently listens to me again and again. But it did come home to me so strongly last week in particular that the secret of our life here, each of us, is that CHRIST is living, not us. It is CHRIST that lives, not me. That’s why Paul catches himself when he says, “I live this life – no, not I – but the Son of God, but CHRIST lives within me.” And I think his mistake isn’t the way we make our mistake. I think that we repeatedly say to one another, “Now don’t forget, Jesus is in you.” And we even say it to each other, “Now, don’t forget, Jesus is in me.” And we know how we respond to that, “That’s right. That’s right. You’re right. You know, I am forgetting that. Now, I need to remember that fact. I need to keep in memory that JESUS is in me. It’s not ME that’s here. It’s Jesus. I must keep remembering that.”
It just hit me. It’s as if we either adapt at avoiding the truth, or we are incorrigibly wrong in our viewpoint, because some of us turn it into an “it”. We turn it into a concept that we, “ought to keep into this stupid mind of mine, I need to remember that Jesus is in me. And it’s HIS strength that I live by now, and indeed, it’s HIS faith, somehow or another that I live by. I need to keep that in my mind.” And it’s a bit like saying, “I must remember that my heart is inside here. I must keep that in mind. I must remember that so that it can beat. I must remember that my heart is in here.” Or, “I must remember that this is MY hand. I must remember that when I use it, that it is mine.” It’s as if we lose the reality of it in our very attempt to conceive of it and remember it mentally.
I saw again that is the key to this life. It is really an adventure – but too often we don’t think of it as an adventure at all. We think of it as, “This is laid out for me. This is going to happen tomorrow the way it always happens on a Monday”. We fail to see that it is an adventure. That there is a living person in me besides myself. There is a living person in me, a very creative, original person who has intentions for tomorrow in me. And has plans for me next week. And has interesting things to do in his father’s world in me. And we need to see that that’s the reality, that Christ is actually living in me.
I saw it again this morning as I lay in bed, that the key to our whole life is living the reality of that, or allowing Christ to live the reality of that. And it’s when I don’t do that is when I’m not a blessing to my wife or to you that I could be –- when we’re full of ourselves. I know we normally think of that as, “Oh, you’re a boastful proud person.” And we think to ourselves, “Well, we’re not boastful or proud people. But if you take the real meaning of, “we’re full of ourselves”, we’re too preoccupied with ourselves. We’re too conscious deep down that, “Ok, ok. That poetic stuff is very nice. That scriptural stuff is very nice, but let’s face it, this IS my life.” Is seems to be that right there, is the heart of our misery and the heart of our failure – that we still believe that.
I told Irene about this, so she already knows this. A few days ago I saw early in the twilight hours before I got up: There are two solid reliable guides to our daily reality. The moment we become conscious in the morning, the moment we awake, however blurry-eyed we are, that first moment, we should greet Christ. I had to think a bit. That word came quite quickly to me, more than the second one that I will share in a moment, but we should greet Christ. We should greet him as One that is in us. That is why we should greet him.
You greet a person when you are face-to-face with them, when you are close enough for you to shake their hand. We should greet Christ. We should greet Christ, himself. We shouldn’t greet the IDEA of Christ. We shouldn’t back off that. It would be like somebody like Irene coming to my door and me withdrawing and saying, “Now wait a minute! I have to THINK that she is there. I have to realize that she is there.” Of course it would be utterly unreal to respond like that, and utterly offensive to her. No. You greet a person who is there in front of you – who is right there. I saw that the very first thing we do when we become conscious in the morning is greet Christ, acknowledge him as being inside and having this life, as owning this life, owning these hands, owning this face, owning this day. We should greet Christ. And in that way, begin the day in reality. Begin the day as it is intended to continue. Begin the day in the way you are going to carry on throughout it – you’re going to be consciously conscious that this is Christ’s and it’s him and what HE wants to do. That’s what’s important.
And then I saw today, that the second one was really an extension of that. It was for 15 minutes — if you can do it or if you can do it for a half an hour, that would be best – but then ENJOY the grace of his presence. Enjoy the grace of his presence. That is, go back and forward with him. Enjoy what he’s thinking. Enjoy the grace of his presence — grace, because I think through his Holy Spirit will give you the grace, the ability to sense that he’s there. And he will begin to pass some of his own thoughts to you. Enjoy the grace of his presence as opposed to the old prayer thing, “Oh, first I start, ‘Awake, awake to love and work, the lark is in the sky’ [hymn]. Then I ought to pray, thank God for the good night’s sleep and then I ought to pray for everybody else that I work with…” That dreary, dreary, heavy burden of a prayer wheel turning – it seems to me – that we get into, instead of enjoying the grace of his presence.
I’m not a Muslim-lying-on-the-floor guy, but this morning I lay on the floor. For some reason, I felt that was the right thing to do. I guess it’s not a bad place to be – you can’t fall any more! But it seems to me, it doesn’t have to be on your knees. It can be lying in bed… but ENJOY. That’s what came home to me. Enjoy the grace of his presence. Just enjoy that, “Here, whoopee! The Son of God, the Maker of the World, is inside me and this is his life. And this is not my life. They aren’t MY problems that I’ll be facing today. It’s things that he’s going to face inside this body of mine and I’m going to be alive to travel along with him and watch him in action, and maybe take part in some of it if he lets me.
Enjoy the grace of his presence. I did think that that was from God – those two things were from him. That’s why I thought it was worth saying today –- even though it’s not an elaborate sermon, I thought that’s everything. That’s everything: Greet Christ the first moment that you wake, and then enjoy the grace of his presence. If you can’t do it for the ten or fifteen minutes, then do it for what you can. Why I thought it would be good to do it for fifteen minutes or a half-an-hour, it gives you half a chance of having a nice time! It gives you a chance of having a nice half hour of when you can enjoy life, and you can get nailed down solidly what life, what this day is going to be. I think that is the key to everything. I think each of us is here for Him to live a unique life through us.
I feel for Irene, I feel for you, too, Marty, for any of us who are so much together, that we love each other, that we want to do what each other wants to do. It’s so easy then to fall into, “Well, what is my place in this? What should I do? What is my role and responsibility?” And we get wrapped up in all those things. Well, no! You are a unique person. Each of us is unique, a unique creation. I think it’s very hard because we are enough like each other that we know how quick we are to think, “No, no. Not me. I’m not special. No. God made many unique things, I agree, and there are many unique people in the world. I am NOT one of them. I’m just kind of a little thing here.” But I don’t think it’s fair. I think the Bible is clear, “there is nothing that exists that is not made in Christ Jesus”.[ Ref. Colossians 1:15] And there is nothing that he, himself, had not taken part in making. He has not made two of us alike. You are a unique expression of him. And I think that if either of the three of us reject that, I think we are honestly rejecting what our Maker has done because he made each of us so that his Son could live a life in us that he will not live in any one else. And yours is the great privilege of finding that out and expressing it.
I do think that we have a great opportunity, and great gift of God to others. That is what our life is about.