Is there a superhuman life or is this a closed universe limited to what we can see and touch? Right from our beginnings as a human race we and our forefathers have always felt there has to be some power beyond this earth who is ultimately responsible for our existing at all. In other words, there has to be a first cause, however many intermediate or evolutionary causes lie in between. Is there any empirical evidence of a life above and beyond ours? Is there any touch-and-see evidence of life from outer space?
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by Ernest O”Neill
To live as if you are totally responsible for yourself — or to live as part of another person who is absolutely wise and all-powerful — that is the question! And the answer that most of us give is “we only know the first and have no idea how to experience the second”. All we know to do is to live as if no one will act for us except ourselves and as if no one can see what we should do except ourselves.
Those of us who were brought up to become “self-made men and women” are convinced by personal experience and observation that “God helps those who help themselves”. We look at the ruins of communism and the dangers of socialism’s extremes, and we feel utterly justified in our attitude. You can’t just lie back and let things happen — you do have to strive and compete and apply yourself. If you sit back and expect someone to present life to you as a gift, you deceive yourself and the world will pass you by.
Quietism was a word used to describe certain pious people who took the attitude that “I will not move unless I am moved”. The “being moved” here meant being moved by God. The dangerous extreme of this attitude results in passivity — passivity of mind, emotions, will, and spirit – and can deteriorate into that mesmerized state produced by repeated chanting of mantras or the unconsciousness induced by drugs or alcohol. So, anyone engaged in business or professional life is immediately sceptical of any life that suggests failure to do what you can see needs doing.
Who Does What?
It’s exactly here that precision is needed in our thinking. Obviously we are here on earth to act and speak and think. Obviously we have been given wills that can direct our thinking and speaking and thinking. Obviously we are meant to use these wills rather than to sink into passive knee-jerk response to external stimuli like Pavlov’s dogs. But is it possible to do all of this from a relaxed attitude of trust that someone has forseen your whole life, is wise and loving enough to wait for your free acquiescence, and at the same time daily leads you in your actions and words?
Although we are naturally sceptical of this possibility, most of us have known at least once the happiness of doing something because of the wishes of someone who loves us. Even though we have met many who want to force their wills upon us, we usually know at least one person who respects our right to freely choose. But even if we cannot imagine another human being who would refrain from forcing us to do what he knew was best for us, this is exactly what our Maker does! He knows us better than we know ourselves because He has made us part of His own Son – yet he refuses to force us against our wills — even if this means continual strain and pain for his dear Son in whom we live.
However, the more astonishing fact is that our Maker has foreseen every detail of our lives (which is reasonable if He made every detail of our personalities) — yet, despite this, He so works circumstances together with his own ideal will and our free choices, that His will and ours are both fully involved in what we do and say. This ability to see time and eternity at once — to live in the past, present, and future simultaneously – is beyond our finite understandings, but this is part of the meaning behind the words in Psalm 139 — “Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O Lord, you know it altogether”. God knows it because in the first milli-second of eternity that He conceived you as part of His Son, at that same moment He lived your whole life for you – and now gives you the opportunity to express it here in time and space.
Whence our Unease?
The only reason we hesitate here is our tendency to question if anyone with this kind of intellectual ability would or could refrain from making us do what he wants. And the answer is – only if he does not want robots as children – and only if he is willing to bear the pain of the bad consequences of our free wills. Everytime war or murder or cancer occurs, the answer is clear to anyone who will think.
Did you speak a moment ago? So did Christ! Did you think critically a second ago? So did Christ! What you chose to do, you forced Him to do. But what did He do in eternity that caused you to speak – and what did He do in eternity because He saw it in you centuries later? We have only to look at Him as he lived in Palestine in the first century to see which is which. The overwhelming truth is that He acknowledges both kinds of deeds as His — so that He may bring you safely into His Father’s home.
What attitude then can we take to our lives in the light of this reality? First, a tranquil confidence that our Creator knows the life he has put us here to live — and that the spirit of His son is alive in us to lead us in this life. Secondly, a gentle attitude of faith that “listens for the footsteps of God”.
by Ernest ONeill
Am I Totally Free?
Am I a little bunch of atoms that has to work out a direction for its own actions each day ? Or am I a member of a family whose loving father has a life he wishes to live in and through me? The answer to the first question is “no” and the answer to the second is “yes”, BUT we live as if the answers are switched — we live as if we were just a little bunch of atoms that has to work out its own destiny as best it can.
In one way, this seems very exciting — we look out on the wide vista of our future and reflect that we can do just whatever we please. However, it’s not long before this responsibility becomes a burden that hinders our free enjoyment of life rather than enhances it. And this very obligation exerts pressures upon our otherwise free will. Many of us come to reflect that our carefree childhood days were some of the happiest we’ve experienced, and we wonder if the existence of parents proves the existence of some great cosmic parent of the human race.
But this is not fashionable thinking today, so we reject any notion that we need a father-figure to look after us, and we set our face toward this vast, trackless wilderness of life that lies before us. We don’t like the prospect, but the idea of having our own lives in our own hands appeals to something inside us — even though we see basic illogicalities in the whole scheme.
For instance, we see that the birds don’t spend all their time crashing into each other — nor do the planets! If we explain this by noting that they obviously have some kind of guidance system that enables them to avoid collisions, we see that this presupposes a system that works for their preservation. So, obviously there is an over-arching will or direction in the universe that makes for continued existence rather than annihilation. In other words, whatever freedom we ourselves may have, there are undoubtedly some tendencies and instincts that are involuntary. Nevertheless we persist in emphasising our own freedom of choice because the apparent alternative depicts us as robots!
Even our own fathers had difficulty restraining themselves from trying to “put an old head on young shoulders”. They loved us so much that they would often have preferred us to do what they thought best — even if this meant that we submitted to their judgement rather than our own. When we think of all the other “wise heads” that have wanted to run our lives for us, we feel a strong resentment against the idea of an overruling providence that directs our lives. But, despite these fears, we can see the great relief that such a situation would bring to our anxiety-ridden lives. We can glimpse the possibility of those “lazy, hazy days of summer” that we used to enjoy as children.
A Loving Father?
Is it possible for us to have our cake and eat it? Is it possible to have our freedom and the caring supervision of a loving parent? Only if that loving parent is willing to bear and gently correct the wilful choices that we will make. Can you find on earth a father that is willing to be killed, if necessary, by his child and yet continue to lovingly draw that child towards the complete fulfilment he has planned for him ? Obviously this is only possible for a father who is not destroyed by death and whose wisdom is infinite! Such is the reality in which we exist!
You were made by a loving creator who ensured your place in his heart by bringing you to birth inside his own son – much as he eventually brought you to earth in your mother. At the same moment, as he created you in his son, he foresaw what you would do with your free will, endured that in his son, and bearing all that “sin”, allowed his son to keep you within himself even though it forced him to do what you did and say what you said! Despite all that your free will costs him, our father-creator continually works to bring you round to willing what he made you for. So, each time you speak, you do what God foresaw in eternity and what therefore Christ is compelled to speak, and, in turn, you benefit from the countering remedy that Christ activates to draw you round again to the life He wishes to live in you.
Thus every day you are experiencing the tender mercies of a loving Father who bears in himself all your actions and attitudes so that you are saved from the annihilation they would normally cause. At the same time you experience the daily desires of the life that the Christ of God has for his life in you – and which you accept or reject. This is why a man called Wesley in the eighteenth century wrote “thus to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be”. Today we would say — “how lucky can you be!” What more could you ask from your Creator?
So we live in a world where we have all the right to do what we want, but all our actions — good and bad — occur within the heart of our creator, who bears all the pain. As a result, he is able to protect and rescue the world from the absolute devastation our behavior would cause while he faithfully endeavors to live within us the life he planned for us from the beginning. How long can we resist such graciousness?!
by Ernest ONeill
What are you? Not just a little human creature born of two other little human creatures so that you plus another little human creature could bear other little human creatures! But you were created by the Maker of the universe inside his Son; you are part of the Son of the Creator of the world!
I Don’t Want to Be
You may protest that you don’t want to be anyone but yourself BUT somehow you need to see that you are yourself when you accept that you’re part of this unique person who lived as Jesus of Nazareth. That’s who you were made to be — the idea that you’re not this is the deception that introduces trauma to your life. This is not only reality but it is the very best that your Creator could do for you — it’s the only way to allow you to use your free will yet save you from the permanent, disastrous consequences of your choices. That’s what this dear Person has done for you – in the timeless, spaceless real world He has borne inside Himself all that you have done and said and been in your life, has neutralized all of it by taking the consequences upon Himself, and has brought you into new existence inside Himself.
Real or Legend?
So that you don’t slip into playing mental games with these facts as if they’re simply bizarre ideas that may help you deal with life, clarify for yourself that this Jesus really lived in the first century in Palestine, that the facts of his life and resurrection are backed by 4,000 Greek manuscripts aged from 150 to 1000 a.d. (compared with 20 for Plato’s Republic or Caesar’s Gallic Wars) and that non-Biblical historians like Tacitus and Tertullian corroborate his existence. In other words, examine the evidence so that you are beginning to relate your existence to the basic facts of the whole creation. Only then will you be able to develop an understanding of your own place in the scheme of things. Only then will you be able to develop a way of thinking and a way of living that is realistic.
Jesus himself talked about his existence with his Father, the Creator, before the world was, and his power to rise above his own death clearly shows that his existence far transcended this physical world. But the most explicit statements about our own origins come from those that He chose and guided as disciples and apostles. John, for instance, states that “all things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made”, while Paul avers that “you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that he has prepared beforehand that you should walk in them”. So, it’s vital that you are clear about this person, Jesus, and avoid the thoughtless myths of some mystical, moral teacher who shows the world how to live. He is far beyond that — He is the one of whom you are a part — in Him your protons and neutrons hold together — without Him you wouldn’t exist!!
What’s the Purpose of Your Life Then?
But why did God make you inside his Son? Not only so that the consequences of your free will could be faced and dealt with in his Son’s necessary death, but so that Christ could develop his world through you by the power of his Father’s life. This is the meaning of God’s commission to us to “be fruitful and fill the earth and subdue it”. Such a task could be accomplished only by the person who originated the earth and could control it: He alone by his own power could develop the resources of the world in a way that would harmonize everything as God planned. If we tried to do it (as we have) by ourselves, we would destroy each other through our greed and selfishness. Only He knew how the metals and chemicals of the world could be developed to bring joy and beauty.
Moreover, you were made inside Jesus Christ because through you He could fully express His infinitely profound nature. So your natural personality is a carefully designed frame within which He wishes to express his own beauty and life. However, in this case the frame is so aptly and uniquely fitted for this painting that it itself is part of the original art. This is why Jesus Christ refers to you as part of his own body like one of his fingers or arms or eyes. You can see that this completely transforms your place in history and the world. The idea that you are a little separate human creature placed here to find your own way and make your own mark on the world is a cruel lie. You are part of God’s own family — an integral part of his own Son. Your purpose is tied up with His and the work you have to do is part of his work.
How Do You Know What You Should Do?
What do you want to be when you grow up is not up to you — its up to Him who brought you here. Its not something that can be decided by your performance in some test or examination or interview. Its something that you alone can find out because its something that you alone are fitted for. Your life is unique — Jesus Christ has not provided for someone else to express Him exactly the same as you — youre the only one can do it. And Hes the only one can show you what and how.
by Ernest ONeill
When you think of yourself as the little boy or girl that was created by your mother and father, you’re living in a little corner instead of the great expanse of reality!
Certainly the Maker used them to beget you here on earth, but you yourself were created by the Creator inside his Son – that’s who you’re part of and He is your real father. Do you doubt it? The greatest book we have that gives the clearest, most credible account of our Creator is the Bible – and it contains the statement: “you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus”. Elsewhere it states: “Christ is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created – all things were created through him and for him”.
In fact, other parts of the Bible make it plain that Christ, God’s divine son, became the father of humanity himself way back before the creation of the world and that He made you so that he could do things through you if you were willing. So your life is far more significant than even you have thought – it is really part of God Himself – and dear to Him because you’re part of His own Son.
Is This for Real?
Now all kinds of religious people – Moslems, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, spiritualists take bits of this reality and reduce it to their own language and customs so that it becomes very offensive and petty, but that’s no reason why you should reject reality and live in a petty, little skin-tight corner of unreality. Yet that’s what many of us are doing: hence the pathetic worrying about MY job, MY future, MY comfort, MY savings. It’s all rather silly if you are, in actual reality, a vital part of the son of the maker of the universe – especially if he has made you a certain way that is fitted to express some facet of his character that only you can show.
Of course, if this is all foolish philosophising and has no basis in fact, then we’d better get back to our little lives that go out like a light in 80 years. But the historical facts are that this man Jesus of Nazareth lived the life and died the death that is reported in the Bible, in Tacitus, Tertullian, Josephus, Philo, and hundreds of other writers in the first two centuries of the first millennium. While histories of Julius Caesar, Plato, Mohammed, Buddha, and other well-known figures depend on 20 or 30 manuscripts that are sometimes hundreds of years later than the events recorded, the details of Christ’s life are exchanged by scores of writers a few years after his resurrection: in the Greek language alone there are over 4,000 manuscripts from 150 to 1,000 years following his death. In other words, no ancient event has been more carefully substantiated and examined than the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. No life in the world is so like what we would expect the Creator’s Son to have been!
You’re Part of God
These are some of the basic reasons why we have to seriously face the responsibility of stepping out of ourselves and stepping into reality – the spacious, uplifting reality of being part of the wonderful, infinite human being that is the Son of the Maker of the world. This means getting up each morning and realising that the “head of the universe” has all kinds of things to say and do in you and through you this day. It means that the oppressive feelings about the bad taste in your mouth and your apprehension about the day’s events are unimportant details that will sort themselves out as the Maker’s son begins to live His life in you today. The thoughts that you’re thinking are thoughts that He knew would be in your head – He knew that years ago because He is able to see all the sequential seconds of time from the point of view of timeless eternity. Like looking at a process from a third storey window, He can see not only the part that is passing in front of those sitting at ground-level, but he can see the part of the procession that is past as well as the next part that will be passing in a moment or two. This is reality! Christ – the maker’s Son – is the person of whom you are a part. Sure – you’re not God – sure, you are divine only because He is – sure, your divinity is derived from Him – you were made in Him whereas He is begotten by God, our Father, directly. But you ARE part of Him – part, in a real sense, of God Himself. From the very beginning of eternity God conceived of you as part of His son – a part that would chose to have your own will rather than His, but a part of Him that He would continue to patiently and lovingly keep within his own Son as He put up with your wilfulness and cruelty.
So – step out of yourself !! Stop thinking in terms of that little cell of self in which you’ve allowed your imagination to imprison itself. That smallness is the unreality and the lie and the illusion. The truth is that you were “created in Christ Jesus for good works that God has prepared beforehand that you should walk in them” – you don’t have to walk in them, but your Maker will lovingly keep drawing you back to them each time you head out in one of your futile detours. By the miraculous calculations of a super-computer, our Loving Father enables you to exercise your own will even as He exercises His – and patiently waits for you to relax in His Son where He has placed you from the beginning.
by Ernest ONeill
We’ve been looking at the reality that each of us was originally created inside the son of our Creator long before we were born into this world as our mother’s baby. This startling fact is stated in several places in the Bible (the best series of histories we have of the unique human being, Jesus Christ). However, we need to look more closely at this “original creation” because it involves taking seriously the infinite capacities of the Maker of the universe.
What Did God Do Before Creation?
Our present knowledge of space has made it clear that space and time are related. The most obvious example is that many of the stars in our sky died years ago but their light is just getting to us now. So, if you could get far enough out in space to where they used to be, you’d see them when they were young. Even this crude example helps us to see that our Maker must be able to see everything everywhere, so he must exist above time and space – in timeless eternity. This is the reality we find in the Bible in Colossians 1:15-17: “He (Jesus Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created…..He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” In eternity, before earth existed, you were made inside God’s Son who was not only the divine, only-begotten son of our Creator but was also the “first-born of all creation” i.e. the first (and in a sense the only) human being. Inside him all of us were made !
How Far Can The Creator See?
However, just as we could see a star’s early years if we could get far enough out in space, so also our Creator is obviously able to see all of time at once – and did see it the moment we were made in his Son. This means he saw all our lives from beginning to end, saw their autonomous independence, destroyed that in his Son, and made us alive again in him so that we could live out our old life or our new life in time on earth. This is why the Bible has statements like “in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16) and “the lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). In other words, we were not only created in our Maker’s son before we were born from our mother’s body, but we were made and foreseen by our Maker before the creation of the world.
Are We a Product of Chance?
This means that we were not an after-thought of God. We are not just “tack-ons” or little toys that He made to play with. We are an integral part of his son’s body – part of the humanity that is him. We usually think of the little baby in the manger at Christmas-time as God’s Son becoming a temporary human-being and then leaving his humanity in the tomb and returning to divinity. But the Bible knows nothing of this kind of idea and talks about Jesus as the “son of man” even after he left the earth and ascended to his father, our Maker. The truth is that he took us with him in eternity and where he goes we go because we are part of him ! This is why we often have feelings that we were made for eternity and not just for 70 short years. It’s also why some human beings do remarkable things – things that you wouldn’t expect them to be able to do. At times the music they make or the poetry they write seems almost divine. This is because the one great human being, Christ, gives them gifts of his own ability so that people feel like Einstein that “all ideas come from God”.
Your life, then, has been long in the planning – and it is not just your life – it is part of the life that has been lived in eternity (because foreseen in eternity) by our Creator. It stands to reason that he not only saw what we would do to him and his son because of our desire to be our own gods, but that he lived that life in the reality of his son and bore its consequences. Only in this way could he responsibly give us the freedom to make our choice between him and ourselves; only thus could he face all the consequences of his children’s actions and the effects of his own creation of free-will agents. We, of course, always require some time to see that an infinite mind can work out all possible permutations of the attitudes each of us would take and can work with those while preserving our free wills and his own plan. But that’s what the creator did with your life!
Your Life’s Plan
There is not a word that you have spoken or a deed that you have done that your creator has not foreseen, done in his son, and worked into his plan for you. Why ? There can be only one reason for this kind of care – because he loves you and thinks of you as his dear child. Even now – with all the independent wilfulness that we have shown up to this moment – even now, you are the recipient of a lot of care and infinite love – and will be until you die. What then can we do in the light of this reality ? Let’s discuss that next.
by Ernest ONeill
What Are You?
You did not come into this world as a little animal that has to start finding out what it should do here. You came as a person who has been created by our Maker inside his own Son: this is why at times you feel you are not only unique but valuable. In fact, you are a distinctive expression of our Creator’s Son (who was the first human being), and no one else can express his planned life in just the way you can. We say that Christ is the first human being (Col.1:15) because he existed before the foundation of the world – even though he did not visit the earth physically until his appearance in Palestine in the first century. Indeed the life that you have come here to live is a life that God has already lived in his son in timeless eternity for he is able to see all of time in one millisecond; and he did just that _ foresaw what you would do with his plan for your life, faced the confusion and pain which you caused him by your independence, bore the reality of it in his son’s death, and then worked out a way back to reality for you in his son’s resurrection.
A Whole New Start
The result is that today you face a miraculous opportunity to live the life that your Creator has planned and prepared for you. And because He has planned and prepared it for you, it is exactly right for your fulfillment and you are exactly right for expressing what Christ has already achieved through you! How boring!! You have now to spend the rest of your life going through the motions or passively watching the events that God has foreordained for you!! Not on your life!!! God’s living your life in the reality of his own great mind presupposes your actions and the exercise of your will _ only as you do fully and actively the things you see to do _ only then is God’s foreseeing will worked out in detail. Our Maker plans the life that your will freely chooses, lovingly works your choices so that you are repeatedly drawn towards his perfect will for his whole universe, and bears the constant pain and chaos that you can cause by your own autonomy. This is the reality of the life that now lies before you.
Obviously the question is how do you find out what you are here to do and be? The only way is through the one who is humanity _ the one of whose body each of us is a part _ Christ. You were made inside him and he is the one who holds you together and keeps you alive: He is also the one who has walked through every step in your life in his Father’s infinite mind. And he alone can lead you through the experiences on earth that will make you a real and willing part of himself. Only he can deliver you from that independent spirit that persists in pretending that you are somehow an independent, self-existent creature rather than part of an infinite being. Naturally this kind of intimacy between him and you requires that you believe in him and begin to follow his directions.
Change Your View of Yourself
How can you do that? First – by facing the reality that you are not an independent, self-existent being that is in charge of your own creation and destiny. You have hundreds of reactions that you’ve built on this deception – ways of thinking, of speaking, and of acting that prevent you being the person you really are inside your creator’s son. The first step, therefore, is to fully face this reality and be prepared to change your thinking about your whole life and its behavior. Secondly – face the reality that Christ’s spirit – his attitudes – in fact He Himself – is in you and ready to begin living your life with you. Once you really and practically begin to take these two steps, your life starts to take a whole new direction built on reality.
Everything – every relationship, every circumstance of your life – becomes secondary – secondary to your relating to the person in whom you were made – and in whom you live. You won’t necessarily become religious or churchy – though you may go to places that are regarded that way, BUT you will be more concerned with getting directions from your Maker than getting directions from other so-called experts. In a real way, you’ll be less dependent on other human beings for directions; and you’ll be more content and restful in listening for God’s. You’ll end up being more vividly alive to the world than before, yet you’ll be more independent of it than before. The truth is that you become more your individual self when you commence finding yourself as you were originally made in Christ. Our creator did not make thousands of clones when he expressed his Son’s humanity through all of us – He made thousands of individual beings who express the millions of facets of Christ’s – and our creator’s – character in billions of different ways and circumstances. The result is that your differences from the rest of us begin to be seen in the ways God planned, and you cease to be dominated by the need to conform and copy others. It’s all like starting life over again – except that it’s more exciting and interesting because you don’t know what’s going to happen next. You lose that boring feeling that today is going to be just the same as yesterday – instead, you get up in the morning with an interest in what God has planned for his son in you today. How does all this work out in practice? I can mention some things I’ve found out, but you have an interesting journey to travel that is different from all the rest of us.
by Ernest ONeill
It’s obvious that someone or something has gone to a lot of trouble toenable you to get up this morning, walk out into the fresh air, and go to workor school. Something or someone built that house or apartment you live in – andsomething or someone obviously designed it with great care and foresight.
But it’s just as obvious that the sky above you is more beautiful andexpansive than the ceiling of your bedroom and the sunlight brighter and warmerthan the lights in your home. None of us believes for a moment that your homeresulted from an explosion and you’ll laugh at anyone who suggests it cameabout by chance. So, of course, none of us seriously believes that all thegreater beauties and wonders of nature came about unless there is someone orsomething who wants us to be happy in the enjoyment of this wonderful universe.
Whose Child Are You?
Why has this great something or someone done all this ? Why has he madeyou, and why has he given you so many experiences and things to enjoy? The bestinformation we have is the actions and words of the man who is known as the sonof the creator of the universe – Jesus who lived around 29 a.d. in Palestine.
He explained that His Father and He live above this time-space world,and that His Father made you inside His only Son so that He could enjoy theinfinite beauties of his son’s life in you and millions of others. But thiscould only occur if you were a free person like his son – free to love him backfor all his generosity to you – and free to reject him and his love – if youwanted.
But Our Creator knows that there is no life outside Him so He committedhimself to keeping you inside his son (really therefore inside himself) for aslong as it takes to bring you into the truth of his love for you. The death ofhis son, Jesus, in Palestine expresses the actuality of God’s putting himselfat our mercy as we continue to strangle Christ’s spirit within us by ourautonomous, egotistic lives.
So you are really the child of your creator – someone who is dear tohim because you are part of his only Son. If you don’t believe this or liveyour life as if you’re a separate, independent person, then you’re a childwaiting to be born. Meanwhile, your dear father waits and suffers your behaviorand indifference. Yet all the time he sustains you with his life that keepsyour heart beating and your blood flowing. He spends each day planning forlittle experiences and people that you will enjoy, and his son’s spirit in yousubtly ameliorates the pains and tragedies that you would otherwise cause.
In fact, you live a life that your Father has already foreseen becausehe knows how you will act and react in every situation, yet he so restrains hisown counteracting activity that your free will is preserved inviolate until youwillingly submit it to the One who loves you most.
How Then Are You to Live?
What are you to do in the light of these realities? Obviously there isonly one that you can take to this kind of love and care – gratitude andwhole-hearted enjoyment of all the abilities and opportunities and experiencesthat God has given you. Above everything else, if you are really part of Godhimself and He is such a selfless, generous person, then you will only be fullyhappy if you live the same as He does. This means a generous, self-forgetfullife of joy and peace and love. Anything else is unreal and doomed to eventualdissolution.
How do you live this kind of life? Only one knows that – no other humanbeing can tell you the life that God’s Son has planned to live in you – no oneelse knows. Each of us can know only the life that Jesus wishes to live in us -we can’t outline it to each other. This is part of the wonder of this life onearth – each of us is a unique part of God’s Son, Jesus Christ – and each of ushas to look to Him to live our lives. Within you is his Spirit. You can confirmthat you’re responding to his spirit and not your own by checking it with thelife that He lived in Palestine, but faith is living in His presence andfriendship not trying to copy his life in the first century.
The truth of the matter is that no one has yet seen the life thatChrist has planned to live through you – it’s another one of our dear Father’ssurprises that fill the universe with his spontaneous joy and pleasure. We canin future discussions talk about Christ’s spirit and share how different it isfrom our own spirit, but finally it’s you and Him. Finally, you’re the only onewho knows if you or He lives and speaks and acts here on earth.
Either you’re a little human animal trying to make your own way throughlife or you’re part of the Son of the Maker of the universe living daily thelife He has planned for you. But only one of these can be true – the other is alie that actually does not exist. This is why the first one is so spoiled byuncertainty, insecurity, and emptiness. It’s the reason the world is so chaoticand frustrated.
The second is the only possible life – because it is reality – you were,in fact, made inside His Son by your Creator so that He could enjoy His Son’slife being lived out through you as you exercise your free will along with His.You have been born into this world to do and be something that God’s Son haswanted from before the beginning of the world. There are certain streets thatHe has always planned to sweep with your hands, certain symphonies that He hasalways planned to play through someone’s hands, and certain words that He hasplanned to speak through your mouth. Each one of us was carefully planned bythe Creator, our Father, and given existence here on earth so that we couldwillingly do and speak the things He wanted to achieve in this world throughHis Son in us. That’s why you’re here !
How Can You Know What to Do?
How can you know what Christ, our Maker’s Son, wants to do in you eachmoment ? Obviously it’s not going to be simply “doing what comes naturally” asa little human animal trying to survive in a world full of other humans. We allknow the fears that drive us to get enough shelter and clothing, esteem fromour peers, and emotional highs because we feel we’re on our own here. Thesenatural drives leave us no serenity to even consider what our Creator wants usto do. So, how do you know ?
The simplest first step is one you can guess – begin to get to know yourMaker ! Stop being stupid – that’s what God said in the Bible – “the fool hassaid in his heart ‘there is no God'”. Stop being stupid – sure, there’sevidence of evolution, but that or a big bang or a decomposing substance or ablack hole doesn’t explain who or what created the first piece of matter thatevolved into all these other forms. So, let’s just face the obvious – somebodymust have made that sky up there – somebody must have thought out the structureof the DNA molecule. The first step to getting to know your Maker is to”believe that he is and is a rewarder of them that diligently seek after him”.
The next step is to express that simple attitude of belief by some actor word or thought. Simply think of your Maker as “up there” – He’s reallyeverywhere – beside you, in you, above you, but the important thing is toexpress to him your respect and gratitude in a thought or word of simplethanks. He has made plenty of moves towards you by creating you and sustainingyour life and breath every day, so it’s reasonable for you to make someresponse to him. Behave in accordance with what you believe is true – you’vethought and acted previously as if he did not exist – now think and feel inaccordance with what you know must be true – He must be able to see you andknow what is in your mind. It’s reasonable to expect that your Creator knowswhat your inner attitude to Him is and that your natural response to hisexistence will mirror the desires of His Son in you.
So this kind of inner and outer behaviour is the most primary andpractical way to orientate yourself to the fact that Christ is in you and thatyour actions and words will reflect His. This kind of attitude adjustment tothe perfect ideal could be practiced by a good Muslim, Buddhist, or Confucistall of whose prophets teach that the divine spirit is merciful and truthful,but Christ says that He Himself is actually in each of us and that we are inHim – personally. So it is not simply us adjusting our human attitudes to whatwe think He would want to do, but behaving in faith that He is within us andwill act and think inside us as we behave realistically. It is faithrecognizing what is actual — not faith trying to make something actual.
The simplest step into realistic life then is to live in God’s presence- to govern our thinking and speaking and feeling by the fact that His Son,Jesus Christ, is in us and that we are part of Him. In this way we have achance of real communion or friendship with our Maker. We certainly would notexpect Him to deal with us if we do not believe he’s here so the first step inwalking with Him in friendship is to respect Him and His presence in us andwith us. This is normal respect among beings and is just what is appropriateand right in this instance.
As we begin to live like this, we find a gentle restraint coming intoour thinking and speaking so that we are drawn out of the prison of our ownpersonality and character. Little by little we find a different spirit movingus and enlarging our sympathies and attitudes. This is the start of a change inour spirits – the real heart of our lives.
by Ernest ONeill
The dreadful angst or anxiety that many of us feel these days is notsimply due to the increasing sense of insecurity that humanity’s complexdiversity causes. It is due primarily to the vacuum in which so many of us liveour lives. This vacuum is called “sin”, but we all have made this word mean”immorality” or “evil” or “bad” or “irreligious”, so we’ve missed the wholeimportance of it.
What is Sin?
In Greek it means “missing the mark” – shooting an arrow and missingthe bull’s eye! Sin is that vague feeling that we’re missing it – that we’re onour own in this vast universe and we don’t know where we’re going or what we’rehere for. That’s what it is – it’s this terrible feeling we have when we try toimagine infinity or eternity – time and us going on forever and ever. It’s thedreadful emptiness and frustration we feel when someone’s death or a financialdisaster in our life makes us feel we have no fixed points of reference left inour existence here on earth.
As years go on and we contemplate the possibility of death, this anxietyor sense of emptiness or pointlessness can become almost tangible. We becomeaware of our own smallness and unimportance and nothing seems to have beenworthwhile. The things that have distracted us for years from looking at ourrelationship to the whole universe fade into the background as children andfriends grow up and move on. We end up sitting alone in rooms that were oncefilled with friends and relatives – and suddenly we seem to be only littleballs of flesh that have no importance for anyone. This is sin – a feeling thatwe’re on our own and have no real control of our destiny or future.
What Causes It?
It’s caused because we have spent years missing reality – we’ve spent alifetime in unreality ! We’ve lived as if we were simply little animals thatpopped out of our mother’s bodies and in turn produced other little clones likeourselves: we’ve thought of ourselves as part of a closed universe or systemthat is just what we see around us – we really do believe that “what you see iswhat you get”. So we’ve missed the real truth about ourselves and our origin.Our life did not just start when our mothers and fathers had intercourse witheach other – our existence began long before that – when our Creator conceivedhis own Son to be not only his own divine descendant but also the human beingthat would express the billion facets of his own nature. At that moment youwere created inside this dear Son, known to us as Jesus Christ.
This position that you have from eternity gives you the context in whichyour whole life on and off this earth is lived: it is the reality in which youexist. For it is Christ through whom and by whom God made the earth – and it isin Christ that God prepared the life that you have here on earth. God foresawyour whole life and the things he wanted his son to do through you: he saw thebillions of moves you would use your free will to make out of your independencerather than his wishes. And he planned the billions of counter-moves he neededto make to draw you willingly back into his will for your life in Christ. This,of course, provides you with a substantial infrastructure for your life thatgives immense stability and strong direction for your acting and thinking.
Living as if this doesn’t exist is “sin” – and it obviously seems veryempty and unsatisfying and finally – devastating. What we feel increasinglythat we need is direction and confident certainty for the future.
The Way to Live
When we grasp the reality of all this, there naturally springs upwithin us a desire to do the things that our Maker planned for his son to do inus here on earth. We feel the steadfast love and infinite patience that His Sonhas shown us as he has kept us alive inside himself so that we could do allthese years just what we wanted. We see that He himself must have borne in usnot only frustration but real pain as we buried Him and his wishes under ourown self-centered whims and desires. Alongside this comes also an understandingof why we found ourselves driven at times by the physical and emotional needsof our bodies while at other times we lacked any sense of direction orguidance. Once we rejected the reality of being part of the Creator’s Son witha job to do we became a physical and mental organism that had no purpose ordirection.
But all this time we have sensed intuitions that seemed to come fromsomething or someone other than ourselves. At certain critical moments in ourlives we would momentarily see into the heart of life or would know what weshould do without anyone telling us. Often these moments of truth or secondinsight would come when we ourselves were absolutely confounded about what weshould do. It seemed as if there was a deep source of knowledge or insightwithin us that we had never tapped. Each of these moments of light weremanifestations of the wishes of your Maker’s Son inside you – indications ofwhat He Himself wanted to do through you and in you. These unusual instances ofdeeper insight are actually the normal way the Creator of the universe plannedto enable his son to live and act inside you throughout your life. Thisintuitive direction within you not only gives us guidance for living but alsogives you a strong, solid sense of purpose and stability.
Another name for it is your spirit.
“The spirit’s willing but the flesh is weak” – even non-religious peopleuse this saying at times to express the idea that “I really want to do this,but haven’t the strength”. The suggestion is that there’s something inside methat wants to do what is right, but the rest of me is too weak to do it. Atother times we’ll say “I didn’t think I had it in me” or other people will saythe same thing about us: indeed, we will often surprise ourselves at theabilities we discover we have. Sometimes we’ll say “I don’t know where thatcame from” – what we mean is that this particular thought or feeling or actionseemed to come from someone other than ourselves.
All of these instances are examples of a life within us that is actuallybeyond ourselves. We will refer to this unexpected energy or attitude inanother person by saying “he shows remarkable spirit” or “it’s as if adifferent spirit has taken hold of him”. This is reality – because inside eachof us is the actual spirit of the Son of our Creator. As Paul wrote to thepeople at Ephesus in 58 a.d., “for we are God’s workmanship, created in ChristJesus for good works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk inthem”, so Christ is the great human being who is within each of us endeavouringto do and say things through our lives. Deep within us – in our spirits, HisSpirit has prompted, guided, and rebuked us from our earliest days. Although wehave learned to dismiss these impressions as inherited prejudices andinstincts, they are actually signs of our Maker’s life and desires for his lifein us.
Living from Within
The first step into the life we were made for is whole-heartedacceptance that God Himself is within us and that we are in his Son. The secondstep is to recognize that the Spirit of Christ moves in our own spirit so thatwe can commune with Him, be guided by Him, and be corrected by Him. As we beginto take this reality seriously, we sense increasingly the life of the universalhuman existence of Christ inside us. Just as he is with His Father, ourCreator, at this present moment, so are we too – in Him ! As Paul wrote, “God,who is rich in mercy towards us, out of the great love with which he has lovedus, even when we were dead in our trespasses, make us alive together withChrist and raised us up with him and made us sit with Him in the heavenlyplaces in Christ Jesus”. And very reason he did this was “so that he might showforth the riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus”.
So, the whole point of our present life here on earth is so that yourCreator can demonstrate the richness of his own life and kindness to us in ourlives. Far from being little puny human animals trying to eke out an existencefor ourselves, we are here specifically so that the Creator of the universe canexpress his kindness to us through the infinite life of his Son inside us. ThisHe does as we respect his presence within us, as we act in response to theimpressions He makes upon us, and as we submit to His opinions. But all ofthese attitudes and actions by us take place in the context of two staggeringrealities that most of us have grown up ignoring completely.
The first is that the infinite Creator conceived you and your existencein His Son before He made the world: Paul wrote in his letter to the Colossians1:15-16, ” He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of allcreation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth “. So,before even the earth was created, you were conceived as part of the humanityof Jesus Christ who was not only the first-born of all creation, but later wasthe one who made the earth. So, the infinite Maker saw your existence frombefore the beginning of time – and obviously saw it all in one millisecond intimeless eternity. This means He didn’t need to wait for your life to be livedby you day-by-day in order to see how it would turn out. He knew all thatbecause he put within you in his Son all the potential and He also foreknew allthe people and events that you would encounter.
He had only to arrange all these things so that you would really have afree will that you could exercise yet one that He Himself could deal with andyet not turn you into a mere puppet or robot. Only this way could He ever begetin His son others who were similarly free to love and trust and enjoy Him. Thisis what He did in Christ before ever the world was created. He foresaw andexperienced in Christ your whole life – all your smiles, your tears, yourkindly words, your cruel acts – in Christ He was forced by you to hurt others(whose pain He also bore); and at the same time, He graciously and justifiablyinduced others to act in ways that would draw you continually towards Himself.
Your Present Life
Then, after the earth was created, that millisecond in eternity waslived out day by day, moment by moment, act by act, word by word, so that youcould actually experience all that had happened in Christ. This is the firstgreat fact of the context in which your life takes place – it has all beenforeseen, foreknown, and experienced by Christ, so that your whole future hasbeen lived by Christ, yet your free will have always been preserved.
Have you ever thought what it would be like to be the creator of the universe ? Obviously you and I have great difficulty imagining that because the creator must be infinitely wise and powerful to make a sun that can contain a million earths and other constellations that are millions of times the size of ours. Nevertheless, even we can tell how our trainees are likely to act when they meet certain situations we’ve analysed for them. Yes, they have free wills and we don’t know all about their characters, but we do know some things that they’ve learned from us and therefore we have some idea what they’ll probably do.
But how much could we foretell their behavior if we had made them ? Even if we gave them freedom to do what they wanted, we would know the possible choices and the probable decisions they would make. Now our creator must know us exactly _ since he has originated all our abilities . So if he doesn’t know what we’ll do, who does ? If you say `no one’, then you cannot be talking about the creator who made the fine tolerances that govern our bodily health and the orbits of the planets. Such a mind doesn’t (as Einstein says) make his creations by the throw of a dice !!
So if our maker is infinitely wise and infinitely powerful, he must be able to foresee how we will turn out _ the important question is whether he will still let us do what we want or whether he will make us do what he wants. If he made us inside his Son before time began and if he allowed the Roman soldiers and the mob to do what they wanted to his Son in Jerusalem, then he obviously is ready to suffer what we choose to do inside his Son. If you’ve followed the argument in the past 98 parts of this series, you’ll remember that Paul wrote in Ephesians 2, verse 10 that `we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them’. So not only has our maker foreseen what we will do but he lets us.
The Great Adjuster
However, the more astounding fact is that he has endured the consequences of our actions and has ameliorated and modified them so that they do not permanently destroy his plans for our lives. This eternal, cosmic death and resurrection is what was expressed in time on the hill of Calvary at the crucifixion of Christ in Jerusalem in 29 a.d.. We experience this in thousands of ways here on earth and will experience it fully in the new world that will follow this one. Thus we often find bad circumstances turning out better than we had expected. Repeatedly we see good results coming out of bad situations. We ourselves have used the expression `things turned out well after all’ or `who’d have thought it could come out like this?’
If there’s a force for evil at work in the world, we certainly feel there’s a force for good that is working to counter it. Although we have no doubt that evil and war are bad for our lives, we are surprised by the good things that often result. So, many Britishers would say there has never been the sense of unity and care for each other that was experienced during the Second World War. This is not because evil is good or because our maker plans evil, but because he has given us free will to destroy even his own Son, and yet is able to preserve our free will and `work all things according to the purpose of his will’. His infinite mind is thus able to foresee what we’ll do without making us do it, yet is able to counteract the consequences without making us robots. This incomprehensible theodicy which allows God to work our free wills together with his own results in our present lives.
Our lives always consist then of actions and words that are freely chosen by ourselves but are foreseen by our Maker. Moreover, he is always working to bring us around to the life that he originally planned for himself in us. He did not send us into the world to fend for ourselves as best we can; he designed us so that his Son, Christ, could fulfil certain things that he himself had planned to add to the creation. These are always fuller expressions of his own nature and personality even though they may result in bridges and roads being built, banks and shops being opened, hospitals and schools being financed. Always they express more of the wonder and beauty of his own nature and depend more on your attitudes and mine than they do on what we outwardly achieve. Again they are all dependent on his own guidance and life-power. So, inventors and geniuses like Einstein and Buckminster Fuller are more conscious than the rest of us that `all ideas come from God’ — from somewhere beyond ourselves. Although we teach each other that civilisation is due to man, the leaders among us know that we are simply as Bismarck said `listening for the footsteps of God’.
Similarly, the working out of our cash-flows, our relationships, our threading through busy traffic at lunch-time, and the thousand movements and calculations that we all engage in work together because of our maker’s constant supervision and adjustments. What we attribute to our skill or luck is due to his hand being constantly on the tiller — guiding and maintaining the stability of neutrons and the consistency of natural laws.
The mind that holds all of this together is Christ’s. As the Son of the Creator , he holds all things together and makes everything work. He really is the great human being (the `first-born of all creation’), and he lives individual lives in each of us through whom he moves the whole creation forward. Our contact with him is through the innermost part of our personalities — our spirits — there is the spring of all our actions and the origin of our prosperous actions. The constant challenge of our lives is to live by these inner spirits rather than the flotsam and jetsam of outward circumstances and events. This is what determines whether we are part of the solution or part of the problem.
This real world behind the material world around us is one that some of us have begun to experience. We’ve found it and “live in it” in the practical world of work and business. Although we have to use concepts that have become cheapened and trivialized by both religious and secular organizations, yet these English words contain realities that govern our lives.
The Normal Way
When we were children, we slept when we felt tired and we ate when wefelt hungry. Soon our mothers began to feed us when they reckoned it was goodfor us. Later, we began to eat at the times most other people eat — usuallythree times a day. This is the way we did most things — play, attend school,and work: we learned by observing what other people did — and we followed thatpattern.
Thus we learned what to do and think and speak by watching others. Thissource of guidance was enhanced and refined when we discovered books andtelevision until all our daily decisions and actions were guided by what weobserved others doing or not doing. There were occasions when we would sensethat we ought to do something different, but usually we rejected that innerurge and did what we sensed society did. Anyway, the urge to do something elsecould often be traced to a selfish desire to get our own way or to makesomebody else do what we wanted, so we did feel some guilt about this innerurge. Moreover, we were rarely encouraged by older people to follow our innerurges and this seemed reasonable advice as we saw how many of these urges wereanti-social.
In this way, most of us grew up believing that this was the only methodof finding your way in life and so we followed the guidance of our examinationsand test scores until we graduated to our present jobs.
The Really Normal Way
What we’ve seen in these last ninety-nine chapters is that this ordereduniverse of regular sunrises, orbiting planets, and intricately designedorganisms was made by an intelligent and gracious Being who made you and meinside His only Son. He then planned the detailed actions and words by whichHis Son in each of us would complete our own creation and that of the universe.The completion of our individual creation involves our willing choosing of theways He designed us to act and think: this is what our present life is allabout.
This meant that our Creator had to be willing to face all theconsequences and pain that our rejection of his plans for us would cause: thisis what we observe in this present temporary world. But, as we gradually turnto his moment-by-moment will for our lives, his spirit within us begins to giveus directions from his will and our lives stop inflicting pain on Him andothers. This is the normal way we have been created to live rather than the waymost of us have become used to – simply doing what we saw others do. It meansliving from the inside out rather than from the outside in — getting ourdirection in life from within ourselves rather than from watching what othersdo either to us or themselves. It means no longer living simply in reaction tocircumstances as they occur but taking independent initiatives based on our ownunderstanding of our Maker’s heart. It means basing our behavior on the factthat He has planned a certain life for His Son to live in us — and that Hewill reveal that to us day by day.
Faith is accepting that this is reality — that “we are God’sworkmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that he has preparedbeforehand that we should walk in them” — faith is believing that this is thepurpose of our lives rather than believing that we’ve to do what others do tous or themselves. We are to “walk by faith and not by sight”. As we adopt thisattitude to life, God “sends the spirit of his Son into us” so that we begin towant to behave as his sons and not as just our independent selves with no oneto please but us ! Gradually as we walk by this faith rather than by sight –watching for the hints that come from our Creator, we find a new awareness ofan inner life and experience that enables us to sense our Maker’s desires inthe various situations that we face. We are able to perceive a whole newattitude or spirit in ourselves and we can see similarities between it and theattitude of Jesus of Nazareth. Thus we seem to talk in that spirit more than wewalk in the spirit of those around us — more by faith rather than by sight.It’s this viewpoint or attitude that increasingly governs our behavior and ourthinking so that we realize the spirit inside us is influencing our wills andminds and feelings rather than other people and things and circumstances.
This is often called being born again because it seems as if we’vestarted living in a new way and in a new world that is directed by the Son ofGod Himself. And, in fact, that’s what has happened!
The Normal Way
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and theWord was God”. This is what happened at the beginning of all things – the Beingwhom we know in human history as Jesus of Nazareth – expressed God. He wasGod’s Living Word – He was God Himself separate from Himself in another Being.In His Son, Jesus Christ, God expressed Himself in an existence outside Himself- in a way that could be observed by other beings.
But Christ was not only an expression of the Creator’s divine nature:he was also an expression of another part of God, for in Him humanity also cameinto existence and eventually came to planet earth as the first man, Adam.Everything that humans have done since that time has been done in Jesus Christ- He has borne the effects of all their actions, thoughts, and words – and hasborne the strain of their hostility to their Creator. By this means God hasmade it possible for man to freely reject Him and yet live to have anopportunity to freely accept God’s best.
The fact that Christ is designated the first-born of all creation (Col1:15) makes it clear that humanity was not an after-thought of God, but was atthe center of the Creator’s intentions from before the beginning of time (Eph1:3-5). This was the best that our Creator could give us – Himself – his ownlife, His own Son. He gave us His humanity – the humanity that He gave to Hisonly-begotten Son who shared His own Eternal nature. So, when our Maker made usinside His own Son, He gave us the same eternal nature as His Son – and thesame close relationship with Himself. That’s why the statements in the NewTestament are so important – “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus,for good works that God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”(Ephesians 2:10). We did not begin our existence in our mother’s bodies – thisis part of the misconception or self-centered deception that we accept frombirth about ourselves and each other. Our real existence began outside time ineternity – in God’s conception of a dear Son that would be “the first-born ofall creation” (Colossians 1:15) and the “firstborn among many brethren” (Romans8:29).
Our Deadly Autonomy
The attitude that casts its darkening shadow on every step we take inlife comes from our missing this great central point of our existence – that wewere made as part of this wonderful Being – Christ Jesus – the only-begottenSon of our Creator. We repeatedly think of him as someone outside us – and wethink of ourselves as definitely outside him. The result is that we live asautonomous human beings – ruled by our selves and our own laws and wishes. Butinstead of this unreality, we are in fact part of THE GREAT HUMAN BEING who isalso God’s Son. We have been made to willingly enjoy His life and actions hereon earth. This autonomy is called “sin” in the Bible, but we keep regarding sinas mere immorality – it isn’t – it’s this willful independence of the One ofwhom we are an integral part.
In a way we are not autonomous – self-ruled. Actually we do not havethe ability to rule ourselves – we were made to enjoy the loving rule of Christwho has submitted himself to be imprisoned within us. Because of the capacitieswe have and those we lack, we automatically drift towards dependence on otherthings and powers. Most of us therefore fall into anything that will make upfor what we lose by ignoring our position in the Creator’s Son. We all knowthese “needs” from our own personal experiences. Obviously, the Creator’s sonhas a relaxed sense of his father’s care for him, so he naturally points to thesecurity possessed so effortlessly by nature -“look at the birds of the air;they do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Fatherfeeds them – are you not worth much more than they?” When we ignore the realityof our position in Jesus, we face an impossible situation – we areinsignificantly little pieces of flesh with millions of other similar littlepieces – and all of us have to get into our mouths what we need to keep usalive; this creates great insecurity in us! So, we have to find something orsomeone we can depend on to provide us with food. This is why money and jobsand govern so much of our lives and actions.
But the same is true about our clothes – the Creator’s son had anenviable contentment about protecting his body from cold and heat. He simplypointed to the flowers and urged us to “observe how the lilies of the fieldgrow; they do not toil nor do they spin yet not even Solomon in all his gloryclothed himself like one of these”! However, we think always “we’re on ourown”; we believe if we don’t clothe ourselves, there is no one else that caresto do it for us. So again we are not really autonomous in that we do what weourselves want; we are autonomous only in that we decide to ignore the realitythat we’re really part of God’s Son. By having done that, we become governed bythe things or circumstances or people that will enable us to clotheourselves.
Consequently, we end up living our lives to meet the needs that ourCreator supplies to his Son and all those who live inside his Son – of whom youare one.
We all have times when we are carefree and happy. And we all have othertimes when we sink into depression, fear, and anxiety. In those timeseverything seems dark and there is no consolation that can lift us out of thepit of despair. Even the universe itself seems a terrifyingly large place inwhich we seem mere specks of nothingness. Death seems to be the only certaintyas problem upon problem, difficult circumstances upon difficult circumstancesoccur to our minds. Even death holds little relief for us as we consider ourpast life and try vainly to force some comforting consolations into our minds.Indeed as life moves on, death itself can become a black cloud that blots outeverything else in our field of vision. The certainty of life’s end fills ourthoughts and the insignificance of our lives and the events that filled themseem to overwhelm us with the futility of it all.
In those moments particularly it is vital to look steadfastly atreality. Reality is not that you are a little, insignificant piece of matterspinning momentarily through space only to fade to nothingness like asmoke-ring. You are — of all things — part of the Creator Himself !! And notjust part of that mysterious, impersonal “OOOM” that some religions talk about– not just part of the “spirit of the universe” — the “elan vital” that flowsthrough all things. But you are a personal part of the only Son of God Himself.You are Him himself in a unique being different from every other expression ofHim that exists. This is why you feel at times that you’ll live forever –because you will ! You are `God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus’ and youshare His eternal existence. And your life is far from being ” a tale told byan idiot” or a vague, unknown journey that wanders you know not where.
The reality is that the Maker of the universe foresaw and planned thewhole life of mankind in a milli-second before there was any world. It’s plaincommon-sense that the great Being who devised the structure of DNA, the chartof the elements, the intricate beauty of the eye and the orchid did not setloose upon the universe a self-propagating horde of complex human beings to seewhat they would do by chance and luck.
That is the meaning of the phrase in the Bible “we are God’sworkmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that he has preparedbeforehand that we should walk in them even as he chose us in him beforethe foundation of the world”. Just as the planned orbits of the planets arenecessary and appropriate for lumps of matter flying through space, so theCreator and his only Son have planned the life that He will live in each one ofus. Yet his infinite intelligence is able so to govern every contingentcircumstance and event so that we are able to exercise our wills freely whilehe bears the effects and works all things in accordance with his plan.
Life as it Should NOT Be
The result is our present lives and world. Both our lives and the worlditself attest to the results that follow when we live as if none of this istrue. Daily we see what happens when we live as if there were no overseeingintelligence — no loving Father who has a plan for each part of his creation.Daily we see where our own self-will and self-centeredness causes pain anddisruption for ourselves and others. But daily also we see the ways in whichour Maker still expresses his beauty and love and peace in the kindly acts oflittle people. So, we are presented continuously with the choice of self or God– of our plans or His plan. In the midst of all our personal frustrations anddisappointment we can see that our own life is our Maker’s will and He isworking each moment to draw us willingly into the things He has made us for.
Finally the issue is not whether we are successful or fulfilled orhappy, but whether our Maker’s will and plan for his life in us is successfulor fulfilled. Our own signficance depends on that alone — and our satisfactionand peace derives from that. So, each time we ignore this reality and behave asif we are little independent specks in the vast universe, we impose upon Him inwhom we exist immense strain and pain. Yet his respect and love for us is soreal that He continues to endure our indifference to Him even as He gives usthe strength to live. How then do we live in the light of all of this ?
by Ernest O’Neill
Peggy Lee was a famous jazz singer. One of her hits was entitled `Isthat all there is ?’ It referred, of course, to life and its many experiencesand implied that it’s all rather disappointing and `a bit of a let-down’.Whether you think this or not, you’ve probably wondered what its purpose reallyis.
Why is There Suffering?
This sentence is so well-known that we often refer to it simply as the`problem of suffering `! Usually it crops up in a discussion of the origin ofthe world. Someone says something like there must have been a Supreme Being tomake whatever produced the `Big Bang’ or there must have been an IntelligentMind to program purpose into the process of evolution from simple to complex.But another person protests “how could a good God make a world where there isso much suffering ?”
What we have been saying so far is that this is the whole point of thispresent life — to show us what life is like without God. Jesus of Nazareth wasnot just a Jewish carpenter who became a travelling rabbi — he existed as ahuman being long before that. He was (as Paul writes in Colossians 1:15-17)`the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation — he is beforeall things’. In other words, Jesus is not only the unique Son of God whoexisted with the Creator before there was any universe, but His Fatherconceived Him not only as his divine Son but also as the human-being who wouldexpress outwardly his mind and character. That’s why `in him all things werecreated through him and for him’.
It’s also the reason why (as in Ephesians 2:10) `we are God’sworkmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has preparedbeforehand, that we should walk in them’. We exist only because `in him allthings hold together’ (Colossians 1:17). When we human beings live the way wehave for thousands of years — as if these things aren’t true — the result isthis present world ! But why would our Creator allow that to happen ? Whydoesn’t He step in and stop it ? Because he wants us to be like himself — havea choice — have freedom to choose the best because we can see the worst. Goddoes not want `goody-goodies’ who are good because they cannot be otherwise; Hewants children who are like Him because they want to be like Him.
How Then Should We Live?
Strange though it may sound — we are not here to `make the world abetter place’ — as we so righteously say. Our Creator knows that our presentpreoccupation with ourselves cannot achieve that. This is why Jesus said `if mykingdom were of this world, my disciples would fight’. Only the first and greathuman being will change this world-system — and Jesus Christ will do that onlyafter the human race sees that life is impossible without God. Should we thennot even try ?!
It’s vital that we spend our lives letting the life of Jesus touch theworld through us. Only then can the effects of his life and attitude be seenclearly — and only then can the huge contrast between God’s life and ourgodless one be plainly demonstrated. This is the purpose of this present lifeand world — and the purpose, therefore, of our own personal lives.
Is there any difference, then, between this kind of living and ordinaryliving of useful lives ? Much in many ways ! Often we measure the usefulness oflives by the visible improvements in building or commerce or science that areknown and publicized. But Godly lives are often unknown and apparent failures.The emphasis is the difference between the world and heaven rather than theirincreasing similarity. The purpose and motivation of the one is this world’sbetterment; the purpose and motivation of the other is the other-world’sreality. The dynamic of the one is human need while the dynamic of the other isGod’s will.
How Can Such an Other-worldly Life be Lived?
How can you live like this ? After all, we live in the midst of thetyranny of the urgent and the incessant ringing of the cell-phone. Everywherewe look we are faced with the needs of the world and its obvious imperfectionsclambering to be removed. How can you live above all of this and be used toclarify the difference between living in the light of God’s existence andliving as if he’s dead ?
Only if we can tell what our Creator is thinking and planning for useach day. He alone knows how his cosmic plan can be forwarded each moment byhis Son in each of us. The reality expressed in the sentence we quoted above isthat we will `do the good works which he has prepared beforehand that we shouldwalk in them’. Only Christ has the infinite foresight to have already donethose works in eternity taking into consideration the way we would exercise ourfree wills. So, only as we take seriously the fact that we are `the members –or limbs — of his body’ and that he is the `head of the body’ — only then canwe find out daily the life we are meant to live.
Moreover, this life can be directed by God himself only if there is someway that He can transmit his thoughts to us moment-by-moment. And this ispossible only if we ourselves possess and develop the capacities to receive andexecute the directions. Let’s talk about these capacities next.
by Ernest O’Neill
If you are not just a collection of atoms thrown up by some mindlessexplosion millions of years ago but were in fact created by an intelligent andloving Being as part of his own Son, how then would you live ? Obviously verydifferently from the strategy you use if you have to depend simply on your ownwits !
If the creator of the cosmos had such a detailed purpose and design aswe find in human and animal bodies, in the complex design of DNA and the chartof the elements, then he must have had some carefully thought-out plan for yourown creation. That is exactly what his son explained 2000 years ago inPalestine – He said “you in me and I in you” and “we must work the works of himwho sent me”. One of his followers stated “we are God’s workmanship, created inChrist Jesus, for good works which he has prepared beforehand that we shouldwalk in them”. In other words you’re not here just to make your own way as bestyou can; you are part of the Son of the Creator of the universe and He has putyou here to do something that can be done only by Him through you !
How do you find that out ? First, by paying attention to the one youknow must be aware of you – the one who originated everything we see around us.It’s only a fool who says there’s no such being. All of us know that the skydoesn’t “hang” there by its own strength and wisdom. We know from experience atmaking automobiles and machines that these complex mechanisms don’t jut comeinto existence by chance. So it’s downright arrogant to walk out in the morningand pretend that there’s no one watching over us to see if we’re OK. That’s thefirst step in rational living – acting in the light of the fact that someonehas put you here and that he has as certain a path in mind for you as he hasfor Mars and Venus. You can call this “belief” if you wish, but really it’sjust simple common-sense.
The next step is to want to know what your creator has for you to doduring your life on this planet. Again, it’s simple common-sense not to want towaste your time and effort in futile activities that just pass the time orplease others who have no idea why you’re here. As you begin to honestly wantto find out what you’re here to do, the kind Father who made you inside himselfwill begin to communicate deep within you some mental impressions or feelings.Deep in your spirit you’ll have some ideas of things you should think about ordo. Little by little, you’ll sense that there is someone like Jesus Christ whoexists and is aware of you; you don’t have to imagine what he’s thinking: justbehave appropriately. As you start living in this reality you’ll become moreaware of thoughts and attitudes that seem to come from someone else – this isthe spirit of our Maker touching your own spirit. It all happens very naturallyand unremarkably because God works through the very things that He himself hasmade and designed. Often therefore you’ll find that your natural abilities andgifts are part of his plan for your actions; however, at other times you’llsense you should do something that doesn’t come so naturally to you. In thisway you’ll gradually “set your thoughts on things above” and less “on things onthe earth”, but always you’ll be able to check these intuitions against thekind of life that Jesus lived in the first century here on earth.
You’ll become increasingly aware of a deeper sense of what you should doin certain situations; somehow your conscience will give you a desire to pleaseand not to offend your dear Father who made you. As you respond to that senseof certain things that are not just right but are personally pleasing to yourmaker, the guidance of your conscience will become clearer. The more youexpress your own respect and concern for your maker, the more your feelingsbecome those of a dear son or daughter, who loves their father. Far from beingimpulsively impelled to sudden, unnatural actions and reactions, you’ll findyour life gently opening out to new attitudes and ways that were unknown to youbefore. Often you’ll sense that there are simply more kindly and fragrant waysto say and do things; you’ll see that there is something higher than just rightor wrong – there are more graceful things and less graceful things. Thussuperhuman life is a more beautiful life. Indeed you’ll see many wrongattitudes simply falling way in the “expulsive power of a new affection”.
This new life that revolves around the presence of your creator enablesyou to see everything in a new light. The place where you work seems moreinteresting as you see different levels of life and understanding in the peopleyou work with and the things you all do together. The desire to please theauthorities seems to imprison so many and the consequent anxiety steals much ofthe spontaneity from those you work with. You yourself sense that your futureis in your creator’s hands and not your boss’s; the result is that your fearfades away and you start to be more natural and confident with others. It’sthen that you see clearly the shadow of fear and anxiety that hangs over somany and spoils the “fun” of work. Fear of man is dispelled by your love ofyour maker and your confidence in his care for you. So also your attitude toyour own work on earth changes
by Ernest O’Neill
Most of us live either to please ourselves or to please others: eitherway somehow results in our becoming slaves — slaves to others’ opinions andapproval or slaves to our own strong desires and inherited attitudes. There isanother way — live the way our Maker intended.
Usually we think of that as — don’t, don’t, don’t — don’t do this orthat enjoyable thing because it’s wrong — and God wouldn’t approve ! But thatis just man’s idea — it’s not the reality of God who has made little babies,puppies that run away with your slippers, funny people like Bob Hope and Laureland Hardy. How can a God who made the mighty Amazon river, delicate roses, andbeautiful red sunsets want us to do anything but enjoy all the gifts He hasplanted all over the world?
Where does this beautiful picture of our Maker come from ? From theonly human being who has beaten death — died and come back to life — and leftsuch an unquestionable historical record as has been found in more than 4,000ancient Greek manuscripts from 125 to 1100 a.d. — and affirmed in numerousother writings about his life in the first century of our era. This man (knownas Jesus of Nazareth) made it plain that he lived with his Father, our Maker,long before the world was made. He also said that you — and I — were made byhis Father inside Him. In that timeless “time”, God foresaw what you would dowith your free will inside his son and planned a whole life for you that wouldpreserve your free will and yet constantly draw you towards him and his goodheart. This meant that He would have to put up with whatever you did — andthat’s what he showed us in his Son’s death at Calvary in Palestine in 29 a.d..
But the purpose of all this is to bring you and me freely to a placewhere we want what our Maker wants for us — the very best for us — because heknows what will bring us full satisfaction. That’s why he put us in his son andhis son in us — so that he and we would draw closer and closer together as wedid here on earth the things He wants to do through us! This is for you –whether you’re a street-sweeper or a king, whether you’re rich or poor, whetheryou’re educated or not, whether you’re Ethiopian or British. You have a uniquelife to live and to be lived in you by the Son of the Maker of the world.
How do you live this kind of life? Just face reality — only a fool saysin his heart “there is no God” — face the facts of nature and of history.There has to be some great intelligence behind the order and design of thisuniverse — whether he made it gradually by evolution or suddenly in a bigexplosion, somebody has to be there to program the process or make the stuffthat exploded. Look honestly at this man Jesus — see how true his words sound– how balanced his personality is — and how he demonstrated power over ourgreatest enemy, death. Then just begin living as someone who had been put hereby a loving Father who regards you as his own dear child — as part of his onlySon. Start living from the inside out — instead of from the outside in!
This is what is called living by faith. Faith is not (as the little boysaid in Sunday School) believing what you know isn’t true — faith is livingaccording to the facts of reality. It touches the way you think, the way youspeak, and the way you act. Above all, it delivers you from the tyranny of theurgent, the pressure of your peers, the fear of man, and the panic ofcircumstances. God is not like the old gentleman that many people worship inchurch — he has already written the most advanced algorithm for computers thathaven’t been invented yet. He is your father — and he is most wonderfullykind.
by Ernest O’Neill
Years ago there was a movie called `Georgie Girl’. It was all aboutthis girl who felt she was rather unattractive until at last she saw she wasreally quite nice. The theme song was about someone inside you who is alwaystrying to get out — this was the real `Georgie Girl’. That’s the reality inyour life — and mine. There’s someone inside trying to get out !
This is the reality that was made plain to our world back in 30 a.d. –in fact, it’s the reason why we now number our calendar years in the West asa.d. — anno domini — the year of the lord. A man lived then who was actuallythe son of the Creator of the world. That’s why we call him lord and date ouryears as a.d. — in 2005 — the 2005th. year of the lord. We’vetalked in past segments about the historical evidence and ancient manuscriptsthat detail his life and demonstrate that he did live in that era and did dieand come back to life. The important thing that he — Jesus of Nazareth –clarified was – that he existed long before he was born in Nazareth. He saidthat he existed with his Father, our creator, before the world was made.Moroever he said that you — and I — were foreseen by his father long beforewe appeared in our mother’s uterus. He said we were first created inside Him –in timeless eternity — and that we have been put on earth as unique people inwhom He can live the life he planned for us in Him !
This is what we’re talking about — you and I beginning to enjoy allthe marvellous variety and dynamic of our creator’s son actually living outthrough us. The old movie got that bit right ! There is a beautiful personliving inside you who is trying to get out !
How does this happen ? Just by your beginning to accept the facts –this is reality — you are not just a little piece of flotsam and jetsam –unimportant chance bits of flesh thrown up by some mindless cosmic evolutionaryprocess or distant exploding star. Our creator may well have designed anevolutionary process and may have caused cosmic explosions, but we know thatsuch processes or chance disasters create only chaos unless some kindlyintelligent mind directs them. That’s the first step for all of us — acceptthat you have been made inside this Jesus — the cosmic Christ who is the onlySon of our Maker. Accept that He is inside you and has planned to live a lifethrough you that is different from the one he will live in anyone else in theuniverse. Then get on with living that life ! This is what is called faith –living in reality.
How is that different from the way most of us live now ? Well, first itmeans that you stop thinking about what you want or what you feel like doing.You’re bigger than that — your life is more important than that – you’re notjust a little animal that has to find its own food and take care of its ownshelter and coverings. You are part of the creator’s son and you’re here to dosomething in this world that only you can do. And he is inside you and knowswhat that is. So first you believe that — and keep an eye on things from thatangle. Quietly look at your life and your home and your job as you think hewould if he’s been sent to earth in you by his Father, the Creator. What doeshe want to do in your present job ? How does he want to help not just you butyour colleagues at work ? Read how he lived and thought of situations inPalestine when he was here in his own body as Jesus of Nazareth — then listenfor his intuitions that he puts in your mind. Just be quiet and follow yourthoughts in the light of the reality that you are in him and he is in you !
Don’t get all spooky about it — don’t go strange or super-spiritual !This isn’t a game or some kind of `in’ thing to do or be. This is reality — ifyou will just be yourself with him then He will begin to express himselfthrough you and to you. Treat him as your dear and good friend and he willbegin to transmit his own spirit to you. Keep your eyes on him and offyourself. It’s a paradox — but you’ll find your real self when you `lose’yourself in Him.
Let’s talk about it more next time.
by Ernest O’Neill
You’re not just another little speck of nothing thrown up by someimpersonal evolutionary force — you’re a special, unique person made by aloving father inside his only son !! Of course you’ve known that all along –you’ve always felt you’re unique; in fact, you’ve never met anyone else exactlylike you. Similarly you’ve never seen explosions that create order — theyalways create disorder and chaos. But popular (not real) science keeps tellingyou that some prehistoric explosion threw you up out of the chaos and you’rejust a little collection of meaningless atoms.
However history tells a completely different story of your origin. It’sjust that both the civilizations of East and West have hijacked parts of it fortheir own purposes. Each tries to prove by it that it’s superior and ought tokill the other one; so each misses the reality of it and continues to destroyeach other and commit all of us to nothingness. The truth is that both Mohammedand Jesus are great prophets and have given their great traditions to East andWest, but Jesus was also the only son of our creator. He actually existed withhis father, our creator, before the universe was made — and our creator madeus inside his son !
That’s the big difference ! Islam is a precious tradition and its waysare treasured by all Moslems, but Mohammed never said that everyone was madeinside him — Christ did — history records his words – history that isdocumented carefully by manuscripts written within a hundred years of his life.He said “you in me and I in you”. His companions said “you are God’sworkmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works”. Then – you appeared onearth in your mother’s womb — “your eyes beheld my unformed substance”. Soyou’re actually part of God — part of the body of his only son — and he hasthings to do through you. This is why you’re here.
Why then do we live as we do ? Because our creator gave us free wills– so that we could ignore the real person inside us if we wished. He didn’twant us to submit to his plan just because we’d tried no other — this is whyhe has permitted us to hurt him and his creation. This is why our world is sochaotic — even its atmosphere has been affected by our self-centered lives.But inside you there has been Christ himself patiently suffering and waitingfor you to allow his life to begin operating through you. This can start onlywhen you realize the truth behind your existence and begin to acknowledge hisexistence in you and your existence in him.
How does it come about ? Really it’s like everything in ordinary life– the air is there all the time, but it’s no use to you unless you breathe it.Christ, God’s son, is in you, but you’ll never experience his wisdom unless youtake the attitude that it’s there and live your life in gratitude. Thengradually you see things and understand things you never did before. One dayyou awake and realize you’re different from what you used to be — you thinkdifferently, you behave differently, you even feel different. Religious peoplecall it faith, but it’s just recognizing reality and living in it. Some peoplesay you’re living by the spirit of Christ within you instead of by animal-likeresponse to external stimuli. Paul, one of Christ’s followers said “I live, yetnot I, but Christ lives within me”. However you express it, your life begins toexpress order and peace instead of disorder and worry.
Others have said that they live now by their conscience and not by whatother people think of them. But Christ will often go beyond conscience becauseit often guides you according to the norms of the society in which you’rebrought up.
At times his attitude will challenge those norms — especially if you’rea cannibal or a legalist or free-thinker. Sometimes his spirit will be moremagnanimous and sometimes more particular than your conscience or your peers.
But easily the biggest difference is loneliness — it means the end ofever feeling alone again. Now you know that your dear father who made you knowsevery single detail of your thoughts and actions and location. His son insideyou keeps you constantly aware of his father and you share their closeness toone another every time you remember the reality of your life.
So your other self is really your only self. The lonely, uncertain selfyou’ve endured so far in your life never actually existed — its earthlyconsciousness was only the remembered ghost of an old self that was destroyedby your creator in timeless reality where he dwells. He allowed you toexperience that unreal life so that you could use your free will to choosebetween that and reality. So if you ever slip back into its narrow,self-centered attitude you feel immediately the desolation of deadness becausethat’s what it is — and has always been. Your “other self” is your only realself that will exist forever.
by Ernest O’Neill
Have you ever been surprised at some of the good feelings you feelrising inside you ? Even the worst of us have moments when we are surprised atthe good things we think of doing. At times we have just surprised evenourselves. It’s as if there’s another person inside you who acts and thinks andfeels better than we do. Sometimes we refer to this as our better selves yet weknow that it is us ourselves in some strange way.
The explanation is the reason behind our existence. A unique human beinglived in the first century of our era in the Middle East who spoke and behavedbetter than anyone who has ever lived on our earth. The history books of thetime — by Latin writers like Tacitus and Tertullian and Jewish writers likeJosephus and Paul — detail this human life and death so reliably that it issimply logical to conclude that this man was actually the only son of ourCreator. This man, Jesus, explained that he was alive with his Father when theworld was created and that we all were actually made by God, his Father, insidehim himself. So this Jesus was not just a prophet or a great religious leader– he is actually the son of the Maker of the universe.
His words are recorded and copied in thousands of ancient manuscripts sothat their historicity is more established beyond all doubt. Moreover hedemonstrated his power to leave life here on earth and return to it during hisfirst century life in Palestine. Throughout the centuries since that time hehas been regarded by the leading civilizations of mankind as the only son ofthe Creator of the world. In his own words he said ” you in me and I in you”and one of his disciples said “he was the first-born of all creation – allthings were made through him and in him all things hold together”. He is theperson inside you who constantly endeavors to fullfil his father’s will throughyou — that’s why you feel at times as if there’s another guiding voice orperson urging you in certain directions.
The great Being who made everything put you here to do certain thingsthat He can do only through you. Another of his followers put it like this –“we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God hasprepared beforehand that we should walk in them”. But this is all done by ourCreator so finely and intricately that his will works through our wills so thatwe are not like robots but more like the people referred to by Paul (another ofhis followers) — “workers together with God”. This man emphasized howimportant it is for us to exercise our wills in an active way and to avoid allpassivity — “work out your own salvation for it is God that works in youboth to will and to do what he wants”. He explained that “God works all thingsaccording to the counsel of his will” and that “all things work together forgood to them that love God”. Although our Creator is all-powerful, he is ourloving Father and wants us to come into a loving trust in Himself that is thefree decision of our own wills. So the urgings that you feel at times insideare his wooing you to acknowledge him as one who has made your part of himselfand wants you to enjoy fully that reality.
That is the purpose of this world in which we live — it is really ahuge picture of what life without God would be like. It is life as it would bepermanently if we were all left to ourselves to do just what we wanted ratherthan what He wants. So every day we face the opportunity to live out the lifethat our Maker has planned for us — and to simply enjoy exercising our willsand minds and tongues and hands to do those things. Or we can ignore this wholereality and pretend we are just little specks of nothing who have to make itthrough the day as best we can ! But the facts are that everything in theuniverse is working powerfully to facilitate God’s plan for each one of us.This is why millions of us do all kinds of diverse things and perform all kindsof complicated maneouvers each day without crashing into each other or creatingabsolute chaos. Out of the billions of ways wind could blow and objects couldfall and air and water could behave, multiple events happen every second thatare filled with intelligent design and direction. Behind all this activitythere works a dear, loving Father who cares about you and everything else.
by Ernest O’Neill
You probably have momentsyourself when you’re surprised by the strength of impulse you sense within youto do something or say something. It’s as if some force other than yourself isurging you forward. Often we wish our sense of direction was always like this -it would make life so much easier ! But – surprise, surprise – sometimes itmight not !
The incredible truth is that thisis the way we were meant to operate all the time in this life. In fact, youhave been created as part of the Creator’s only son and our Maker’s plan isthat his son would work through you to develop this world according to hisdesign. This way we’d have found the oil and the coal without desolating thelandscape and the environment – we’d have developed the rich life of the oceansand rivers without emptying them of their replenishing abilities. We would havebuilt our cities with enough open spaces and facilities to keep them liveablewhile providing enough togetherness to fulfil our capacities for socialintercourse. This has always been our Maker’s plan – and even now his son’sspirit within you is still alive trying to move you in the direction he has foryou.
The truth is that none of us aredispensable or unimportant – every one of us is here by special appointment ofthe great being whose detailed design is evident everywhere we look. Ourparents may have planned or not planned us, but He HAS PLANNED OUR EXISTENCE !Why do we miss this kind of living ?
Sometimes we make our lives boring and drybecause we simply don’t believe there’s any overall plan in the universe. Wepersuade ourselves that the whole thing really has come about by chance plustime. It doesn’t really make sense to us because we know how much thinking wehave to do to bring about just a little order in our lives, but we listen tothe crowd and conclude that there’s no order or plan about life, so we’d betterdo what we need to survive. The result is that we become driven byanxiety thatwe won’t get enough food or clothes or shelter to keep us alive andcomfortable. So, we give ourselves first to getting these things and the moneythey require. This desire for things and security creates a strong, drivingurge within that takes hold of our minds and wills. We become fixated on theneed for a job and money to keep ourselves alive and our life slides into therat-race of 8 to 5 labor that we don’t enjoy but feel we need. Life becomes dryand boring so that we cannot begin to think of why we’re really here.
If anyone suggested to us that we may havebeen put here to do something that no one else can do in the same way, we feellike laughing at them. We feel we are not great pianists or artists or singersor musicians – we have no great gifts that the world is anxious to pay for. Allwe can do is try to keep ourselves the way our parents kept us when we werechildren. If anyone says our maker may have something for us to do that no oneelse can do in just that way or time or place, we laugh at the idea and ask whowill keep us alive while we do these great things. So we are incapable of evenbeginning to believe that “inner impressions” or “urges” are the way we couldlive our lives because we doubt that there’s any greater power who issupervising the universe and our lives.
Of course the result is that our makerwould have to virtually chain us to make us do what he has planned – and hewill never do that. Most of all, he wants us as children and friends like hisonly son – he does not want automatons who do what he wants because they cannotdo otherwise ! So we never hear his inner voice except on those specialoccasions when he attempts to get us to listen. This is why one of his servantssaid that the first step is to “believe that God is and that he is a rewarderof them that seek him”.
So, what is the first step towards a lifeguided by the great conductor of the universe ? To believe the words of his son”look at the birds of the air – they do not sow or gather into barns, yet yourheavenly father feeds them – how much more will he feed you, you of littlefaith” – begin to live each day and face each fear with belief that our creatorknows and looks after you.
by Ernest O’Neill
What does your future depend on ? The education you have or haven’t ?Your parents ? Your business training ? The opportunities you will be given ?Luck ? Chance encounters with significant people ? Most of us think it willdepend on what we make of what we have. However we answer this question aboutour futures, we all are pretty certain that our own actions and initiatives arecentral — so we feel a considerable degree of responsibility and anxiety aboutwhat we’re going to do with the rest of our lives ! Certainly we have littledoubt that it depends mostly on us ourselves — there are millions of people inthis world and somehow we have to cut out a path for ourselves that will enableus to survive and prosper.
Order and Disorder
The reality, of course, is utterly different ! Even though the world welook at is a picture of millions of little people like ourselves doing justwhat we’ve described, this is not reality: on the contrary, it’s unreality -the very opposite of reality. The world is not meant — and does not need to be– this confused mass of humanity struggling to survive and make some kind oforder out of the chaos. The great person that made us did not create the earth,stars, space and us and throw the whole mess into a pot and let it sort itselfout for the next million years !
One of his son’s biographers put it like this — “we are God’sworkmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has preparedbeforehand that we should walk in them”. When you think about it, it makessense. Why would the creator make all the complicated solar systems whereplanets and stars orbit each other with absolute precision for centuries andthen throw all of us on to one of them to sort out our own lives any old way wecan ? It just doesn’t fit ! It doesn’t make sense ! We know from research thatour minds and bodies are more intricate than the most complex computers we’vemade so far.
We know also that there has to be some overarching force that enablesmillions of us to do billions of actions in crowded cities every day withoutthe whole system breaking up in chaos. Although we complacently respond thatit’s due to man’s clever adaptation to his environment, we see how the failureof a small o-ring in the space-shuttle or a contact in the electricalgrid-system reminds us how dependent we are on things going right. Yet we havebecome accustomed to pretend that it all depends on our human decisions anddiscipline rather than some other power that graciously overrules ourfallibility at crucial moments.
Nevertheless all of us have had experiences that have had a crucialeffect on the course of our lives – some person or circumstance or event thatstarted us on a series of actions that changed our lives completely. Withoutthis apparent “chance” our lives would have been completely different – and wehad almost nothing to do with it happening. These are the little clues ourMaker gives us that “we are God’s workmanship — created in Christ Jesus forgood works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”.Another clue is “gifts” — a musician’s extraordinary ability to play a certaininstrument. He doesn’t do anything but practice and play as well as he can -but the result is crowd-stopping. The same is true of singers, artists,mathematicians, footballers, carpenters, teachers, gardeners — they all dowhat the rest of us do, but their gift makes the result unusually successful.These are just hints that all of us — even you – have special “works” that wehave been made to do — and for which our Maker has given us the ability. Theymay not be regarded in the celebrity world as gifts — sweeping a street,cleaning toilets, transplanting hearts, sewing clothes; but they are vital”works” that your Creator has chosen to do through you !
You — or God ?
This, of course, is the most wonderful thing about our life here onearth – not that God has made us to “do” certain works in our lifetime, butthat he “has prepared certain works beforehand that we should walk in them”. Wedon’t actually DO them – he has prepared them beforehand – he has designed theminto the events that will take place in the world – he has planned that thesethings would happen – so all we have to do is “walk” in them. Sure — it’s ourhand that holds the bow and moves it back and forward on the strings of theviolin — sure it’s our hand that moves the brush that sweeps the dust away –but it’s Him that makes and sustains the bow and the cat-gut and enables theair to transmit the sound-waves to the ears that enable the brain to registerthe harmony and the peace. It’s all “a setup” — we just walk through it. Let’stalk about what God does and what we do next time.
If reality is that the creator of the world has made us in his sonso that he can live the life through us that he has planned, how does he dothat without making us robots ? Through two remarkable factors in our life hereon this planet – neither of which seem to be under the control of our ownwills. One is the part played by providence in our lives and the other is thepart played by gifts or talents that we all possess to a greater or lesserdegree.
Winston Churchill described providence like this: “The longer onelives, the more one realizes that everything depends upon chance, and theharder it is to believe that this omnipotent factor in human affairs arisessimply from the blind interplay of events. Chance, Fortune, Luck, Destiny,Fate, Providence seem to me only different ways of expressing the same thing,to wit, that a man’s own contribution to his life story is continuallydominated by an external superior power. Most of us can remember incidents inour lives that attest to the same reality – people we met at certain crucialtimes in our lives, events that influenced the way we spent the next ten ortwenty years. Yet these incidents seemed to be pure chance that we could notexplain or have foreseen; often they came right out of the blue and had noapparent connection with anything that preceded or followed them. Others weresimply unexpected turns that our lives took or people that we met just once andnever saw again.
The same kind of chance or luck or providence appears to governsome of the biggest changes or developments that take place in the larger lifeof nations and history itself. Often the direction of a war depends on anoutstanding leader who comes to the fore at the right time or on aninsignificant change in weather or location; these unforeseen and unexpectedincidents have governed the outcome of most of the wars in recent times.Similarly, the development of civilization has been greatly helped or hinderedby inventions or disasters that were under no human being’s control, yet thevery future of humanity depended on them. Diseases and their cures, changes inweather and climate, discoveries of natural processes have spelt the differencebetween survival and destruction among peoples and nations. Again and again thewhole direction of a war has been changed by a crucial battle being lost or wonor by the emergence of a leader who had never been noticed before that time.Similarly, inventions in medicine or weaponry or engineering have opened uphuge areas of discovery and progress that no one had anticipated. One mightalmost say that the main movements of human history have occurred throughevents and people that no human will produced or no human mind foresaw.
The fact that these phenomena led to so much order and progressled one of our poets to write “there’s a destiny that shapes our ends -rough-hew them though we will”. It’s also why the old German military leader,Bismarck, said it’s important to “listen for the footsteps of God”. Eithermindless chance brings these things about or a superior mind foresees thedevelopments that result from our free actions and acts deliberately to guidethem towards resolution rather than chaos. This is why Paul wrote to theEphesians “according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all thingsaccording to the counsel of his will” and why so many of us are familiar withthe saying that “all things work together for good to those who love God”.Theodicy is the way God exercises his will without coercing our wills and onecan see how this works out when we look at the many incidents in our liveswhich we cannot attribute to our own wisdom or fault. Obviously our lives aregreatly influenced by events beyond our control even though we continue toexercise our own free wills.
The same kind of direction in our lives occurs from anotherphenomenon over which we have as little control. This is the “talents” withwhich we’re born. Often when an outstanding musician is asked about his greattalent or a singer about her voice, they will both answer that they just dowhat they do. They don’t think it is their cleverness –they just sing or playlike the rest of us, but their talent makes them sound far better. It’s thesame with most of us who have talents that others notice – we just do whatothers do, but our talent makes our performance much better. Now the truth isthat we were all born with certain abilities and society calls some of themtalents because they stand out from the norm. But the truth is that all of ushave little abilities to do certain things better than we do others – these aregifts given to us by our creator. You have some – nobody – not even you – maynotice them, but sometimes someone will notice you doing something that younever think about – you just do it ! That is one of the ways our creator guidesour lives or “has works prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”. It’syet another way in which Christ within us is moving our lives along ourCreator’s plan.
Most of us dont want to be robots. We hate work that could equally well be done by a machine, and we dont like being treated as if were machines that just keep on doing the same thing again and again. Yet many of us find ourselves living our lives just like this. We end up in jobs and even in leisure-time activities repeating the same actions again and again, day after day, week after week, and year after year. But still something inside us rebells against this because we feel it takes away our free wills and makes us seem like robots.
On the other hand we dont like the insecurity that results from having no structure to our lives. Most of us have experienced the boredom that set in when a teacher at school could not create order in a classroom: the period seemed to drag on and on. We like, too, the safety and reassurance that comes from having a steady job and an ordered workplace. We find were most contented when we have this combination of order and freedom, overall structure plus personal liberty, planned direction and freedom to extemporize — that makes humans happy.
This seems to be the meaning of profound definitions of providence like we are Gods workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. We remember how a kindly father or mother, coach or teacher would know us better than we knew ourselves; we know how they used that insight and wisdom to lay out a plan for us and then to gently nudge us back into it whenever we got off track. As we look back at our own lives and see the apparent chance events or encounters that changed the direction of our development, we begin to discern a divinity that shapes our lives, rough-hew them though we will. Even when we badly misjudge and disastrously mistake the way ahead there have occurred unforeseen events that helped to get us back on track. When we couple this with the way our particular personalities or abilities have forced us to do things we would not have chosen, it becomes obvious that our lives are governed by something or someone wiser and gentler than a robot-maker who wants mechanical slaves.
In fact our own experience of life is very consistent with the whole truth that the man Jesus of Nazareth explained on earth in the first century. He made it plain that He Himself is the only Son of our Creator, that he existed before he came to earth and continues alive in the infinite world of eternity. He then said that we were his body you an eye, me a hand here on earth so that he could live a life through each of us individually. Such a reality is consistent with much of what all of us have found in our own experience of life.
Often weve sensed something or someone within us that guided us to do certain things or say certain things that we would not have normally said or done on our own. At times were been surprised at our own courage or boldness and felt almost grateful to whatever it was that produced such stamina and endurance. If this is the reality of life if this is its actual explanation if this is why you and I are here, how do we work WITH this rather than against it ? How do we let this Son of God this Christ in whom we have been created how do we let Him live in and through us how do we do what he does ? Obviously by acting appropriately if the maker of the world is actually in us, then its just good sense to expect him to make his will for us clear. This is the heart of living from the inside out it just makes good sense to spend time each day reflecting on the sheer reality that youre here to do something that your maker can do only through you. Hes going to explain this only to you and he can do it only if you listen and are intent on hearing. This is why its good to have some time near the beginning of your day to think about his existence and what he thinks about you. As you start to do this, youll get to sense what he is like and what he thinks.
At the beginning youll be aware of your own mind doing the thinking and sometimes youll wonder if youre imagining what he thinks. But gradually youll find thoughts and attitudes surfacing from your sub-conscious that seem unusual for you. They seem to come from somewhere deeper than just your mind. As you examine them and try to see if theyre sensible, its good to find out more about the kind of things this Jesus said and did when he was on earth, so the Bible is a good protection against being deceived by false imaginings. Of course the best way to deepen your understanding of your makers plans for you is to DO what you think he wants you to do and say. Jesus once said if you do my will youll know what I say is true; so align your life with what God seems to be guiding you to do. He can correct you at times through confirmations from other people or through difficulties that you come up against. So outward providential circumstances can help you to find your way sometimes making it easy and at other times strengthening your character by making it hard.
What we’ve been saying is that there are two very different ways to live life here on earth. You can get up each morning, look ahead at the day’s events and try to plan what you’ll do or be doing in each situation: your main concern is how to act and react to the things that other people will do or say or think. And, probably, you’ll have in mind what you yourself need or want to do to protect or improve your own situation. But you will be at the center of all your thinking and planning — and your own desires or preferences will be your overall concern.
The other way to live life on this earth is to get up each morning, remember that someone else got the sun up — and someone else, as Einstein says, has designed the order that our physicists perceive in the natural world. Just as that great mind has planned for the bees to pollinate the crops so that we have food to eat; just as he has balanced the air pressure and the temperature of the oceans so that we are not flooded out of existence, so he remembers why he made you. In other words, the maker of the universe has not just planned what the sun will do today or what effect the moon will have on the tides or how the forest fires this month will renew the trees — so he has planned what he has in mind for you today !
You can see how this changes your whole approach to the day — if you believe that this is really the situation. It means that your day is not just a matter of chance or other people’s plans or even your own short-sighted wishes. This means that your maker not only knows you but that “all your days — every one of them — were written in his book before there were any of them”: this is what he said through a Jewish writer years ago in Psalm 139:16. This doesn’t mean that you’re just a robot or that you can’t resist God’s will, but it does mean that you can either make things difficult for him or you can enjoy the things that he has planned for you. Our maker cares about you and will continue to try to draw you along the ways that he has planned, but he will never force you against your will — even if this means he has to bear the ill-effects of your autonomy for years !
How do you know what he has planned for you today ? Most importantly, believe the obvious fact that if he has planned the orbiting of the planets and the operation of the whole natural world, then he certainly has a detailed plan for you whom he has made in his own image. The corollary to this is that the spirit of his only son is in you and it is his desires for you that will bring fulfillment to you and satisfaction to his father. This means listening to the intuitions that he gives you from within; this is the big difference between this life of reality and the life of unreality: you live from the inside out not from the outside in. You go to work each day –confident that your creator knows what you’re going to face — and confident that he knows what you are to do, and will tell you at the time. Will you make mistakes ? Will you think you’re listening to his voice when you’re really being pressured by what others think or want ? Of course, at the beginning it’s like learning to breathe properly in scuba-diving: it requires presence of mind and active consciousness of the real situation. But gradually, you become more conscious of the Creator’s presence and opinion than of the people around you.
Will he guide you independently of your colleagues and fellow-workers ? Sometimes he will, but always with regard to what is really best for them. The kind of life his son, Jesus Christ, lived when he had his own physical body here on earth in the first century of our era — that’s the kind of life he will continue to live through you. So, one way that you can increasingly co-operate with your Creator’s son is to become familiar with the life he lived when he was in Palestine. His life then is regarded as the most unselfish and wisest life ever lived. It was responsible and thoughtful and considerate, but it was also courageous and free from man-fear or sloth. As you seriously study the spirit of his life that was expressed in the streets of Jerusalem and Nazareth you’ll be influenced by his spirit in your own life and understanding. Most of us find that we become gradually more and more aware of what his spirit within us desires and feels.
Do we find any difficulty at all ? Yes, most of us do — so let’s talk about that next time.
If you are here on earth so that your Maker’s only son can live as you – and do things through you, what’s the problem ? Obviously the first is that you may not believe that – so I do suggest that you read thoughtfully the first five or six segments at the beginning of this series. Without a clear intellectual basis you won’t be able to consider this “supernatural” life at all !
But the second problem is simply that “self” is ingrained deeply in your life: you speak and act on the basis of what you think – not on the basis of what your Maker’s son thinks. The resolution of this problem requires action from you and action from the one who made you.
The difficulty is that we are not only tied to this earth by the law of gravity but also by animalistic needs for security, significance, and happiness that we have met through things, people and circumstances in this little world. The whole purpose of our creation is to give us the opportunity to fully understand and experience the difference between life with our creator and life without him. So most of us find ourselves addicted to the substitutes we have autonomously developed here on earth. When we try to live the way we were meant, we find we can’t – because our very nature seems to be perverted.
It’s alright to say we should get up in the morning and wonder what our Maker’s son wishes to do today, but we find our mind is utterly taken up with breakfast and what will happen today in the office. We try to think “holy” thoughts but our mind has been shaped for years by looking out for ourselves and our own welfare. We aren’t used to taking any interest in what the maker of the universe might want to do in us today. This is why so many high and noble-minded visions for personal life collapse in a series of failed promises and resolutions. We find we just can’t do the good that we want but keep on repeating the same mistakes and vices.
This is why it’s vital to see that we “do-it-yourself”ers cannot get rid of our “do-it-yourself” nature by doing it ourselves! We can’t because we don’t really want to – our natures have really become perverted and corrupted by centuries or years of living off the earth rather than God. The only one who honestly does want us to live in the reality of dependence on our Creator is – our creator – who is really our loving Father. All we can do is ask him to show us what he sees we need changed so that we can acquiesce and He can change us. This is the reason for creating us in his only son – he must bear in himself the consequences of giving us freedom to kill or destroy – otherwise his will is not integral with his nature. This death in him in eternity was expressed in Christ’s death in the first century on earth. As we acquiesce in the destruction and renewal of our own nature in his Son, the work executed in eternity is actualized here in time in us.
So, as we face a marital crisis over money, the first step is to examine what we want, what our partner wants, and what we think our Maker wants. Jesus stated his Father’s will: “whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery”. Usually we’re very clear what we want – our own way, our freedom from this burden, and the convenience that we get from the other person. Money problems center on its use or absence. Self wants independence in its use and help in its absence, but love means wanting the other person’s happiness at the expense of self. So the issue is simply that you and your needs died when you were crucified with the Maker’s son – you must decide if you will accept that and trust Him to provide you what you need. There is no question that this is the attitude Christ takes, but you alone can examine all the consequences and make an irrevocable commitment to your Maker’s will.
Most issues that we face day by day resolve themselves into this equation so that we’re faced with a choice between self and God, his son living in us or us living for ourselves. The world is designed to work only one way and what we have now is the result of our trying to make it work the other way. The fact is that marriage is not meant to give us the society, help, and comfort listed in the marriage service as some of its gracious results. We are not intended to demand these from each other and to feel deprived if our partner fails to supply them the way we want. All of these can come from the only truly independent person in the universe. Other human beings can never give us the society, help, and comfort that only our Maker can give us – and he can give them to us only if we have accepted our death in Christ to all these “rights”.
So in our marital difficulties, supernatural life from our Maker will flow into us only if we come to accept the death of our old perverted heart in this cosmic death that was wrought for us in Christ, our Maker’s son. Only when we die to getting from our partners what only God can give – only then can He fill us with his consolation and love and comfort. Our whole life and the life of the world is designed to demonstrate to us what life without God is like – and to lead us into the cosmic death to self which opens our lives to his own uncreated life.
by Ernest O’Neill
“Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly ! They fly – so why can’t I ?”
Most of us have felt like the little girl in the old movie – we’ve really felt the narrow, smallness of life in this world – and sometimes felt we were made for a broader, bigger, freer more exhilarating existence than the one we have down here. But that’s as far as it goes – except for those odd moments when either a fast bike or sex or alcohol or a rogue wave took our breath away – and we felt superhuman.
However, especially in this celebrity-conscious society most of us feel insignificant and wonder if we’ll ever be noticed or known. We comfort ourselves with the thought that most people are like ourselves – trying to enjoy some vicarious fame by identifying with rock stars or sports heroes. Nevertheless we feel deep-down a little something that says ‘you are more important than people realize’ – however, nobody else seems to think this about us. So we go on through life somewhat dissatisfied and usually end up taking it out on our wives, children, or peers for not giving us more respect or attention !
How Important Are We ?
The real truth, of course, is that we are actually more important – in fact, we’re part of the most important being in the whole universe. But we don’t believe it – so we’re always rather dissatisfied with ourselves, our achievements, and others’ neglect of us. Why do we not believe that we’re part of the most important being in the whole universe ? Because we don’t read history ! We just can’t get past the many religious people who seem to us stupid or dumb ! And they certainly have not made it easy to see what modern theoretical physicists see so clearly through their studies of quantum theory.
It’s difficult to meet a modern physicist who does not believe that matter consists of infinitesimally small particles that one cannot see and whose position and speed cannot be known simultaneously. This means that the whole universe is still a mystery that had a beginning, but that there may be other parallel universes that have connections to ours where, as Einstein says, there is “spookiness at a distance”. Though the methods of proof are different, the tenets of science are not incompatible with the statements of the historical figure in the first century called Jesus, who said he was the only son of the Maker of the world.
Jesus talked of his own life with our Maker before this world was created – he said “you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you”, and a well-known witness said that Jesus was the “image of the
invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible – all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together; for we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”. Science’s emphasis on the “timelessness” of time harmonizes with Jesus’ statement that you were part of him before the beginning of the world – and that he is in you now to do something that only he can do.
What this means is that you yourself were made in this Jesus in a profound way that preserves your own consciousness and individuality; He and his Father do actually know you and have counted the hairs of your head – because you are really part of them. So, your life here on earth is something that they have planned – even if you sweep streets in Bombay or Rio, they are doing something through you that is vital in their eyes. Moreover, not only can you feel the pleasure of God when you do it well, but they also express their own glory through your actions. As you begin to live in this real reality, you experience the relaxed sense of fulfillment that comes from exercising God-given and God-used abilities.
Are You Significant ?
But you aren’t famous or rich or praised or lionized ! But neither are others after five or fifty years ! The truth is that the only esteem we need is not self-esteem but the confidence that someone, who cares about us, put us here and has something for us to do both here and hereafter. This is why the words spoken in the first century are important to understand. These are words spoken about you by one of the men who knew Jesus of Nazareth personally during his life on earth: Paul said “you are the body of Christ and individually members (or limbs) of it.” Jesus himself implied this when he said “I in you and you in me.”
The fact is that our Maker made you inside his only Son so that you would share the same uncreated life; he then let his Son (with you) come to this planet to express in it his nature and will. You often feel those “good” impulses within you and experience also the selfish “nothingness” impulses that are the live alternative. In this way you are constantly given the choice between God’s way and nothingness. As you make this choice you grow more like the Maker or more like his opposite abyss. You can try to replace his Son’s desire to please his Father with a desire to please others, but somehow the replacement never satisfies.
The reason for your existence is given in those words we quoted at the beginning – “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, for good works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” That is where we find importance or insignificance fade into the background – when we begin to enjoy what we are and what we do because we know our Maker prepared it for us before the world was made. That’s when we sense his words apply to us – “this is my beloved son in whom I am well-pleased.”
by Ernest O’Neill
Life is utterly different if you know why you’re here. If you know, you can live and be and act with freedom and enjoyment. If you don’t know, you’re always trying to guess what others will do and then work out what you can do. And everything in the world is becoming so complicated and unpredictable that daily life can seem more like an obstacle course or Chinese water-torture than something joyful and free.
Getting up in the morning is different when you at last realize that your Maker is your father and that he put you here to live as his child. And that he has put his own Son’s spirit inside you to enable you to be like Him and add his own touch to the world. Do you brush floors or wash windows ? Do you head up a business or sell stocks ? Then relax and do it well because that’s what your Maker planned for you this day. If you personally reach this conclusion, the whole control of your daily behavior changes from you to the Maker of the universe. The primary preoccupation of your life ceases to be your own survival and success and becomes instead a concern for your maker’s purpose in creating you and enabling you to exist on this planet.
This, of course, takes us to the central purpose of what this whole life is about. Why did our Maker make us and put us here ? And the best explanation we can give is from the only human-being that is described in history as “the express image of the invisible God, the first-born of creation, for in him all things were created – all things were created through him and for him; he is before all things, and in him all things hold together”. This is the man, Jesus Christ, whose historicity and identity as the son of God we substantiated in the first ten talks of this series. From him who is the unique, supernatural son of our Maker – we derive our adopted sonship because “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”.
Your life begins to feel like yours – as opposed to feeling that it is just a carbon-copy of so many others around you. Often you’ve felt like a statistic in the government’s or the advertisers’ surveys. Sometimes you’ve wondered if everyone has the right to direct your life but you. But you have a different feeling about living when you grasp the fact that the Creator of the universe has put you here to do something that only you can do in just this particular way. Moreover you start seeing that you are different from every other human-being that has ever lived or ever will live; you are as fitted for what you’ve to do as everything else that has been designed for a purpose.
Yet there is another reason to be happy and it is more important than the “good works” you are here to do. You are here because you are part of God’s Son – you yourself are not divine like him – you’re not God, but God has made you in his son. Just as he was a baby inside Mary in Bethlehem, so he is in you and you are in him. Obviously we’re not talking about the same kind of mass as ordinary matter or flesh and blood, but on the other hand we’re not talking about any invisibility that is more invisible than atoms or quarks. This is why Jesus said, “the Father is in me and I am in you”. This is the most important reason for you to be happy about your life – you are here because the Creator’s son lives in you in a unique way that he doesn’t live in anyone else. This is why there are so many of us – only thus can our maker’s Son express all of his many-faceted nature. It is only reasonable that if all of us were made in the only Son of the creator of the universe, then it will take millions of us to express fully his own nature and heart and attitude. This is what you do in a way that none of the rest of us can do ! We are all individually members of his body – and we will have a unique place and function in the infinite world of eternity. So our dreams of space are just little glimpses of the limitless world we will each experience after we leave this planet.
Our most important task is to discover what our maker put us here to do. So the first step is to take him and his existence seriously and realize that he is conscious of us, knows we are here, and wants to show us why we’re here. Thus our life will be directed rather than improvised.
by Ernest O’Neill
We know that the “old self” was crucified with Christ and we therefore“reckon ourselves dead indeed to sin”. We change our whole way of thinking and “bring very thought into captivity of Jesus Christ” – not by dint of our naked will-power but by an act of faith that we are no longer on our own – apart from Christ, but a bit” of Him. So we are not“conformed to the image of this world but are transformed by the renewal of our minds” as we “have that mind in us that we have in hrist Jesus” and think no more deep-down into ourselves, but allow ourselves to be lifted by Him to “rejoice in the Lord”, his Father as he does. This catapults us ut of the depression of self and into the upper reaches where we “have been raised with Christ and made to sit with him in the heavenly places”. We are catapulted’ by the Holy Spirit – not by our own effort-filled positive thinking, but by the sheer facts of our real existence – that we ourselves no longer exist in our wn skins, but we are part of God’s Son and therefore our situation is his. So our thinking is automatically influenced and governed by the situation in which we ave een placed by “being raised with Christ and set at the right hand of God.
This ends the thinking and calculations of death which governed our minds when we lived in the midst of self and independence of God. There– we had to alculate hat would happen to us if we were left alone when all our friends and relatives died. Indeed they have already died as our friends and relatives for we are first and oremost the brothers and sisters of Christ and the sons and daughters of God – and He will never die or leave us alone. So we “put off the old nature” and its hinking about death, the future, and loneliness. As Christ asked those around him who asked him about his human family – “who are my brothers and sisters but hose who do the will of my Father in heaven”, so we see our attachment to even our relatives as part of the old self that was crucified with Christ – something that o longer belongs to us. A vital part of the new life we have been given in Christ is this new way of thinking – free from the old thinking and calculations of death here we could find our minds invaded by depression and sadness. Just as Adam took the first step away from reality as he allowed his thoughts to wander around he possibility that God had kept something good from him when he commanded him to eat the fruit of every tree but that of the knowledge of good and evil, so weput away like the plague any of the thinking that sprang from our old separation from our Maker.
When we get up in the morning and a little thought of anxiety or sadness about the day pops into our thinking, we “put it far from us” simply because it is not relevant to our situation as children of the loving Father who created and operates the universe. Similarly, we reject any heaviness about our relationships to those we knew as our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, because we know our family is that of Christ and our responsibility to them all is the same. Thus we are saved by Christ’s Spirit from the selfish introspection and false security that we used to get from our dependence on human blood relationships instead of our real and eternal ones. So in Christ we are delivered from all the wrong thinking that used to imprison us – we see it for what it was – part of the “old self” and of that “body of sin and death” that clung so closely. Now, we know it is no mere wandering thought, but the very odor of “death to death” that wants to grapple us
to itself. We look up and “set our minds on things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” and are lifted into those bright, sunlit uplands.