“IS THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY ALL CHRIST?
BY: FRED PRUITT
This below is a reply to someone asking what place is there for correction when people behave badly and referring to the Corinthian situation addressed by Paul. The piece “A Ball of Yarn” has generated quite a bit of “interest” coming my way, more than most things I write, and this in a sense covers some of the same issues addressed to me by some others. It’s just how I see things, nothing to be put in stone or a book of systematic theology.
Thanks so much for yours. This little piece on the ball of yarn has generated more interest than anything recently. I must have hit a hot button. The “union” people I’ve known here in the US and hung out with, off and on, for almost 25 years, have split and split and split over just this issue. So here it is again, and I suspect will be coming again and again.
First, to give my answer to the question you ask in your title: “Is the good the bad and the ugly all Christ?
Now this is “theology” just for a moment, if you will, but I’ll make it short.
At the basis of everything is Christ. By Him all things consist. He upholds all things. All things consist of the Word of God. Any way you cut the mustard, in Him we live and move and have our being. He is All in all.A
But in His All-in-allness, which is absolute and total – by Him ALL THINGS consist – there also exists freedom – which is also in Him. In that freedom these creatures (ourselves and the angelic creatures) are spoken or formed into existence by Him and are all intended by Him to be conformed to His Self-giving nature by union with the Son. We know there is a kingdom of darkness which, in itself, denies God, so that even though God is All in all, there is also the kingdom of darkness which is the kingdom of Satan, the author of lies and self-getting-self, who is a fire which is never quenched with the cool water of the Spirit because it will not die the death of the cross. In that kingdom, even though God is All in all, the truth is turned into a lie and God has eternally said: “unto the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure, and unto the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.” We can see God as He shows Himself “pure” – All in all, unmixedly everything, or we can deny God’s absolute “purity” (which to me means He is everywhere in All things working all things, good and evil, after the counsel of His will) and live in the lie of something which has claimed to have risen above the throne of God, as truth.
This is solely a matter of heart – will, desire, and “inner” knowing – operated by faith. “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life,” and, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Whatever your “heart” is, that you are. Even regardless of your conscious knowledge, and I would suspect almost always despite it, as long as we see through a glass darkly, which we all do while we are in this life.
In short, God is All in all, but only “known” in those who are conformed in heart to the image of His Son and thus living in the kingdom of His love. The other denies God and lives in the lie as reality and, in themselves, quite outside of God. (We speak metaphorically.
That’s theology, sort of. Fred version anyway. Probably wouldn’t hold up under much scrutiny.
That’s the high-falutin’ answer, so to speak. But the nitty gritty is daily life where I often rub people the wrong way and they often rub me the wrong way. Could be somebody in the same house as me or somebody on the TV. In my country we just had a very divisive political season and half the country hates the other half and the feeling is mutual. How do we live in that world?
I’ll go out on a limb here and say Paul’s situation he addressed with the Corinthians was unique to the Corinthians and his solution was unique to them, and that to me he was not formulating the right procedures to address either sin, or bad behavior, in the church. To me what Paul was saying in his letter to the Corinthians was what the Spirit was saying in him to say to them at the time. The lesson for us isn’t, to me, to try to figure out when we should or should not correct someone else, or when we should allow ourselves to be corrected, or to figure out what is sin in the believer and what is not sin, what is permissible and what is not on some hypothetical “what-if” basis, that we can write down in a manual and use from here on out to make everything run smoothly.
That’s what the rabbis did with the Talmud in the Dispersion. In order to protect the integrity of Judaism, for a couple of hundred years, I think, give or take a hundred, rabbis in Palestine worked on sort of an “exposition” of the law of Moses, interpreting each and every law down to the nth degree, and adjusting the legal requirements of Moses to the reality that there was no more temple, temple sacrifices, nor Ark in the Holy of Holies. The result was more laws than you could shake a stick at!
My point is that we address things as we are led of the Spirit Who works in us. Can Christians sin? Can they behave badly? Can “union” Christians sin? Or can only certain “union” Christians, the ones who “really know,” be guaranteed a sinless life from here on out? The answers to silly questions like that aren’t lined out in precepts but learned in the depths of our heart. “And all shall be taught of God.”
I don’t promote a law here. Jesus said if your brother offends you, you can go talk to him about it, but in a spirit of meekness. Certainly not in judgment. Peter the apostle was rebuked publicly by Paul for being a bit cowardly when the Jerusalem folks came up to Antioch. And he was an apostle who walked physically with Jesus. I guess if Peter can mess up like that then I can’t claim to be exempt from such a possibility for myself, nor exemption from the possibility of being in Paul’s place to rebuke someone else if necessary. (But I’ll also add, that Peter was not his own, and even though he seemed to be temporally diverted into a self-protecting self, he was nevertheless the Lamb in being that example to us forever.)
This is a daily living reality with the Living God, not formulas for living. What I attempt to share with others is not a set of principles and how-to’s, but what I have seen and heard – in myself. And what I have seen and heard is Christ, All in all, as myself. He imputes no iniquity to me. I make no attempt whatsoever (any more) to judge myself, not out of haughtiness, but because I have no perspective to do so. Only God can judge. So I don’t have to worry a bit about “sinning” because there can always be the tap on the shoulder from The God beyond me if it should occur. Maybe it will but I’m not worried about it or afraid of it. So I live free. And this is to me a personal word of the Lord, and not something I can make alive in others, unless the same faith likewise rises up in them by the Spirit.
When I say, “I always do those things that are pleasing to Him,” while there always exists the awful possibility of using such a high statement in a totally self-serving way, and many many have done so in the past, for me it is instead a death, because it is absolutely something beyond any ability I have, or any knowledge I know, that would make that be true. It can only be true by total miracle, a gift of grace out of heaven, and I find myself staking all on that, because I can’t pull back from the confession once the Spirit has given the living word to me. THAT would be the sin.
Despite the great possibility of being been a fool, and most likely actually being one, despite having my foot in my mouth more often than not, we can only continue to communicate that to others, which we have seen for ourselves, that we are perfect in Him and always do His will. That we ARE HIM living in the world as supposedly “flawed” human beings. That, “I and my Father are one.” Believe me, one cannot say that in truth and not be what it means. To be “one with the Father” and to always “do those things that please Him” means in spirit and truth we live not unto ourselves, but unto Him, now joined with Him in one purpose in life, which is to continue to propagate life, to “be fruitful and multiply.” And we further discover, we have been made living sacrifices, and are joined in nothing except the life in which a corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies, in order to bring forth much fruit. It pleases the Father to bruise us. So we’re not bragging about some moral high, ground, or big holy place we’ve come to but no others have, but boasting only in being nothing in ourselves and He All in all in us and His life expressed as us in the world. This is true for anyone who wants it only by the word of acceptance.
Well, that’s it for now. Maybe the water is more muddied, I don’t know, but I am so glad you wrote, and maybe this will touch something for you. All my love,
IS THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY ALL CHRIST [Fred Pruitt] 1