WHO IS THE CHRIST?

BY:  FRED PRUITT

JUNE 20, 2005

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PART ONE

The Father begetted/birthed/found the Son, by going outside of Himself. Being in Himself One who “needs” nothing, but IS ALL, and could conceivably be an endless eternal sea of divine unmoving bliss, contemplating only Himself and His Sufficiency Within, He was nevertheless moved by the miracle of Love to beget Himself anew as an Eternal Lamb. (The former would have become darkness, as it did in the devil, a black hole of hungry raging consuming self.)

Likewise, we ultimately find Christ outside of ourselves – in every other man and woman we encounter. We first know Him as the “outer” (outside of ourselves) Savior, and then through discovering our total nothingness and weakness, we make the ultimate personal discovery we can make, that He has come into us and has donned our identity as His own, so that we living are He living, and then we come at the end of that progression to finding Him likewise in all the other selves around us. Every one of them.

This is the only way we can find the fulfillment of Paul’s admonition: “ (Phil 2:3 KJV) Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”

Ever try to do that? Ever try to “be humble?” Every try to “esteem others better than” yourself?”

Hard to do, isn’t it? It sometimes has to go against all the grains we’ve got. Pretty much every person we know we are certain we could remake into a better person by their conforming themselves to our image of them. If only they would get on the stick and see!

But when every “me” out there becomes “ME” speaking – as if through the human voice, whatever or however it might be – God is saying, “Don’t you recognize Me? I’m here, too.”

It overpowers everything and brings everything into its sharpest focus to see Him in everyone else out there, and only there can the humility come, because you have been made a servant of All, a servant of God, and suddenly seeing Him in everyone, everywhere, no matter their condition, their status, or any other measure of their humanity, you want only to serve Him wherever you see Him. We bring Him homage, praise and glory to treat everyone as God Himself.

In the 1970s I belonged to a church that had an aggressive “street ministry,” and we made efforts to have rehab programs and bring people in off the streets – lots of hitchhikers and homeless youth in those times – and get them “saved” and “sanctified.”

Now, mostly the folks we met were looking for a meal and a place to sleep and not necessarily for anything more affecting to their lives than that, but we were of the forceful kind; we were young, strong and BOLD in the Lord, and in order to stay with us one had to come to the Lord and take all our classes and, most importantly, do whatever we told them. We were also one of those churches, which taught literal, total obedience in every facet of life, to those above you in the Lord, and so those coming among us had to agree to that as well. We were tough.

Now, at the time of this incident, I was barely a neophyte myself, but I’d been “with the program” long enough to be “over” all the new guys, which meant they had to obey me as much as anybody else. So one night I came into the room where some were watching TV. At least one guy, and after all these years I still remember his name – Jason – was watching the TV.  Now, maybe the TV was mine, or it was communal, I don’t remember, except that I had a “legal” right to take it. So, even though Jason was sitting enjoying a show, I just walked past him, unplugged the TV, and started to walk off with the set.

Of course he protested: “HEY, what’re you doing, man? I was watching a show!”

So I said, “I’m your minister, and I want the TV,” and I took it, against his many protestations and calling me a hypocrite and unfair and everything else.

I got the TV, but 30 plus years later I still wince about that incident. Even then my heart smote me, though I didn’t take the TV back. I must’ve watched my show, but I’m sure I didn’t enjoy it.

But now I know why my heart smote me. It wasn’t so much that “I” had acted badly, or selfishly, which of course I had, and it certainly wasn’t the last time. But it was that Jason was Jesus sitting in there, watching the TV. In my mind Jason was an undisciplined, unambitious mooch, not serious about the Lord in any way, and not worth my time someone for my disdain. I had good reason to think that, because the evidence proved itself in so many ways in my sight, and not long after he left us (and we thought the Lord also) to go off into the unknown. So the truth was, after a sort, that he truly was an undisciplined, unambitious mooch, not serious about the Lord in any way. But still the Lord said when I afforded Jason no respect and ill-treated him, “Didn’t you know it was Me?”

That’s what it means to “esteem others better than ourselves.” Because they are He living, and there, in THEM, we find our salvation and life manifest in the living breathing Emmanuels we speak to, see, rub elbows with, work for, help out, compete with, etc., every day.

It’s an aberration of Christ to find Him in our selves and then to expect the world to come worship at our feet because we are the Christ come to them. But it is the total fulfillment of ourselves in the Father’s love to, after having found Him in ourselves, to forget in a sense that He is there because we are so glad to see Him everywhere else, and delight in Him in everyone else. That is heaven.

PART TWO

This stuff I send out on an intermittent basis is always new stuff to me, sort of “hot off the press.” I have lost the ability to regurgitate rote catechism whatever may be a catechism to me (and we all have them) must become or be something living because all I can pass on to anyone is my own reality. Which is what we all do.

I wrote the first “Who Is The Christ?” article two weeks ago tonight. The next night my mother unexpectedly (to us) went to be with the Lord, and so all the days since then until yesterday were spent with family and friends and doing the necessary business things.

So out of that milieu I guess this has come. Because I was thinking yesterday how the piece I wrote two weeks ago had become to me the most “important” piece I’ve ever written, and what I am seeing from it seems like going home again and finding the most relaxing Sunday afternoon picnic ever. I mean it; this is big. (To me.)

Finding Christ in others, is all this “stuff” that we speak of, having gone full circle.

This is absolutely unequivocal when you see it. The “what about Hitler?” questions drop away.

Since my routine has been interrupted these past days, my regular reading was all screwed up so I happened to pick up the Bible yesterday and decided to read Galatians again. I’ve read it a few times so it’s kind of familiar. So I read and read and thinking about whatever else, not really taking in the verses, until Paul says, “when God revealed the Son in me”…

My mind melted down again. That’s the whole ball of wax. God is delighted to reveal His Son IN whoever will acknowledge that He is there. Paul didn’t say, “Christ came into me” (though I’m not developing a theology contrary to that notion because it is certainly correct to say “Christ came into me”), but Paul said that God had revealed the Son IN Paul, in “himself,” meaning He had been there all along, and the Father in His right moment of time revealed it, pulled back the curtain over Paul’s consciousness, so that the Jesus who He certainly saw on the Damascus Road, Paul now saw located not outside of Himself but rather at the center of Himself, so that His risen life now as Paul the Apostle was a life of being intimately one with the Father and Son through the Spirit in a way that can only be described as Mystery, because language breaks down to give a definition of it, since we just are “it.” “I in them, thou in Me.” Or “like the wind” as Jesus also described it.

But it doesn’t end in that revelation. God’s life is always dynamic, and as such can only be an ongoing flow. People speak of this “third level” and “fatherhood” stuff but do we really know what we’re saying? Surely it’s not about just having power to do stuff or get stuff. In the world most people will tell you they love the fact that their dads are good providers but what everybody really wants more than Dad’s stuff, is Dad’s love, presence and involvement in other words, Dad HIMSELF!

Dad’s work is getting close to the finish line and he begins to finds his rest when his sons and daughters have grown up and are taking care of themselves and forging with confidence their own lives. His delight is in their success, and especially the successes they accomplish on their own.

“Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth.” Dad finds himself, in a sense finally finds his rest, his peace and something of the salvation of his own life when it begins to be reproduced in maturity beyond the length of his own life in succeeding generations. This is an earthly picture of heaven. The Father begetting the Son who through the Cross by the human race reproduces an eternal race of “sons of God” for which the whole creation “groans” until their full unveiling, which is as far as we’re told of the plan of the Father.

But getting back to our human lives and being dads and moms, what about all the struggling years, the rebellious years, the years of trouble, worry and woe? Have they then ceased to be our sons and daughters? Even though there may be wall-bustin’ confrontations and conflicts, screams and names called and slammed doors and far worse, still Dad (and moms are included in this, too) cries in his bed at night and wants only the best of the best for them because he sees who they really are even though they can’t see it for themselves. He longs to turn their self-loathing into the right kind of self-love and pride, desiring nothing for himself except the pleasure he receives by small gestures and the love in their eyes that always tell the whole story even when they can’t say it.

This is the most practical way I can say and describe how it is we are “spiritual fathers.” Everywhere we look, as I said before, Christ is all we see, and we have come to serve, praise and honor Him in every person in the world by believing in Him wherever we see Him. When you realize the little smarty-pants guy waiting on you at the McDonald’s who is being rude to you is Jesus, you can’t lightly demean him. You might argue back, because we live normal human living in all this, so you state your case, you demand a new cheeseburger with extra pickle just like you ordered, but it’s Jesus doing business with Jesus, and the whole world changes when that glimpse hits you. (And it’s quite a joke, too!)

It is exactly what Jesus meant when He said whatever you would have men do to you, do likewise to them. Give honor and praise to the Son in everyone, even if in their own mind and consciousness and faith they are in opposition to Him and attempt to thwart His will. What is that to the Lord? Rewarding good for evil is just coals of fire on their heads.

I was given a touch of grace to live in what I’m talking about during my ten days back at my mom’s house. We had lots of hard stuff to do. Sad stuff some of it. My family is graced with sufficient dysfunction to make us like most every other family, and my mom was a clan matriarch and a mighty force of nature who we all thought could never die, so we were a swirling vortex of raw energy for days on end living up to who we are as a family. And man oh man, though I had every thought known to man, the one overriding feature of the whole experience was Christ everywhere in my cousin who called me up and first told me the news, and Christ in the funeral home man who was much more than that, and Christ in Janice my friend who is priest at St Peter’s Episcopal Church where services were held, and Christ in the lawyer who we went to see on Friday to ask his advice, who reluctantly found himself Monday speaking at her funeral because the stories he told us Friday so moved us we knew he had to be one of the speakers, Christ in my mom’s dogs who were still waiting at the door for her and who slept with us in her bed with Janis and I the whole time we were there, Christ in my sisters and brothers and cousins and nephews. I could go on and on, because grace was there to love each and every one as who they were, Bob or Billy or Judy or Mary, and never as anything more really than the human people they are, with all their idiosyncrasies just like mine, their strange habits and secret problems and maybe hidden shames I don’t know about, but behind every face and in every handshake in the same way they were just Bill or Bob or Joe standing there, they were surely also the Lord Jesus looking out through them at me, and every moment I was raising my hands inside and my mind was overwhelmed with the panorama of all the cloud of witnesses who surround us in prayer and praise every moment.

Even when I didn’t “feel like” that, I knew it was so, and made me smile every time it came to mind.

Do you see what I mean when I say when you see Jesus in everybody (really, not just pretend) then that’s heaven? Through a glass darkly maybe, but still heaven? Isn’t that the end of the book of Revelation, where there is no sun or moon, because the Lamb is the light of it, and He lights the whole city? Tree of life in the middle of it and all that?

This is what we’re talking about here. A bit of death and resurrection, and tons of glory all along the way. Tons.

WHO IS THE CHRIST? Parts 1-2 [Fred Pruitt] 6-20-05          1

 

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