The Spirituality of the Christian East — 20170514

Christian teaching asserts with courage the possibility of a “union” of man with God. In fact it asserts that humans were made in God’s image and have the infused “potential” to become more like Him. Of course we have to realize that God’s image is seen in Jesus Christ, the God-Man. We cannot become like our Triune God but we can become more like Jesus, the Christ. In fact, it is our belief that God intended, when He created humankind, that He would give us the power to grow in our likeness of Jesus.

What is the Christian meaning of “union” with God? In general terms, the Christian meaning of “union” with God does not mean that we assume His identity. He created us to have our own identity that is brought into and sustained in existence because His life-force animates us. This union means that we, albeit in a much more limited way, have the capability to develop the ways of thinking and living that were manifested in the person of Jesus. He truly revealed to us how children of God are called to live. He also revealed to us that if we live and think in the manner that He did, we will achieve a fullness of life that cannot be achieved in any other way. The fullness of life is when we come to see ourselves as “spiritual-physical” beings that find our completeness by knowing how to unconditionally love others.

As I shared recently in one of my sermons, when I live more like Jesus, something happens to me: I grow in my ability to unconditionally love others. The more I grow in this ability to unconditionally love, the more I become like Jesus – like God. For He unconditionally loves all of His creation. The way we bring honor and glory to Him is by growing in our ability to unconditionally love othersand thus become more like Him. Think about it. Fathers find praise from their children when they live in accord with the principles of life that they have found to be important. So too our Heavenly Father. All He desires, if we use human terms, is that we love as He loves. This, in effect, returns our love to Him.

The attainment of union with God is only by gradual spiritual growth and a real consciousness of this union. We must desire to be one with Jesus Christ. We must desire to actualize our potential to be like Jesus.

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