Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Truth Project - Unio Mystica: Am I Alone

Lesson 8 takes us for a tour of the social sphere that Dr. Tackett characterizes as the heart and soul of Christianity: the Mystical Union (Latin, Unio Mystica) between God and man. Here, in the most intimate and profoundly mysterious sphere of the “Intimate Three” (family, church, and the God-man relationship), we have the privilege of pondering exactly what it is that Christ has purchased for us at the price of His precious blood shed on the cross for our sins: not simply salvation from hell, but an invitation into the Godhead itself, where we may experience the incomprehensible wonder of oneness with the Creator of the universe.

In our discussion of the family, we saw that the apostle Paul
likens the bond between Christ and the church to the oneness shared between husband and wife (Ephesians 5:31-32). This oneness, he concludes, is a “profound mystery” –a concept that is difficult to fully grasp. On this tour, we proceed to examine an even deeper and more mysterious aspect of this bond: namely, that it is experienced not only within marriage and the corporate context of the body of Christ, but also on an intimate, personal level by the individual believer. This, says Dr. Tackett, is the greatest of all the wonders we will contemplate during the course of our study: that the God of the universe has come to make His dwelling both with us and in us.

Dr. Tackett marshals an impressive array of scriptural passages and biblical images to illustrate both facets of this glorious truth. On the corporate side, he draws our attention to Jesus’ discourse on the vine and the branches and the importance of “abiding” in Him (John 15:5); the high priestly prayer of John 17, in which Christ speaks again and again of the oneness shared between the Father, the Son, and the body of believers (“I in them and You in Me”); the several passages in which Paul emphasizes the importance of unity in the church and the mutual edification of the various members of the body (1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Ephesians 2:19-22, 4:11-16; Galatians 3:28-29); and the many “one another” commandments with which Jesus and the apostles set forth their vision for our common life as Christians, including John 13:34-35, Romans 12:10, Ephesians 4:2, Colossians 3:16, and 1 Peter 1:22. On the personal, individual side, he cites Jesus’ statement to Nicodemus about being “born again” (John 3:7); His promise of the indwelling Spirit (John 14:16-17); Paul’s declaration that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17); and the apostle’s astounding claim that “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). In connection with this discussion, Dr. Tackett points out that we must be careful not to “blur the spheres” by applying the unique and particular social laws of one realm to another realm – for example, by assuming that we can meet our need for Christian fellowship by worshiping God individually, or that we can enter into the wonder of the Unio Mystica simply by attending services at the local church.

As in all of the social spheres, there is potential here for the emergence of dysfunctions and pathologies as the effects of the Cosmic Battle make themselves felt at the very core of man’s relationship with God. Interestingly enough, marital imagery arises again in this connection: the Lord warns His people many times in Scripture against the danger of “prostituting” themselves or “going a-whoring” after other gods and idols (see Numbers 15:38-39). Just as spouses are to seek fulfillment of the sexual drive exclusively within the bonds of the marriage covenant, so we as believers are to confine our quest for significance to the covenant relationship with the Creator. For it is this powerful human hunger for significance, says Dr. Tackett, when directed outside of God’s covenant relationships, that constitutes the single most formidable barrier to intimacy, communion, and oneness. All too often, we forsake the Lord and cut ourselves off from others in attempt to puff up our own sense of self-importance.

Especially important to the overall message of this lesson is the idea that oneness with God represents the heart of the Christian Gospel; in other words, that Christianity is not primarily a moral, philosophical, or religious system, but rather a deep, intimate, and living relationship with a personal Creator. This, to return to a point made in Lesson 4, is the essence of “eternal life” – i.e., knowing God just as intimately as Adam knew Eve. It is important to help students come to the place where they can not only begin to understand this concept rationally – something we can never fully achieve – but also feel the wonder of it in a profoundly affecting way. This is the point at which the transformational aspect of this tour will come home to participants most tellingly. Some students may also need to wrestle with the implications of Dr. Tackett’s warning about the danger of “blurring the spheres.”

Here is a preview of this weeks lesson:

You can watch the complete lesson here. Contact me (X-trials@BrianBorden.com) if you still need a Username and Password.

See you Thursday!