The other week I came across a quote from the church father Iraneus that “the glory of God is a human being fully alive.” And it struck me, wow that is God’s purpose for us in a nutshell. But then I thought, what does it mean, how are we meant to understand it? What is it be fully alive (something I’m not sure we Christians are very good at – in fact we seem to spend a lot of our time trying not to be – and for many in the world that’s the idea that they’ve got!)?
Here are some thoughts:
One, the Bible says that it is in God that we live and move and have our being – that’s a good place to start, recognizing that it is God who created and sustains this vast universe and who gives us life. Without him we wouldn’t be here – theres lots of stuff that we can do, but when it comes to life its down to God. Have you stopped to think about and thank God for that recently – thanking him is to glorifying him?
Secondly, it means we need to know this God who made us and gives us daily breath. Here we hit a problem: our sin that separates us from God, BUT God in his great love, mercy and grace has seen to that in Jesus, who came and took on flesh like ours, was tempted in all points as we are and yet never sinned, then went to the cross bearing all our sins and the punishment due to them, laid down his life, was buried and rose again, thereby enabling us to be forgiven, cleansed and born again into God’s family. God is not just the Creator and Sustainer, he is also Holy, the Judge and Saviour. Do you know Him?
Third it involves the reception of the Spirit. Jesus said he wasn’t going to leave us on our own but was going to send one just like himself to be with us, One who would come and dwell within us, and through whom we would know this Creator, Sustainer, Holy, Just, Redeemer God as Father – our Father in heaven, but also God dwelling with and in us.
Fourth, to be fully alive would mean God with us interacting with the whole of our life both outward and inward. Now perhaps we are getting to the crux of the matter. You see it’s quite easy to go to church, serve in some capacity, say and do the right things etc.. but it’s quite a different matter to be the real deal.
You see for many, conversion/salvation, is no more than that – being forgiven and going to heaven when I die. But the Bibles view is much, much bigger than that, it’s not only about being forgiven and going to heaven when I die, but being saved in life for life that we might be all that God wants us to be in this life before we die – this is James great concern in the letter that he writes when he talks about Christians being saved.
The sad thing is that many Christians as Larry Crabb puts it, “cope with life by pretending.” Yes, we are good at that – we look the part on Sunday, but whats it like on Monday when we go back to work, or at home working out those issues etc.?
Fifth, to be fully alive means God getting our our emotions. We see this in the Psalms, real life stuff – what the Psalmist feels. The fact is that too many Christians have closed off their emotions having been hurt or told they were dangerous. God gave them to us for a purpose, and we need to engage them if we are to glorify him.
Sixth, I need to be part of the family. God never meant us to live in isolation – no man was ever intended to be an island. A quote from Henry cloud and John Townsend shows the importance: “Virtually every emotional and psychological problem, from addiction to depression, has alienation or emotional isolation as its core or close to it.” “To be truly Biblical as well as truly effective, the growth process must include the Body of Christ.” How People Grow, 122. Thats why God saves people and puts them in families, they are the best place for us to grow. It’s called church. The Africans have a saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ that can be adapted to ‘it takes a church to raise a Christian.’ Growth and therefore transformation is a community project. To be fully alive means to be fully connected and fully relational.
If we are to glorify God by being a human being fully alive then God has to come into every part of those lives, no door can be closed. In the measure that you and I close those doors you and I will not be fully alive or glorify God.
Iraneus maxim holds true – what about you?