“As iron sharpens iron, so a
man sharpens the face of his friend.”
Without question, the divine friendship does, indeed, change us - but not by oppression. Rather, in essence, the redemptive process remains, first and finally, merely the process of a good friendship - doing what a good friendship does.
Within a balanced atmosphere of love and respect, a good friendship makes us better. It empowers us. It lightens our load. It broadens our perspective. It improves our character.
Oppression is neither required nor appropriate to attend such a friendship. Rather, a truly worthy and enduring friendship is always enabled simply by a deep mutual appreciation which binds hearts easily and naturally.
And, so it is with the divine friendship. Through Christ, we are simply able to see a true vision of the character of our Creator. And through that accurate vision we are able to then fall deeply in love with who we see, and happily give ourselves to share in the beauty of His character essence.
The apostle said it this way, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (Ref. 2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV)
The Transcendent Life
If, by some divine decree, I were given the opportunity to give to the whole world, one awareness, I think it might surprise many what that awareness would be. The truth that I would want the world to know is this: “This life is not really about this life.” The idea being, of course, that our physical life should never be thought of as an end in itself. It is not.
Certainly, the drama of this physical life is an important one. And it demands a certain level of participation of all of us. And the impact of that participation is up close and personal in terms of every day blessings and consequences. But, what we sometimes do not understand is that the greatest import of this life actually overflows the physical dimension.
In fact, this life is but a small increment of a much larger, a transcendent life. And, this physical life serves most importantly as, what might be understood to be, an introduction to that larger existence. So, it should not be that this life becomes an end in itself. And yet, often it does.
Sometimes, we become so immersed in climbing the corporate ladder, or achieving some personal goal, or pursuing some intense material interest, etc. that these pursuits become disconnected from their larger and more important purpose.
We simply extract them from the divine redemptive plan that they were supposed to serve. And, as a result, these pursuits just become something we chase merely for the immediate intrinsic value that they hold.
And certainly, these life-pursuits do, indeed, have a seductive intrinsic value. That’s why we become so carried away with them, at times. But what they do not have, in and of themselves, is enduring value. Disconnected from God’s larger purposes and standing alone, these pursuits are always short lived and ultimately empty.
Thus, we may get to the top of the ladder, the pinnacle of our material aspirations. But, when we do, most of this brief life will probably be behind us. And, in any case, the joy of those achievements will still be, very soon, relinquished to death - and usually, long before that, to the ravages of age.
Nevertheless, it typically remains true that our personal aspirations are the dearest treasure that we possess. So, the stand-out question becomes, “Who will we trust with what we cherish the most?”
Will we horde these intentions to our self to secure what will always be, at best, a mingled happiness - and even that, for only the few brief decades of this physical life? Or, will we surrender all to the loving God who gave us life, to fashion from that trust, a much more meaningful and substantial future for us?
So, it becomes important that we answer these important questions in the keen awareness that this life really isn’t about this life. Indeed, in the face of such responsibility, we should clearly understand that the ultimate import of life is becoming the transcendent being that God intends us to be in Christ – a being who is, at the end, very empowered, ever enduring, and a true, and intimate, and durable friend of Almighty God.
The Ultimate Question
So, the ultimate question presents itself here. All of those previously mentioned questions are very succinctly summed up in this one. Always, this is the superseding and supremely defining question of Christian Redemption.
Indeed, the answer to this question is so huge that it entirely determines the tone and quality of our relationship with God. It defines the direction of both our material and our spiritual life. And, it determines whether or not our heart will ever be truly attuned to God’s.
And obviously, people do respond to Christ in different ways and at different levels. But, this most elemental question thoroughly challenges us and very quickly sorts out the game players from those who are sincere. It pushes us to get beyond the shallow and the momentary, to what absolutely is the more enduring redemptive purpose.
So, here is that profoundly simple but absolutely defining question. It is this. “Do you want to be new?”
This is a very different question from, “Do you want to be saved?” Or, “Do you want God to rescue you from a difficult circumstance?” It is different from, “Do you want to go to Heaven?”
All of these are important questions; and, they represent good reasons for responding to Christ. But, what all of these latter questions fail to do is furnish the broader view of the more primary redemptive purpose - Newness.
The truth is, God never intended forgiveness to become an end in itself. Forgiveness is intended to serve as a bridge to the beginning place for our transformative journey toward heart-oneness with Him.
So, God’s very purpose driven redemptive plan necessarily takes us on beyond the beginning place of the Cross and forgiveness. It also propels us forward, toward the newness which flows out of the Resurrection, and the power of the Living Christ living within us.
Thus, again, Jesus would pray this prayer for all of His disciples: He said, “…that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be one in us.” With these words, Jesus gives us a clear glimpse of the true direction of the redemptive flow.
And, that direction is always and ever toward a heart-oneness with God - which is entirely authored and stabilized by the surpassing sufficiency of Christ. But, this final result always begins with your answer to yourself of that very primal question: “Do I want to be new?”
This question, however, is never fully answered with mere words. It must also be answered by our true inner urging’s. It is these more visceral drives within, which really confirm our desire, not just to be forgiven, but to actually please God in who we are – both at our core, and in the extensions of our influence.
So, it comes to this. There is a vast difference between seeking a minimally invasive, forgiveness-only kind of redemption – and seeking a redemption in which we truly aspire, in the sufficiency of the Living Christ, to rise above our own brokenness to become entirely new and beautifully attuned to the heart of God – our dearest Friend.
Spiritual Dynamic: The Metaphysical Realities Explained