What does an authentic, intimate relationship with God “feel” like? That is to say: What are we aiming for as we grow to love God? What should a mature Christian expect to experience when connection to God has been achieved? (An important question, as our answer will direct our behavior and shape our sense of “progress.”)
Is the goal ecstatic, mystical union with the divine (“the beatific vision”)? Are we hoping to transcend the human condition, no longer troubled by the ordinary hardships of bodily life? Do we want be endlessly “on fire for the Lord” (as the parlance goes) – a constant emotional high? Do we expect God to be in constant, direct communication – addressing our every decision with clear, unmistakable guidance?
Certainly there are advocates for each of these expectations, along with many who claim to have “achieved” them. But examples of such experiences are few and far between in the biblical story. There are indeed many moments in which faithful disciples have a direct, unmediated encounter with the Almighty. But even for the likes of Moses, David, Paul…such experiences are rare. And they are never the means by which relationship with God is sustained.
What we seek – and what God desires with us – is something far more…normal. Abiding. Making a home together.
What we seek is a God-centered life. A day-to-day, ordinary life in which God is so incorporated into our heart that his guidance is constant and steady and slowly transformative. As a wise person once said: True holiness is un-self-conscious. It happens without effort or struggle because it has become our way of life. Our heart has taken on the shape of Jesus’s heart.
In this episode we examine this idea of “abiding with Christ” (what the classical tradition calls habitual recollection). It forms the foundation of all that lies ahead!
This is a sermon that was originally presented at Canvas (a Presbyterian church in Irvine, CA), January 18, 2015. To learn more about Canvas, click here!
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