Personhood in Christ

In order to survive the past few years, I’ve had to allow God to transform my faith and my worldview. 

Life here is not at all what I once believed it to be. 

I am not who I once believed myself to be.

God is faithful.

Even when I’m not, He still is.

While I’ve bristled against the reality that God is concerned about my apprehension of His holiness over against my temporal comfort, I have to admit, He’s right. If we, as Christians, truly believe that this life is not all there is… We have to acquiesce. We have to give up our ideologies, our selfish ambitions, and our immaturity. God cannot make sense to us within man-made systems of belief (1 Cor 2:5).

We should not be shocked nor surprised that He neglects to obey our rules for Him. 

To see that God does not see the need to micromanage this world, is both frightening and freeing. Human beings tend towards controlling others… And often use religious and theological language in doing so. 

But God? He appears content to offer choices. He draws the boundaries and let’s us all make up our own minds (Phil 2:12, 2 Cor 13:5).

God is a gentle Parent. In striving to win our hearts, He refuses to insist upon His own way (1 Cor. 13:5). 

Through all of life’s trials of late, I can say, He’s won me over. In our relationship there is infinite room for all of me. That’s not to say He deems all that I say or do to be right and loving… We both know how inappropriate that would be. Instead, He offers His righteousness and infinite love to cover over what is wrong and unloving in me (1 John 1:7). He’s ever extending His way, but never forcing me to accept.

God gets me. When I worry that my lot in this life is to be forever misjudged and wrongly accused, God reminds me that He sees. And, truly, that’s all that really matters on an Eternal timeline. 

I often stand in awe at who God is. He’s so much more than I could hope for! So much more than my Sunday School Jesus. So much better than mere religious frameworks for my belief. 

Faith changes. 

With time, and with our dedicated practice, it begins to grow up and out of the myriad ways we tend to box up our concepts of His sovereign grace and love (Col 2:17-19). With time, we begin to see God as God and not as the perfect image of our ideal human selves:

God is not a human being, that he should lie,

    or a mortal, that he should change his mind.

Has he promised, and will he not do it?

    Has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”

Numbers 23:19 (NRSV, boldface mine)

Thank God that He is not a human being! Watch the nightly news for 30 seconds, and see what a mess humanity has made of things! 

I don’t believe human beings are always conscious of the evil they commit… We tend to force an awareness of ourselves as creatures outside of present consciousness. As if we have brought ourselves into existence and, therefore,  are experts at probing the depths of reality. To believe one can fully comprehend God and all of His ways is evidence that we’ve usurped His role. It’s the Genesis account of the fall played out over and over and over again. 

We are not God. 

Not only are we not God, but as creatures, we are fundamentally limited in our ability to apprehend a knowledge of God outside of God (1 Cor 2:11, 16; 3:16-23). There is no real knowledge or wisdom to be found outside of the metaphysical mystery of Christ as mediator (1 Cor 1:30, Hebrews 8). There is no real relationship or true connection to other creatures outside of the One through whom, for whom, and to whom all has been called into being:

“O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

‘For who has known the mind of the Lord?

    Or who has been his counselor?’

‘Or who has given a gift to him,

    to receive a gift in return?’

For from him and through him and to him are all things. ”

Romans 11:33-36a (NRSV)

As far as any human relationships go, they are made to be found wholly in Him. 

As are we. 

As I continue to walk humbly with Him through unforeseen hardship, I’m ready and willing to let go of everything I cling to that cannot be found in Him. Because, if it cannot be found in Him, it cannot be real. 

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11 thoughts on “Personhood in Christ

  1. And the mystery is that even in our freedom of choice, God’s plan has been ordained since the beginning and will be accomplished regardless of the road we choose. Free will or Predestination? Yes.

    Embrace the paradox!

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    1. I don’t like the term predestination, as if fails to account for a Divinity that exists within AND outside of time. I think the reformers would have come to more accurate conclusions if they had a less-narrowed view of time and space:)

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      1. I am perfectly comfortable with the term predestination as it is laid out in Romans 8:28-30, and demonstrated in Romans 9. I know most don’t embrace it, but I have nothing to do with that. I just believe what the Bible says. I believe because he opened my eyes, otherwise, I too would not embrace it. Like Paul anticipates, it doesn’t seem fair. But who am I? Like God said to Job:

        “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

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      2. When we talk about predestination, we have to talk about election and reprobation.
        Predestination was championed by St. Augustine in response the Pelagian controversy… And Augustinian Predestination is firmly a double predestination– which boils down to believing that God creates some people to be conformed to the image of His Son, and others for the expressed purpose of punishing them for a wickedness He, in effect, placed in them. All of this to defend the concept of original sin.

        The thing is, the early church fathers (Origen, Tertullian, Irenaeus) were determined to interpret Scripture through a Philosophic lens. Much of early church doctrine shamelessly borrows from Stoic and Platonic schools of thought.

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      3. Yes, Augustine was responding to Pelagian; however, I was simply referring to Romans 9 and it is throughout scripture. But because this is a very complex doctrine, and not one that is reconcilable to the masses, let’s just leave it with God is Sovereign. He’s in control. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, I cannot attain it. Thanks Kristen.

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      4. I think we all have to tread very carefully whenever we interpret Scripture. The Greek word translated as predestined is προωρισεν. It can mean preordained, or predetermined… But whenever we rely on human language to express a Divine truth, we are bound to come up against the limits of human language. Especially when it comes to describing attributes of an Eternal God in words designed to communicate finite objects and human concepts.
        Traditionally, Divine foreknowledge has been understood as existing separately from Divine Will. In light of 2 Peter 3:9, double predestination becomes an impossibility. So, does God give us all the ability to choose Him and those that are ‘predestined’ are the ones the Divine knew would eventually choose wisely (Divine foreknowledge)? Or, is God a big meaney head that enjoys creating objects of wrath in order to destroy them? If it is the latter, then our world and this life becomes something more akin to a Kafka novel than the Biblical epic that portrays a not-evil, Salvific Deity.

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      5. You are quite knowledgeable, and have a deeper well in this than me, but I resort to believing if God is Sovereign he really can do whatever he pleases according to the counsel of his will, which may not make sense to my pea brain. I am severely limited in understanding the whys, but I submit to what I am convince the scripture says, leaving me no room to boast, and all glory to him alone. Thanks Kristen.

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      6. Barbara, I happen to agree with you, lol!

        I know a lot about what other Christian theologians have thought about God…. But that’s not the same as knowing Him:)

        That was one of my recent crises of faith– Ive been able to philosophize and theologize myself right into a corner. It’s all rubbish, really. God IS and desires to reveal Himself to human beings in relationship. The rest doesn’t matter, because while it might change what we think about God, it cannot touch the reality of God.

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  2. Even the idea of freewill is a misnomer– we are all imprisoned by disbelief and disobedience (Romans 7:14, 21) and enslaved by sin apart from Christ. And IN Christ, I exchange what is opposed to Him for His will. My freedom cannot exist outside of Him, and in Him, how can I choose anything that would enslave me again? Yet, we totally do… I am created to serve. My freedom allows me to choose who or what I will serve.

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  3. Beautiful Kristen. What a sweet place to find yourself resolved to totally surrender to our Sovereign God. Kristen, this post is quite encouraging. I just noticed your comment above my comment, our free will is limited to being bound by our sin nature. We are dead spiritually until he breathes on us, and awakens us from darkness to his marvelous light. Then it is that we see, before we are blind, and then we see. Thanks for sharing. I’m glad that I am on the journey with you, my sister.

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