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Christ is fully present in/with/under faith. . .

23August2011

Two years ago I was introduced to the Finnish Lutheran School of thought while working on my Dmin at LTSP.  Maybe you already know about Tuumo Mannermaa, Risto Saarinen, Simo Peura, et al.  I had never heard of them from my first seminary experience but something in this new interpretation of Luther has caught my attention.  Perhaps it is because I have yearned to be in union with Christ. . . through prayer, worship, in faith.

I am a practical theologian, a pastor who cares about the faith journey of God’s people, particularly the ones that I have been entrusted to serve,  and so when I began to digest Mannermaa’s main thesis that since we are justified by grace through faith, Christ is fully present to us in that faith something inside me leapt for joy.  Through Christ we are made righteous, forgiven, absolved of our sin, restored to a new life with God.  Justification is not the end but merely the beginning of this “God life” we’ve been called to participate in.  And Christ’s attributes become the believer’s attributes– he who is our righteousness because he donates to us his righteousness, is also giving us love, the ability to love, truth, peace, joy, new life and at the same time takes on our sin, death, and the curse of being born into the reality of original sin.  We really and fully participate in Christ because he really and fully participates in our lives!  Justification is just the beginning. . .

As Lutherans we are sure to say that we confess Christ to be in/with/under the bread and wine of the Eucharist.  But would we be as confident to say that through faith in Christ, we can be assured that he is fully present to us, at all times, at the deepest level of existence and union/communion?  As one who is trained in science this hit me broadside one day. . . through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord, he is fully present to us down to the most basic building block of what it means to exist, to be (at least from a scientific point of view that is) . . . deoxyribonucleic acid!  Our DNA!  Christ is fully present to us in every cell of our body and to the encoding amino acids that comprise our nuclei, cells, tissues, organs, brain.

Think  about it. . . through faith, there is nowhere you can go that Christ is not fully and completely present to you at times.  Why would He justify us just to leave us alone?  He wouldn’t!  This is big news for us who have “known” Christ on an intellectual level but perhaps were not as comfortable with the mystical or spiritual aspects of this faith journey.  That may sound strange but it’s true. . . many pastors, theologians, even faithful lay people have YET TO FEEL the real presence of Christ in their lives!  It’s too much in their head and not enough in the heart. . . and  here I suggest it’s now in the DNA!  And it’s not about “feeling” it either, exactly, . . . it’s about being assured and confident that through Christ we are gifted with divine love, mercy, hope, joy and more!  It comes from somewhere; it comes from Christ Jesus!

What might this mean for us as disciples, followers of Christ?  Well for starters it means something about that 2 Corinthians 5: 17ff passage we know so well, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  

Christ, through faith, is our righteousness!  He took on our sin and made us a new creation!  Would One who would do all of that walk away from us?  By no means (as Paul would say)!  He who gifts us himself, who justifies us by his grace through faith, is fully and completely present with us ALL the time!  Imagine it!  Imagine the grace of it all!  Imagine the love!  Imagine how the fullness of Christ is embedded in your cytosine, guanine, adenine and uracil/thyamine. . . if you can imagine the divine presence going that basic!  This gives me the greatest comfort and hope. . . I am never alone as I have Christ fully present to me in faith.  Amen.

ACL@CCD

To read the Finnish Lutherans check out:  Christ Present in Faith:  Luther’s View of Justification by Tuomo Mannermaa; or Two Kinds of Love: Martin Luther’s Religious World by Tuomo Mannermaa; or Union with Christ:  The New Finnish Lutheran Interpretation of Luther edited by Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jensen; or Engaging Luther: A New Theological Assessment by Olli-Pekka Vainio, just to begin. 

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 23August2011 08:05

    Ive been teaching for a while now that Christian Vocation is Christ in with and under our very lives in faith – thx Amy!

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