A Celtic Christian Worldview (9)
And when they are sent, God, by whom they are refreshed, is never far from their contemplation; not that those spirits who are sent can be everywhere equally, but that God Who is everywhere is always seen in one place without any movement of His by those who hurry in any directions, therefore it is written: a thousand thousands ministered to Him and ten thousand times a hundred thousands assisted Him. For the powers on high do both equally because they minister while they are being sent and assist while they are in contemplation.
- The Book of the Order of Creation II.15, 16
Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.”
- Matthew 22.29, 30
Believers understand that, when we are translated to glory, we shall be like Jesus, and, at the same time, as fully and uniquely ourselves as we may ever hope to be. And this is because we shall see Jesus as He is (1 Jn. 3.2). Understanding that this is our destination, and our fondest and fullest hope, we daily work to set our minds on the things that are above, where Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, and to submit to His Spirit and Word, that we might be transformed increasingly into the image of Jesus Christ (Col. 3.1-3; 2 Cor. 3.12-18).
Thus, contemplation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ must play a large part in our lives (2 Cor. 4.6, 16-18). Such contemplation, the writer of the Liber explains, is the secret to the purity and power of angels. By it they are refreshed, and in its glow they hurry here and there to fulfill their ministries. They are “never far from their contemplation” of the Lord, for the contemplation of Jesus excites them to obedience and empowers them to serve.
Angels are God’s servants, sent to watch over, guide, protect, and even instruct His saints as they go about their own works of service in their Personal Mission Fields.
Most of chapter II of the Liber is given to describing the various orders of angels. The writer follows traditional thinking, which is grounded in Scripture, in pointing out that the “thousand thousands” and “ten thousand times a hundred thousands” of angels occupy various ranks of service in the unseen divine economy. Scripture explains all this in broad outlines, and we must search the Word and assemble its teaching after much ruminating and reflecting. As Marina Smyth explains in a beautiful metaphor describing our approach to Scripture study, “The meadows of the Holy Books are filled with appearances and namings of archangels and of angels.”
Jesus says that one day we who attain to eternal glory will be “like angels of God in heaven.” The angels exist to contemplate the beauty, glory, majesty, greatness, lovingkindness, holiness, and wonder of our Lord, and to serve Him diligently and effectively, wherever He sends them.
Because we will one day be like them, we should busy ourselves imitating them in the here and now, giving more time and concentration to the task of contemplating Jesus, and serving Him faithfully, wherever He sends us each day in our Personal Mission Field.
It is liberating and exciting to reduce one’s life in this world to these two categories: contemplating and serving. We contemplate the Lord both as He reveals Himself in His Word – the lush meadows of which offer much nourishment for us to browse and chew – and as He makes Himself known in the world – in its meadows and hills and rivers and creatures, great and small. “Christ plays in 10,000 places,” Gerard Manley Hopkins reminds us, and therefore we should eagerly seek Him in whatever portion of Scripture or nook or cranny of the world where He has chosen to set His glory. Solomon reminds us that “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter…” (Prov. 25.2). The Lord Jesus glories in tucking away flashes and glimpses and oozings and glints of His glory, both throughout the Scriptures, which are all about Him (Jn. 5.39), and in the world which He created and upholds (Jn. 1.1-4; Heb. 1.3).
But we must seek the Lord diligently, working hard, like the angels, to contemplate Him in His glory. It is our glory, Solomon continued, “to search out a matter” (Prov. 25.2). The more diligently and consistently we search, the more the glory of God will be revealed to us, and we will be transformed by that glory into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And thus we are fitted to serve. We will not have the strength to serve, the desire to serve, nor the grace to serve apart from daily, deep, and delightful contemplation of the glory of God in Jesus Christ. But add that to your daily walk with and work for the Lord, and you, who are destined to become like angels of God in heaven, will become refreshed like them, and more like Jesus, each and every day of your life.
And then you will hurry about to serve like the angels do, so that the glory which fills, excites, and empowers you will come to light through you to fill your world with Jesus.
Questions for Reflection
1. How could you add more contemplation of Jesus to your daily walk with the Lord?
2. How might you expect more time contemplating Jesus to better fit you for serving the Lord in your Personal Mission Field?
Psalm 27.1-6 (Joanna: Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise)
Lord, You are our Light and our Savior most dear!
You guard us with might; therefore, whom shall we fear?
Though evil surround us, our enemies fall;
No harm shall confound us when on You we call.
One thing we request but to dwell with You, Lord.
Your beauty to test and to think on Your Word.
In trouble You hide us secure in Your grace;
No foe may o’erride us: We sing of Your praise!
Help me, Lord, to make and keep the time for contemplating Jesus, and I will…
Looking for a place to begin in the deeper and more delightful contemplation of Jesus. Write to me, and I’ll send you our free PDF, Glorious Vision: 28 Days in the Throne Room of the Lord, so you can ruminate in the lush meadows of Psalm 45 and its beautiful images of Jesus.
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T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- T.M. Moore
- March 14, 2019
One day we'll be like them. May as well get started now.
A Celtic Christian Worldview (9)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.