What then shall we say of that happiness to come which is promised to the saints, which we consider to be nothing else but the pure and unmediated contemplation of Divine Essence itself? For if the eminence of the Divine Essence surpasses the purest power of angelic contemplation, how will the happiness of human nature be able to contemplate the eminence of the Divine Essence?
- Eriugena, Periphyseon (Irish, 9th century)
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
- Psalm 16.11
Christians practice the presence of Jesus in two ways. First is by learning to walk in His Spirit, to live by faith rather than by sight, so that Christ within us makes us willing and able to do the good pleasure of God in all things (Phil. 2.13). This is the sense of Jesus being with us, where we are, to comfort, strengthen, embolden, convict, direct, and transform (Matt. 28.20; 2 Cor. 2.12-18).
Here the challenge is to understand how Christ works in us and to use the means He has provided so that we make the most of every opportunity to make way for Him to live in and through us toward others (Eph. 5.15-17).
The second way is what Eriugena and psalmist had in mind: practicing the presence of Christ with Him, where He is. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God, in glory and majesty and magnificent splendor and power. But so are we! Paul says we have been seated there with Christ, so that, in a certain way, we can both engage Him in His glory and see the whole course of our lives, and all the events of history, from the vantage point of eternal security, strength, and beauty (Eph. 2.5, 6; 2 Cor. 4.6; Pss. 46, 110).
The Scriptures offer glimpses of the exalted Christ which are sufficient to encourage us to an ever-enlarging vision of our glorious unseen King and His heavenly court. The purposes of these glimpses - Pss. 2, 45, 47, 100; Rev. 1, 4, 5, 14; etc.) are to train our minds to think in terms of Christ exalted, our affections to desire this glorious King, our values to lodge in Him and His Kingdom, and our actions to reflect His reign coming on earth, as it is in heaven.
To put it mildly, American Christians are not much given to contemplation. Yet we are called to it, even commanded to set our minds on the things that are above, where Christ is seated in heavenly places (Col. 3.1-3) and to gear our hearts to penetrate that unseen realm and know the power of it (Eph. 1.15-23). Contemplation takes time and effort; it is a discipline to be learned, cherished, and practiced daily until the focus of our contemplations in quiet becomes the presence in which we live and move and have our being through the course of our day.
Practice the presence of Jesus - Him with you where you are, but also, you with Him where He is. You'll know you're getting there when the weight of His glory fairly crushes you with joy and transforming power.
Today at The Fellowship of Ailbe
What does it mean to have the mind of Christ? This is the focus of today's ReVision. Are God's thoughts precious to you?
Pastor, how is your work of evangelism going? Is your church faithful to the "go/tell" mandate of the Lord, or have you settled into a "come/see" relationship with your community - in which very few are coming to see? You can change your church's attitude toward evangelism, but it has to begin with you. We can help. Why not consider signing up for a mentoring relationship in evangelism, and get the training, resources, and help you'll need to enlist your entire congregation for witness to our King? Write to me today and we'll set up a time to talk about this exciting training opportunity.
Don't forget to visit our bookstore and to read the blogs or listen to the sermons of our Members when you visit www.ailbe.org. And if this ministry is helpful to you, forward today's Crosfigell to a friend and urge him to sign up.
Finally, we've had some excellent suggestions for our Campaign for Christian Literacy, and there's still time for you to offer yours. Send them to me right away.