The Shack... Union with God

The Shack… theological feature: God will live within us so that we see with his eyes, hear with his ears, touch with his hands, and think like he does. However, he will never force that union on us. If we want to go it alone, he will allow us to (149).

Comments: I think this is a very nice description of spiritual formation. It’s an echo of Paul’s teachings that we have the mind of Christ and that we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. God takes up residence and lives within us, and he expresses himself through us. However, as Young correctly points out, God never forces himself on us.

I have met many Christians who want and expect God to do just this. They are wondering when God will take over, and he is waiting for them to “work out their salvation” with desire and initiative. This is a stalemate that can lead to a lot of lost time. The point is that you have to invest yourself 100% into becoming one with God. As Paul teaches, you have to develop the mentality of a world class athlete – you have to want it and sacrifice everything for it. You have to take up Paul’s mindset of considering all other things as garbage in comparison to knowing Christ (Phil 3) if you have any hope of coming to the place where it is no longer you who live but Christ who lives in you (Gal 6).

The Christian tradition uses the language of union with God to describe this state in which our wills and hearts are so closely knit with God's that we can say, like Paul, that it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us. The tradition also holds that this state is not pie-in-the-sky, wishful thinking. It is a real possibility for those who have the will, are given the grace, and show the perseverance to get there.

Postmodern connections: Seeing God as close to us, involved with us, and eager to live through us is a postmodern corrective to the common picture of God as transcendent, distant, and aloof. A common postmodern theme is our cooperation and partnership with God. The postmodern view of God de-emphasizes hierarchy in favor of intimacy and fellowship. I connect with a theological perspective that strongly relational, but we cannot lose sight of important biblical concepts like obedience. Ultimately, obedience to God should be an expression of loving him.


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