Why Carpe Diem, Why Not Coram Deo?

Why Ecce Homo?  Why Not Ecce Homo et Deus?

Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Exodus 33:13

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:6-7.

Behold, God listens now, now is the favorable time; behold, God helps us in a day of salvation, now is the

day of salvation.  2 Corinthians 6:2.

Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” Matthew 16:6-7

“Faith is the means by which the believer experiences the ultimate reality. For the Christian, believing is seeing.” Milliard J. Erickson, Salvation: God’s Amazing Plan (Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books, 1978), p. 41.

“The gospel is the direct invitation to real holiness (sainthood).  All truly Christian spiritual insights flow from the good news that we are invited to become God’s children, members of his own family…saints.”  Jack Bernard, How to Become a Saint, A Beginner’s Guide (Grand Rapids, Michigan: BrazosPress, 2007), p. 17.

So we are always of good courage. In solidarity with creation we too groan being burdened. We wait eagerly for the redemption of our bodies. We journey home, besieged within by the passions and desires of the flesh, while taking every thought captive to obey Christ, praying without ceasing and wrestling against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. As elect exiles of the dispersion we go on, sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, interpreting spiritual words imparted by those who, for our example, became like scum and garbage among the peoples of the world, so we too may be the refuse of all things.  Nevertheless, by faith we walk in the light even as God Himself is in the light, not fearing the wrath of those in high positions or of those who revile us, for we endure like Moses, as seeing Him who is invisible, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.  We love Him whom we have not seen; believing faith means to see everything in hope for what we do not see until we are like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world. This is why we preach the Gospel, to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

Coram Deo: “How we stand in relationship to God, before God’s face, which posture should indicate a certain stance of humility.”[1] That’s it? a bearing of the soul that as spiritual advice means denoting humility with an unspecified degree of poise? I wonder if Kierkegaard might ask, “Is not this a semi-tranquillized observation, a falsification pointed out with the thing about eternity already settled?” What strength is there in such counsel when I hear sin speaking to me in my own voice, saying to my soul, “Pluck this day from the vine of life; relax, eat and drink, find enjoyment in toil and troll for sexual satisfaction, walk in the sight of your eyes and be merry for tomorrow, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye we shall be changed”?   The Magus’ apprentice was right to attack such “jovial mediocrity,” which now, as post-secular agony, we suffer in dialectic with melodramatic triviality.  This carnal dialectic imitates the wonder and despair experienced in Christ when, through faith in Him, we listen to the Holy Spirit’s reading of the Scriptures to us and trust Him to give us the eyes to see the things we hear.   Instead of this miracle, we settle for the magic of imagining the impossible:  devotion to and disgust over self-indulgence in dialectic with disgust over and devotion to self-sacrifice, as if this ritualized drudgery could sever us from Christ or make us appealing to Him.

The fullness of life,
Coram Deo,
Is living
The Word of Eternal Life
Before God before living for Him.
With the Father’s testimony in us,
We live the excessive life of the Son in His sight.
Rivers of Living Water flow out of our hearts, because the Spirit who is Truth gave us the gift of being His found faith before living for Him, worshiping Him, seeing His face, bearing His name and reigning forever and ever.

While on earth going about His Father’s business, Jesus knew of God’s inherent majesty, His loving character, His goodness; He intimately knew His infinitely delightful and unapproachable presence, His moral beauty, His holiness, His glory. He knew that by completing the work of the cross here on earth He brought glory to the Father. He faithfully entrusted Himself to the Father for His resurrection and for His return to heaven to be exalted at the right hand of God after dying on the cross for our sins. The fourth century church father, Athanasius, said Jesus returned to heaven after the resurrection in order to prepare the angels up there so they wouldn’t be surprised when we showed up later. We might not put it that way, but it gives voice to our Lord’s opinion of God’s glory. Jesus did not go back to heaven just to get there safe and have the Father all to Himself. He has told us that He has gone to prepare a place for us. He said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3) This is why the Scriptures say, “When He ascended on high, He led captives in His train and gave gifts to men. (Eph 4:8-10) Jesus knew the hope to which our glorious Father has called us. This hope is the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints. (Eph 1:18) He and the Father are in agreement over this. God calls us to set our hope not on selfish gain, but on His goodness, which is to the praise of His glory.  This is not to deny that God in His great mercy has given us new birth into an inheritance kept in heaven for us that can never perish, spoil or fade. (1 Pet 1:3-4) But this is a condition of a far more beautiful truth.  We are His saints. We are His treasure. He makes the riches of His glory known through us, vessels of His mercy, which He prepared in advance for glory. (Rom 9:23) For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:10)

Into what wonder of order have we been grafted, those of us excluded from the commonwealth of Israel?  What manner of incorruption, of glory, of power, of spiritual embodiment bearing the image of the heavenly?  What manner of new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells?  What manner of land in which He shall wipe away every tear from our eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain?  In a land without night or need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.  A land with a great and high mountain and where there is no longer any sea.  A land receiving the New Jerusalem, the city without temple and without curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it.  We have been grafted in to the Lord’s allotment, we are counted among His people He has purified for Himself, a people for His own possession.  As the Lord’s portion, what a peculiar people we should be, living godly, holy lives zealous for good works.   In this Season of Epiphany, it is good to reflect on this. Yet, how often do we give thought to these things?

Public opinion pollsters work around the clock to figure out how we feel or to discover what we want or to determine what we think about everything. I cannot even buy a cup of coffee without being asked to take a survey. Our opinions must be very valuable. But when was the last time anyone made inquiry about how we felt about God’s glory? We need to take care in this. Our opinion of ourselves, and the opinions that interest us, give us the first inkling of our opinion about God. We are His and He would have us be holy to His glory. Does this interest me? Am I drawn to this, am I inwardly summoned to this high calling, like an artist feels compelled to sculpt, compose, paint or dance? God will judge us over our opinion we hold of Him, how we judge His character, His actions, and what He says. You, like me, will be judged by God for who we think God is and what we think of the things He has done and said.

We live in a moment in which, for many, it is normal to think that God is not necessary, that His holiness, moral beauty, goodness and majesty are not important, and unworthy of notice, never mind praise. Do we choose to see God on such terms, or do we see ourselves on His terms? What is the opinion we covet others to have of us, that it was our goal in life to be honored and praised by them or to be men and women who live to honor and give praise to God? When we look in the mirror who do we see? Do we see our own reflection the way the world would have us see ourselves, on our own terms and alone? Or do we remind ourselves to see ourselves with eyes of faith in Christ, believing God is with us, rejoicing over the wonderful truth that He wants to display His godliness in our lives and so bring glory to Himself through us?

God is present in His people, in those who believe in His Son. God wants to live out His love in our lives, and so to glorify Himself in us. The Holy Spirit desires to glorify our Lord, the Spirit wants to bear the fruit of the Lord’s character in our lives, making us men and women whose lives are marked by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23; Eph 2:10). Jesus said, “Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God (John 3:21).” This is what Jesus means when He prays to the Father, “Glory has come to me through them.” (John 17:10) We believe He came from the Father and was sent by the Father. We accept His teachings because we believe He speaks words of eternal life and we take Him at His word, trusting Him for the gift of eternal life. Believing in Him, we believe we can bear much fruit to the Father’s glory, showing ourselves to be His disciples by our love for one another and by our kindness in serving others. The greatest adventure that can ever be lived is living out the greatest story ever told. But we can’t do this, the Father does this through the Holy Spirit given us for overcoming the world so we may live and walk in the New Creation, walking the realm of life in which all things become new in the newness of life.  Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  He has freed us to be men and women who make peace to sow in peace a harvest of righteousness, sowing our lives in the interests of the Holy Spirit to reap eternal life from the Holy Spirit.  God is able to make all grace abound to us, so that having all contentment in all things at all times, we may abound in every good work.  He will multiply our seed for sowing and increase the harvest of our righteousness.

We must guard against being deceived:  God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  We are held hostage to imaginary things, to mental images of God, of ourselves and of others.  These creatures of our mind are nothing; they are idols that have no real existence.  They are vain things, empty things that cannot profit, deliver or build-up another.  They can neither relieve true distress nor confer real happiness because they do not draw us together for drawing nearer to God.  They tempt us to imitate love, compassion, mercy and sacrifice in profane ways without subjecting ourselves to Christ’s life ours under the seal of the Holy Spirit.  They do not encourage us to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might, or to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  They do not equip us to achieve righteousness and justice, or to proclaim with boldness the word of God, which is the Gospel that brings peace.  They tempt us to discount prayer in the Spirit, to become sleepy instead of staying alert and to be slack in self-control.  They would have us be religious, but not before God and the Father.  They would keep us in bondage to the elemental spirits of the world, enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.  They would have us as grown men and women be led about like children, regulated by human sciences dissecting the law instead of walking in the truth according to the perfect law of liberty led by the Holy Spirit.  They would choke out of us the mystery of the Gospel and of godliness.  They would have us bite and devour one another.  Consumed by conceit, provoking one another to envy, they would have us fulfill our evil desires to please the desire of the devil.

Overcoming the imaginary caked over by the subtracted reality by which the world sees life is not a human initiative. It is not an action we are able to achieve without a God-given change in our understanding of all things. God transforms the content of the dispatches He oversees having communicated to us through our senses. The giving of Himself in His word trains us how to rightly read the messages He sends to us through our perceptions of reality. He underwrites this exchange by the blessed illumination He bestows upon us when the Holy Spirit takes up His residency of perfect intimacy within our soul. The Holy Spirit then becomes our translator of the New Creation. He indwells us even to our innermost being to render the truths of Scripture into the medium of our understanding so we might become conversant in the New Creation. This in turn frees us to walk as children of light, to imbue everything we experience with the fruit of light, which is found in all that is good and right and true. He is also the converter and conductor of God’s power in our lives. Led by Him we bear the fruit of the Spirit against which there is no law. God assumes liability for all our failings at rightly reading and responding to what His Spirit is teaching us, even as He gives us the power to obey the standard of teaching to which He has committed us.  The Father of our spirit Himself oversees our training in holiness that we might know wisdom and instruction, understand words of insight, receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice and equity for receiving prudence, knowledge and discretion.  He sanctifies us in truth, setting us apart for holy service so we may live as obedient children in His presence, while having our powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.  If necessary He trains us through discipline.  To undergo the Father’s discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it causes our yearning to be holy resonate with greater fullness, yielding in us the peaceful fruit of righteousness that lets us better live up to His standard of fairness in our relations with one another and with others outside of the Church. (Hebrews 12:3-17)   Jesus loves this righteousness in which is grounded His hatred for lawlessness.   If we sin this same Jesus Christ the righteous is our advocate with the Father.  We have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  He never does.  He is our High Priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.  He abides forever.  He holds His priesthood permanently.  He is able to save us forever and completely because we have drawn near to God through Him, and He always lives to make intercession for us.  (Hebrews 7:24-28).  When He prayed on earth for the Father to glorify His Son in His own presence with the glory that He had with the Father before the world existed, He concluded His prayer by including us to be with the Father and the Son for all eternities to come:

“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.  O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.  I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Our faith in Christ reconciles us with the life of God.  In Christ we have the right and the power to put off our old self, to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness so that, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from which the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.   If we see ourselves and one another before God in this way, then New Creation corresponds to the reality we perceive and that emanates through the means by which we process all things.  In Christ the work, the purpose and the standard of God changes everything.  From both within and without God speaks to us through the Spirit so that while we remain in the world the Son’s joy in us may be made full, which fulfills our joy. The Son’s joy and ours merge in one cause, to glorify the Father on earth by accomplishing the work He gave us to do.  We rejoice in the Son’s voice and in His increase.  As new men and women in Christ, while abiding in Him holding fast to His word, we confess and celebrate that the Holy Spirit is transforming our consciousness, our speech, our imagination, our reason, our conscience, our will, our senses and our emotions by renewing our minds, letting us live the New Creation with a clean heart and steadfast spirit.  O Father, give us this day to live out the wishes of the new self you have given us so that we may ask whatever we wish with the Son’s joy in us so that our joy may be full.  This is the confidence that we have toward the Son of God, thagt if we ask anything according to His will He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him. In His name we receive whatever we ask the Father in our desire to glorify Him so that our joy may be full.  Jesus prayed to the Father, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” Jesus set Himself apart to reveal the love of God to the world, so that we too may be truly set apart to do the same thing through the power of the Holy Spirit.  (John 17:18-19)  Everything that pertains to life and godliness – preaching the Gospel, making disciples, baptizing new converts, doing good works and teaching sound doctrine – is summed up in this crowning purpose in life.

To this end, unto the glory of the Father, nothing means anything except keeping the commandments of God as a matter of the heart by the Spirit. Nothing means anything except faith working through God’s love perfected in us. Nothing means anything except to worship God in Spirit and truth and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. Nothing means anything except the New Creation. Life no longer means what I am permitted to do and prohibited from doing. The life of those who are light in the Lord is trying to discern what is pleasing to Him, looking carefully to walk as with wisdom, making the best use of days of evil as those who understand the will of the Lord.  Or did Jesus teach to address our flimsy whims and fancied ambitions?  “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will you give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”  (Matthew 7:7-11)

We believe not merely to understand all things and to obey our Father in heaven, but also to be of the New Creation and behold it too. God sends new messages to us through creation, the nations, Israel, the Church, the world and through our own thoughts. God gives us a new style of interpreting these messages, a new way of living them out, and a new way of being part of what they declare. He also gives us the eyes of faith needed to behold the New Creation’s beauty. The gift of living the New Creation is God’s way of anticipating His inheritance in the saints, which He will possess in the world to come forever and ever. By manifesting the New Creation in history God expands today, even now, the sphere of His pleasure to permeate into the very depths of the soul of every saint. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him have no lack in delight, for the Lord gives those who delight in Him the desires of their heart (Psalms 34, 37). The New Creation is all things lived according to the timing of the Lord, that is, by the testimony of Jesus, which is the Spirit of prophecy.  Sent by the Son into the world now even as the Father did send the Son means we now can see with eyes of faith the New Creation as much as we will then see the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the New Jerusalem with the tree of life on either side of the river, when we will worship God and the Lamb and see His face, and His name will be on our foreheads, when the Lord God will be our light, and we will reign forever and ever.

Everything said thus far means simply this, God reveals Himself to His people through the New Creation. He reconciles external facts with the internal life of faith of those in Christ. He equips those redeemed by the precious blood of Christ to experience the New Creation as a living sacrifice.  Understood holistically, the New Creation speaks, hears and lives the Gospel. Being within the New Creation, speaking the New Creation, listening to the New Creation and living the New Creation from the inside out describes the ordinary daily routine of the saints called to discern the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. The saints obey His will to the end that God is justified in His word and prevails when He is judged. Thus the saints in history preach the unsearchable riches of Christ and live to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that He has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him (Ephesians 3:8-12).

When reading the Scriptures, from whence comes wonder, reverence and awe over these astonishing truths if we sequester ourselves to an imaginary, autonomous self’s antechamber of study? What will see if seen outside the New Creation, with the topic of life in Christ disposed at our feet as something we think about without reflecting upon how we stand in relationship to God, I mean literally before God’s face, in God’s sight? Our aesthetic awareness serves our soul in partnership with our understanding by reminding us in a sober yet refreshingly pleasurable way that there is more, that our thoughts are subject to divine scrutiny and judgment: that we live in the presence of God. What do we want to see? Who do we want to see us? And what do we want others to see? How will we know unless we speak the word of God in Christ in the sight of God for the building up of His beloved?

To keep in touch with who you truly are, read the Bible backwards from where you stand, which is ever closer to the youngest day when He appears. Exercising a healthy fear of God, read the Bible in His presence, trusting Him for His approval when He tests your handling of His word of truth.  Refer to but rely least upon facts gained by studying sources outside of the Scriptures. In lieu of the world’s wisdom and its jumbled mosaic of cultural knowledge, seek to understand the Scriptures by way of meditative readings through the Revelation to John. As the capstone for all Scripture, this last book of the Bible gives us the correct adjustment of our soul’s focal point in preparation for its meeting our Lord’s eternal gaze. It helps our eyes of faith gain the sharpest image of the Bible’s overall content.

Celebrate the truly catholic imagination of the seven churches with their seven angels, whom God sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation. Before God, in His presence beneath His gaze, read and hear read aloud the Scriptures believing what is written as literally as you are able. In doing so, without pretense, trust to the Holy Spirit’s filling you with the love that comes from a pure heart and a clear conscience. Read the word of truth as if reading letters written by God Himself, as if it would make Him laugh to watch us blush when He caught us reading them aloud as His lover. Read it to discover who God is, to learn what He is about and to find out what are His desires. Read the Bible believing with it He conveys commonplace details about His everyday life using words in their ordinary meaning, yet rich with unexpected poetic insight and decorated with figurative discourses to reinforce how things fit together in ways which best help children to understand these things. Remember, what God promises is the passkey to all things, to the kingdom, to knowledge and to death and hell. This passkey turns the bolt of life to unlock the one underlying truth to everything: God has chosen the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are.

Loyal to your standing above, seek to see with eyes of faith the face of God in this world as much as your sanity permits. Listen to hear God whisper His word into the treasure house of your imagination. Faith in the Scriptures inspired by God anchors our past to the trustworthiness of God so we may hold to and walk the truth in love. Faith in the Scriptures inspired by God convinces us to rest our future in the promises of God, so that with perseverance we may wait eagerly for Him to make good on His word.  Faith in the Scriptures inspired by God gives us the power to live this day, this moment, even now as new persons in Christ in New Creation.

Realize what this means. Right now, in this very moment, if we entrust ourselves to God’s steadfastness as taught from the Scriptures, while hoping in His goodness owing to what is written there, our imagination grounded by faith in Christ becomes the one faculty on earth able to trace the survey stakes the Lord has laid out in readiness for the descending of the holy city, New Jerusalem, which He has prepared to come down out of heaven so that He may live among us. Only the Christian imagination has the capacity to be subject to the full after effects of divine artistry displayed in creation and history, and thus, the Christian imagination is the only organ on earth able to appreciate with anticipation the splendor of the Lord. His children alone are able to see everything as the testimony of Jesus, as adoration and celebration, as the Spirit of prophecy and the promise of consummation. The sanctified Christian imagination sets faith and word together to look with hope upon the Biblical landscape of life, beauty ours alone for the seeing, where the perfect timing of all things unfolds for our pleasure before the vista of eternity, which He has set in the hearts of all. With us alone the Spirit says, “Come.”  We alone are able to comfort and encourage each other over our meeting the Lord to remain with Him forever. We alone in the Holy Spirit express our deepest yearning by praying, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

The Christian imagination is God’s smithy, His “God-cave,” His favorite workshop. His word is like fire and like a hammer. He heats our fantasies and fears to smelt off any impurities, to make of them yielded instruments ready for obedience. While still malleable He pierces them with His word as far as the division of soul and spirit. Like a hammer in His hand beneath His craftsman’s eye, His word by blows of instruction, rebuke, correction, and discipline gives new shape to our frailties and deformities. He then douses our old devices of unsightliness and spitefulness into the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, pulling them forth to emerge as glorious instruments fit to satisfy His divine desires.

Nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it should come to light. We have the mind of Christ! Live to learn to see all things this way. Concern yourselves less with being consistent Christians, live as you truly are — in His presence — as continuous Christians! Live before God before you live for Him. Free your imagination to see all things into that moment when He appears, when we shall be like Him, because at that moment we shall see Him just as He is. Only as this moment of unapproachable light enters our hearts will we see and hear all things as He prepared them for the fusing of His love for us with ours for Him for all eternity. Offering up our hope of transformation to Him while trusting Him to make it happen is the best way to give thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father. Being purified so, just as God the Son is pure; best equips us to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ with that humility of mind which was also in Christ Jesus.

Therefore saints, rejoice! Persevere under trial to receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Remain committed men and women every day, even now, who are ever eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Our Lord prayed for all who obtain a faith of equal standing with the apostles, taken up by hearing and believing the preaching of the apostolic word. As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” He has prayed for you saints. With the certain expectancy of hope in the God of surprise look to the coming of the unending day when He answers that prayer and fulfills the desire of the Son, when we shall be one even as the Father and the Son are one, that we may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that the Father sent the Son and that the Father has loved us even as He has loved the Son, whom He loved before the foundation of the world.

We guard ourselves from idols to have no other gods before the Father.

We guard ourselves from idols to have no other gods before the Giver of Life.

We guard ourselves from idols to have no others gods before the Lamb.

He guards us from our idols by giving us the gift of living before the glory of God.

He guards us from our idols by allowing us to see ourselves living in the presence of God.

He guards us from our idols by merging our concrete awareness of existence with the word of life, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Inclusio, saints, inclusio.

The people of God are God’s prayer beads:

Lectio divina, meditatio, oratio and contemplatio 

The Scriptures read through reflection, response and rest

Gives way to

Lectio improvisus, continuus, and conversari

Being read by the Spirit’s improvisation, continuous intercession and conversation

To be taken up again,

Inclusio, saints, inclusio.

Beholding as in a mirror

The glory of the Lord, we are being

Transformed into the same image from glory to glory,

Just as from the Spirit of the Lord,

He lets us see one another as seen by God.

God does not want us to see things from His point of view.

He wants rather, that we see ourselves with one another

Being seen by Him.

Understanding I am known before God literally takes me out of my dark mind, not that I am separated from it but nonetheless, taken beyond its confines for self-reflection. Only here, outside of my own mind, with the glory of God shining upon me, illumined by the lamp of the Lamb, do I learn who I am. Only outside of my own mind am I able to confess, “I was born blind, but now I see.” Outside of my own mind, I know who opened my eyes! I am out of my own mind, consecrated for God. I am out of my own mind, appointed a bearer of the Gospel because of God. The fully examined life, the only life worth living, is this life outside the confines of my own dark mind, living in the sight of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  He who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Effort at trying to gain this communion is worthless. Our Lord Jesus Christ is worthy of worship neither because He gives us what we cannot gain for ourselves, nor because He Himself first gained for us what He chooses to give us. He is worthy of worship because He gives Himself to us as the Father’s gift. “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. Faith in the Son, faith in His desire, faith in His petition, faith in His having purified us for Himself, for His own possession, is more than knowledge or experience, it is more than identity, being or orientation, it is living the Son’s visible faith in the presence of the Father as God’s love poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who was given to us. With all our imagination, reason, will, senses, feelings and being of body and spirit transformed beyond whatever glory we receive from one another by the glory of the only true God, we shall see the Son just as He is before the Father! This is eternal life, from our innermost being flowing rivers of living water for beholding the Son’s glory, which the Father gave Him before the foundation of the world because of His love for Him. The love wherewith the Father loved the Son will be in us. The Son in us forever presents us before Him as His own unto the glory of the Father.

Everything we know and experience testifies to this intimacy, nevertheless, nothing we imagine, experience or know reveals it to us any more than popularity, fame or honor can reveal to us God’s glory. Sensuality, acumen and science cannot acquire or anticipate this consummation. Nonetheless, we strain these extensions of our soul to our benefit best whenever we look at the temporal things that are seen to see the eternal things that are not seen. We live to see Him in one another, in this world and in creation. For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then, face to face; now in part, but then we shall know even as we are known with faith, hope, and love now abiding, but the greatest of these is love. We live to hear Him speak to us from His word, to learn of Him more and to be washed by His word so that our mind and our senses are cleansed and sharpened for better seeing Him in us and all around us.

Here is the spiritual exercise for the mature: living by the Spirit, digesting solid food for our soul, the sacred writings by which we grow up to salvation, while putting to death the deeds of the body, we rehearse the moment to come by training our senses to discern good and evil. This completion, this celebration, this consummation, the moment when the Son is subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, is ours as His only, as the Giver forever giving us the Holy One given.

Are we ready? Are we making ourselves ready? Are we busy trying to learn how to go about helping one another get ready? Lord, grant that we continue to live in fellowship with Christ so that when He returns we will be full of courage and not shrink back from Him in shame. We have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world.

Whatever we dabble at suggests what we want to become in life, what we practice demonstrates who we are. Let no one deceive you saints, do not defraud or devour one another. The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as the Lord is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil. No matter how imperfectly, no matter how many times we disappoint one another, no matter how many times we stumble, may we nonetheless hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, keeping fellowship with our Father and with one another, not forsaking our own assembling together, but rather, continuously encouraging one another face-to-face to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called, remaining diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace by putting on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

The face expresses a person’s attitude or feelings. “Skin for skin,” the organ of appearances, is the “me” that really matters according to the shadow of things to come and to the spirit of this world, according to the wisdom of this age, according to the rulers of this age, which is passing away. How do we stand before God? Does His face shine upon us? Has He turned His face away from us? Has He hidden His face from us, or set His face against us? Who cares? “You cannot see My face, for no one may see Me and live.” So there we are. Why bother, let us eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.  Yet we feel sure of better things — things that belong to salvation.  We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls, who have confidence and will not shrink from Him in shame at His coming.

Here is the heart of the mystery of godliness, in this penultimate dispensation of the Spirit’s allotment of prophecy according to the testimony of Jesus, God now allows His essential glory to be fully unveiled only through His children, who by faith in His Son, are confident that the justified shall see God’s face. They remember the Lord taught, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” For His sake they pursue peace with all men, striving after sanctification in pursuit of the ultimate prize even in the face of being put to death all day long and being considered as nothing more than sheep to be slaughtered.

What trophy could possibly be worth such carnage? The children of God have been given to live for nothing less than to exercise self-control in all things so they might win an imperishable prize for which only they are eligible. Before a great cloud of witnesses surrounding them, they lay aside every encumbrance and the sin of disbelief which so easily entangles them to run with endurance the race of salvation that the Father has set before them. Fixing our eyes on Jesus then, let us run the victory lap of our Lord, considering Him who has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God so we may not grow weary or lose heart.

May we run in such a way that the Father transforms our souls to give us the vision of mature faith, filled as we ought to love God, at rest with being known by Him. Whoever has much loved is much forgiven, but he who is forgiven little, loves little. How mad must we be? We do not want to know Christ according to the flesh, we don’t want to be with the Transfigured Christ, and we do not wish to cling to the Resurrected Christ before His ascending to our Father and our God. We long to see Him when He appears in accordance with the Scriptures, when we shall be like Him because we shall see Him just as He is. If we live by the Spirit let us also walk by the Spirit to follow Him in the New Creation. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. What do you want to see? How then do you look at one another? Can you see the Lord God in me illumining me while transforming me into the same image from glory to glory as from the Lord, the Spirit? Can I in you? Do we want to? What do we see? What do we want to see? Will you help me do my share in the work of service to the building up of the Body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the true knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ? Will you carry my burdens? Will you comfort me in my sufferings? Will you restore me as if I am the least and slowest; will you bear my burdens as if I am the very last saint God has called to fulfill the law of Christ?  How will you help me be holy that I might better help another in his or her pursuit of that sanctification without which we cannot see the Lord?


[1] James T. Bretzke S.J., Consecrated Phrases, A Latin Theological Dictionary (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 2003), p. 28.

Published in: on January 23, 2013 at 7:13 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] Why Carpe Deim, Why Not Coram Deo? (mcduffee.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Really enjoyed this article. Didn’t read all of it, but I will have to go back and read it deeply when I have time.

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