“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Reference: Galatians 2: 19-21 )
If you are new to reading me this year, raise your hands! Ah! I see someone of you are not aware of my vacillating opinion of Paul. Quite honestly Paul can be very confusing, and many times not for a good reason. These verses from Galatians are a good example. Between Paul dying to the law, following the law, saying that God is fulfilling the law, and that Christians at time should obey the law – one could get lost. No wonder Paul says it is “a mystery”!
The historic Anabaptists cut through Paul’s philosophizing and came up with concept of “yieldedness” which they called “Gelassenheit”. I have spoken of this concept before (though I cannot remember right now where) and I remember I referenced the Anabaptist/Mennonite encyclopedia.
Hans Denck said, “Then man takes after God and acquires the characteristics of the divine generation as a son of God and coheir with Christ [Rom. 8:17]. Therefore he, according to his
ability, also lives just as Christ lived. Indeed, not he himself lives but Christ in him [Gal. 2:20]. He does not consider it ‘robbery’ that he is in some measure like God, but, though he is a lord of all creatures, he most humbly submits himself to all creatures, [Phil. 2:6] not in order that they serve him, but that he, according to his measure, might serve them to fulfill the will of his Father.”
I was puzzled by the Philippians citation and so lucked up this (wouldn’t you know it!) Pauline letter. “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.” (Verses 5 – 8 with verse 6 emphasized) So in this excerpt from one of Denck’s writings, I am puzzled by who “he” is throughout the excerpt. It could be read as being Christ, which makes sense based on the passage from Philippians. But it could also be “he/humanity” who has taken on “characteristics of the divine generation as a son of God and coheir with Christ” as Denck says. And though this is confusing also, it makes sense in light of what Paul is saying about Christ living in him (and us).
I like too that Denck gives credence to the lack of a sense-of-self in the human who has yielded to Christ and God. Paul never says it, but it does feel like “robbery” or a “voluntary mugging” that a sense of who we are is lost in the larger divine presence of God. Yet we are more true and authentic to what and who God created us to be if we allow ourselves to be enveloped into the Divine (capital D!).
May you beloved lose yourself in God and then find yourself in the Lord’s Divine Presence. Selah!