Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born,
If He's not born in thee, thy soul is all forlorn.
— JOHANN SCHEFFLER
Man is a threefold being composed of spirit, soul, and body so intermingled, so blended into one that it is beyond the finite mind to say where one ends and the other begins. We read that when man was created he was made in the image and likeness of God. No intelligent person can make the mistake of supposing that God has parts like unto the human body or that the external man is in any way the image and likeness of God.
God is Spirit, God is life, God is love and wisdom and power. God is a combination of
all good. Can anyone tell me the active principles composing life? Can anyone analyze love for me? Can anyone weigh or measure wisdom? Can anyone catch and box up, see or handle Spirit? Nay, verily. God is Spirit; and the real man made in His image is Spirit also. Spirit is substance. Substance (from Latin sub, under, and stare, to stand) is that invisible, intangible but real something which as its indestructible core and cause stands under, or at the center of, every visible thing in existence.
That there is but one substance of which all things visible and invisible are made is conceded by all scientists, whether spiritual or material. This one substance is Spirit, forever invisible but indestructible. "The worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear." God is not only the creative cause of every visible form of intelligence or life at its beginning, but at each moment of its existence. He lives within every created thing at its very center as the life, the ever-renewing, re-creating, upbuilding cause of it. This is not pantheism, which declares that the visible universe, taken
or conceived of as a whole, is God. No, no, far from it. God expresses Himself in visible ways. Man is His fullest, most complete expression. God is the living, warm, throbbing life that pervades our being. He is the quickening intelligence that keeps our minds balanced and steady throughout all the vicissitudes of life. He never is and never can be for a moment separated from His creation. "We are a temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them." "Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God?" "The King of Israel, even Jehovah, is in the midst of thee": not in the midst of the community at large but in the midst of you individually.
God is the Father of our spirit, of our real self. We are His offspring, His children, "There is one body, and one Spirit . . . one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all." God has made all His children alike. He has no favorites. The spirit of man always has been and always will be in His image while creation continues, no matter what the external man does to hide that image. More
than once did Jesus give public recognition to the fact of our oneness with Himself as sons of God—even as He is the Son—and joint heirs with Him. "Our Father," He prayed, with thousands about Him. "Go unto my brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God," said He to Mary. "Call no man your father on the earth: for one is your Father, even he who is in heaven."
The moment we recognize God as the Father of the spirits of men, and therefore the Father of all men, that moment we recognize a new and vital relationship of all men to one another; and we say "our Father" with a new depth and meaning. That moment we step out forever from all narrow, selfish loves, all "me and mine," into the broad universal love that encompasses the whole world, exclaiming as did the Christ when looking around on the multitude, "Behold, my mother and my brethren!"
Man is made in the image of God. Then is this eating, drinking, sensuous creature we see the image of God? Not at all. But the divine spark at the center of his being, the ever-re-
newed breath of God, which is the life, the intelligence, of this man, be it full or limited, is God's image, is very part of God Himself. Is this ugly, rough piece of marble, with only a nose or a mouth visible, a statue? No, but it will be when the sculptor has finished with it. The perfect statue is there, but hidden, awaiting the touch of the master's hand to bring it forth.
Jesus primarily taught men how to live, to repent of their sins, to turn from all wrongdoing, to love others even to the laying down of their lives for their enemies if necessary. Toward the last of His ministry He said, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come." Jesus had been to them a visible savior. He had shown them that He had power on earth to forgive sin, to heal the sick and raise the dead. He had called Himself the life, the door, the way. But after it all He said He had not told them all He knew as yet; they could not bear it
then. "It is expedient for you [not for Myself] that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you." "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever ... for he abideth with you, and shall be in you."
Thus Jesus recognized that a personal savior to whom people could go, outside of themselves, was not enough; such a scheme of salvation had its limitations. There must be an inner spiritual birth to each one, a consciousness of an indwelling Christ ever present within him to be his guide and teacher when He, Jesus, was no longer visible. "I will not leave you desolate," He said to His disciples, "I come unto you. . . . In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." In all of Paul's early teaching he spoke only of the Son of man, Jesus, who had been crucified and was risen. But in later years, as he grew in grace and in the knowledge of Truth, he spoke to his spiritual children: "of whom," he said, "I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you." He also spoke of the "mystery which hath been hid for ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested
to his saints . . . which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
What did Jesus mean? What did Paul mean? Is there then a higher, fuller birth than the one that many Christians know, that of following after the crucified Jesus, the son of Mary, who is and ever must be a personality outside of ourselves.
Surely there is. It is not easy to explain the relation that Jesus, the man of Galilee, bears to the Christ of God who is to be formed in us; scarcely possible by words to explain the mystery "which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." It cannot be put into words. It comes to one as a revelation; and, thus coming, is as real as one's very existence. It was not the man Jesus, the personality, the Son of man that was to be the Saviour, for that part of Jesus was human. He Himself ever spoke of it as such. "I can of myself [of My mortal self] do nothing." "The Father abiding in me doeth his works." "The Son can do nothing of himself." It was the Christ, the Anointed, the very divine at the center of His being who came forth and did the works through Jesus. The Comforter that He promised
was to be "the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name." The very Spirit of this same Father who abode in Jesus was to abide within them and us. This same Spirit, this Christ, to whom is given all power is formed by a spiritual birth at the center of your being and mine and abides there. He "who is the image of the invisible God" becomes "the firstborn of all creations"; that is, He is the first coming forth of the invisible Father into the visible creature. He abides within us first as a "babe" (or in small degree); but as He grows and increases in stature in proportion as we recognize Him there, with encouragement and a sort of wooing, so to speak, we make room for the "Babe in the Inn."
There comes to be in this sweet and holy relation a living touch, an intimate sort of inter-sphering of our whole being with the divine source of all good and all giving. We become conscious of a new relationship between the living, indwelling Christ, unto whom is given all power, and the creature whose needs are unlimited. The very mind of Christ that was in Jesus is in you. You get to know that the infinite
supply for soul, body, and circumstances is someway right at hand in this indwelling Christ, "in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden." "In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." "For of his fulness we all received." "And in him ye are made full." Marvelous, almost incomprehensible relationship!
How is man, the entire man, soul and body, to be made perfect? By striving and effort? By lopping off branches of the old tree here and there? By cutting off this habit and that habit? Not at all. None of these is the way laid down by Christ. He said, "I am the way." He said, "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one": perfected then by His perfect life dwelling within the imperfect life and filling it with His own fullness. We are made perfect entire by this "I-in-them" coming forth into visibility, because of our waiting upon Him in recognition of His indwelling presence and our continued affirmation that He does now manifest Himself as the perfect one through us. "He must increase, but I must decrease."