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A Different Way of Practicing God's Presence
Relating to everyone through Christ
“I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”
~ Psalm 16:8
I’ve always thought of this verse, and similar ones, as something we do on our own, inside of our minds. This is true, to a degree. Keeping God before our minds can be done by memorizing or meditating on a passage of Scripture, or calling to mind an attribute of God. These are valid ways to set the Lord continually before ourselves, but there is another way of doing this that I’m learning about and trying to implement in my life.
In his classic work, Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes about how Christ now stands between us and everything else:
“He wants to be the medium; everything should happen only through him. He stands not only between me and God, he also stands between me and the world, between me and other people and things. He is the mediator, not only between God and human persons, but also between person and person, and between person and reality.”
In the past week or so, I’ve been thinking about how this might work in our lives. It starts with realizing that Christ is already there, he is already present, and that the way I relate to God, the world, and other people should be through him.
But what does this mean?
First, it means I have a growing awareness of the reality of Christ’s presence in my daily life. In my relationships with family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and anyone else I encounter, I see Christ as present there with us. I see them through Christ, relate to them through Christ, speak to them through Christ, and care for them through Christ. I think as we develop an awareness of the presence of Christ in our relating to others, as a mediator, we’ll grow in our ability to relate in ways that reflect his grace.
Second, it means the way I relate to others will be in love, as this is the only way we can truly relate to them through Christ. Loving others means we are disposed to work for their good. We care about their good. We value their good. Relating to others through Christ, in his love, will rule out hatred, contempt, most (if not all) of our anger, and focusing on our own needs over the needs of others. We cannot relate to others through Christ in hatred, contempt, or selfishness. We can do so in love, grace, mercy, compassion, patience, humility, and kindness.
I’m sure there is much more to explore and apply here. But I’m very new to this, and so would simply encourage you to begin, in your mind’s eye, by seeing your relationship to others as being mediated through Christ. Imagine he is present with you and your friend, you and your spouse, you and your child, you and your co-worker, even you and your enemy. In this case, what we imagine is actually true! He is there. Let his truth begin to inform how you relate to the people in your life. Let him mediate all of your relationships, as Bonhoeffer describes.
I hope that this can be a transformative practice, as we begin to see others as they truly are in Christ, and relate to them as we should, in love, through Christ.
A book I co-edited with Gregory Bock, QAnon, Chaos, and the Cross, is set to be released May 23. Contributors include pastors as well as people from philosophy, theology, biblical studies, communications, history, information science, political science, and American cultural studies. We hope it will be helpful for how to deal with this growing trend - belief in conspiracy theories - in ways that reflect Christ and his kingdom.
It is available now for pre-order. If you’re interested, check it out.