For God's Sake Grow Up For Your Neighbour's Sake
This is just a reflection on that saying of Luther's: "God doesn't need your good works. Your neighbour does."
And Dave K's observation that, post-resurrection, no-one summarizes the law with "love God and love neighbour" but only with "love neighbour".
A friend recently told me of some "higher life" Christians he met who would chant together:
I refuse, I refuse, I refuse to come down from heaven to deal with earthly realities.
They were horrible people to be around. Their marriages were a mess. And it was impossible to get at their sins because they were supposedly "hidden" from it all at God's right hand.
Well you do have to admire their sense of unbreakable union with Christ. I will give them that.
But you've also got to question the kind of Christ they feel united to.
Isn't the true Jesus exactly the kind of Person who does come down from heaven to deal with earthly realities? Isn't that His eternal glory? And therefore, doesn't Paul constantly take us from that secure union and then into those battles with the flesh?
Never for the sake of our union. But always from that union and in the power of it. How can union with this Christ mean anything else?
Jesus said: "For their sake I sanctify myself." (John 17:19).
Our response should not be "And likewise, Lord, for your sake I sanctify myself." No.
But there is a response to Christ's work. And it does involve our sanctification. We pass it on in costly ways - just as Jesus passed it on to us in the most costly way.
We do engage with the mess, not for God's sake but for our neighbour's. Jesus doesn't need my sanctification, but my wife does. Desperately. And the way I glorify the other-centred Christ is not to pay Him back with godliness but to pass it on in sacrificial love. "Hidden in Christ" does not mean hidden from the battle. Christ leads me into the battle because He's adopted me into His kind of other-centred life.
So, for God's sake, don't grow up for God's sake
But, for God's sake, do grow up for your neighbour's sake.