Our son Leo’s bedtime routine is pretty typical: pajamas, brushing teeth, maybe a book, and usually some conversation. Like most kids his age he wants it to drag on forever. “Put your whole body in” he says, instructing me to lie next to him as we talk about the day and tell stories with his stuffed animals. When he senses I’m about to go, he hooks his little arm around my neck and tells me I’m trapped. Of course this leads to tickling and laughing until at last I am free.
I wonder if that’s how God thinks of us. “Put your whole body in.” Not just your time, or your money, or your attendance, or your belief, but everything.
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” Mark 12:30
I don’t think God wants all of us because he’s some demanding overlord. I think he wants all of us because he loves us. His intention from the very beginning was for us to walk in unhindered intimacy with him. Sin got in the way of that, but Christ made a way for our relationship to be restored. Now we can live in a Full Access relationship with him:
“But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.” 1 Corinthians 6:17
“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” John 14:20
“For in Christ all the fullness of the Diety lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ.” Colossians 2:9-10
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19
Our relationship with God was never meant to be outside-in: us trying to please some impersonal being up in the heavens. Rather, it was always meant to be inside-out: God living in us, walking with us, expressed through us, a divine union. Pure, unhindered loving relationship.
If that doesn’t sound right to you it’s because our culture has co-opted the truth with what I refer to as “Try Harder Spirituality.” It’s a Christianity (if the title still applies) of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, trying to be a “good person”, looking respectable in public, and generally focusing more on your efforts than on God’s grace. Christian Smith calls it Moralistic Therapeutic Deism and it tends to produce wonderful Pharisees, hypocrites, judgers, and self-congratulatory churches.
What’s crazy about all this is that our best efforts are actually keeping us from our best lives. The very God we’re trying so hard to please has already redeemed us, accepted us, forgiven us, and welcomed us in. All of our activity only alienates us from him unless it flows through him.
Put your whole body in. I want to spend time with you. Put your whole body in. I want to be close to you. Put your whole body in. I want to talk with you. Put your whole body in. I love you.