We all want to be “lead by the Spirit” and experience the grace of God in our lives. After all, this is a critical aspect of being Christian; having that relationship with the Almighty God, and entering in to what Orthodox call Theosis…“enlightenment.” But to become enlightened, it will help to know how it actually works, how God transcends to us so that we may experience Him.
I recently had the opportunity to teach a business class to some of my colleagues, recently. I was asked to do this as a result of some recent business success and some statements I had made to management regarding the success. I am not usually one that likes to preach theology to my colleagues, but I do like to speak of “philosophy,” “psychology” and even some “sociology” with them. I do have some studies in these subjects, but most of my study is theological, which I argue is the mother of all true philosophy and psychology.
The topic of my business class was “Momentum.” I began explaining the concept of momentum by dividing it into sub-categories. I explained how the “tangible” must work with the “psychological” in order to produce momentum. From a Christian perspective, this momentum can be seen as the synergistic relationship with have with God, through His energy.
A spiritual relationship with God requires two elements to merge and become one element; that is, the spiritual and the existential to become the actual kingdom of God. This is referred to in Orthodoxy as synergism, when the supernatural ignites with the natural. Our worship demonstrates this with its various elements and sacraments that invoke the grace of God; not in that it causes God to act; He already did that through Incarnation and all that followed; but these elements of our worship breaks us into what is already there. St Paul says in Ephesians 2:10 that God has already created good works for us to walk in. This does not mean that we were somehow programmed to do everything as a determinists, it simply means that the very energies of God have been set before us to partake in as our relationship builds with Him. When our relationship builds with Him, the synergistic quality of life becomes stronger and stronger; the natural combining with the supernatural. The key to success in this is to be able to find those igniting points in our lives.
The “energies” of God have to do with God’s active substance; His grace and mercy in the active sense, not in a legalistic manner; not in a tit-for-tat “relationship,” but within the context of Christ’s pre-existing grace. As the Fathers teach us, from the Scriptures well into the Church-age, God’s grace is not created. It has always been, and through Christ it is now always available in a special way. God’s grace is not dispersed, as we western-minded folk seem to think; rather, God’s grace is all around us and is permeating us as it is able; as we shed off our barriers and embrace the avenues that He has provided. We don’t do something good in order for God to sort of hand something over. It has already been handed over from Christ, and now is where the synergistic concept of nature comes into play!
As Orthodox Christians, we believe that all creation has a part in our redemptive plan. St Paul speaks of this very boldly in Romans, and many of the other Church fathers speak of a very similar concept of creation; that all things are bound together, unable to be separated by anything. Once we separate the spiritual from the physical, we commit the heresy of Gnosticism, or a type of Gnosticism, where all matter is deemed evil and all spiritual is considered the ideal of life and unity with God. But we were created in the image of God, and God’s creation, according to Him, is “good.” Granted, we are all separated to some extent through our sin, but the working grace of God on the cross restores this union of the invisible and the visible so that we can take dominion over the earth, cultivate it, and learn to live within the energies of God to “become gods,” as Christ says in John 10:34.
Becoming gods is not as complicated as we might think, and this is not intended to be a comprehensive study on the precise wording that Christ chose to use here, but the point I would like to make is that Christ has given us power over the devil; not just over him in a legal and forensic manner, but in a spiritual manner in which we can have literal victory over his craftiness. We can now literally LIVE in Christ! This can be called “synergy!” This synergy means being empowered to harness the material and the spiritual within our lives. This is essentially how God relates to us, in a synergistic manner. God is Spirit and we are material with spirit, within a material world. Therefore, there is a synergy working within us alone with God, as well as with us and our surroundings with God.
The beautiful part of God’s grace and energies is that as we begin to walk in them, we begin to actually gain “momentum.” We move from one “tipping point” to the next where various elements in our lives begin to make sense and we begin to prosper in spirit. We gain discernment, and in some cases prophetic insight to our experiences, past, present and future.