Archive for the ‘3. Unity in Christ’ Category

Like any good story that has twists and turns, action and romance there is always a big reveal at the end. This is also true for the story of the Bible.

Once everything that God set out to do in the old creation has been done, all mankind has been called to account and Jesus reigns supreme, God will reveal the new creation. He will give it to mankind and mankind to it. All the imagery of Revelation 21-22 points toward the undeniable fact that all are one in God, perfect unity.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
(Revelation 21:1-8 ESV)

The old creation is no more, with its last remnants swept away into Hell. In that day hope will be realised and the unity (glory) of God will be perfected in all things, he will be all and in all. As in the beginning it is not what it looks like (physically) that matters, rather it is the perfection of unity between God, man and creation that matters.

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.
(Revelation 21:9-11 ESV)

There will be no barrier and no mediator between God and man, man will live in the presence of God forever. Unrestricted access to the source of life and love. This new union of man and creation (in God) will last forever and the darkness of sin and disunity will have no place in the new creation. This has been secured by Jesus Christ the new head of this new creation.

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
(Revelation 21:22-27 ESV)

While the unity that existed in the beginning was the same type as the unity that will exist in the new creation there is one fundamental difference, Jesus. Jesus is a better head than Adam ever could be. Jesus, the perfect union of God and man, makes all the difference in the new creation. He will not rebel against the union of God because this would require him to rebel against himself and break the mould of unity that all things were created to fit. Instead he will remain true to God and himself forever, securing the lordship of the entire human race over creation.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
(Revelation 22:1-5 ESV)

The End

This is only the beginning.


The enemies of Christ must be cast into hell before the new creation can be inaugurated. Hell is not part of the new creation.

Unity can’t exist between God and those who will not willingly submit to his headship (though all will submit, willingly or unwillingly). Not all who are born of Adam will be reborn in Christ and receive all the good that comes with being united to God and others (in Christ).

Hell is not part of the new creation. Those who are cast out out of the presence of God have no place in the union of the new creation. At the end of Revelation 20 the Bible describes the final judgement after the last war. All those who will not bow the knee willingly are thrown into the lake of fire (hell). This is to ensure that they are dealt with before the union of the new creation is inaugurated. If they are judged after the new creation is inaugurated this will restart the cycle of a divided creation making perfect unity in Christ impossible.

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
(Revelation 20:11-15 ESV)

God will have his day in court. There is only one justice, the justice of God. In unity justice for one is justice for all. Only those who are united in him will be vindicated. Those who are not united in Christ will be condemned by their own actions.

The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.
(1 Timothy 5:24-25 ESV)

All that will matter on that day is unity in Christ. God will separate the sheep from the goats, the faithful from the unfaithful. Those who actively and faithfully live out their union in Christ will be set aside to live in union with God forever, in the new creation. By this shall all mankind know the faithful who are in Christ, that they loved one another. Christians will be distinguished by their love in unity, glorifying God by living out their unity in Christ.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
(Matthew 25:31-40 ESV)

The Glory of God is in his oneness/unity. There can be no greater pursuit or life of value than a life lived in union with God. In unity mankind was designed to reflect to glory of God, glorifying him in every action.

Those who will not unite in Christ will be cast out forever. All benefits of unity (in God) received in the present age (though they were not united to him) will be removed forever (the love of family, any good thing, etc). Their fate will be one of eternal torment, beings created to exist in unity with God and one another yet unable to achieve this in the slightest. There will be no hope of reprieve from this torment, no death to look forward to. In that day they will know their own actions condemned them. God will glorify himself by condemning those who will not unite in him, vindicating himself before all.

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For iI was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:41-46 ESV)

There is a war coming between sons of Adam and the sons of God. This is a war between the old and new creations, between the broken union of man and the new humanity in Christ. This must happen before the new creation is established. The amnesty of the present age is passing and when it does the sons of God will unite for the last human war. This is a human war because mankind was given authority over creation (in the beginning), so at the end of the present age mankind will regain its place over creation, in Christ. Order will be reestablished.

Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
(1 Corinthians 15:24-28 ESV)

This war is necessary. Christ, who is head of this new human union (and new creation), must subjugate every other government and authority who does not subject themselves to his rule willingly. So that all may be brought to account under the good order that God established in the beginning.

In the process of uniting all thing under his authority Christ will dominate death and raise all from the dead. Just as mankind is united in death the sons of God be united in life. Once Jesus Christ has put all things under his feet he will then put himself under the authority of God the father. The phrase “…that God may be all in all” (vs28) is the language of unity, a union that all Christians will share in as part of the new creation. This is an image of complete consistency with and submission to the authority of God the Father, where no part of creation is in revolt or rebellion against God. The kingdom of God is a perfect union under the order, rule and authority of God the father. Christ will hand over all authority to God so that all things will be subject to God. Never again will mankind seek to wrestle control of creation from God because Christ who is the head of all will not fail where Adam failed, to do so will require him to rebel against himself (he is God also). In this way the future of the new creation will be secure in Christ.

During this last war, creation will unite in rebellion against God one last time. Seeking to destroy their common enemy, God’s chosen king (Christ). They will not prevail, they will be defeated swiftly and without mercy.

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.  And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.
(Revelation 19:11-21 ESV)

Those who will not unite in Christ willingly have no place in the new creation, this is why hell is so important (more on this later). At the end of the book of Matthew describes the final judgement of God where he will separate those who are united in Christ (the sheep) from those who would not submit willingly (the Goats).

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
(Matthew 25:31-34 ESV)

While similar in some respects, sheep and goats are not the same species and as such they have no place coexisting, the goats must be separated out. Note that this distinction between species is not made effective until the final judgement and it is God who makes this distinction not man. So in the present age while there is still time Christians must strive to make Christ known and leave the judgement and punishment of the goats to God at the time of his choosing.

Inheritance in the kingdom of God is often misunderstood because of a warped view of personal ownership, satisfaction and identity in things. This will not be the case in the new creation.

Simply the inheritance of the saints, as members of this new humanity (in Christ), is one another in unity of all things in God. As the Bible says in Ephesians 1 a Christian’s inheritance is in the saints (i.e. the union of the saints). As such it becomes the rebirth right (after having been reborn into Christ) to take their place in Christ as lords of the new creation, possessing one another and all things given by God (head and all-father) for the common good.

having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…
(Ephesians 1:18 ESV)

This holds true for the crown given to those who are united in Christ. Philippians 4:1 clearly states that the crown Christians will receive is one another. Paul calls the Church at Philippi his love, joy and crown. Not only the Philippian church but the church in Thessalonica too, because it is these who were known to Paul through his ministry and position in Christ as apostle.

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
(Philippians 4:1 ESV)

And again in 1 Thessalonians:

For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?
(1 Thessalonians 2:19 ESV)

In 2 Timothy it is stated that this crown is the crown of righteous and as such is a direct result of Paul living out his union with Christ now, completing the work Christ started. This crown is for all those who are united in Christ. God is laying this crown up by securing his work in Christ. So that those whom have ministered to and are in Christ will not slip away.

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
(2 Timothy 4:8 ESV)

The Bible states that there is a direct link between a Christian’s conduct in Christ now and the crown they receive on the last day. Showing the importance of understanding the continuity of relationship (unity) from the present age to the new creation. In 1 Peter 5 elders are urged to use their authority and position in Christ for the good of those Christ has given to them. Not seeking their own benefit or oppressing them, rather as an example for living in Christ now. Knowing that those whom they have faithfully served in the present age will be there on the last day as members of the same union.

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
(1 Peter 5:1-5 ESV)

However those who do not faithfully live out their union in this life, using all that they have given by God (in union) for their own gain, may still be saved from hell but will not know the joy of seeing those they loved on earth persevere untill the end. This is not telling Christians to “convert”, do as many ministries or befriend as many people as is humanly possible. It is a call for perseverance in unity (relationship) through faith in Christ, knowing that God has given all Christians to one another to others for their good. If you are indeed united to Christ you must act like it, otherwise you risk taking no one with you into eternity.

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
(1 Corinthians 3:10-15 ESV)

So seek out the joy of unity in Christ, faithfully serving one another until you are called home to be with him face to face and share in the saints.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”(John 4:21-24)

While the time of worshiping God in spirit has already come (in Christ), it has not yet reached its fullness. Not until all Christians stand in the presence of God, in physical spiritual form, will all who are one in Christ be able to worship God (in unity) unrestrained and unreservedly for all eternity.

God’s plan for the fullness of time has always been to unite all things (creation) in Christ. So that through his death and rising to new life he would put into effect a new human unity that would take its place as lords of creation under God. So that every blessing we have been given are blessings of renewed unity and relationship with God. These include being:

• chosen before the foundation of the world
• redemption through the blood of Christ
• adoption as sons
• shared inheritance as sons
• revealation of the mystery of his will to (as sons)

All Christians have been adopted as sons in Christ sharing in the inheritance of the kingdom of God. As sons of God, in Christ, Christians are given the keys to the universe and given insight into mystery of renewed unity in Christ. It is unity in Christ that secures these blessings for all Christians.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
(Ephesians 1:3-10 ESV)

When it says all things will be united in Christ it does not include everything and everyone that exists in the present age. Not everything that currently exists can exist in union with God (especially if they don’t want to). This can not include the current creation and those who reject God.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
(Romans 8:1-17 ESV)

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-18 ESV)

Joy is one of those things that everyone seems to know about, but can never give a clear definition of. This has meant that joy has been widely misunderstood, especially in light of verses like:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
(Philippians 4:4 ESV)

How are you supposed to have joy in God at all times? Are we meant to be happy all the time? The Bible states that Christians are to expected to suffer with Christ (Romans 8:17 ESV). Therefore it can’t be a matter of being happy all the time. More than this the Bible clearly states that Christians should rejoice in suffering, because the end result of suffering is steadfastness and maturity in Christ (which will have its full effect on the last day).

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
(James 1:2-4 ESV)

The Bible clearly states that suffering and discipline are the mark of a true child of God.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birth right for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.(Hebrews 12:1-17 ESV)

Also experience tells us that there are those who suffer from depression and are physically unable to experience happiness for long periods of time.

You have heard it said that JOY is an acronym standing for Jesus, Other, Yourself. While this has some merit in helping to understand priorities, it is largely unhelpful and confusing for understanding what joy in unity actually is. This acronym does not intuitively provide an explanation of joy it merely gives a list of priorities and is an over simplification of the Bible’s view of joy While priorities are good in light of unity this acronym is dangerous, pitting them against one another as if they were competing priorities. As already discussed, loving your family is fully in line with unity in Christ. Also in unity actions (love in unity) to benefit part ultimately serve to benefit the whole (Christ). This means that Christ can be glorified by loving others. Meaning that loving God with your whole heart and mind and loving your neighbour as yourself are a single command. Therefore as unity grows all members benefit. Also the work of Christ that all are involved in (building and sustaining unity) the present age is indeed Christ’s work.

In defining joy there are a few things that need to be understood. Firstly, joy is not an exclusively Christian concept and as such it should be defined with broader contexts in mind. Secondly, joy is not exclusively an emotion otherwise it would be perfectly interchangeable with happiness. Thirdly, joy is more about the object of desire and affection (good things) rather than the emotion or concept.

Therefore joy can then be defined as; a person’s attitude and reaction to good things.

Good and Evil
In the present age a “good” is understood as something that you can purchase. What most people don’t understand is that the term “good” (in this context) is a specific term used in economics. It describes anything that is intended to satisfy some want or need of a consumer. Things people want or need are things people desire to have, therefore goods are desirable.

As previously discussed, Genesis 1 reveals the living God through the story of creation. In creation the unity of God is clearly seen. At the end of each day God judged each part of creation to be “good” and ultimately judges the entire order of creation as “very good”. This judgement is a statement of approval, unity and harmony between the one true God and his creation. “Good” in this context is something that is associated with God, defined by God and is desirable to God.

Attitude and Reaction
Therefore it becomes clear that a person’s attitude toward those things that they determine to be good should be one of desire when they are withheld and happiness/satisfaction when they are obtained.

When the Bible says “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” emphasis should not be on the joy but on what the object of desire is, Christ. What the Bible is commanding all Christians to do is to align their desires/wants and needs with Christ. That is to say all Christians should ever want or need is Christ and what he wants (unity). Therefore the Bibles view of what is good and what is most valuable for the Christian is Christ and unity in him. Seeking what most highly valued and seen as the greatest good will in turn produce a positive reaction (happiness/satisfaction) to obtaining it. The more closely aligned the desires of the Christian are with Christ the stronger the desire and reaction, even though they may not be able to “feel” it.

Reactions to good things not only encompasses an emotional reaction but rational decision-making also. When Christ and what he wants is the sole object of a Christians desire their reaction to him will be one of elation, happiness, etc. while the way it is expressed will be in a manner that is appropriate to one who is united to Christ. When a Christian experiences any good thing their appropriate response is to praise the God who has given all good things (in Christ). This means that the emotion is not necessary for joy.

Therefore idolatry can understood as; replacing Christ and unity in him as the object of desire and affection with something else. For example, When a person desires the feeling of happiness they seek out anything that can make them happy.

God is the greatest good from which all other goods come. Therefore if you share in the spirit of Christ, being united to him, you must align you attitudes so that you seek and desire him alone. Seeking to reflect him in everything you do. Knowing that your union with him will not be fully realised untill you are with him in his spirit.

When Paul declares to the church at Philippi that they are his joy this doesn’t conflict with his desire for Christ.

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
(Philippians 4:1 ESV)

This is a very important passage because it brings together the concepts of love in unity and reward in heaven. To love one another with the love that Christ demonstrated is what it means to be in union with one another (in Christ) and God.