12.1.15–>”Is THEOSIS our TELOS?”


John 4:34

Then Jesus explained, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.”

John 6:38

“For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.”

Let us start off by defining these two very rich and meaningful words.

Telos- This is your ultimate end goal. Fulfillment or completion. Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus is the “arche” and “telos” of our faith, that is, the origin and the finishing.

Theosis-The process in which God’s life fills and transforms us; in the end, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. One’s essential being is filled with the presence of God. It is something more than merely resembling Jesus, more than merely “following.” It is transformation.

For early Christians, from what I read of their writings, theosis was their goal in life. All of life’s energies were marshaled towards that end, and all of life flowed from that end.

Is this still our goal today? Our telos?

For many Christians, it seems that this is not the number one priority in life. Now we could reiterate the cliche false goals of life, like making lots of money, or gaining power and status, but those idols do not convict on the ground level for many of us now.

There are other, perhaps more subtle, idols (ultimate goals) which we enthrone upon our hearts where only God is meant to reside. What about the goal of living a pain-free life? More specifically, an emotionally pain-free life. Now I can’t blame anyone for their desire for this, but how realistic is it? I mean, am I being a good father to my daughters by raising them and training them to live pain-free–to work hard to avoid or numb pain?

Let me know how that turns out for you, girls.

A better way would be to prepare them for when pain comes, for when people hurt you. Cause it’s comin’, baby.

Or how about the other big one, the goal of living in comfort? Oh man is this a life-stealer, as paradoxical as that sounds. Think of the effort we expend to live comfortably. Think of who and what we probably miss seeing while preoccupied with ourselves and our own comfort. Again, it’s not all bad, but cannot be our telos.

Or the other one I also definitely fight, the goal of being liked and well thought of. Expending the majority of our energy upon this ridiculosity blinds us from simply being loving, in which case we’ll probably be liked and well thought of anyway!

I don’t see these three in Scripture or Jesus’ teaching as being ultimate end goals or bringing Life that really is life.

Jesus embraced our humanity–pain, discomfort, betrayal and all–and yet lived a life incredibly amazing because His telos was theosis. What mattered to Him besides doing His Father’s will and being one with Him (Jn.10:30) ? Since that was all that ultimately mattered to Him, He lived life to the fullest.

Could this be much of what is off with American Christianity today? Why, for many at least, we’re so depressed, medicated, and preoccupied with self? That theosis is no longer our telos? That the reason we were created is no longer our reason for living?

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