The West Fails to Social Engineer South Sudan
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CWR: You emphasize, in several places, that grace—sanctifying grace, specifically—is “Christ’s divine life in us.” Why is this truth so vital to the process and reality of discipleship? How can it be better grasped and appreciated?
Dr. Edward Sri: One big advantage we have as Christian disciples is that our rabbi, Jesus, dwells within us. He’s is not just an example to imitate from the outside like other rabbis. The One whom we seek to imitate abides in us through sanctifying grace. We really have the life of Christ abiding in us, prompting us, strengthening us, helping us to live more like him. So as Christian disciples, we don’t just walk in Christ’s footsteps. It’s more like He is walking in our shoes, helping us to take the steps of faith we could never do on our own.
An analogy from the Catholic tradition can be helpful here. If one were to take an iron rod and put it in fire, it would continue to be an iron rod, but would start to take on the qualities of fire, becoming hot, glowing red and emitting smoke. Similarly, when our human nature is filled with Christ’s life through sanctifying grace, it begins to take on the qualities of Christ. We become more patient, generous, compassionate and sacrificial like he is. We begin to take on the qualities of Christ as he lives his life through us. The more we are transformed by grace, the more we can say with St. Paul, “It’s no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”
Growth in the Christian life is all about learning to rely on and cooperate with God’s grace. As we strive to imitate Jesus, we quickly realize how weak and incapable we really are. We realize the Nike approach to spirituality simply doesn’t work. We can’t do it—not on our own. We need Jesus to help us: to heal our wounds, weaknesses and sins and to help us be more like him—to love with His love. This is the transformation Jesus wants to work in his disciples. He wants to re-produce His life in us.