Sharing in God’s Name

“His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him Who called us by glory and virtue…that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Peter 1:3-4).

This is perhaps the most powerful statement in the Bible: you may be partakers of the divine nature. What it doesn’t mean is that we can become part of the very essence of God, for that would be the ultimate blasphemy. No difference would exist between the divine and the human natures. It does mean that we are invited and encouraged to take part in those energies of God that are offered to us by grace: love, goodness, power and the like. The thought is overwhelming.

Many if not most persons in our society want little more than to cope with the challenges that confront them each day. Believers, if they think about it at all, would like to get into Heaven. What happens there is something they’ll consider once they make the grade. The more advanced will say they would like to be among the angels and saints, and after that, to see God face to face. All of those hopes presuppose an objective relationship to the Almighty. God is Whoever He may be, we are mere mortals blessed somehow {Thank You, Lord} in order that our souls will survive after our bodies disintegrate. That’s all they know, and all they care to know. One world at a time, please.

The Bible is promising something quite different from our hope and suppositions. But why should this surprise us? Isn’t it quite clear from the very beginning that we humans are made in God’s image, and we are called to spend our lives growing into the likeness of the Lord? (Genesis 1:26). What can Jesus mean when He invites us to: “Take, eat, this is My Body” (Matthew 26:26). Is He not incorporating us into Himself, giving divine life to us mere mortals? This is not a relationship a Christian can ignore if he or she plans on an everlasting life in the Father’s Kingdom. When after partaking of the sacred communion of Christ’s Body and Blood you kiss the chalice with reverence, you are in a symbolic way kissing the very pierced side of the Lord. And the spoon that you are offered with the sacred Host on it is called in Greek labis, which means “tongs,” suggesting the image from Isaiah, when the angel purified the lips of the holy prophet with a hot coal (Isaiah 6:6).

Again, Christ tells us in John 15 that He is the true vine, and unless we like branches are attached to Him and the sap of eternal life flows to us through Him, we are spiritually dead. We will dry up and be lopped off the vine. This is what St. Paul means when he reminds us:

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body” (I Corinthians 6:19).

Some are afraid that they will be swallowed up in a sort of divine porridge, like a pat of butter in hot oatmeal. That’s not the case. Quite the contrary, one’s personality is expanded and enhanced by opening the soul to the Holy Trinity. To be an individual is to be alienated and alone, not only from other persons, but from one’s innermost self. Better stated, to become a person requires the individual to grow up from being one of a crowd into individuality, but not to remain at that stage. Rather, to further immerse one’s self into the depths of selfhood, exploring who you are and discovering within the self a communion with one’s nature, the source of humanity. In a formula, therefore, individual plus human nature produces a person. Only when you are a person in the fullest extent, a being free from sin and all entanglements, can you voluntarily offer that freedom to the Lord Who knows you better than you can possibly know yourself, and Who can give you back your self enhanced by bestowing on it divine energy via the Holy Spirit.