Day 74 – Three Circles
The pattern for spiritual growth Brother Lawrence presents can be illustrated by a rock being dropped into a pond and sending out ever-widening circles.
“There are three kinds of union: the first is habitual, the second virtual, and the third actual. Habitual union is when we are united to God solely by grace. Virtual union is when we begin an action by which we are united with God and remain united with him by virtue of this action the entire time of its duration. Actual union is the most perfect.”
The first circle Brother Lawrence calls “habitual union”, which we may prefer to call salvation.
He calls this union with Christ “habitual”, because it’s continual. The Christian journey from start to finish is all grace.
You were saved when you repented of your sins and trusted Christ to save you. Yet at the same time, you were saved solely by grace, God’s grace, as a free gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Like the song “Amazing Grace” – “Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”
It’s “habitual” because nothing can separate you from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39). It’s “habitual” because what God started in you, he will complete (Philippians 1:6).
Your salvation is “habitual”, because you were saved (past), you are being saved (present), and you will be one day fully saved (future).
Brother Lawrence next describes what he calls “virtual union”, which we may prefer to call sanctification.
We stay connected with God: Surrendering all other priorities in life to the priority of obeying Jesus. Becoming like Christ through the inner work of the Spirit. Practicing spiritual disciplines as means of grace. Cultivating an open and receptive heart before God as he directs us.
This union with God is “virtual” because we move from knowing about God to knowing and loving him in reality. We die to ourselves and find God’s life. We empty ourselves and find God’s fullness. We lose all we have and find God to be all we need.
The outermost circle Brother Lawrence describes as “actual union”, which we may prefer to call genuine transformation. The Christian life is simply Jesus himself, indwelling you by his Holy Spirit, living out his life in and through you!
As we practice God’s presence, Christ “actually” lives his life through us. We resemble Christ in who we are, what we don’t do, what we do: Demonstrating his power. Reflecting his love. Speaking his truth. Exemplifying his holiness. Living out his life, while he is living out his life in us and through us.
Like a stone dropped into a pond, these three circles – salvation, sanctification, transformation – are ever-widening in us.
Action Step: In which circle do you mostly see yourself?
This is God’s Word for you today,