There are many who talk about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as atonement for sins. If one turns to the theologians to see what this means, there are many different theories of atonement. These include the idea of ransoming a captive from slavery and sacrifice.
However, did you know that the word is literally at-one-ment, not a-tone-ment? Pondering this became even more interesting, at least to me, when I was reminded that the suffix “ment” is added to a verb as a way of expressing the means or result of the verb. At One is not a verb, so – how does this work? When we dig further, we see that at-one is English for the Latin verb meaning – to unite. Thus, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection reunited humans to God.
I doubt I am telling most of you something you did not already know, but sometimes different words can help us go deeper into the mystery of Jesus. Thus, as I pondered this line of reasoning, I started to see that Jesus is the completion of the verb – to unite. In other words:
The reality of Jesus is that I have been at-oned with God.
The problem is, I do not live at-one with God. This is despite the fact that in Jesus, I have received everything I need to live rightly. 2 Pet 1:3. To understand this more fully, we can look at an ancient mystic who tells us that: “[n]o one who is in love with himself is capable of loving God. The man who loves God is the one who mortifies his self-love for the sake of the immeasurable blessings of divine love.” – Diadochus, 5th Century mystic. This understanding is rooted in Mk 8:34 where Jesus tells us that a disciple must carry his or her cross and die to self. When we follow this directive, we increase our capacity to love God and to receive his love. In so doing, we live more and more fully the life of the at-oned; as one united to God who is love. 1 Jn 4:16.
Spend some time with the Holy Spirit pondering your own at-oned-ness with God. Ask him to help you see your reality as one who has been at-oned, and to help you surrender all that keeps you from living such status in the here and now. May we all learn to more and more fully live out our identity as one who has been at-oned with God.