Partaking of Christ’s nature
II Peter: 4 states that we are partakers of the divine nature through the knowledge and power of God and Christ. Partaking of the divine nature has been described in different ways. Some attribute partaking of Christ’s nature to the celebration of the Eucharist during the sacrament of Holy Communion. Moreover, Jesus told Peter just before the crucifixion, at the Last Supper, that if he did not let Him wash him, he would have no part in Him. (John 13:8).
The most common explanation within the Church of partaking of Christ’s nature is being born again. Jesus told Nicodemus (John 3:7), that in order to be saved and gain eternal life, he must be born again. Jesus then elaborated by saying that being born again is not a physical phenomenon or one-time act, but requires being born of the Spirit.
Partaking of the divine nature of being born again involves a moment-by-moment consecration to Christ, even though many individuals identify a special, specific experience or moment, when they actually made the decision to consecrate their life to Christ.
Several examples in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible elaborate and elucidate the effect of partaking of the divine nature. In each example, it resulted in changing the nature of the individual for the better – often symbolised by a change of name. Abram, trusting God’s ability to make him a ‘father of nations’, became Abraham; Jacob wrestling with and holding on to an angel till it blessed him, became Israel; Simon’s name was changed to Peter, when he recognised and declared Jesus as the Son of God; and Saul, after a divine encounter with the ascended Jesus, was renamed Paul.
Not all Biblical examples involved a name change, as the account with Zacchaeus, the tax collector in Luke 19:2-8 reveals. But all experienced a change in their nature, enabling them to live outstanding, spiritually exemplary lives thereafter. And it is no different for Christians today.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes that Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and other Old Testament prophets caught glimpses of the Christ. She goes on to refer to their experiences as a baptism in the divine nature. Being baptised in or with God’s nature is akin to being born again or partaking of the divine nature, because we become more like Christ – more spiritually minded. The Bible calls it having the Mind of Christ. This improves our thoughts, decisions, motives, and in some cases, our whole worldview. And that improves how we live as Christians in the world.
The result of the Christly activity of Holy Communion, the spiritual quality of humility, signified by feet washing, as well as Jesus’ command that we must be born again, should change our nature, resulting in holier and healthier lives. This improvement in thought, and then in action, is the hallmark of being Christian.
Moji George, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Nigeria West