Over thirty years ago I read an insightful book entitled, ‘The Meaning of Persons.’ I cannot remember every detail but the stand-out feature of the book was that persons are supreme, that God is personal and that He has invested Himself in personhood. This is a useful insight especially when we understand that ‘religion’ will divest us of personhood and leave behind the husk of the self. And in the illusion that this husk is our real self and a pleasing to god self.
Long story short, Jesus is the meaning of persons and indeed is the meaning of you.
LIFE TO THE FULL
The truth that is both stranger than fiction and better than fiction is that God is less interested in our being a bunch of good qualities but is supremely interested in our becoming the ‘self’ God has created us to be. Jesus appeared to a man in vision. He was not a Christian or some kind of a holy Joe. Just a ‘someone’ in whom God was interested because he was a person. Jesus said ‘Fred, how have you been going with your life.
Fred began to list all his achievements.
This made Jesus laugh and He said, ‘ No, no. How have you been going in being you?’
This is the core of the Kingdom and the nub of life. Eternal life is to know God, to know Jesus Christ whom God has sent and thereby to know yourself. This is the path to becoming you – to becoming a son/daughter in spirit and in truth. Sons advance the Kingdom. Slaves and workers hinder it.
FALSE SELF/TRUE SELF
“It was Thomas Merton, the Cistercian monk, who first suggested the use of the term False Self. He did this to clarify for many Christians the meaning of Jesus’ central and oft-repeated teaching that we must die to ourselves, or “lose ourselves to find ourselves” (Mark 8:35). This quote has caused much havoc and push back in Christian history because it sounds negative and ascetical, and it was usually interpreted as an appeal to punish the body. But its intent is personal liberation, not self-punishment. Centuries of Christians falsely assumed that if they could “die” their spirit would for some reason, miraculously arise.” (1)
Our dress, our appearance and our accomplishments in the world are us of course. But they are not the core of who we are. Your real self is found, revealed and established in relationship to Jesus, which is to say in encounter with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is in the company of God that you are known as you are. It is here where you received the identity that is yours. It is in companionship with Father than you are mentored in being yourself and equipped to take your place in the advancement of the Kingdom.
If we are not born again and remain content to be a religious clone, we cannot become ourselves. We may acquire a bunch of characteristics that are called ‘good character’ yet essentially never become ourselves because we have not been propelled out of Adam’s life into the life of Jesus, which is the life of you in God and God as your life. This is what Jesus was getting at when He said, ‘Unless you are born again you cannot see the Kingdom of God.’ We cannot see ourselves and neither do we see Jesus and His Kingdom with any clarity.
“Life is not a matter of creating a special name for ourselves, but of uncovering the name we have always had.” (2)
(1)Rohr, Richard. Immortal Diamond: The search for our true self . SPCK. Kindle Edition. (2) Ibid.