We get to be reborn as a new creation rather than as a religious construct when we are willing to be flung out of what we call our lives and be absorbed into a new segment of our existence - a new domain that is more than just existing. This is the experience of Christ our life.
But some of us have never done this. We just added the Holy Spirit to the law and our old covenant garden bed and assumed that we were in the Spirit. But we were not. Not when we are still joined to the law. As a result, we were never truly alive and could never truly ‘see.’ We plodded on living in what we know, justifying this ‘knowing’ with of eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear – justifying it with subtle rationalisations that numb us to the presence of real life and real spirit that surrounds us.
Trapped on this treadmill because we want to be, we can get a pseudo-identity from our ethno/Christian community. Tacitly our aim is to save this cripple from itself. But in attempting this we do not become ourselves or gain the world for God. To be born again we die to us in Christ.
LIVE IN YOUR INHERITANCE
Richard Rohr writes, “We do not think ourselves into new ways of living. We live ourselves into new ways of thinking. In other words, our journeys around and through our realities, or “circumferences,” lead us to the core reality, where we meet both our truest self and our truest God.” (1) But some never do. They circle their own mulberry bush forever and a day because they will not leave their old ways; will not give up their partial identity for a real identity in the fullness of Jesus. Rather they seek to add life to something that was never alive and which was in fact constructed as a subtle device to hollow-out in the Kingdom of God in the name of God: A version of Christianity that is a modification of the knowledge of good and evil.
It can be difficult to understand Christ our life when we have been schooled all our lives in ‘the letter’. New birth is you in your new covenant life. Simply put this is Christ’s life as yours; Christ’s person as you. The new covenant means you are graced with His life. In this mode you are competent to minister the Kingdom. In the old covenant mode you are not. Strive and flail as you might, you will not multiply more than droplets of spirit and life.
The greatest insight that we can have into our condition is that although we imagined we were, we had not been born again. This is because our version of new birth was contained in Adam and the old covenant and was actually just another version of it. We moved from one kind of the knowledge of good and evil to another kind. Genuine rebirth is a revelation – the change from a life in religion to Christ our life. This is sonship and the Kingdom in spirit and in truth.
OAK OR BONSAI
You can live as a manifestation of Christ or you can live as a manifestation of the confused and distorted ideas you have absorbed from religion over the course of your life. In the first we are a son of God. In the second we are a worker, a slave and son of the first Adam - still wallowing in the half-life of the knowledge of good and evil. To what are you anchored? Is it to the person of Jesus or is it to those unexamined ideas and clichés with their flimsy proof texts from which you derive your identity?
Genuine and undiluted identity is ours in our Trinitarian life. We are in our Father and He is in us. This is the womb of our identity as individuals and as the church.
Identity is the core. If we have no real identity as a son/daughter we will seek it by attempting to find one – to add something to ourselves by which we can be identified. This could be a home or possessions, the right job, colleagues who seem to give us status or membership in a club or belonging in a religious community. These things can provide a superficial identity but never the core identity our heart seeks. Our heart seeks union and fellowship with our Father. We long to be identified as sons. Thus Satan says to you – Are you a son of God?’ His ploy is to suggest that you are not so that you grasp at a pseudo-father and a pseudo identity of the kind mentioned above.
Rohr writes, “On a very practical level, the problem is that contemporary Westerners have a very fragile sense of their identity, much less an identity that can rest in union and relationship with God. Objectively, of course, we are already in union with God, but it is very hard for people to believe and experience this when they have no strong sense of identity.” (2) All in fact belong. But not all live in this belonging.
ROBUST OR CRIPPLED
As crippled Christians we can have our identity as sons so smothered by our religious identity that our relationship with Father and ourselves is almost suffocated. We can be so bound to a religious identity that we are propelled into believing we are supporting Christ and His Kingdom when we are in reality attempting to prop up and support ourselves.
This is the identity we imagine we have in our sect or denomination. Here we are in fact double-minded. We are separated from God and ourselves by a subtle kind of impurity – a form of adultery that would delude us into thinking we can be married to our own ideas/community and to Christ at the same time. Separated from God by this mindset we are separated from the clarity and certainty that is ours as sons and daughters of God in fellowship with the trinity. Any form of separation is a variety of the great darkness that leads to confusion and captures us in spiritual blindness and deafness to the truth that could make us free.
Some argue that all believers belong to the body of Christ, no matter how divergent their beliefs. Maybe. This is a long bow. Should we follow this line of reasoning we need to know that there are some parts of the body that are a crippled limb. Others exist as a disease and some are a cancer. As such they impart death in the name of life and confusion in the name of knowledge. They generate foreign flesh and eventually kill the host.
‘The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one’ Matt 13.38 NIV.
Don’t be among those who make small advances into the truth, yet stall and eventually pass away without knowing that they spent their entire lives as evangelists of a delusion.
(1) Rohr, Richard. Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (p. 19). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.