Being born again is not a moment or an event. It’s not ‘I don’t do that stuff anymore. Or I do this good stuff now because I am a Christian.’ Being born again is a life work of many rebirths, repentances and new starts. It’s our journey from the status of slaves and workers and a steady progression into the spirit of sonship and continuing advances from glory to glory as the person we are.
Our new birth is the start of our emergence from our false self to our true self.
A STATE OF BEING
Just as for the institutionalised, praise and worship is something you do at church rather than a life, so the new birth is the beginning of our new covenant life. This is life in which Jesus is our life – or to put it more bluntly, ‘Jesus is us.’ Not that this is an easy status to adopt. But those who live in the law and fundamentalisms face greater challenges to genuinely enter the realm of the spirit and become themselves than those who have been raised in a Jesus life. Law and religion contain us in our false self until the paucity of who we are propels us seek alternatives. But we have to want to. We can erect barriers, adhere to myths and internalise the fictions we use to keep the truth at bay and ourselves where we are.
‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple’ Luke 14.26 NIV.
If we are genuine followers of Jesus we will make good progress because we actually follow instead of persuading ourselves we are following when we stopped following years ago inside the fence of our denominational suppositions. If your identity is the who of who you are seeking to know yourself as in Jesus, you will leave behind lesser identities and the imagined status and papier Mache masks that deny your real self while forming you into a lesser and false self.
Jesus will do His best to subvert the processes of false self-creation. He delights to see you as the best you can be for your own sake and He needs you as an apostolic representative of the life that is Him. It’s better for all when we are sons instead of slaves and workers.
In this is helps to have a passion for life in the person of Jesus; to be one who is never satisfied with the pedestrian routine of religion and the imagined safety of the law. Unless we are inventing ourselves as who we actually are an expression of the trinity our protestations that we must dull Jesus down into a method will be clouds without rain because, socialised into the law, living from a method will be what we are doing and our attempts to live the spirit-filled life while living in the separation of the law will disappoint and leave us as mummies instead of priests and kings.
Richard Rohr has listed steps in spiritual development that transcend religious behaviours by a long way. They are in fact a descriptions of the maturation of daughters and sons of God who have chosen to live in CHRIST THEIR LIFE rather than in words, positions and behaviours.
Behavior will look after itself because by assuming what Jesus has given us – His life – we take on his humanity and sonship. While Kingdom life is more than ‘behaviours’ it is certainly about becoming free from addictions and degradations. Jesus not only sets captives free but makes us free to be ourselves: Sons and daughters fulfilling the potential to become our design. The points below are taken from His book, “Living from the Naked Now” which on the surface can sound a little esoteric. But what it actually means is to live from life instead of living from abstractions, religion or the knowledge of good and evil. Here they are.
PASSAGE TO SONSHIP
1 My body and self-image are who I am. [This] leads to a dominance of [my need] for security, safety, and defense needs. It causes dualistic/ polarity thinking.
2 My external behavior is who I am. Need to look good outside and to hide or disguise the contrary evidence from others. I become so practiced at this game that the evidence is eventually hidden from myself too. This emergence of the shadow is very common among conservatives.
3 My thoughts/feelings are who I am. Development of intellect and will to have better thoughts and feelings and also control them so others do not know and so finally, that I do not see their self-serving and shadowy character myself. This education as a substitute for transformation is very common among liberals and the educated. Normally a major defeat, shock, or humiliation must be suffered and passed through to go beyond this stage.
4 My deeper intuitions and felt knowledge in my body are who I am. This is such a breakthrough and so informative and helpful that many become stymied at this level. It leads to individualism, self-absorption and inner work as a substitute for any real encounter with otherness.
5 My shadow self is who I am. The dark night. My weakness comes to overwhelm me as I face myself in my raw, unvarnished, uncivilized state. Without guidance, grace and prayer, most go running back to previous identities. Time is of the essence here.
6 I am empty and powerless. "God's Waiting Room." Almost any attempt to save the self by any superior behavior, technique, morality, positive role, or religious devotion will lead to regression. All you can do is wait and ask and trust. Here is where you learn faith and discover that darkness is the much better teacher. God is about to become real.
7 I am much more than who I thought I was. Death of the false self, and birth of the True Self is starting to happen. But because you are not at home here yet, it will first of all feel like a void even if a wonderful void. Like luminous darkness.
8 "I and the Father are one" John 10:30). Henceforth there is only God, or as Teresa says, One knows God in oneself and one knows oneself in God. All else is seen a s a passing ego possession, and I do not need to protect it, promote it, or prove it to anyone.
9 I am who I am. "just me." Warts and all, is enough to be human, no window dressing necessary. This is the most radical critique of religion possible, because now you know religion is just a finger pointing to the moon, but not the moon itself. There is no need to appear to be anything but who I really am. Fully detached from self image and living in God's image of you -which includes and loves both the good and the bad. The serenity and freedom of the saints: Total Non-duality.
‘In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples’ Luke 14.33 NIV. In losing ourselves in Jesus we become our real self.