PERSONHOOD IS YOURS IN UNION WITH GOD
We write here of the liberation into life that is ours when we are born out of religion into Christ our life. This is the genuine re-birth that we must distinguish from the false re-birth of moralism and the law. This is the Adamic man who is the separate or false self. It is this false self that we are able to transcend in our new birth from law/religion into Christ our life. Personhood is not found in abstractions. It is found in the Personhood of Christ who joins us to the personhood of the triune God.
When Christ is your life, you are the I AM of you.
Richard Rohr observes that this separate or false self is necessary as a starting point, “But it becomes problematic when we stop there and spend the rest of our lives promoting and protecting it. This small and separate self is merely our
launching pad: our appearance, education, job, money, success, and so
on. These are the trappings of ego that help us get through an ordinary day.
Please understand that the separate self is not bad or inherently deceitful. It is actually quite good and necessary as far as it goes; it just does not go far
enough.” (1) This may not ego as in pride. It is ego in that it is the self-made self.
TRYING TO BE WORTHY
This self does not go far enough because God never meant it to. The First Part of Life is our life in independence of God. Or if we are a Believer it is that part of life in which we attempt to make ourselves worthy of Christ – as in keeping close to Jesus’ or living according to ‘What would Jesus do’. This is us before we have learned that we are no more able of ourselves to keep close to Jesus than the Jews were able to keep the law. Or the ‘us’ before we were astute enough to know that we can only know what Jesus would do when He is incarnated in us as our life.
“When we are able to move beyond our separate self, it will feel as if we lost
nothing important at all. Of course, if we don’t know that there is anything
“beyond” the separate self, the transition will probably feel like dying.
“Only after we have fallen into the True Self, will we be able to say with the
mystic Rumi (1207‒1273), “What have I ever lost by dying?” We have discovered true freedom and liberation. When we are connected to the Whole, we no longer need to protect or defend the smaller parts. We are connected to something inexhaustible and unhurtable.” (2)
It’s not difficult to live as a Christian without ever having understood the gospel of grace. Grace is not just forgiveness. It’s Christ’s life as ours which means grace joins us to God as sons/daughter of God in spirit and in truth. In full grace we are one with God by the One Spirit.
IN THE FRAGMENTS
As Christians living from religion we are tied to the ‘smaller parts.’ As Christians living from the law we are embedded in the smaller parts to the extent that the self is stunted, wooden and unhealed. It is impossible to be non-sectarian when tied to the law which is exclusive by nature.
In this mode we can spend our entire lives and never experience our true glory as a son/daughter in this life – because we are never the real us – only a clothes horse of ‘Christian qualities,’ some of which make no difference to our becoming people of grace and truth and all of which contain us as workers and slaves as Paul says in Galatians and prevent us becoming sons and daughters of God in spirit and in truth.
You may observe Believers who do not know who they are because their life is in their manufactured self. They have a self that they think is substantial but which is actually without substance. It is wraith-life because Christ is not their life and their false self is.
Rohr observes that, “If we do not let go of our separate self/false self at the right time and in the right way, we remain stuck, trapped, and addicted. (The traditional word for that was sin.) Unfortunately, many people reach old age still entrenched in their egoic operating system.” (3) In the law we are stuck in this dualist ‘are/are not’ dichotomy. In Christ our life we are part of God and as such sons of God by grace and by nature.
FREE OR PRETENDING
If our life is defined as adherence to the law, we live by definition in ‘sin consciousness’ and the narcistic outlook this implies. Paul wrote that ‘He did not even judge himself for a reason.’ He did not live in the law. We can live in a continuous Sabbath rest based on our being in God. Or we can live in the law and attempt to add external virtues to our innate slavery.
‘By the grace of God, I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me’ 1 Cor 15.10 NIV.