As we begin, let us center ourselves in Christ Jesus. Allow yourself to rest in the present moment to know God’s presence with you. It is good to be still as we pray for the Lord to speak to our hearts.
Last week we considered aspects of being totally present to God. This week we look at what it means to lose, or die, to self and to live for Christ.
You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. NRS Ephesians 4:22
This has been referred to as putting off the false self and putting on the True self. The false self being the self-created (thus temporal) ego driven self and the true self being the God created (thus eternal) image of God. This is a good way of looking at this process, but it must not be seen solely as a transactional activity (between us and God) in which we take something from far away and take off what we are as God’s beloved creation, here and now. The concept of the true self and the false self is helpful as far as it goes, but it does not fully capture what is really going on. The image of God is not something we acquire as much as it is that which we are becoming aware of, setting free. We are thus living into the fullness of the truth of that which we already are, made effectual and powerful in Christ Jesus. This awareness has also been referred to as the “deep mind.” Or, in the parlance of Paul’s letter to Ephesus, “to be renewed in the spirit of your minds.” The old self, to which Paul is referring, is not really a self as much as it is a demeanor, or way of being caused by the blindness and captivity we experience as a result of our corrupt nature. The old self/false-self is therefore comprised of all that we receive into our lives that delude us into being unaware of who we, who all people, truly are at the core of our being, which is those who are created in the image of God. The false/old self for the Christian is comprised of a dead human spirit, a damaged soul, a chaotic, confused mind and a perishing body. The awareness of the true self/new self is brought about by a new consciousness, which occurs by and in our Lord Jesus Christ; Emmanuel, God with us. Through, by, and in Christ Jesus we receive and know new birth of the human spirit by the Holy Spirit, and purification of the human essence from sin that binds and blinds us. In this we receive the gift of a renewed mind that is capable of being intuitively aware of God and that which is spiritual. Furthermore, we can also realize that our bodies, our physicality, has been transformed into the seed from which the imperishable body will rise into an eternal existence. This is the image of God, our true eternal self, which is waiting to be discovered, embraced, and set free. This is what it means to put in the new self. Paradoxically, all people, already have the true self in all its perfection, with its ability to unite with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), yet are largely unaware, thus blind to this reality. Selfishness, combined with the world’s constant distractions and deceptions numb us to the existence of our true self, which hungers for to unity with God. Sadly, this is true for many Christians as well. Many of those “in Christ Jesus,” are in a sense sitting in a cage, in which we had once been trapped, unaware that Christ Jesus has flung the door wide open. The foundational Scripture of The Awakening Institute, thus pertains to all non-believers, as well as far too many believers who sit in the pews of our churches, week after week.
But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." ESV Ephesians 5:13-14
Some are dead and don’t know it, others are alive and don’t know it, thus fail to practice it. They don’t dig deeper, don’t open their eyes to the light of life that would make them more aware of the image in which they, and all people, are created. Nor, are they aware of the Creator of the image, who is with us, here and now, calling us to wake-up! The awakened sleeper is the true self, who Christ is shining upon, illumining the way, leading us to union with God and to an eternal kenotic existence in which we become non-resistance vessels being filled with Love and letting love go into the world around us.
But we are afraid to look, to go deeper, into the reality that God is with us, and to know deep in our essence; spirit, soul, mind and body, that we are created according to the image of God, in true righteousness and holiness, called to be God’s likeness bearers in the world. This is heart of contemplation in action, the vocation of the Christian contemplative, which in my opinion is what every Christian can and is called to be.1
Losing/dying to self, is not a work that we accomplish, for it is only by the grace of God that what we seek can come about. However, we must truly desire it. We must allow us to be awakened. Strangely enough, the history of the mystical/contemplative way has taught us that the awakening of which we are speaking occurs within a way of being that combines silence, solitude and stillness. This will be our focus over the coming weeks. For now, we need to only know that that which we are seeking is purity of heart/spirit, a singleness of desire that is ever reaching up to the Lord. For it is this desire by which we become open, nonjudgmental and in the moment, contemplative, to God’s activity, God’s will. In this we take up our cross, which is our sleeping self, thus realizing how heavy is the burden of our sleeping self. Upon this realization we don’t lose it, we give it away, to God, who opens our eyes to the true self. First, we take up our cross and then realize the burden of it and then we let it go. In this process of letting go we begin to better follow Christ into glory. This alone will prepare us to be in our true self and in the One who created us, where union with God in consummate love occurs. This occurs most profoundly when we become open to the way of silence, solitude and stillness.
1The Awakening Institute offers a six hour retreat/seminar titled “Contemplative Prayer for Every Believer.” For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website www.theawakeninginstitute.com
or call 321-298-8801 for details on this or any of our upcoming classes, retreats and seminars.
Next week, “Practicing Silence, Solitude and Stillness”
May God Bless You All, Gene Yotka
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