One of the greatest difficulties, I believe, in Christianity is our ability to receive the Christ. Because, Jesus existed for all of time, the Christ is our ability to receive both spirituality and humanity. In the Gospel of John we see in the first chapter that this Word (God) became flesh. One of the greatest struggles for people is that they can’t resolve the paradox, that this is both God and man. Because, they can’t resolve this paradox, they do not know how to access Christ. They don’t know how to hear from God. They don’t know how to do this, because, they can’t resolve this within themselves. The Western mind was taught to think completely logically (I’m not saying logic is bad), it’s also taught to think in either/or, binary thinking. It has to be one way or the other.
Yesterday morning and early afternoon, I was troubled by a feeling like an awful human being. I was full of my own hypocrisy, my understanding of my sin, and, then neglecting it. I see how I get angry with certain groups of Christians. I see how I have contempt for some people in my life. I see how irritated I get in traffic. I see how frustrated I can get when I don’t feel seen or heard. I know I can be stubborn. At the end of the day, I experience these parts of myself, and, these are the worst parts of who I am.
I also know that there is a part of me that is good. The moments when I am filled with so much peace, love and tenderness. I know that there is the part of me that cannot say no to love. I know how much I want to work towards peace. I want to work towards ending violence. There is a part of me that loves justice. When I am in this place, I know that I am in my soul. And, this isn’t naturally who I am. Who I am, is the other side of me. However, when I am living in the part of me that is connected with my soul, I can not only accept this part of me, but, I can also love this part of me, just like God loves all of me.
When I am able to hold these two seemingly contradictory parts of me, I am able to participate in reality. I am struggling, I sin, I am hurting, I am suffering, but, I am also able to maintain my peace, my hope, my love, and, maybe even my happiness or joy. Suffering and struggle doesn’t seem to be tormented or despairing because I am also able to rest in the other reality of who I am, where God is. I can learn to love the tree’s, the flowers, architecture, city lights but I can also love the side of me that needs to weep, struggle and even doubt.
Reality, to me, means living in the true and false self’s. Most of us never learn and deal with our false self’s, so many of us can never leave the shame, the torment and despair that haunts us. When we are able to live in the true self, we are able to hold the tension of the false self, and, begin to let go of it.
When a person begins to live out of this reality, you see a unique transformation happen to them. They become peacemakers. They become compassionate. They’re empathetic, accepting and tender. They are usually full of wisdom. Usually, however, this person has a story. One that is full of suffering. One, that is full of their own suffering or the observance of others. There is a beauty to this person, because, resurrection has happened. They are able to be themselves fully. And, they also allow others to be themselves. These are the people who change the world. They are Christ to the world.
“There is a beautiful transparency to honest disciples who never wear a false face and do not pretend to be anything but who they are.”- Brennan Manning