In one of his poems, Coleridge wrote, ‘Beauty is truth and truth is beauty.’ He just about nailed it. Life is both truth and beauty. As the narrative of the Fall testifies, distortion and lies produce death.
Truth matters to me, because truth is life. The extent to which something is not true is the degree to which it is not alive.
This is how Satan created such havoc with the Initial Lie.
I found these lines by Rebecca Harkins-Cross recently in The Monthly. ‘ “She was experiencing for the first time that particular species of love-at-first-sight … the sudden recognition that a particular frock is not merely pretty, would not merely suit one, but answers beyond these necessary attributes to one’s deepest notions of oneself.”
THE DEEP SELF.
We can live a religious life; an intellectualised ‘spiritual life’ or a busy ‘self-validating’ life and never touch our deep self, because it remains hidden in the folds of our self-effort.
The reality of our new birth determines if the self that is ours is real or just an invention a religious construction. Being born again is not the beginning of a new moral start. It’s the start of the new you who is the expression of Christ as you. We are talking incarnation.
Harkins-Cross deepest self observation applies not only to women. Much advertising is based on the same notion – an envisioning of oneself as an enhanced self in possession of some new trinket or new car or entering a role of increased status.
It brought to mind the subtle idolatries of notional identities and our attempts to bolster the ‘I AM’ of the self with some addition, attachment or association with some ‘esteemed Other.’ But we have one real self that we are born with and which we leave the world with. This is the real self that has nothing to do with externalities and everything to do with one’s relationship to God.
This was highlighted in a dream a man had in which Jesus was asking him what he had done with his life. Joe began regaling Jesus with his achievements. But Jesus just laughed and interrupted him saying, ‘No, no. I mean what progress have you made in being you.’
‘What progress have you made in being the real you?’ You are a unique creation of God. You have been redeemed in order that your real design will be realised. You become your real self when Jesus is your life and in no other way. Christ in you is the hope and realisation of your glory as a son/daughter of God.
The self we try to build by our own efforts is not really who we are. See it for what it is: a husk. Who we are is who we were we created as, by the Son of God. Who we are at the end of our life is who we have permitted Jesus to make us in relation to Himself.
Who we are – our authentic identity – is who we have become in relation to our Father and from this core identity who we are in relation to those closest us.
HUSK AND ACCRETIONS
You are always you no matter how many accretions and externalities you may add. But the husk is not you.
With your identity in accretions you are considerably less than who you could have become in Christ. In the former mode we are workers. In the latter mode we are sons and daughters of God. Our inheritance is more than heaven. It is to be our true self. As Paul said, ‘Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son.’ Gal 4.30 NIV.
You can never get close to a slave woman’s son – because they have never gotten close to themselves. Anything not Jesus or any addition to Jesus separates us from God, insulates us from the Christ and from ourselves and others.
Thomas Merton wrote, “Our own deepest self is one with the “Risen and Deathless Christ in whom all are fulfilled in One.” Paul would have put it as Christ our life and John might have cited, ‘I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20 NIV. All are talking of the real self and the un-diluted self. This is the self that is the creation of a life seated in the trinity.
A false ‘self-edifice’ is the most subtle form of idolatry and the façade to which we are prone if anything other than Jesus is our life. A paste and paper us, is who we are when any identity-prop other than our spiritual formation in Jesus is what we rely on. It all boils down to the fact that we can never really know our real self if we do not really know Jesus. Jesus is known through Himself, through the Spirit and through our Father – never through the law, religion or common identity props.
Avoid false christs no matter what guise they shape-shift in. Learn to know the Christ of God with the same passion that Jesus longs to know you.
‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me’