In my journey through life I have wondered how it was possible for a loving God to only introduce Jesus into the world after generations of people had lived and died without any knowledge of him. We do “know” that there were many people of God who before Jesus’ time, did encounter God but seemingly less continuously than Jesus did.
Richard Rohr in his book Immortal Diamond poses a statement I found helpful in this regard. How were people to know what to look for or how to find it, if they didn’t know it was there or available? Jesus through his living showed us a reality we had missed. And that is that it is possible to have a relationship with God because the Christ has always been present in and around us, and it is with this Christ within Jesus that he could communicate with the Father. Jesus came to show us what we should have known if we had more clearly read the signs of God around us, if we had been more alive to the Christ within us.
We read in the Old and the New Testament how the Spirit of God was part of creation – how Christ, the Spirit we so clearly see in Jesus’s life, was a constant presence in our world. Jesus tells us that in essence, we are no different to him – we have the Spirit within us, but are often oblivious of it, blind to it, careless and disdainful of it.
Richard Rohr in Immortal Diamond writes about this Christ within us being the True Self and that part of us which is like a treasure hidden in the field which we need to find. We are the field and Christ is the treasure. As the Scriptures says, “Christ in us the hope of glory – splendour, grandeur, magnificence” (Col 1:27).
If Christ was with God in the beginning and as one they created us in their image – it cannot be that only after Jesus’s earthly life, did the Christ become available within us. From the first person to the last, if there is such a state, God has placed within each one – the True Self, that God part in us, that can identify with God however dimly that may be. Be it Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, David, the prophets – or the millions of people born before Jesus’ time on earth – and subsequently.
Have you ever wondered how God can be everywhere at the same time? He hears the prayers of everyone, knows the pains, struggles, joys and ways of each one of us! Besides our limited image of God made in our likeness, it is still quite a feat. Unless of course the Christ is within each of us and God is then closer to us than our breaths. Isn’t that brilliant!
But, and there is a but, though even it has changed for me over the years. Like Paul once known as Saul, there is a war going on inside us between our True Self and our egos or False Self as Richard Rohr names that self in us that is vying for headship in our lives. And it is this battle that Jesus showed us how to win. We must piece by piece turn our backs on our egos and choose rather the promptings and life of the Christ within us. Jesus encouraged his disciples to go with him into his death journey, so that like him they could experience life that comes through death. It is no different for us to day. We also have the Holy Spirit to encourage us and in-spire/en-flame us to choose the way of Christ within us.
Richard Rohr writes that there are many, many deaths we need to die before our final physical death. These are the death to the multifaceted ego in our lives. Dying to ‘me first’, ‘I’m more important than the peasant, the labourer, the king or the pope’, ‘I know more than you’, ‘I’m more in touch with truth, have more clout because of my position, my wealth, my intelligence, the colour of my skin or my creed or nationality’. So many things that need to be put to death, so that we begin to live out of God within us, and not out of our egos.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we sat and thought about how we are so akin to one another by Christ within us, rather than to dwell on our differences and our egos? That deepest part of me is no different to your deepest part, or the deepest part of anyone else, or of God him/her/itself! We may look different, have different ways of life, culture, religion, speech, metaphors, terminology in trying to live out and speak about our True Self, but It is no different in its essence. Our egos tell us otherwise, repetitively, and that is why we need to constantly attend to the death of our egos. Our True Self needs to become our first point of reference and expression without the confusion our egos contribute.
It will take a life-time, and maybe more, but there is no other way for us to know life in all its abundance as God has willed it for us and all creation.