As long as faith just remains a belief system as it does for so many Christian people in our society we will just keep creating “in” groups and “out” groups filled with unchanged, unconverted people. Real transformation takes some major surgery, getting the head, heart, and body aligned with the inner working of the Spirit.
A terrified Jewish young man was fleeing the Nazi’s who had just overtaken their small village. He fled to the door of the pastor of the village church seeking refuge. The pastor had been warned that any person or family caught hiding a Jew would not only bring the wrath of the Nazi’s upon their house but upon the whole village. So the pastor had the young man step inside, while he went to pray for guidance and read the Scriptures. As the pastor prayed and searched the Scriptures, he came upon the verse that read, “It is better for one man to die, than the whole people perish.”
The pastor was certain he had the answer. Though it was hard for him to do, he turned the young man out to what most certainly would be his death. That night an angel appeared and confronted the pastor. “What have you done?” asked the angel. The pastor explained how he prayerfully sought guidance through the Scriptures. The angel said, “If you would have looked into his eyes, you would have seen that the young man you turned away was the Christ.”
Until we die to our false self with all its selfish ambitions and desire for control, and open our lives in humility to grace, we will not see the glory of the true God in the other person, or in the community, or in the world, or even in our own souls. The God we will see will be a god of our own making—one that reflects our image, one that is biased, small, and petty.
Until the veil is removed, we will keep running to the Bible, quoting verses to prove that we are right, that we are doctrinally correct, that we possess the truth, that we are the chosen destined for heaven. We will not be changed. The only growth we will experience is a growth in pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness. And in our hands, the Bible will become a dangerous weapon.
“What looks like you will die, but what’s really you will still live,” said the grey caterpillar to Yellow (see previous blog, part 2). What “looks like you” are all the fears, insecurities, prejudices, biases, dualistic thinking, defense mechanisms, and illusions we use to protect our ego, our false self. Until we let go of our egocentricity, we will just keep using the Bible and our religion in negative, exclusivistic, and self-righteous ways.
But that’s not who we really are. Jesus shows us what it means to be truly and fully human. When we finally quit hiding, dodging, fleeing, and fighting the false self and acknowledge it, then we plough fertile soil for the true self to grow. When we remove the veil, we can begin to see the glory of God’s love and grace everywhere. It will turn up in places and in persons we would never expect.
When the veil is removed, we set the Spirit free to liberate us from our bitterness and negativity, our greed and selfish ambitions, our envy and jealousy, and all the other prisons that entrap our souls and keep us small and petty.
Real change, real evolving, transforming growth from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18) takes time and work and a constant yieldedness and openness to God’s grace. As Sue Monk Kid says, “It isn’t just one step, it’s many steps. It’s a winding, spiraling process that happens on deep levels.” It’s not just about being born again; it’s about being born again and again and again and again.