“I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh” (I Corinthians 3:1-3).
“the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-eged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account” (Hebrews 4:12-13).
Enough has been said – perhaps too much! The danger is that you will project various elements of this mode of discourseinto an imaginary world and an imaginary future in such a way that you will miss the Reality – miss this Reality – the eternal Realty which is accessible here and now through the mind of Christ. This is not merely a future hope but a present realization of unlimited potential (cf. Ephesians 3:16-19).
Whatever the future holds, we have eternal life – here and now. All that separates us from the joy of our salvation is a counterfeit reality—an imaginary projection of the carnal mind which fabricates a complex illusion through which we are impoverished, imprisoned, blinded, and oppressed. Jesus proclaims deliverance from this illusion:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
Although the carnal mind rebels at the prospect, we can neither think our way to heaven nor work our way to heaven. Nor is there any call for us to sacrifice today in our desperate desire for (or fear of) a tomorrow which never comes. Rather, we are called upon to sacrifice our obsessive preoccupation with both the past and the future in deference to the day of salvation which is always here and now:
- Take no thought for tomorrow (Matthew 6:34).
- Now is the accepted time . . . now is the day of salvation (II Corinthians 6:2).
- Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God (II Corinthians 5:16-18 NKJV).
By abiding in the “I Am” presence, we are storing up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:20; cf. Luke 10:39-42). Rather than merely believing in Jesus, we know and trust the living Christ and are in fact present with the Lord, here and now!
The limitations of mere belief – of merely giving mental assent to doctrines and dogmas – are clear enough. Such beliefs can never fully prepare us to face the storms and temptations of life. They offer a conceptual construct which, if mistaken for Reality, is yet another example of a house that is built upon the sand (Matthew 7:26-27). While doctrinal teachings and dogmatic traditions can convey a profound wisdom (insofar as they point to the Reality that IS Christ-in-you), they can also conceal as much or more than they reveal. The “map” is not the territory and the word “water” will never quench our thirst. Moreover, when the emphasis is on the creed instead of the living Christ, the result is a sectarian belief that reflects a spirit of conformity (achieved through indoctrination and conditioning) rather than an authentic, living faith. As such, it tends to breed a sense of superiority and self-righteousness among the so-called faithful and a spirit of intolerance toward those who think or believe otherwise.
In contrast, the “I Am” presence – which IS Christ-in-you – can and does withstand the storms of life. How firm a foundation! Resting in this living presence, we transcend the perspective of the egoic mind (even if it persists, on some level, and continues to reassert itself from time to time). Moreover, as the Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16:13), we lose our defensiveness in the face of ideas or circumstances which may occasionally call into question our personal beliefs or challenge our traditional points of view. For whatever we may think and whatever the turn of events, the living Christ IS (and remains) the same – yesterday, today, and forever – and is always accessible here and now. Whosoever will may come and drink of the water of life freely. The requirements never change. They are very simple and very profound – very difficult and very easy. It is difficult, initially, to discern this road less traveled and to turn away from the way of the multitude:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
If you are continuously struggling in the mental and emotional labyrinth of the carnal mind – consumed by what if’s and if only’s – you are NOT on the narrow way. The difficult thing is to let go of those struggles and to simply and humbly abide in the “I Am” presence which is Christ-in-you. When, however, by the grace of God, you begin to recognize and abide in that living presence, you will also begin to see through the carnal mind which becomes transparent in the light of Christ. At that point, you can simply observe such struggles as they play themselves out within that pristine awareness which IS the mind of Christ. And at that point the Way becomes easy:
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
When the distinction between these two roads is clearly realized, you will find yourself less and less willing to waste time on the way that leads to destruction. Indeed, you will become more than willing to exchange everything which that road seems to offer, for the pearl of great price, which is Christ-in-you:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:44-46).
This does not mean that life will be pain free or that you will never be tempted to despair. The Way of life will continue to be the way of the cross and (for at least as long as any trace of the carnal mind remains) every new plateau will give way, eventually, to new challenges. But through it all, you have an anchor – the “I Am” presence which IS the living Christ.
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39; cf. Psalm 139).
In the final analysis, then, to really live by faith is to trust in and rely on the “I Am” presence which IS Christ-in-you. But where to begin? What to do? As indicated above, the proof of the pudding is in the eating! Learn to feel the “I Am” presence in the stillness of the present moment – in the space between the out-breath and in-breath, for example, or in the silence between each heartbeat:
- Be silent and listen (cf. Deuteronomy 27:9).
- Be still and know that “I Am” God (Psalms 46:10).
- Open your heart and dine with Him (cf. Revelation 3:20).
- Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalms 34:8).
- Abide in Him as He abides in you (John 15:4).
- Pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17).
- Trust God to work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).
And whatever the turn of events, don’t forget:
I Am with you always…