As indicated earlier, the biblical texts cited herein are employed illustratively and inspirationally – they are not offered as “proof-texts.” While much of that which we read in the Bible may appear fanciful – the stuff of myth and legend – sincere skeptics and honest critics would do well to keep in mind that a myth is a story that is true on the inside whether or not it happens to be true on the outside.
So, at this point, without belittling historical-critical method or even, at times, a hermeneutics of suspicion – both of which have their place – we would do well to look for the inner truth of scripture and to keep an open mind with regard to what may or may not be true as far as the externals are concerned. The written word points to the living Word. And when it comes to the living Word, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
As such, for those who are getting to know Jesus – those who are becoming acquainted with the “I Am” presence which IS the living Christ – the truth of scripture comes alive. For wherever we happen to have been born and whatever we may think we know about the Bible or the historical Jesus, it soon becomes clear, through first-hand experience, that the “I Am” presence within us IS:
- our point of contact with the One in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts17:28);
- the living Word of God in our heart (Hebrews 4:12);
- the Divine Reason (or logos) through which our world is framed (John 1:1-3; cf. Hebrews 1:1-3);
- the image of God which IS Christ-in-you–the hope of glory (Colossians 1:15, 27);
- the One who IS before Abraham was (John 8:58);
- the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6);
- the only Way to The Father (John 14:6);
- the Word (or logos) which is made flesh and which dwells among us (cf. John 1:14)
- Emmanuel –aka God with us (Matthew 1:23);
- our point of entry into the kingdom of heaven which is said to be at hand; within us; among us (Matthew 3:2; Luke 17:20-21);
- the fountain of living water of which it is said that:
- whosoever will may come and drink of the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17; cf. John 7:37-38 );
- they that drink thereof shall never thirst again (John 4:14; cf. John 7:37-38).
- the pearl of great price which is worth everything that we must give in exchange for it(Matthew 14:35; cf. Matthew 16:24-26);
- the stone that the builder rejects, but which, in the end, becomes the head of the corner(Psalms 118:20-24; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11-12).
And looking back on our earlier life, it seem obvious, in retrospect, that as a natural by-product of our birth and social development as human beings we grow up eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As such:
- We are enthralled by a false image of ourselves.
- This is often referred to as the carnal mind or the mind of the flesh.
- It is sometimes referred to, in more modern parlance, as the egoic mind.
- It is thrown into bold relief as soon as we recognize the “I Am” presence which it has long obscured and away from which it continues to tempt us.
- Identifying with this false self-image:
- We are alienated from the image of God in us (which is our only point of contact with the Good which is absolute and eternal).
- We are, at the same time, alienated from our fellow human beings (who are erroneously conceived of as separate and other).
- We become preoccupied with the pursuit or avoidance of that which merely appears to us to be “good” or “evil” (based on our erroneous ideas of self and other in a world where our crude conceptions of time, space, and material existence are mistaken for Reality).
- Deceived in this way by an erroneous conception of ourselves and our good, we become outcasts from of the garden of God and are cut off from the tree of life.
Lost in the mental and emotional labyrinth of the carnal mind and shackled by an ever increasing burden of guilt and sin, we struggle to redeem our past and secure our future, but to no avail:
“Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it” (Luke 17:33).
The agenda of the carnal mind is clearly a losing proposition – a dead-end street if ever there was one. But by the grace of God we are born again – not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible (I Peter 1:22-25) – as we become aware of the “I Am” presence and begin drinking freely from that fountain of living water that flows just beneath the surface. This life-giving water is always (and only) available here and now and, indeed, whosoever will may come! All that is necessary is to repent – to turn from our time-bound, mind-made sense of self and abide in Christ – the Divine presence within us which is always the same – yesterday, today, and forever! In the process:
- We lay aside the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (cf. Genesis 2 and 3). Thus it is written:
- judge not (Matthew 7:1; Luke 6:37);
- resist not evil (Matthew 5:39);
- be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).
- We take up our cross – i.e. the Cross of Christ –which points the way back to the garden of God and the tree of life (cf. Revelation 2:7). This involves:
- drinking that cup and being baptized with that baptism (Mark 10:38; Matthew 20:22; John 18:11);
- presenting our bodies a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1);
- giving up our own priorities and submitting to God’s will for our life (Philippians 3:7-9; cf. Luke 22:42).
By the grace of God:
- Our “old man” or “carnal mind” is (or begins to be) crucified with Christ and we are raised with him in newness of life (as described in Colossians 3, Galatians 5, and II Corinthians 5).
- We put on the “new man” which is “created after God in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24 KJV).
- We see through the pretense and hypocrisy of the carnal mind [which is said to be hostile to God (Romans 8:7) but which becomes transparent in the light of Christ (cf. Ephesians 5:13-14; Hebrews 4:12)].
- We abide in Christ, here and now, instead of indulging in an inordinate preoccupation with the past and future. Among other things, this means:
- having the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16);
- exchanging the cares of this world for the pearl of great price (Mark 4:19; Matthew14:35);
- taking no thought for tomorrow (Matthew 6:34);
- learning in whatever state we are therewith to be content (Philippians 4:11-13);
- enjoying the peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:4-7).
Living in this way, we are citizens of the kingdom and begin to enjoy, even now, eternal life in Christ:
- We realize the kingdom of heaven within us (Luke 17:20-21).
- We truly experience the joy of our salvation (Psalm 51:12; cf. John 15:10-11; Philippians 4:4-7).
- Christ-like we can say:
- My Father is Greater than I (John 14:28).
- I and my Father are One (John 10:30).
- My neighbor is myself (cf. Mark 12:31).
- We are members, one of another (Ephesians 4:24-25).
- What is done to the least of these is done unto me (Matthew 25:31-45).
Indeed, living in this Way, our joy is complete (John 15:11) and we naturally begin to proclaim the good news of the kingdom (whether in verbal or nonverbal ways). “Come and see!” – we are tempted to shout – “Come and see the one who told me everything I have ever done!” (John 4:29).
–> Chapter 6: Living By Faith