I have some good news. The crucifixion was a compete and utter success. As a result we can just be ourselves. We will not become ourselves, just be ourselves.
Our topic this year is “be yourself”. That assumes that you know who “yourself” is, then you can be yourself. “Yourself” is His Self as your self.
But I must say, Union is not about us — if that is what we think — we have missed the boat – our enlightenment as to our union is about our life for our world
The thought “be yourself” should be as simple as “breath” or “sit” or “allow your heart to beat” – it is almost inactivity. However, paradoxically, we know to “be yourself” is great activity. But it is activity that comes from rest and inner knowing of the fact that I am He, as me.
This topic, of being yourself, dovetails very nicely into what I talked about last year. If you recall, I talked about the choice that every human being has had since Adam and Eve. We all stand before two trees. We eat the fruit of the tree we choose and then we become that tree. You are what you eat. On the one hand we may choose the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is Jesus. By choosing Him we eat His fruit. Remember what Jesus said – once your drink the water that He gives you never have to go back to the well. Not only will you not thirst again, you will be a conduit of the river – Him – flowing to others. We are a conduit of His life. We are an expression of Him. We are Him to our world. We just “are”. We just “be”. We just “be ourself” because we have chosen Life. Life is not a thing. Life is a Person. Life is the Person. Life is the only Person. We are in union with Him. We are just Jesus. We are no one else.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the tree of religion. It is the tree of becoming versus being. It is the tree of striving, of imitation, of self-improvement – God forbade our ancestors and us to eat its fruit – because its fruit is death. Becoming versus being is death not life. Trying and striving to become, versus resting in the truth of Union – the truth of who you are – denies the complete and utter success of the crucifixion. I won’t do that. I would much rather be Jesus to my world than a cheap imitation to myself.
Jesus did not become the Son of God. Jesus is the Son of God. Being our self or being yourself is to be a son of God – not to become a son of God.
For the most part, humanity has chosen not to “be themselves”. I was given an interesting thought recently. I am a “human being” not a “human doing”. Again, don’t get me wrong – a human being, one who knows who he is and knows that he is an expression of Jesus, will be “doing” quite a lot. He will be active, always. He will not let an opportunity to allow the river of living water to flow to others pass him by.
Some things I say may be heard as critical of the church. When I refer to the “church” I mean any one of thousands of organizations that profess Jesus. However, the answer is I am critical. Jesus was critical. I think what bothers me and what I am critical of is exactly what bothered Jesus – the hypocrisy in the Temple and local synagogue and the money making conducted there. Jesus was critical of the hypocrisy and the “business” of Judaism and I am critical of the hypocrisy and the “business” of Christianity.
It appears that in the early years churches were home meetings. If it got too big, then a second home meeting was opened. I’m sorry I can’t agree with a 24,000-member church in a basketball stadium where 99% of those people listen, week in and week out, to 1% of the people who tell them what to believe and how to live.
I’ve mentioned that my wife and stepson are members of a local non-denominational church. I’ve enjoyed going, but have stopped. One Sunday I noticed that there would be a new members class that night. So I suggested we go – so I could consider membership – we did. My idea was that there would be some folks sitting around, talking, sharing ideas – who knows. Well, we were sitting around at tables, somewhat informally. There were perhaps a dozen people there who were ready to join the church and then there was me. The preacher stood at a little podium and handed out some material. One piece of paper had three lists of about ten items each. You know what these lists are. One list was the must believe list. The second was the should believe list. The final list was the not worth arguing about list. So everyone was looking over his or her lists and the pastor came up to me and asked if I had any problem with the first list. You should know that we are on good terms. We talk and are very friendly. Well, I said I had a problem with everything on the list. The short story is that I didn’t join the church and haven’t been back since.
Lists of what to believe are part and parcel of self-improvement Christianity. I won’t have anything to do with it.
Jesus said “you have turned my Father’s house into a house of merchandise”. Martin Luther’s complaint, as outlined in his 95 thesis was the Catholic Church’s selling of indulgences – buying forgiveness for sins. Any religion that is also a business requires membership, dues and life-changing programs so the parishioners are hooked for life. When “being yourself” means going to a place (a church) to learn to become some else – more “Christ-like” or a better Christian – however you describe it – there’s a problem and no one is being themselves because they have no idea of who they are – who they really are.
This flies in the face of Christianity, or any religion for that matter. Christianity, as commonly thought of, is about doing, becoming, improving and, unfortunately, condemning those who don’t see things “our way”. Christianity has become a religion of intolerance.
The church is not going to change. At best it will produce frustration in those who want to “be” and tired of trying to “become”.
In fact, the history of the human race is one of becoming, not of being. This is great error and is the error of every religion. In spirit we have never left the Garden. We still, always, every one, stand before the two trees. The tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is about “becoming”, not “being”. “Becoming” pulls life in – “Being” allows life to flow to others. In Christianity the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is about “ethics, morals and values”. It is a “way of life” versus Life. It is about becoming not being. It is about self-improvement versus self-replacement. There is a verse about receiving the “power to become the sons of God”. Jesus is the “power” and therefore “becoming” is replacement, not self-effort.
The greatest subtle lie of the liar is that he has convinced the sons of God that they are incomplete and must spend their lives in self-improvement, learning, growing, being sheparded and discipled.
WHO IS JESUS:
As I said, you should know who you are – might help in the being yourself part. Although I must admit most of the creation doesn’t think twice about who they are. Birds are birds, fish are fish, dogs are dogs, trees are trees, etc. It is only humans that are trying to be someone or become someone – not simply just “being”.
The truth is – we know we are Him. We are all Him. We are only Him. We are no one else. Of course you understand when I saw “we”. “We” are those who know union with the Savior and that we are Him to our world. Yet you look around, we don’t look alike, we don’t sound alike, we all have a slightly different agenda – etcetera – I guess that’s what is means to be the body of Christ.
If we are simply to be our self, then we must “know” who He is – because He is us.
Paul Anderson-Walsh made a point that I will never forget when speaking of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness at the commencement of his public ministry. He said that Jesus experienced His temptations as a “man” and not as the Son of God. And, that, if for one moment Jesus dealt with his temptations as God and not man then, as Paul said, “it’s all over for us”. What this means to me is that while we live “with a wink” as Norman said – it’s me living, but it is really Him – we are going to live this life as 100% human. Him living as us, but still 100% human.
As Paul said: Jesus went through temptation and death as a human, not as God. If He lived above his humanity I don’t think He would qualify as Savior. I’m not talking about His Union – I am talking about the fact that He didn’t live with the “appearance” of sorrow, grief, pain, suffering, hunger, fear and death – He was 100% human. He really had human sorrow, grief, pain, suffering, hunger, fear and death. So we are the savior to our world, because of our humanity. It is Him living through our humanity. Jesus was 100% human, which takes nothing away from Him being 100% divine. He knew he was the pure expression of the life within him. But that expression was through His humanity. Yes, He did things that no other human could do – healing and raising from the dead – but all for others and nothing for Himself. He lived in his humanity.
Philippians 2 6”Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
For me to know who I am I must know Him.
I am more interested in what type of man Jesus was then in what He did – other than the crucifixion – because that tells me what type of man I am. To be myself I must know myself. He is myself. So I must know Him — what kind of a man he was – what was His humanity all about. Remember the multitudes followed Jesus because of miracles – feeding, healing, etc. – HOWEVER, the disciples followed Jesus because He had the “words of eternal life. (John 6.68)
Let me tie this together. Gal. 2.20 “I am crucified with Christ, never the less I live, yet not I but it is Christ that lives in me” – tells me who I am. I am He. That is “my self”. To be my self is to recognize that I am His self.
Gal. 2.20 is not the end of the road. It is the doorway. Gaining the enlightenment of He as me takes me to three other scriptures that tell me everything about who He is and who I am as Him.
Col. 1.24 “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:”
One verse, the shortest verse in the bible: John 11.35 “Jesus wept.”
If Isaiah 53 is all we had – as a bible – we’d be okay. It tells us exactly who Jesus is and therefore who we are.
Some say Isaiah 53 starts at Isaiah 52.13.
13Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.
14As many were astonished at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
15So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
“ 1Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
2For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
Why do I quote Col. 1.24, John 11.35 and Isaiah 53 – because as these verses tell me about the humanity of Jesus – they tell me who I am and about my humanity. I am not impressed with the miracles performed by Jesus. I am impressed by His tears, His sorrow, His grief and His pain.
Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus. Think about it. Jesus was the only person I know that could direct a spirit to return to a body. That is exactly what He did – and He knew He could do it and that He would do it. So why didn’t Jesus have a big smile on His face and announce, “everything would be okay in a minute.”
No, He wept.
His life was not for Him. His life was for others. He wept because He was a human. He went through temptation as a human. We lived His life as a human. He died as a Human
Now, what is so significant about Jesus weeping or being a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief? He grieved with others and for others because in His humanity, He knew His own grief. Why is He described as a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”? Why isn’t He described as a “man full of the joy of the Lord”? Isn’t that what our religion teaches us? To be full of joy, happy all the time, have a purpose driven life, etcetera.
Jesus knew life came from death. I don’t know what Jesus experienced for Him to know personal, human sorrow. I always guess that at least one event that caused Him grief was the death of Joseph. I fantasize that perhaps He blamed Himself. Maybe Joseph and Jesus were building a house and Jesus was supposed to hold the ladder for Joseph. Maybe as a young man Jesus was fooling around and Joseph fell off the ladder and broke his neck. People say the Jesus’ sorrow was because Israel rejected Him. There might have been some sorrow in that. But His sorrow, to be human, had to be human sorrow. His sorrow was real and personal, as He had sorrow at the death of Lazarus.
Jesus knew that within a minute of his weeping that Lazarus would rise from the dead. That He would direct Lazarus’ spirit to return to his body. But Jesus was so terribly human that He wept.
And Jesus drank real wine.
Hebrews 4.15 “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”
I am convinced that the common denominator of all humanity is “sorrow and grief”. To be yourself – “savior to your world” is to connect at this level. It is easier to connect at happier levels – joy, happiness, etc, — Jesus connected to us at the level of “sorrow and grief”. When you first experience anything negative causing you sorrow and grief, you tend to look in and say, “Why is this happening to me?” Then, around the corner, comes someone needier than you and that’s the point. And you realize that your pain is about others. Pain – sorrow and grief – is about your connection to your world.
You can’t know another’s sorrow and grief without knowing your own. Jesus could not have known our sorrow and grief without knowing His own.
Some are called to Africa or wherever. Some are called to just be the savior to your world – without going anywhere. That is the highest calling and it is not easy. But people want to talk about eternal things – everyone is searching. Everyone wants answers. I prominently wear my cross and star. People ask about it all the time and I freely talk about it. It is okay to proudly display conversation pieces to engage others in conversation about Jesus.
I can trust Him because what hurts me hurts Him. My pain is His pain. My sorrow is His sorrow. My grief is His grief.
Then the question remains – why should they trust us? Who is “they”? They are our world of which we are Jesus to them and for them. They trust us because what hurts them hurts us. Their pain is our pain. Their sorrow is our sorrow. Their grief is our grief.
I would say it’s easy to be a missionary — it’s another thing to realize that you are Jesus to your own world –
You don’t need to go out of your way. You can just wake up in the morning. You can go to the gym or go to work or school. There is your mission field.
In “just being yourself” and realizing that you are Jesus to your world you will:
Give up your life for your world.
You will love your world.
You will not be honored in your hometown — Jesus was not, so what — it is not about honor it is about your life for others.
You will be misunderstood.
You will be called a hypocrite – “you call yourself a Christian …” and –whatever you are accused of-
You will be loved and you will also be hated.
But the bottom line is to be yourself is know that you are His-self.
THE FOOTPRINTS POEM:
One Night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with Jesus. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonged to him and the other to Jesus.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned Jesus about it. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you you’d walk with me all the way, but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.” Jesus replied, “My precious, precious child, I love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
So, as Jesus to our world, WE MUST CARRY OTHERS, at times.
The KEY TO BEING YOURSELF is to STOP TRYING TO BECOME YOURSELF.
We are always taught the contrary – except the US Army – they got it right – just “be all you can be”. The Army doesn’t say, “Become all you can become”.
The KEY TO BEING YOURSELF is to STOP TRYING TO BECOME YOURSELF.
You can’t make yourself anything. You can accept who you are. The evil, or just the plain old error would have a Christian make himself into an ethical, moral person with a value system. The focus of Christianity is in becoming a better person. Sometimes I speak in legal terminology – Hogwash.
The KEY TO BEING YOURSELF is to STOP TRYING TO BECOME YOURSELF.
You are Jesus as you. You will never become Him – you are He. This is not a process – this is life. Of course this is always the point where someone ask, “yeah, you think you’re perfect, how do you deal with sin, Mister Perfect?” I suppose the answer is “you could nail sin to the cross.” Too late, it’s already done.
TO BE YOURSELF IS TO BE HIMSELF AS YOURSELF. YOU ALREADY ARE, SO JUST ACCEPT IT. TO BE HIMSELF IS TO THE SAVIOR OF YOUR WORLD. YOU CAN’T MAKE YOURSELF SO – YOU ALREADY ARE. BUT YOU WILL BE CALLED TO CARRY OTHERS. JUST DO IT.
IT’S POSSIBLE TO MISUNDERSTAND:
I suppose, as someone asked Paul – “so, you’re saying you can just sin and do whatever you want”. Have you ever been asked that question? I suppose the answer could be “yes – I just want to go around sinning and hurting others”. How realistic is that?
THE BOTTOM LINE OF ERROR IS TO TAKE YOUR EYES OFF OTHERS AND FOCUS ON YOURSELF. He is love. He is for others. He lives as us. Therefore, we are for others. Whenever you turn your focus back on yourself, you loose your way – for a moment.
So long as your focus is on becoming and not being you loose your sight of others. I try to play golf. I’m okay. There is a saying in golf “trust the shot” or “commit to the shot”. The meaning should be clear – once you have decided your shot, you just do it, don’t hesitate. When you are on the course it’s real and not practice. You get one shot. Life is the same. You don’t have to go out of your way to be yourself. Whatever you do, wherever you are – there He is. He is in you, as you and ready at all times to meet the needs of others. “Trust” that reality – “commit to the shot.”