THE “IN-SENSED” JUDGE
Although, until recently I would be the last to admit it, I have always been just a bit amazed by my uncanny ability to misjudge situations and people’s intentions in them. Call it a gift, but the sheer consistency of my observational conclusions to be diametrically opposed to “reality” has been a powerful incentive in my pursuit of what may be called higher truth. Lest I mislead the gracious reader into discerning me a more humble man than I am, it must be said that I am not alone in my gifting. After 18 years as a Christian Pastor, husband and father, I have yet to meet a person who does not consistently base conclusions, judgments and reactions upon what has “appeared” to them via their senses. Is there any wonder, that Jesus warned his followers against judging by appearances. Christendom has been a wonderful way to learn about this principle, especially in the way it works beneath the veneer of being holy. Whenever someone left “my” church in a difficult way, I judged them as “deceived” or “in need of fire” or some other self-justifying condition. I had no more use for them unless they, of course, “repented” of their action and attitude. In a marvelous example of contra-distinction, or “seeing the light” by being thrown into the darkness, when a building disillusionment with the dysfunction system of Western Christianity lead me into new streams of Life, I was given the opportunity to experience first-hand what I had been doing to people for years. Without realizing that I was on a quest for truth that was completely reliant and trust-bound to the Author of Truth, I was black-listed as a new-age back-slider among my most precious of friends and colleagues. The personal separation was quite final, and except for an occasional invitation to attend another “meeting”, virtually all the relationships formed during my Christian experience vanished overnight. I could have never understood the level of “appearance” judgment I was perpetrating had I not endured this most painful, but ultimately rewarding experience. But, the real revelation did not lie in the fact that I had been judging people all these years, committing horrendous “sin”. The real gold was found in the fact that I had been judging because I did not have an understanding of who I was. In the absence of a recognition that I am not a separate “being” from God, a separate possessor of life and awareness, I continued on in the same identity crisis as in my pre-Christian experience. Prior to becoming a Christian, I had sought a sense of significance and identity, the way everyone does, through success, money, prestige and friends. Oddly enough, even though I had put on a new label as a born-again Christian, there was nothing within my experience of the Christian system that kept me from turning that ecstatic Spirit Baptism into a new “self” identity that called itself a saved, sanctified child of God, but still held to an virtually unchallenged belief that, even as God’s child, I was separate from God in Being, Life and Identity, being the sole possessor of my own awareness. The inevitable result of this incomplete “conversion”, was that there existed nothing within the ongoing experiences of Christian culture that kept me from reentering the cycles of self-righteousness and guilt that caused so much agony before being “saved”. There was a painful truth that was yet to be discovered and that was, that only the “New Man”, the new identity can perceive and conceive REALITY.
As we begin to unravel the common human endeavor of self-discovery it becomes apparent that all well traveled paths lead to the same destination. We come to find that within our awareness of self there seems to be “two” of us operating within this molecular form. Paul describes this well in Romans chapter 7. We do what we don’t want to do and will not do what we know we should do. We seem to be the only species on earth that has a relationship with itself, be it narcissistic or antagonistic. I can like “me” or not, be disgusted with “myself” or not, or maybe love “myself” or not. Psychology has been trying to unravel this mystery for years most often resorting to the use of drugs to mask the deeper problems of identity. Why do we have a relationship with ourselves, and who is the “one” we are having the relationship with? Which “one” is the real me? Who is this one “I cannot live with anymore”? Even more common. “who is this one who accuses me to myself day in and day out”. As a born again Christian I was taught that my new-nature, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, was convicting me of my sin. The inherent difficulty with that reasoning is that, with a little reflection, most of us can recall “the old days” prior to any born-again experience, when the same type of thing went on. As a teenager I didn’t like myself very much and thought of myself as inadequate, sub-standard and missing a few parts. My inner thought life was very self-condemning and of course there was plenty of reinforcement from my equally “inadequate” peers. Once a Christian, after the initial euphoria of guiltlessness, it became slowly apparent that I seemed to be totally incapable of performing what was necessary to be a good Christian also. Then came the relentless self-effacing inner voice again, this time with much weeping and consternation at having failed to live up to Godliness and especially, after knowing all that Christ had done for me.
I remember doing a number of sermons on discerning the difference between Conviction and Condemnation, none of which ultimately helped me in my own battle with myself and most likely did little more than provide momentary comfort for those who were suffering from the same malady of mis-identification. All this to make the point that this love-hate relationship with ourselves points to a core issue that as part of our development as the expression of God we pass through stages where our “sense” of ourselves and the world around us changes. It is as though physical sight becomes more than just physical and we begin to see the things that are unseen. We begin to hear the still small voice of the heart, yet most often inaudibly. It is as though, just as a flower passes through the stages of vine bud and bloom, our sense perceptions begin to function in increasingly expanded capacities. As those sense-capacities and capabilities develop though the experiences of life, so too the sense of “our-self” expands under the influence of a deeper perception of Life.
Let’s see if we can use another simple analogy to bring understanding to how we arrive at certain incomplete conclusions of who we are based on our senses and then how those conclusions help us to form a quasi-schizophrenic relationship with ourselves until an eventually matured awakening comes. Most of us are aware of how a baby is able to see with its eyes and hear with it’s ears, yet it is not able to comprehend the sights or sounds it perceives. That “perception” becomes increasingly accurate with the development of conscious awareness and it’s interpretation of the sensory input. In other words, eyes function the same way in an infant as in an adult, but an adult is better able to interpret what is seen according to experience. At some point in a child’s experience, the hand that it sees before it’s eyes is no longer an object, but part of itself. The first stage of self-awareness is body awareness. The young sees hears and feel it’s body and becomes identified through the senses to it as the…………..
to be continued………..