Yielding To Christianity

Patricia Hofer

Consciousness

Continuum of consciousness explored in Living Strong.

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The hardest person to awaken is the person already awake!

This Tagalog (Filipino) adage is wonderfully subtle and far-reaching in application. What are the things that a conscious person needs to be awakened from? Certitudes. Old wives’ tales. Fear-filled superstitions. Comfortable behaviors. The way things have always been done. Even when we think we are being ruggedly independent, my experience is that we’ll awake to find ourselves trailing along after age-old human practices and conventions. We’ll learn that we are really just “creatures of habit” after all.

And that applies to our beliefs about God and Christ as well. All too often our Christianity slumbers, or lies dormant, in the routines we were taught as a child. And so we follow doctrinal forms mindlessly, repeating rote explanations with a juvenile, limited perspective that should have been long outgrown.

If we yearn for a deeper Christianity, we need only to study the lives of great Christians throughout the centuries. George MacDonald, for example, tells us to push back from “all the stupefying, enervating, distorting dream” we are living in. Being asleep in the habits and conventions of the natural life blocks our view of the “wide-awake real” that the Lord is ever showing us (Unspoken Sermons, “Life”).

And yet, such an awakening is not easy. MacDonald wrote that we need to have the “will to wake.” We must hunger for something more than this world’s repeating pattern of custom and response. That is what the Lord asks of us. Then, when we are open to the possibilities of life in spirit, in Christ, his “wide-awake real” transforms everything. Ever the jangling alarm clock, Paul affirms this very idea in Ephesians: “Sleeper awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you (NRSV 5:14). (Turning Aside to See, 2011)

Christ’s remodeling of our lives is an ongoing process.

However original their claims appear to be, underlying religions and philosophy and even psychology we find one basic idea: human beings are here to improve. The challenge, of course, is discovering what those improvements need to be and how those changes can become not only possible, but permanent.
What John and Charles Wesley discovered was that people might experience remarkable Christian conversions, but then, as time went by, they’d fall back into the struggle and burden of their lives. This led the Wesleys and others to embrace what they understood to be the Lord’s “second blessing.” It recognizes that, no matter how all encompassing and instantaneous a conversion is, the person God intends us to be emerges more gradually, as Christ’s Spirit works its way in us, making holier lives.
That was certainly true for me. As I wrote in my first book, after my dramatic saving moment of conversion, at the end of that day, who I was in my life had not changed that much—only the burden and the aloneness were gone. Joy was once again possible. But many changes still needed to be made in my life. The Spirit’s remodeling job of regeneration was and still is far from over for me.
That’s what makes Christianity unique. Jesus Christ didn’t just come two thousand years ago, demand our conversion, and then stand back to evaluate how well we do. The living Lord is beside each of us right now, inspiring our hearts, enabling kinder, gentler motives and making greater charity possible. When we let go of the person we are trying to make ourselves be, when we yield, who we are in Christ starts to emerge. “Through him” we become better than we could ever be alone. For me, that’s the “second blessing.”

Dear Lord, make me better, Better than what I’ve been. Help me to feel thy favor, Bless me over again. (Living Calm 2016)

Day-by-Day Series

Driving into the Dawn Yielding to Wonder Turning Aside to See
Linving Large Living Strong Living Calm