The greatest commandment outlined in both the Old and New Testament is to love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind. Moreover, to love your neighbor as yourself. We know as Christians, you and I must love, but we don’t. That is not a surprise. We want to change the world, but first, we must change ourselves. If we are honest, we struggle even to love ourselves. (You are Your Own Worst Enemy)
The quandary is there anyone who isn’t selfish, and who loves everyone? There is not anyone I know in my life. How can an ego-driven person not be like all the other ego-driven people of the world? How do we change our conscious state of being to overcome the shortcomings we perceive about ourselves?
People seek out eastern religions searching for a mystical experience to change their conscious state of being. They hope to overcome their ego and transform their lives to be better people. Many of them grew up in the church, but the church didn’t provide the answers they were looking for in their life. The church for them did not give them the experience of change they sought in their heart.
The problem today, and I am culpable the average church service focuses entirely around talk. In many worship services, no real meditation or spiritual discipline is offered to reflect on the essence and beauty of God. We talk about the grace of God, and with our vocal cords, we sing about the glory of God. However, we spend little time in contemplative prayer or time alone with God. In our prayers, we tend to tell God what to do, or at least ask him what we would like him to do for us. Then we tell people what they need or should do to live a Christian life.
There is no proper setting in must churches where there is a time for silent contemplative worship. Most of the time, we are being exhorted and advised how to pray. Talk about grieving the Holy Spirit, we talk, but no real dialogue takes place. In practical reality, we have no real time for God. That is why for the church to remain vital, we must learn not to talk but to commune with God. We must make room and space for the living God to inhabit our being.
Christian mystics and contemplatives throughout church history give a silent witness. They do their best to lay aside their selfish and sinful desires. They seek to grow and live in union with the transforming spirit of Christ. Unfortunately, the mystics are generally frowned upon because they do not fit into a beautiful neat theological box. We misunderstand them, and therefore, we don’t relate to them. The truth is any transformation that takes place in our life; it is because God did it, not you. It takes a miracle of grace for us to love and treat others the way we desire others to treat us.
In contemplative prayer, we recognize that positive changes in our life are the result of the will and love of God. There is no power in us to change us. How can the self in us change when you are the one that must do the changing? It can’t. (Contemplative Prayer Focuses Our Mind on Christ)
It is impossible for real transformation to take place in our life unless God does it. That is why we believe it is divine grace that makes us aware of the power of the ego in our life. If God doesn’t give you help with your ego, there is no way of changing it. Jesus declared the one that tries to save their life would lose it, but those who lose their life in him gain it. You who find spiritual life realize you did nothing to discover that life. When you rest in God and let go of everything, you find peace and love. It is a gift, just as your breathing is a gift. Try to breathe on your power.
In contemplative prayer, you realize there is no method or steps to transformation. It is a letting go of every kind of formula you try on your own. It is because every method is a way of strengthening and keeping your ego in control. The danger is that we deceive ourselves when we believe we are better than others, and our Christian beliefs are superior to others. When we think those thoughts we must understand, the ego is at work. Spiritual maturity is understanding in humility; you did nothing to create any goodness in you. If there is any good, it is God’s grace that does it. You must remember you and I must love, but we don’t. It is the grace of God that provides the hope to do it.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27 NIV
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—Roman 6:6 NIV
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV
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