I grew up in a Pentecostal Church in the early seventies. Each and every Sunday it seemed (in a myriad of different ways) I was reminded of my own fallenness and sinfulness: my unacceptability to God. I/we were reminded again and again (as if we could ever forget) that within us existed an unbridgeable divide, a great and terrible chasm that only Jesus could bridge.
Verses such as Jeremiah 17: 9 (the heart is desperately wicked) were used to dispel any sense of my own goodness or the slightest idea that maybe I may have some inherent worth. I finally conceded, as did so many others, that I was born “damaged goods”, that my own goodness had no real value: unless of course Jesus happened to be my lord and saviour, in which case, I took on a value that had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the person of Jesus.
Each and every Sunday we were told in so many different ways that we needed a “divine injection of goodness” - called Jesus - as my own goodness was never, ever good enough. Little wonder that so many people within the Church had such terrible issues with self-esteem or self-worth.
This sort of thinking created a terrible dichotomy. My goodness was never enough, so I needed God to import his goodness into my heart, while somehow exporting my own sinfulness onto the person of Jesus. None of this ever left me with a warm, inner glow. None of this ever felt life-giving or affirming and looking back, that was the very intention. Somewhere deep inside a question began to surface; do I really need a divine injection of goodness called Jesus?
Does Jesus have the monopoly on goodness?
These questions set in motion a quest that eventually led me away from my own rather ridged Christian upbringing. It was a quest that finally resolved itself many years later. It’s not so much that I found better answers (even though I did) but more that I found (and in reality, it found me) a different way of thinking, a different way of seeing. Rather than the Christ always forever knocking on the door on the outside (always seeking a place to call home) it finally dawned on me that this same Christ was knocking from the “inside”, seeking a way to “come out” or even escape this inner entombment.
Christ was seeking to flourish, and even flood, my own consciousness. And in doing this, create or bring an awareness of my own inherent goodness. I concluded that: “Christ was the party waiting to unfold and the party guest waiting to come in”. It’s the meeting of the two that will create conversion or 'awakening'. Like the merging of water and cordial - you cannot have one without the other and you cannot separate the two as they merge seamlessly together.
Christ consciousness is an ever ongoing process of seeing the gold within, not seeking gold without. The very best we can ever do is give permission for the Christ to be UN-entombed. We open all our doors and windows, we put in the keys and unlock all our prison doors and with one accord we shout!....PLEASE!! COME OUT!
...And we watch with amazement, and we wait with great anticipation.
See all previous articles by Bob Garbett