Immortal Diamond – Take FOUR!

 
1akeFour“We would rather be ruined than changed.  We would rather die in our dread than climb
the cross of the present and let our illusions die.”
  W.H. Auden

Warning – Steep and Deep Waters ahead – only for
the courageous
 

Richard
Rohr’s last published book, Immortal Diamond, has been formative in my
heart and life over the past weeks.  As
many of you know, I spent much of the Lenten season in 2013 reading and
re-reading Rohr’s work. 
 

Sometimes, you just have to call them as you see
them.  That isn’t just a reality for a
baseball umpire or someone who evaluates or inspects, it is a foundational
truth for all of us.  To live otherwise
is to live in a fantasy.  To not deal
with reality leads to a plethora of life dysfunctions, from relationships to
personal struggles.  Dealing with reality
is that first “step” toward a better life, a healed heart, a more intimate
relationship and fuller sense of truth in your soul.  Someone once told me a long time ago that we
are only as “sick as our secrets.”  I
couldn’t imagine a more true statement as we enter into another section of
Richard Rohr’s book, Immortal Diamond

Since we have investigated a couple of terms over
the past couple of weeks, that being, a sense of what it means to be live our
lives out of a “true self” (see last week’s devotional), this week we’ll dive into the “flip side of the
coin.”  As I mentioned above, reality is
a good place to start when we take steps toward living in God’s light.  Before we discover MORE about what it means
to live out of a true sense of self in the love and grace of God, Rohr postures
that we need to understand and embrace that reality which fills our lives, that
being, a false sense of self. 

“Your
false self is NOT your bad self, your clever or inherently deceitful self, the
self that God does not like or you should not like.  Actually your false self is quite good and
necessary…it just does not go far enough, and it often poses and thus
substitutes for the real thing…the false self is more bogus than bad…it only
pretends to be more than what it is.”  (Immortal
Diamond, page 27)

All of us continually “live” out of our false self
because that self is primarily that which shapes our beliefs about who we
are.  Rohr states that it is wrapped up
in our body image, job, education, financial state, car, degrees, success, and
those other trappings of our ego that is our projection of who we are onto the
world.  Over a lifetime, the problem is
that the false self (or small self) gets very comfortable.  We might even say that it is easy to OWN and
continue to be attached to that sense of self. 
There are a host of “payoffs” from living out of our small self –
payoffs like respect, titles, salaries, self-esteem, etc.  That’s why Jesus’ words, “whosever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for
my sake will find it (Matthew 10:39)”
are always so threatening to
people.  Despite the fact that Jesus does
promise fulfillment in the midst of denying self (a promise of life
inexhaustible and abundant), it feels to most of us that to do so ushers in the
end of our existence.  And, heaven
forbid, that happens!  Thus we
tenaciously hang on to that which gives immediate (or at least what we perceive
is tangible) gratification.

Unfortunately, we don’t deal with reality in our love
of the false self because, it is precisely that self, that is the foundation of
most of our addictions TO ourselves (which, in essence, is the definition of
idolatry and, thus, original sin).  
Despite the truth that that self is a social construct (in other words,
that which is “made or created” from roles and identities we embrace from
outside of ourselves), even as Jesus would say a “wineskin” (Mark 2:21-22),
take it from me, that sense of self HATES and fights change.  In a brilliant move of religiosity, the false
self often invents and utilizes a whole list of supposedly spiritual “acts” to
prove its value.  Moralism or spiritual
legalism (lists of dos and don’ts that we live out to prove we are spiritual or
acceptable to God), those acts which Rohr calls, “arbitrary and small”, are quick and easy applications that we are
apt to embrace over against the call of Jesus to deny ALL.  We say to ourselves, “if I can be good,
visibly and remarkably good and I can rightfully judge others at the same time
from a position of rightness/holiness or spirituality, then I have attained
that which my soul seeks.”  How
preposterous!  At that point, a personal
sacrifice (that being, a hidden sacrifice, so no “prid pro quo” is demanded of
God) is the ONLY way that the false self dies so that a NEW self can be
resurrected in and through the Spirit of God. 
Rohr writes,

“The false
self will create minor moral victories (like people who are scrupulous about
church attendance or doctrinal minutiae) to avoid the major and necessary one
(like underpaying their employees or demeaning their wife).  As Jesus put it, ‘You will strain out gnats
and swallow camels” (Matthew 23:24). 

“Satan
does not tempt you so much with ‘hot sins’ like greed, lust, and gross
ambition.  They are too obviously evil
and will eventually show themselves as such. 
Instead Satan tempts you to do proper, defensible, and often admired
things but for cold, malicious, or self-centered reasons.  Maybe we cannot see this pattern because we
actually admire the glamour of evil (1 John 2:15-17) and we often disdain the
seeming weakness of holiness and virtue (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).”

What does all of this mean?  I think ONE MORE quote will suffice:

“A true
saint is no longer surprised by his littleness or her greatness.” 

You see, the false self DOES care about those
things…and when we grow to grasp the meaning and power of “littleness”, when we
understand that “mustard seed type of faith”, when we are no longer admirers of
parts, labels or hierarchies, when we are more attracted to and motivated from
the perspective of WHOSE we are rather than WHO we are, then we have truly
walked into a new life.  Instead of being
so consumed with right/wrong, good/bad, or truth/lies, Rohr believes (and I
second his opinion) that once we get our “I am” correct then those scenarios
tend to take care of themselves.  In
other words, once you get YOU straight IN THE LORD, then God will take care of
the details.  That’s why faith is a
journey and life as a follower of Jesus is about trust.  Trust is that “letting go” of false self to
FIND true self and meaning in and through Jesus.  How about that!

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