Spiritual Rebirth: Christ’s Kingdom Inside & Out ~ BitterSweetLife

Monday, June 05, 2006

Spiritual Rebirth: Christ’s Kingdom Inside & Out

Spiritual rebirth

When I think about the event traditionally called “salvation,” or spiritual rebirth, I am forced to grapple with the miracle that is Christ entering a life. That he does enter is the definite fact. The logistics of this spiritual genesis, however, are more elusive.

When Jesus intersects with a life, what happens next is a haunting—in the ancient sense, a hallowing. A new dynamic is unleashed inside us, a new energy that commingles and changes the impulses of mind and heart. It may be dangerous, however, to speak in terms of “a dynamic” or “an energy,” because the new presence is vividly personal. The change that mysteriously comes over us is nothing less than, or, more accurately, no one less than, the spirit of Christ himself. He crashes through all barriers and takes up residence inside us.

What does not happen next is the “Christian” valet service so many people take for spiritual living. Jesus does not put himself at my disposal, a source of footnotes for my big decisions; I don’t get to carry him around in my back pack, an oracle more convenient than Zeus. I will never become an independent agent, endowed with super-soul-power, calling in the Top Gun when time and mind allow.

There can be no doubt about who is calling the shots: not me. There can be no doubt about who is building my life to suit: Jesus Christ. In the scuffed recesses of my soul, blueprints that no human eyes have ever seen are triumphantly unrolled. Coming up fast: more than cosmetic changes.

Though it will take time for our exteriors to conform, I like to think that our inner contours are immediately changed. The lines of an internal kingdom are redrawn. Where roads once led to dark woods and marshy ground, and nowhere else, there are now paths and byways into sunlight. Surprising vistas open inside us where before there were trapping chasm walls.

In legal terms, the darkness that once ruled us has been saddled with a buyout clause. Every previously-ironclad contract with evil is now breakable, at the right price; and grace gives us the currency to pay every time.

Theologically speaking, our “free will” now encompasses something it never did before: Goodness. We can suddenly walk out of this morbid, familiar, land of shadow which we previously took for “freedom.” We now have the option to choose against evil. The days of knee-jerk addiction are over.

This is because Christ places in our hearts a fiery, transforming inner kingdom—his own—that dwarfs the very world we walk in. We learn, like C.S. Lewis, that “the inside is bigger than the outside.” But “the inside” will not always remain within. Christ’s kingdom sometimes blazes through us and into this world, and one day his realm will overflow and melt it all away.

To return, then, to what happens when we come to believe in Christ, and his Spirit enters our lives: In a sense, we have changed—abruptly, dramatically, irreversibly, DONE. Jesus has arrived to stay, and there is no evacuation plan. But it would probably be more accurate to say that we have begun to change. The walls of our souls our thick, and Christ begins to carve them away so that his kingdom life escapes. We are caves leaking light. Towards the end, Christ will be seeping out everywhere through cracks in the walls. And then…

I know, for one thing, that heaven will be the place where the soul-walls give way like an primeval dike and the kingdom within rushes out—only to be met by the same Christ-kingdom flooding in. The correspondence inside and out will be sudden and complete. Free at last.

This unity of motive and act, desire and pleasure, heart and mind, swept up in the perfection of Christ, is the experience that heaven is a word for. It has been a long time coming, we may think. But ever since Christ entered, the foretaste was with me.

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Andy said...

Beautiful. Christ does not work at OUR beck and call. We must invite Him in, and then allow Him to mold us - sanctifying us.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife