Just because I am a stay-at-home mom whose days are overflowing with the endless tasks of managing a household does not mean that my mind has grown stagnant. Rather, it is quite to the contrary. I make every effort to keep my mind active through study, conversation, and working two small businesses. This morning my brain latched on to a phrase that I read in John 1:9 while preparing a lesson for my Sunday class.
“The true light, which gives light to everyone…” I started to delve deeper into the implications of this phrase. It is easy to assume that Jesus came to enlighten only those who believe in Him, but this phrase contradicts that assumption. Through Jesus all mankind is enlightened to his desperate state of separation from God by sin. All mankind is enlightened; all mankind searches for an answer but not all will succumb to that desperation and surrender to the Almighty God. What are the implications, then, of this heavy phrase? They are weighty, indeed, for if all are enlightened, then all are responsible. Since our hearts recognize that there is a great divide between the Creator and the created, each of us must decide if we are going to attempt to cross that divide for reconciliation with the One to whom we owe every breath we take or are we going to remain on our side? Religions and academia are sagas of endless attempts to claim the peace of God without Him.
Maslow opined that man is ever journeying toward self-actualization, the greatest longing of every human’s heart. It would seem that every person has his or her own theory on what is needed to achieve the actualized self, but each involves self, in some form or fashion, at the center. Perhaps some require impoverishing self; others demand a deeper connection with self; a few call for the putting of others first, but it is for self-full reasons. Yet how futile to become a better person from within when it is what is within that is flawed? For something to return to its original design, do we not need the blueprints? And so it is with the problem of Man. We were designed to be in relationship with our Creator. We cannot cross the divide on our own merit. The cross of Christ is the bridge over that divide.
And so a paradox of choices lies before our enlightened minds. We can pursue the actualization of ourselves by forging paths that lead away from God in an attempt to exalt our identities apart from God, or we can surrender in repentance and humility and become the individuals that we were designed to be, celebrated and perfected through Christ. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:24) It is no easy thing to surrender, but the enlightened mind will recognize that the only way to victory is to join the winning side.