mystic


Christ In Me

By: Brian Robertson


"The mysticism of Paul...was predominantly a Christ-mysticism, expressed in the being-in-Christ termonology. The identification with the risen Lord...took so poignant a form that Paul did not find it blasphemous to say, 'I, yet not I, but Christ who lives in me.' ....Jesus must have felt much in the same with regard to God. 'I, yet not I, but God who lives in me."

-John R. Yungblut

 

I've written about Paul's famous quote some time ago, but here John Yungblut takes it a different direction.

Mystics throughout Christianity have found themselves celebrating a Christ-centered mysticism, as it were, as opposed to a "God-centered" or, more accurately, "Father-centered" mysticism. St. Teresa of Availa, certainly, is one such example. But what does it mean to feel the presence of the Cosmic Christ -- as opposed to the historical Jesus? It is to be filled at once with a profound sense of love, yes, but one's entire being is infused with a kind of light as a person becomes a vessel of God, a meeting place of that which is Eternal and that which is temporal, or time-bound.

For Paul, it had to have been a shocking experience to go from being someone who punished and tormented Christians to becoming one himself. In my own life, I've often found myself being very negative about something or someone, only to find that some short time later I'm actually standing in their position! The universe has a way of doing that kind of ju-jitsu trick.

In any event, Paul's was perhaps one of the most dramatic examples of that kind of turnaround. His freedom to be able to say, "Not I, but Christ who lives in me" is a remarkable testimony both to the power of the Spirit but also the changes in a person.

But Yungblut goes one step farther and makes a suggestion that struck me as astonishing. I cannot suggest that all must somehow share this idea, but I'd like to express it as best I can.

For many years, scholars from all sections of Christian theology have recognzied that the Gospel of John is decidedly different than the other three, the "Synoptic" gospels. Jesus does not speak as he does in the others, there are no parables. The explanation has been that John is not a historical gospel, or, shall we say, narrative gospel in the sense of Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is more of a spiritual essay that seeks to put forward the beliefs of community who favored John and his interpretations of the meaning and essence of Jesus. As such, when Jesus speaks in the Gospel of John, it is thought not to be the actual historic words -- but the meanings behind the words.

Read this way, John is a brilliant explanation of the very opening statement made in the gospel regarding The Word. This is not to say that what is in John is inaccurate -- from a spiritual sense it is perhaps the most authentic of all the gospels. But pause for a moment, in view of Yungblunt's quote, and think about the "I AM" sentences, the statement that John has Jesus make about himself, for these are not found in any other place in the New Testament's accounts. The fascinating thought is that, if one wishes to say that Jesus did indeed say those exact quotes, what are their meanings for us?

Yungblut's notion that just as Paul was able to say, "Not I, but Christ who lives in me," so Jesus could say, "Not I, but God who lives in me." Then, "I am the light" or "I am the way" begins to have a deeper more resonant meaning for us. It is a clear indication that just as Jesus was in God and God in him, we have the opportunity to share in that as children of God by being able, as Paul did, to speak as he did.

Once again, to speak as Paul did is to say, "Not I, not the ego concerned with what comes into me -- my pockets, my bank account, my personal scoreboard of success -- but the heart of me that cares what goes out into the world is living in me. That part that cares that what goes out is love, compassion and care is what is alive in me now.