Something has happened to me that I never anticipated. Words that I never imagined saying escaped my lips this week.
I’ve become a morning person.
I have no idea how this happened (a friend’s response was words to the effect of “welcome to being old”), but it has. I’m routinely up 30 minutes before my alarm, often with two hours of quiet before anyone else in the house is awake. I eventually stopped fighting it, and accepted that I now have this wonderfully quiet time in which to pray, journal, and be productive. So, fresh cup of coffee in hand, I start with trying to just focus on God each morning.
Which is difficult. Oh, so difficult.
Almost immediately as my brain begins to wake up (see the previous reference to coffee), the concerns of the day begin to crowd in. All of the things that I haven’t written down are spinning in my head. All of the day-to-day things that need to be done are pressing in, even before I’ve consulted my to-do list. Because we live in a material space, it’s really difficult to be aware of anything beyond that. And, almost all of the things crowding into my head at this point are material, at least in the sense that they involve physical things (“wow, the kids didn’t pick up their toys again in this room”) or the practical (“I need to schedule the maintenance appointment for the car”). These are things that I can observe, things that have a concrete outcome, things that just need to be done.
Since my Easter reflections, though, I can’t get rid of this awareness (when I can quiet myself enough) that, beyond the white-noise of our lives, there is this extended reality that, while not immediately observable, is more real than the concrete. The realm of the spiritual. The part of our existence from which we become increasingly isolated because of our excessive focus on empirical data.
Now, as certain readers of this begin to rage that I’m anti-science or some such, I’m not. Empiricism has its place. I’m just asserting that that place is not to be worshipped or deified, which currently seems to be the religion of the day. I’m cautioning against scientific reductionism…the audacity to assume that because we know everything about a thing, that we know the thing.
The reason that I bring this up here is not to re-state my previous post, but rather to expand with this idea that I can’t let go of: that the salvific process of choosing to follow Christ fundamentally alters what we think of as the human condition. We are very different once that happens. Human, but in a way alien as well, in the sense that our humanity is somehow changed.
Hear me out before thinking that my sanity has finally escaped my grasp. After Pentecost, it was established that Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, as part of the justification event. I was raised in an atmosphere in which the work of the Holy Spirit was somewhat minimized to “conviction” or to some form of inspiration. What I think I’m beginning to see is that, as the Holy Spirit somehow joins with a person who is otherwise in a fallen condition, a regenerative event takes place that makes us, though still human, somehow very different. I think that this difference is somehow instinctively detectable by those who have not had the experience, and thus they become uncomfortable. I also think that the experience is frequently barely registered by those who have it, because of the crowded landscape of observable data that I mentioned above.
I’m getting this hypothesis from a few references: Romans 8:9 and 8:16, I Corinthians 3.16, Ephesians 2:6, Colossians 3:4, I John 3:1-10.
I’m also not in anyway suggesting that this result in a mindset of “the other,” in which Christ-followers view those who do not follow Christ as somehow less or deserving of disdain. In fact, the event that I’m discussing should have quite the opposite effect when realized.
To summarize, I wonder if, at the moment of decision to follow Christ, our humanity is somehow and suddenly different because of the Holy Spirit’s “moving in?” I’m holding onto this lightly because someone (including you, dear reader) could present a persuasive argument to the contrary. If I’m right, though, it changes so much of how we see our day-to-day, forcing a re-prioritization of our concerns.