By Rev. Bob Evans
For those of us who are Christians, Jesus is the archetype of who we are born to be, and also, the one whose own journey to the cross teaches us, while showing us, how we are to live and what it means to take up our cross. These words of Jesus are a Christian imperative, “Take up your cross and follow me,” as it is telling us to take responsibility for our own actions. We cannot say, “The devil made me do it,” or, “I believe Jesus is my savior, and I have all the right Bible verses remembered, so I’m saved,” whatever that means to some.
We all have within us the greatest desire to prolong our lives and to maintain the physical self. Our five senses are tuned such that they help us with this struggle against nature; so much so that we develop these insulating walls between us and the rest of the world, as we tend to put ourselves first. This tends to create walls between us and the ability to see God’s kingdom and to know our true selves as children of God already partaking in eternal life.
Carl Jung, the great early 20th century philosopher, psychiatrist and spiritualist, called the self, created by our five senses, our “Shadow Self.” This shadow self is who we think we are as physical beings, as identified by our culture and friends, and only strengthens our separation from the Holy One we seek. According to Jung, it is this shadow self that keeps us from truly experiencing anything of the divine dimension.
To carry our cross and deny ourselves means we must identify, name and rid ourselves of this most powerful demon, the shadow self, who steals from us our true identity; leave the shadow self on the cross and rise as a new being in Christ. Jesus says to us that in order to save our lives we must lose them. He is referring to this shadow self. It is this life we must lose. It is this life of the shadow self that must be given up on our personal cross so that our real self, our true identity as a son or daughter of God, can rise.
It is then, in the here and now, that we will be able to see that God’s kingdom has come in power. Jesus, when speaking of God’s kingdom, always refers to it in the present: “God’s kingdom IS like…” is how Jesus starts every metaphor concerning the symbol, God’s kingdom. In his saying today Jesus tells his disciples and the crowd around him, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come in power.” Jesus, in saying that the kingdom has come, is speaking to those who have not yet understood that the kingdom is eternally present. Those who just now see it, or are about to see it, will awaken to the fact that not only is the kingdom of God present, but it always has been eternally present. When we are able to see the things of the kingdom, we have been resurrected.
Rev. Bob Evans is with the United Church of Christ in Sagle.