Consistency and Continuity

Ann Bendall, Nambour, Australia

    Humans just naturally resist change. Once we've grown accustomed to a certain view of ourselves and those around us, we can be terrified by, and fight vigorously against, anything new or different. This resistance to change is a universal phenomenon, and when we are pitted against change, we become fearful, which actually intensifies our conflict. Change is threatening, simply because it challenges us, has us question the adequacy of our skills to cope with the new environment produced by change, and it shakes us from complacency and lethargy. Change also, more often than not, forces us to learn new behaviors, and often discard old beliefs and values.

    The greatest change confronting an individual is the "price of entrance to the kingdom." Society insists that, for our survival, we must become independent, stand on our own two feet, and solve our own problems. Then along comes Jesus and says: Sorry, you must have the "faith and trusting dependence of a little child." (1536) Assuming that we have the courage to become dependent upon God, totally trusting that he has both the capacity and desire to teach us how to grow spiritually, we will most definitely be confronted with change--and it will be stressful.

    New thoughts, different ways. of thinking and feeling will start to shake our understanding of the world and ourselves, which will be decidedly discomforting to ourselves and all those who believe that they know us well. We strive for consistency and continuity in our life, and yet entrance into the kingdom may require a complete break with the past 'us' that we knew so well. It may require us to destroy all of our dreams, hopes, and aspirations so as to allow the revelation to occur in our lives, the born-again phenomenon.

    For a while we may stand bare and worthless as we look back on the illusion we once called ourselves. It can be all so easy to retreat from the gates of the kingdom, to prefer the comfort of the known, the controllable. The price of entrance to the kingdom looks a heavy one at the time of payment. If we have prided ourselves in our intellect, suddenly we are confronted with our vaingloriousness that we once proudly called a gift of God. If we had discovered that the most expeditious way to have our world turn at a pace which suited our comfort zone was to manipulate others, suddenly this technique must be discarded as a "pet evil"--and we know that, from now on, the world must spin around without our interference.

    Assuming that we dare to take the step inside the kingdom, for a little while life is wonderful as God rewards us with a sand pit and we furiously build castles, feeling so loved, so secure. Unfortunately our spiritual childhood is such a brief period, and the evolutionary pull towards Paradise begins and this can be sheer drudgery. Actually it does not feel like growth most of the time, it looks more like darned hard work--and more disappointments and frustrations than we believe a born-again child doing God's will should have to bear. For indeed, consistency and continuity is the paradise pathway but, in the thick of character acquirement, many times we will feel that we are taking three steps backwards and one forward which could be the way of the evolutionary process. Unfortunately, as our civilization is steeped in judgmental attitudes, many will be the time when we will be aware of the three steps backward phenomenon and declare this as a failure, when it is highly possible that it is merely an integratory process of character acquirement.

    An additional shock to our growing resolve to get to Paradise in record time--normally so as to eradicate the pain of imperfection as quickly as possible--is the fact of this kingdom being already occupied by a considerable number of God's children. The discovery that we are not blessed with being an only child is a dreadfully sobering experience, and our chagrin is increased by the fact that we are supposed to live in harmony with all of these other occupants. In addition, being burdened with this "be perfect" caper, we are not permitted to inflict our will on them. So, day in and day out, we have to tolerate their imperfection passing most of our time cooling our heels in frustration while waiting for them to evolve sufficiently because we will need them for some working party, or whatever. Can you imagine what it is going to be like when we have got all of the family, bar a few stragglers, to perfection? We will all be sitting up in Paradise, waiting for the party of the Grand Universe age to commence and God the Supreme to personalize and, despite the fact that there will be zillions of us raring to go, we will have to wait for those few dawdlers to arrive!

   The final blow to revelation which ensures that evolution is the order of the universe, is that despite the fact that we might like to think of the kingdom as already having a few more God's born-again children in it than we would desire, nevertheless God wants all,
repeat all, of his baby personalities to enter the kingdom. In other words, we are supposed to subsume our personal desires for perfection, and selflessly spend our time on the lookout for lost sheep.

    The irony of change when it relates to striving to be as God would wish us to be, is that, in the first instance, it requires an almost total break with our self concept, our aspirations, and our beliefs. We must be prepared to challenge each and every one of our attitudes and more often than not we will have to alter firmly entrenched behavior patterns. The childlike attitude is acquired by our having the utmost faith in God's ability to show us his preferred way for us to act, think, and believe. However, as we grow which, like it or not, we must, we are required to develop our character, to earn righteousness.

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