Sermon for January 28, 2018 - Anxiety- When You Begin To Awaken PART 2
Continuing with the analogy of the house we built for ourselves, from the sermon on January 21st, we'll take a different perspective this time. If you remember from the last analogy, we built a house of perfection for ourselves. Then we watched, we lived through, it’s slow dismantling. We began with everything we could ever wish for and then we experienced each thing disappear until, at last, we had nothing left.
Now, let’s take this same house, and we’ll start building again. Take your time, imagine yourself standing wherever, in the world, you most want to be, in an open space. Now we’ll walk through some of the sequence of building our own dream world. Feel free to build your house in more detail, almost like a meditation, after we walk through some of the basic thought process here. First, there are no limitations. You can have anything, anyone, any situation. You can create it all to your own perfection. So, let’s start with the perfect home. An estate even. It’s beachfront perfection. Wait, we also want a mountain retreat. Done. Each is the epitome of luxury, peacefulness, beauty.
What about cars? Each house has a fleet of cars. Your imagination is the only limitation to what you can experience. Garages full of cars, like museums, on as many estates, in as many countries as you desire. Friends, romance, family, health, they are all yours in as much abundance as you like. There is no time limit either. You can choose your age, remain young, whatever you like.
Again, feel free to stop and spend some time building this vision. Populate it with things you’ve always dreamed of having, in the exact situation you’d like to have them. Not only do you have the things, you have the security to never worry about money or losing your situation.
Now we’ll speed things up a bit and begin to really experience being in this reality rather than thinking of it.
I like to call this next stage the “now what’s”. Hopefully, by now, you’ve really spent some time thinking about actually having this life. You literally have EVERYTHING you want, could ever want, or have ever wanted. So, you have estates in every part of the world, now what? You have every car you’ve ever wanted. Now what? You have perfect friends, the wife or husband you’ve always dreamed of, and a family that is totally fulfilling. Now what? You have unlimited sources of income. Now what? Your health is perfect, you are the perfect age, and it never has to end. Now what? Don’t just skim over this. Think about it. You’re TOTALLY fulfilled in every way. Now what?
Are you beginning to see? At first this might feel discouraging. You might be thinking, "Maybe all the things I always desire so badly really wouldn’t be that great." Sure, they’d be nice, but, once experienced, for a day, a week, a hundred years, a thousand years, they would just become things you'd once desired, that you now have, but that were yet another thing in the past.
The catch is that you literally have everything you want- and always will. Even if you think of something new, you can immediately have that, with no effort. Can you see how this can begin to de-value everything you formerly desired so much? Can you see that you are beginning to realize that it was the game of desiring the things, and not the actual things themselves, that you really enjoyed? This points to an even deeper meaning- IT ISN'T, AND HAS NEVER BEEN, ABOUT THE DESIRING OF A CERTAIN SITUATION OR THING. IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT A BROKEN EXISTENCE. You were always aware of this on one level or another, like a sixth sense something just wan't right.
If someone had told you this was the case when you lacked all these things, you would probably protest vehemently. You would say, “No, not me. If I had all these things, I would be totally satisfied and peaceful”. Maybe, at first, but it wouldn’t last. In fact, you have already been told about this, in Genesis. the Bible clearly shows that it is man's realization of self, his self-consciousness, that created this fallen existence that can never satisfy. And how many people protest this truth- not the literal truth of the Genesis story that people always like to get stuck on, but the existential truth?
This realization shakes almost everyone who let’s themselves really be in this kind of simulation. Then, something else should begin to take hold though.
When you calm down from the realization that all your desires can't fulfill you as you once thought, there is something else that takes hold. Wonder. You begin to have a true, child-like, sense of wonder about what could possibly fulfill you if now, you know, with absolute surety, that nothing in the world can really satisfy whatever it is that is lacking.
Now you aren’t just reading bible verses about how the ‘power of God is perfected in your weakness’, you’re experiencing it. You aren't just reading Genesis as a critic or historian, but as a doctor trying to diagnose your condition. When you realize that the world has no lasting ability to satisfy us, even if it wasn’t impermanent and we would never die, and that this realization shows us that we are helpless to do anything to actually free ourselves from this situation, you are opening the door to freedom through God’s Grace. Realizing we can’t do anything, and that the world has no answers, we will eventually turn to God, in faith. It is the faith that comes from such a profound experience of our own weakness that let’s us receive God’s saving Grace.
What is this Grace you might wonder? I will caution that words can only point to it and you must experience it to truly know it. It is the freedom that is Christ’s promise to us. It is the freedom that arises after we see all the things we thought we wanted, don’t satisfy, and we discard our dependence on the things of the world knowing that they can never fulfill us in any real way. We feel a kind of emptiness in having lost all our idols. Yet, our seeking for something that actually can save us leads us to faith in Christ, and we experience freedom through Him in realizing we never need to seek anything ever again.
When that Grace, which has always be available, dawns on us, we are freed from our slavery to the desires of the world. Our sin, which is really just our separation from Christ, is washed away. While we may still be in the world, as Jesus commands, we are no longer of the world, no longer dependent on the world for our well being. Now we don't live obeying commandments, it is our natural way of being. God’s Grace has washed the worries and desires of the world from you.
Now you can experience your marriage, your job, your family, whatever it may be, without worry and anxiety but with joy and freedom. Awakening doesn't de-value the world, it allows you to experience it through Christ in the way it was truly intended.
Use this house analogy as a kind of prayer. Walk yourself through the experience of having everything, for as long as you like, until you realize the game of it all. Let the understanding of how powerless the world is to fulfill you, lead you to Christ. Let your faith in Christ, in his ability to provide the Grace that will show you what will ultimately fulfill you, fill the void that was previously occupied by your desires. Christ’s promise is that when you go to him in faith, his saving Grace will be yours. That is true freedom.