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Your True Self is who you are, and always have been in God, and at its core it is love itself. Love is both who you are and who you are still becoming, like a sunflower seed that becomes its own sunflower. Most of human history has called the True Self your “soul” or “your participation in the eternal life of God.” The great surprise and irony is that “you,” or who you think you are, have nothing to do with its original creation or its demise. It’s sort of disempowering and utterly empowering at the same time! All you can do is nurture it, which is saying quite a lot. It is love becoming love in this unique form called “me.”
It seems to be a fully cooperative effort according to St. Paul (Romans 8:28), and according to my own limited experience too. God never forces himself or herself on us or coerces us toward life or love by any threats whatsoever. God seduces us, yes; coerces us, no (Jeremiah 20:7; Matthew 11:28-30). Whoever this God is, he or she is utterly free and utterly respects our own human freedom. Love cannot happen in any other way. Love flourishes inside freedom and then increases freedom even more. “For freedom Christ has set us free!” shouts St. Paul in his critique of all legalistic religion (Galatians 5:1).
We are allowed to ride life and love’s wonderful mystery for a few years—until life and love reveal themselves as the same thing, which is the final and full message of the risen Christ—life morphing into a love that is beyond space and time. He literally “breathes” shalom and forgiveness into the universal air (John 20:22-23). You get to add your own finishing touches of love, your own life breath to the Great Breath, and then return the completed package to its maker in a brand-new but also the same form. It is indeed the same “I,” but now it is in willing union with the great “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). We are no longer absolutely one, but we are not two either! (Think about that if you can.)
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