(Again I pray before I write...God have mercy on me, a sinner.)
To enter into the life of God is to enter into His humility.
Did we imagine that it could be any other way? That we could enter the Divine life while clinging to our desires or presuming our rewards? That God would empty Himself while we simply stood by and reaped the benefits?
Stated this way, it sounds rather silly. And yet our hearts balk at the notion of humility. We do not want to give up what we want - at least not without some promise that we will eventually obtain it. We do not want to risk all and be left with nothing. We are not ready to be like Christ.
And thus begins the concept of repentance.
To repent means to change our hearts - to turn our hearts from self-love and desire to Other-love and gift. It is not a trivial matter nor does it come without a price.
When I approach repentance, deeply and sincerely, it requires me to look at all of the thoughts and feelings and actions that have kept me from the oneness with God for which I was created. This looking, were it not for Mercy, could easily draw me to the point of despair - so painful is it to see how far I am from God and to know that this is my doing. It exposes my raw need for Him to the point of complete vulnerability.
And yet, unless I learn through humility that I need Him desperately, He remains the God of my invention rather than the God of my cure. The God that I invent (or modify) - for the convenience of my ego and its desires - demands little of me.
Most certainly it does not demand that I surrender my heart so that it may be broken. "Rend your hearts and not your garments", says the prophet (Joel 2:13). The true God does not simply want ceremony, ritual and outward show. He wants my heart, torn and broken.
This sounds brutal - and yet God is not asking of me anything that He Himself does not give. The tearing and breaking of my heart is to open and fulfill it, not destroy it.
For the humility of God is not destructive but creative beyond my comprehension.
Hence, for us to enter the humility of God is something very different from the destructiveness of low self esteem. In most of its forms, low self esteem is a centering on the perceived failure of the self, often accompanied by inner verbal abuse. The humility of God is the polar opposite - for it is a centering on Other, emptying self so as to be filled with true Self, holy and beautiful and healed.
The self-emptying of God’s humility is also very much in contrast to the human trait of codependency. The latter gives the appearance of self-emptying and other-love but it is destructive, not creative. It is, oddly, a sort of pride in which I become the savior, not the saved. When we attempt other-love apart from Jesus, it is inherently destructive of self and other - because we, in our weakness, do not know how to love without desire.
Thus, repentance, viewed in light of the humility of God, is a turning, a tearing and breaking of our hearts in the manner of Jesus - that our hearts might be opened and filled, emptied and yet ever full. To repent is not a single decision but a lifetime process to which we are continually invited.
And the act of repenting quite naturally draws us to worship.
When we, who do not know how to love without wanting something in return, encounter the One who loves with utter selflessness, we cannot help but feel awe. We cannot help but know that we are in the presence of Being so much beyond ourselves that a joyful reverence is perhaps the only genuine response.
In such a Presence, what do we do? Do we sing? Do we dance? Or do we bow in solemn silence? God needs none of these things - but we do. For we cannot taste such love without wanting to express it. To express it is to share it, loving freely and without desire, from hearts broken and cleansed. This is worship - true worship.
Come, join me in repenting.
And then, let us joyfully worship the One Who loves us into being...