If there is one thing that drives the way we think and act, it is our sense of identity. If we understand ourselves to be intelligent, when confronted with a problem we rejoice before it—rather than trembling at the challenge. This is a great clue to the freedom and power that come with understanding our spiritual identity. Especially when we realize it is the only identity we have.
And we have the greatest example of all in Jesus.
The master Christian obviously had a very different sense of identity from those around him. There was nothing human about the power he exercised. It enabled him to heal those who were sick and transform the lives of sinners. Hence, if we are intent on even beginning to emulate his works on earth—demonstrating the Christ-spirit by having a Christlike sense of identity—then we need to have a sense of what that identity entails.
Jesus did not “try” to be loving. Love gave expression to itself in Christ. What is remarkable in Jesus’ case is that he was able to maintain his sense of spiritual identity, even in the face of the most intense betrayal.
Transforming the model of what we think we are
It is not sufficient to be the most dedicated of worshipers, readers of the Bible, and workers of goodly works. If we still hold ourselves to be after all, “only human,” things will proceed from a purely human sense of goodness. In such circumstances, the truly transforming nature of a purely spiritual sense of identity cannot operate to the accomplishment of healing, because identity is still confined within the limits of a human personality, however “good” that may be.
I spent many decades trying to think my way out of the human dilemma—and not succeeding. But after my encounter with Christian Science, it became clear that wishing to experience the mind “which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5) involves more than just an intellectual exercise. Otherwise every dedicated Christian on earth would have achieved what Jesus Christ did. I realized it isn’t just a matter of attempting to alter or improve the way we think. We have to transform the model of what we think we are.
So how do we step outside the confines of this human identity, to the spiritual identity that mirrors the divine? I find the answer to be surprisingly simple—yet devastatingly transforming in its impact. It lies entirely in our ability to accept and understand that all there is to us is Love. No more and no less. Love constitutes every aspect of our being. It is our identity. Our experience. Our very Soul. Love is the substance of what we are.
At first, this might sound somewhat impractical and unrealistic, because it sounds so far removed from the way we normally think of ourselves. But it is the very simplicity of the premise that is so transformative—provided one can actually accept it. The challenge is not with the premise but with its acceptation.
A personal sense of identity gives way to the spiritual
Being love, as our identity, washes away any sense that we are merely persons. It is the ultimate of Spirit. It brings a sweet release from a personal concept of life, which is never in any mood to be transformed anyway. It’s tempting to want to hold on to and simply improve human existence. We may have tried to be loving but insisted, all the while, in hanging on to the material concept of ourselves and others. This material concept of identity loves its prejudices.
When Jesus said “greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12), I feel he meant that when a human sense of identity is abandoned in favor of a spiritual sense, then the “I” or “Ego” has “gone to the Father”—i.e., has become Love, which is another name for God—and the “greater works” that the Master accomplished no longer seem an impossible feat today. Why? Because, when Love is the substance of our identity, of being itself, we find evidence of Love everywhere, because it is no longer our personal activity but the very activity of God. Love loves everything it sees with tenderness, because that is what Love does.
For this mental migration to occur, we have to totally discard the human view of identity and take up Love as our Ego, because it is the “new wine” that cannot be stored in the “old bottles” of personal sense (see Matt. 9:17). God, Love, is real and eternal—whereas a human, personal sense of life is phantasmal and illusory. As hard as it may be to accept, this personal sense we hold on to so dearly is an illusion, and can never be real.
What is “the Christ” other than perfect Love present in our experience as our own sense of identity? According to Christian Science, Jesus could say “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30), because he held himself to be Love’s Son, or full expression. He felt that Love was all there was to his selfhood. It represented every fiber of his being. With this sense of identity, it is hardly surprising that Jesus did not feel separated from God. With divine Love as his source of identity, it is hardly surprising that his life expressed this love. Jesus did not “try” to be loving. Love gave expression to itself in Christ. What is remarkable in Jesus’ case is that he was able to maintain his spiritual identity, even in the face of the most intense betrayal. I feel it was because he understood that God was defining what he was. He was not defining his own personal nature—and made no attempt to define it—any more than the Romeo of Shakespeare’s pen formulated Shakespeare’s character.
The bold simplicity of “being love”
The nature of our entirely spiritual identity is far easier to grasp when we are not holding God as a person—an easy trap to fall into, especially if we follow the Old Testament rendition of God. In the New Testament, First John says explicitly: “God is love.” This truth takes away all the mystery about God—by acknowledging Love, God, ever-present, as our own source of identity and being; present not as a person with human traits, but as infinite Love expressed, with all of its divine attributes. Knowing Love as defining every aspect of our being perfects every expression of that being. Everything in our experience naturally improves under the light of Love.
“Being love” as our identity may be a very simple concept. Nonetheless in the Bible Paul warned us not to step outside this paradigm when he said, “I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Cor. 11:3). When we accept this paradigm, God defines every aspect of our lives. Paul knew the human tendency to keep things complicated—to insist that our happiness and safety depend on personal control, and on outcomes we outline for ourselves.
Several years back, I would have agreed—and held on to that limited notion of control. But now, I see how much better Love is at organizing life than I am. So I am quite content to let Love define me, to let God give me “the kingdom” (see Luke 12:32). In fact I realize He has already given me the kingdom. It does not get any better than everlasting Love.
Anthony Whitehouse is a Christian Science practitioner in Coppet, Switzerland.
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