As Christians, when we awaken in life to the reality of God as the creator of this magnificently beautiful universe and understand the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for humanity through the crucifixion, it touches us deeply and becomes a life changing event. We instantly recognize how much we need to change personally in order to be worthy of the spiritual path that has been opened for us. To begin with, Jesus sacrificed himself by “emptying himself” of his personal desires and ego so he could become a clear and empty vessel for Christ to enter into this world.
Christ, the Word of God, is God; and in order for Christ to enter into Jesus at the baptism, God had to put aside enough of His own divinity so He could enter and live in a human body. It is through this miraculous event that God, the Father, through Jesus, became both human and divine, and overcame death – something no avatar of the past has ever done. As a result, humanity was sanctified, redeemed and awakened to the reality that we are one in our humanity and divinity with God, the Creator. This initial awakening put Christians on a path of “changing their personal behavior” by imitating Christ in their lives.
For the last two thousand years, Christians have followed the teachings of Christ through religious practices and various forms of devotion; imitating Christ is the starting point in which everyone begins to follow the Way of Life. This way of life is summed up nicely in the book titled The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A’ Kempis. The admonitions from this book for following the spiritual life are very similar to those written about on this site; for example, A’Kempis advises: have contempt for the vanities of the world, have a humble opinion of oneself, have prudence in our undertakings, avoid rash judgments, have a pure mind and simple intentions, be quiet and peaceful within, true comfort is to be sought in God alone, and temporal miseries are to be born with patience after the example of Jesus Christ. Imitating Christ in our personal behavior, in our attitudes about life and people, and in our moral discipline keeps us aligned with God’s love.
The subject matter of this website differs slightly from most religious practices in that the emphasis here is about developing a real connection within oneself with the Christ Spirit. If you are religious, spend time each Sunday worshipping God, but also spend time each morning in meditation connecting with and being in the presence of the Christ Spirit. There are many, many different degrees of being present with God.
Those attending church on Sunday are present with God and many of them feel that presence strongly, but for most of these people, Jesus Christ is a divine person who exists outside of the conscious self. Thinking of God and Christ as being in heaven and “outside” of our body is quite normal since many Christians imitate or model the divinity Jesus Christ represents.
However, there is another approach to Christ, a level of devotion and spiritual practice that is the next higher level after imitating Christ and that is to emulate Christ. To emulate Christ means to strive to be equal. This is similar to imitating Christ except imitation means to model one’s behavior after another person. This is why everyone says, “What would Jesus do?” Emulation is different, that is, rather than modeling the behavior of another, we want to know and feel within ourselves what motivates or inspires that person to act the way he does so we may emulate from our heart that same experience; only through internal experience (communion) can we emulate another.
Since Jesus is human in his body, we can understand that aspect of his being. But what really distinguishes Jesus from the run of humans is that the Christ, as the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit descended into Jesus at his baptism. At this point, he truly became the Son of God as well as the Son of Man; both divine and human. To emulate Jesus Christ means we want to know and feel within ourselves the same presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit as Jesus did.
This is what God wants us to do; this is the reason God entered into the human body – this sacred hypostasis (union) which took place in the body of Jesus means it can be similarly accomplished in any human body that is spiritually prepared. Of course, we can never be equal to Jesus Christ who is God’s only begotten son, but we can through proper spiritualization become one with Christ and the Holy Spirit. How deep and stable that connection to the divine is is up to us.
What exactly is spiritual preparation? As stated above, it begins by having contempt for the vanities of this world and a humble opinion of oneself. If we want to truly emulate Christ we must “empty ourselves” of unnecessary worldly desires, subdue the ego-persona, and maintain this state of “surrender” through spiritual practices such as meditation or quiet contemplation.
We must become “selfless” so the presence of God can fill us; only then do we make room for the presence of Christ and the Spirit. Christians who understand these words will recognize this as a task which becomes their life work. Obstacles, worldly temptations, personal weaknesses and lack of will keep us from making progress, but true Christians must always persist and never quit. Purity, abstinence, humility and spiritual practices keep us from the vanities of the world so our hearts are more receptive to the loving presence and Spirit of God.
“The soul redeemed by obedience to the Divine Will, withdraws itself,
and aspires evermore to its center, until absorbed therein,
it becomes like unto God, wholy spiritual.”