WHY AM I this “I”, and not any of the billions who have lived and died before, or who live other lives now? I could have been one of the eight million Chinese who died building the Great Wall. Or an 18-year-old Tommy who went over the top at the Somme and died on the barbed wire. I could have been an African slave who died on the Middle Passage. Or even one of the millions of aborted foetuses of recent years. And so on.
Why am I this particular “I”, who enjoys comfort and plenty in the 21st century, and, on top of that, I have been given the grace to be made a child of God by faith in Jesus? How privileged is that?
If I were someone else, in fact, I should not be this “I” at all. So I am truly unique, a singularity of existence. And if I am unconscious, nothing else exists to me, (even though it does in reality).
God is an “I” like this; He is “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14), the ultimate self-existent person.
Yet God is Three in One, a corporate “I”. In parts of the Bible God speaks of Himself as “We” and “Us” (Genesis 1:26 for example). “I and the Father are one” said Jesus (John 10:30), and the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9). So the perfect personal existence is a corporate ‘I’ consciousness.
Being an “I” is lonely unless I can share this consciousness. I was made in the image of God, which means that I was made for fellowship, for shared consciousness. But the Fall, human rebellion against God, has left us isolated from God and from our fellow humans – lonely. It is a lasting ache in every unique human heart.
Why do people love group activities or team games – and of course family life, when it is close and trusting? Sports teams speak of ‘flow’ in their performance and skill when all are united in a level of shared concentration that absorbs enthrallingly and evokes a sense of higher consciousness.
Soldiers who share a foxhole on a front line under fire have an intensity of shared experience that makes for one of the deepest bonds known anywhere.
If I love you, I reach out beyond my shore to your world. If you love me, I know something of what it is to be you, and we share consciousness to a degree. It’s a very slight approximation to the life of the Trinity, in Whose image we were made.
What is “falling in love”? In part, it is a biological process of mutual absorption, an intensity of shared consciousness which can culminate in the closest physical union possible. And yet, even married couples find that union of heart and consciousness are still elusive.
We crave to “see ‘I’ to ‘I’”, but so often life falls short. The raging mob is a hideous expression of fallen corporate consciousness, all moral restraint drowned in the madness of irresponsible savagery. Young men get a buzz out of this atavistic blood-lust – fallen souls lost in corporate madness.
God always intended for us to find oneness. The eternal Son, Jesus Christ, came to undo the effect of the Fall and bring us into a new relationship with God in the Spirit. As reborn children of God, we find a common bond of spiritual consciousness. God is working to extend His perfect Trinity fellowship to include millions of independently conscious beings – us. In Christ He has made us His sons and daughters, and He is working to transform us into His likeness in spiritual character, and, especially, oneness. His greatest command to us is “Love one another”. Our oneness is to be of the same order as the Godhead’s (John 17:20-23).
What does the marriage of the Lamb precede? What is the consummation, but ultimate union, when finally “I”, this unique “I”, and you, shall finally be able to fully share existence in love, though still each unique? What a future!
"God is an “I” like this; He is “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14), the ultimate self-existent person." – Piers
In the meantime, church is where I can share my life with others who have the most vital things in common, spiritual life and love. In brotherhood one-to-one relationships, in small groups and cells, in extended families and in house groups we enjoy being “we”, a team, the body of Christ. There each plays their special part to make something beautiful together, and we impact others who are drawn into the oneness. In Christian community, sharing our lives fully from birth to death, in sickness and health, through problems and joys – I am moulded, strengthened and blended with others, and I find myself in new ways.
From an isolated “I”, corrupted by sin, I am being transformed into God’s likeness, to be able to love beyond my own selfish world and to unite with many others in something beyond my wildest dreams. How about you?