Português | English

In English

A YOUNG MAN'S NEUROSIS

A YOUNG MAN'S NEUROSIS

Dear Caio, my pastor: I got your answer some months ago and I have been trying to digest it – even further, to live it. But as you teach us, everything is easy when we’re not in the hurricane’s eye. That’s why I restate the question (repetition, I know), asking again: If holiness comes from God and not from man, why do I beat myself up (I could say punch also) to be able to appropriate it, be holy and not ruin God’s holiness? Buddy, you probably know how horrible it is for us to be struggling with ourselves all the time. The struggle for not upsetting the Holy Spirit, as we read in the Bible. Buddy, I feel in the last days that the Holy Spirit went away or disappeared and left me behind. Or was I the one who forsook the Holy Spirit? I don’t know if I should ask for your help. The only thing I know is that it’s been very difficult. These are sad days when the Grace passes in front of me and I am not able to appropriate it. To appropriate... Ah! Buddy, I’m fed up about religion! I am tired of repeating words like “my marriage is the best one”, etc...etc… as if by repetition itself one were able to appropriate something. It may be possible that someone can appropriate something, but this sounds suspicious and sketchy. But at the same time, I read the last text published today (Aug. 26), the answer to the Pharisee nervous guy, and I see in his speech, here and there, something that calls to me. Something religious that whispers in my ears: come, come... That’s it. I’m sorry Caio, but I’m one more unhappy and unresting soul writing to you. Caio, our beloved pastor. Caio, the one who gets sad at our misunderstanding. But I try. I do try. Will I be one of those who were called only? And they still have me on the worship team every Sunday besides taking care of the small groups and the youth. To whom can I open my heart besides you? Pray for me, I ask. A big hug. _____________________________________________________________________________________ That guy who wrote that he did not want to buy “pre-manufactured packages,” but that sometimes feels jealous about the ones that buy them and follow the “content choir.” Buddy, I just want PEACE, nothing more. Where is it? Note: Caio, I wrote the above on Aug 26 and resend as you asked us to, since you lost the information on your computer. I’m taking advantage of your patience and asking for help once again. Let us say that it is published on my blog and portrays even better my condition before God. Condition? What a weird thing I wrote... Failed act? This is the text: __________________________________________________________________________________ “The cry” On days like this, I wish I were a bird. Any animal, but a cockroach, which I hate because it is an animal that does not think at all. Inhospitable, sufficient in its animal limitation. I’m saying this because I’ve been taking my clonazepan for three days just to survive. Everything came out of nowhere. I was coming back from a trip and my wife told me a harsh word – at another time it would not have been so harsh - but I was getting empty and void like party balloons that lose their charm and beauty. I took twenty, then ten more drops. Now I don’t know how many drops I have taken and here I am bending over this keyboard, asking for help. To whom? To myself, maybe. At times like this, I preached about this myself; everything should make sense in Christ. At times like this, we should feel the joy that the Gospel says comes from the Lord. But I don’t feel it. Everything I have is a huge and scary void. Whatever your credo is, even if none, please pray for me. I’m bad. Rik. Sept 15, 2004. ____________________________ Answer: My dear brother: Peace and Rest! The way that holiness was understood by the majority of Christianity is something that would drive everybody nuts, if put in practice. We have two thousand years of “Christian holiness stories” which attest to sickness and mental disturbance. If the idea about “holiness,” according to the Christian religion were true, it would be good for us and not bad. Where are the happy saints of Christianity? Nothing that comes from God is bad for our soul. Indeed, all the emphasis on holiness can be divided into two assumptions: 1. Holiness is a human effort to control instincts and the manifestations of selfishness. Obviously, only the “instincts” (especially the sexual one) are famous for attacking holiness. Historic Catholicism and the virtuous Armenianism are full of it. And when it comes to holiness, even the reformers and Calvinists are Armenians. It’s the “free will” as law, that’s what generates all this neurotic responsibility in the youth. 2. Holiness as a “Christian payment” for the supposed “Grace of Salvation”. Indeed, it has been told among the reformers that, in Christ, God saves us from the law to justify and afterwards return us to the Law, to sanctify us. Even reformers ended up, in a practical way, falling into this failure. In the first case, we have two thousand years of Christian failures that cast a shadow on the history of Christian spirituality, with some exceptions. The second case is poor in developing the faith in Christ and the Scandal of the Cross-, to the ultimate consequences. Unfortunately, my friend, I have to tell you that if you don’t give up both packages definitely, your soul will be doomed to live in anguish for the rest of your life. You said you would like to be a non-thinking being, but no cockroach – you hate the cockroach (you should try to figure out why). And you said this because you think about it all day long. However, you are a “thinking” man. Obviously, it is clear you can’t bear to not be a “thinking” man. Your problem is not thinking too much but being obsessive with the holiness idea as a conquest of God and His intimacy. In reality you have a holiness illness. And be aware that you are not alone. It is true that nowadays people do not suffer with sin under the perspective of overcoming it to be saints, on the contrary, the majority suffers with sin because of negative guilt and only because they fear God’s curse. You did not say what disturbs you, what causes this feeling of impotence, and you even question if you are among the “many called ones” that eventually will not be the “chosen” ones. This is what reveals the level of disturbance and the seriousness of your “condition.” Actually, my friend, we are not here talking about God, but about you. Your letter and everything you feel has nothing to do with God, but only with your psychological construction about “God” and therefore the issue is psychological and not spiritual. If I ask you what are the elements disturbing your goal of holiness, without fear of being precipitated myself, I know you would say that possibly 90% of your agonies are related to the lasciviousness and animal instincts. That means: probably this disturbance is not happening because you want to grow in love and hope (the true holiness) but because you struggle against strange desires, the desire to look at beauty, to contemplate what is pleasurable in your eyes, to have what you never had, to expand your horizons with various experiences. There is greed, strong sexual compulsions, and not always being focused on your mate, and a lot of neurotic affliction for judging yourself to be a dirty and despicable person for not doing the good that you want (inside of you) but yes the evil that you hate (inside of you). That is: your soul is stuck in Romans Seven and cannot walk and dive into Roman Eight. What is holiness? First, I want you to understand that holiness is exactly the same as the principle of justification by faith. Paul says that in Christ we receive not only God’s justifying justice, but also the holiness and wisdom (James says the wisdom comes from faith). That means: by faith in Christ I am saved and am also holy. My friend, this is holiness to God. To God, being holy is to be under the Justifying Grace, in full certainty of faith and resting completely in the work of the cross. An example of what I am saying is the introduction of the letter from Paul to the Corinthians. They are known as holy, but the letter shows that they are “only” holy in Christ because they were not yet walking the path of pacification of the self, in Grace. This was the reason why they lived in disputes, jealousy, envy, faction and perversion, even giving in to the sexual nature, as was the case of the man who had his father’s wife. My brother, holy is the sinner who trusts in what Christ did for him and not in his own sense of Justice. Paradoxically, the path to holiness is a path of emptying our own self-justification; in such a way, that true holiness does not worry about holiness. The more someone worries about holiness, the less he is. The true saint believes that Jesus sanctified him/her, according to what Jesus said: I sanctify myself for you”. The big tragedy is that in Christianity, holiness became a contest of neurotic mortifications and the soul seeking only religious morality, meaning the Law. Well, since under the Law nobody is justified, in the same way, under the Law, nobody is sanctified. The Law draws attention to guilt and makes the self-neurotic. The true saint knows that he is not a saint. And he is not distressed by the fact of his intrinsic imperfection, since he knows life on Earth is a process and he has not yet attained in himself everything he knows belongs to him in Christ. That is to say, forgetting the things that are behind and straining toward what is ahead, press on toward the goal. However, while he confesses his imperfection to himself, according to what Paul writes to the Philippians, he says “he is already perfect” although also says “not that I have already reached the perfection.” Paradox! I insist all the time on this: whoever does not understand the paradox that everything is done and consummated to God and in God, although not yet in fullness in man, will not have rest or peace, ever. It may sound weird but it is coherent: The individual only becomes someone spiritually, exactly when he dies to the pretension of being that thing. To be holy the person has to die to the pretension of holiness! This makes complete psychological sense; the more the person struggles with his compulsions the more the compulsions grow. When he faces them without neurotic moral rigor, then, the person starts to get rid of his evil. And more, a nervous and overwhelming mind by holiness or neurosis about guilt cannot take spiritual advantage of anything. In fact, for such a person, there are no benefits to be appropriated because he does not believe in the Gospel. This is because, my friend, the Gospel is not a story. The Gospel is the benefit of History. It is the Good News. It not Disgraceful News Many people say they believe in the Gospel only because they believe in the stories of the gospel and because they believe that Jesus is the savior of all men. However, this is something to be believed only because such an event happened. This is far away of being everything. Such people believe in the Crucifixion but they do not believe in the Cross. They believe in the Resurrection as a historic fact (they say proudly: the tomb is empty!) but they do not believe in the benefit of the Resurrection because they don’t say: I am totally justified! Knowing Jesus according to the flesh is to believe only in the events of the Gospel, since they are undeniable. However, to know Jesus in the spirit is to appropriate the good done by Him in our favor, according to the Gospel. Well, that’s when things get very complicated! To usufruct such benefits, one has got to give up to please God by own ways. It is too pretentious to believe that I have the power to sanctify myself to God to please Him! All true desire to please Him, according to Paul, must be opposed to such neurotic and presumptuous holiness. We understand that to please God we have to satisfy God with our perfection. To Paul, God is only pleased in Christ and to please him, we have to abandon our own justification and dive into the peace that comes from faith in a complete vagabond way, to receive mercy. Paul even exaggerates the parable of the “Workers in the Vineyard”, the ones that were hired last and received the same amount as the ones that started earlier. Paul goes further. For him, (Romans 4) the situation is still more scandalous. It was as though someone that did not work at all and had a self-righteous face but had faith in God’s Grace and in Christ’s justice shows up at the end to receive the full Salary of Life. Now, I leave with you some practical things: 1. You have instincts and always will. They will calm down either by the time or if you give it to God today by making your self-justification die. Nothing revels more arrogantly our earthly nature than our attempts of self-justification. Therefore be not disturbed with your instincts. Animal instincts eager for fight. Remember: it is an animal. Oppress it and it will attack you. Leave it in peace and it will leave and enter in to the forest. Therefore do not fight your instincts but only kid with them: Hey, buddy, get lost! Do it in a good mood, not letting it come between you and God. Oddly you will see that this holy calm comes from the certainty that this thing is only a discomfort for you and no longer a problem between you and God. Paradoxically everything will come down suddenly... 2. Your mind is getting close to receiving Grace but your soul is still captive to the neurotic spirit of religion. However, be aware of this: God is not angry with you. If I could speak for Him, I would say only that He gets sad with the fact that you don’t trust Him for your own good, He already reconciled with men. That means that God was saying: What a pity. Everything is done and finished but Rik still wants to give me a hand, and that’s what hinders him from receiving what I already did. 3. Each day I see that the devil is more present in these Christian processes of guilt and neurotic anguish than people can believe. Paul says that what deprives the principalities and powers is the certainty that the written law that was against us WAS TOTALLY WIPED OUT AND NAILED IN TO THE CROSS. However if we don’t rest in this, there is no peace possible. I say that because we handle Moses’ law in a heretical way because in Jesus, the Law died and if you don’t accept that it is as if you were having sex with a dead body. The most continuous Christian heresy is the cult to the law and the marriage with Moses. Yes, most Christians live in this state of spiritual bigamy and necrophilia, confessing that they are in love with Jesus but keeping the marriage with Moses. In Romans 7, Paul says that the law died in Christ in order that we can make new marriage vows to God, no longer under the law but according to the Law of Grace, in Christ. 4. For someone in a state of religious neurosis to believe in everything may seems to be a spiritual irresponsibility, however I tell you that there will be benefit to your soul if you allow the law to die in your heart, in order that the Law of Grace may create a peaceful conscience in you. My brother, death is death! When Jesus said that a disciple has to deny himself, take the cross and follow Him, that means, He was saying to deny himself, deny his self justification, take the cross (trust the cross against the impulses of the spectre of the Law) and follow Him (which means walk according to the faith that guarantees that everything is finished). Concerning this, I don’t have any doubts, because I experience the benefits of this peace every day, especially the days and hours when my personal contradictions want to raise and call Moses to the bed of my soul. Moses does not come to my bed. I am married to Jesus. There is no place for both Jesus and Moses in my soul. My heart belongs only to Jesus. Moses is still a brother for certain times, but he is far, infinitely far from having the power to make peace in my soul. The cross removed all consequences of sin, before God, for the one that believes that Jesus is sufficient! Does mean that I no longer sin? I’m far from this. I’m the main sinner. That is why I’m more certain of the benefit of the cross in my favor. And more: in the beginning of my walk in faith, when holiness for me still was an exercise in the Law, my mind was infinitely more afflicted than today, when I am not justified by myself and for this reason, I don’t suffer any neurosis guilty. I only boast in the Cross! In a practical way, what happens is that this demobilization of the psychic-spiritual energies which serve the Law, when set free for the good, create strengths in us, allowing us to walk seeing our mistakes or inadequate compulsions deep within or even our improper actions, things that I identify in myself, but I do in my favor, not as someone that hates himself but thanking God that such things do not hinder my walk with Him. Then, paradoxally everything vanishes and the instincts and compulsions die down, since I no longer feed them with guilt. The guilt gave way to a peaceful conscience. Do an exercise and leave everything as it is, without paying attention to anything – not even for the worst feeling, desire, instinct and interior compulsion– and soon you’ll see them dissolve, slowly, until you no longer have any conversation with the devil, disguised in holiness. What do you have to do? Preferably, NOTHING! NOTHING is what you have to do! Jesus has already done what can be done by guilt. You just have to believe! Now: the time to merely believe in Jesus is over and time to trust Jesus has come. The Jesus in whom we merely believe is the religious leader. The Jesus whom we trust is the God who carried everything in our favor. And not just two thousand years ago, but even before the foundation of the world. Nobody was ever justified by the works of the Law, not even Moses. Everybody ever justified in the whole world, is so because the Lamb was immolated before the foundation of all things. My brother, to trust or to not trust, this the question! The Jesus in whom we merely believe is the religious leader. The Jesus whom we trust is the God who carried everything in our favor. And not just two thousand years ago, but even before the foundation of the world. Nobody was ever justified by the works of the Law, not even Moses. Everybody ever justified in the whole world, is so because the Lamb was immolated before the foundation of all things. My brother, to trust or to not trust, this the question! Receive my kiss and my prayers! In Him, in whom you are holy, Caio PS: See if your problem is something else, as for example, dissatisfaction with your life, your marriage, or your role at church. Sometimes people mistake unconfessed unhappiness for unrighteousness. Original Title: Neurose de Santidade Translation: Sara Machado, Massachusetts www.caiofabio.com/cartas Written on October 7, 2003 WM