In my last post I mentioned the name of James Houston. As I continue to write on the blog, his influence will become apparent. In one of his earlier books which I read in the early 90’s, Dr Houston introduced me to the concept of “the double knowledge.” It comes from the thought of Augustine when he gave this spiritual principle. “Let me know thee, Oh God and let me know myself, that is all.” The implications of this concept have been very healing in my own life. I have come to realize that I not only need to know God but that I need to know myself, especially the bad and the ugly. For most of my adult life I hid from and did not want to bring to life the bad. I tried being good as a pastor, caught in a performance trap, that would sap much of my spiritual energy.
Dr Houston has pointed out that the concept of the double knowledge has been lost to the church in the last century. It was basic teaching for spiritual growth throughout most of the history of the church. It was especially with enlightenment thinking that we began to disregard the inner life, giving strong preference to reasonable, pragmatic knowledge. The focus was on explanation and doing. The mystery of the soul was disregard,being relegated to the superstition of religion. This lead to the disappearance of the soul. We have suffered from this loss ever since. The church as a whole lost the ministry of the “care of souls.” We became impoverished in our inner life. There were few teachers to guide us back into our souls. In our postmodern age, we are now trying to recover the soul.
Now when I say, we need to take the inner journey, or look inward, I am not talking about getting focused on the self. Leanne Payne calls that “the disease of introspection.” Rather I am suggesting that we become aware of what is within our souls in the light and presence of Jesus in our hearts. We take the journey with him. We look to him to be our guide. Always as we are being lead on the inner journey, we are to have our “faith look” as that of “looking up and out” to Jesus.
I will write more about this idea of the double knowledge in some forthcoming posts. I want at this point to simply testify to the great relief it was for me to know that in the presence of Christ I could accept myself. David Benner points out, “Self-acceptance and self-knowing are deeply interconnected. To truly know something about yourself, you must accept it. Even things about yourself that you most deeply want to change must first be accepted – even embraced.” Notice – I must first embrace what is there, before it can be changed. I simply can’t deny reality.
I am learning to accept the self that is really me. I am finding that I can accept and welcome those bad parts and not trying to hide them. Again, from Benner, “Any hope that you can know yourself without accepting the things about you that you wish were not true is illusion. Reality must be embrace before it can be changed.” Men, I want you to know that coming to see the reality of who youreally are and not hiding from it, knowing that God sees it all yet loves you deeply in your stink, is revolutionary. What might you be trying to hid from? What are you refusing to embrace? A wild man is someone who is coming out of hiding, because he knows that God loves him in his totality. I can picture wild men coming out of hiding, into the light, rising up to be men of faith who have love and praise as the weapons for the battles ahead.
The Psalmist know that he couldn’t hide from God. “Then I said to myself, ‘Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light.’ It’s a fact; darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.” (Ps. 139:12 – The Message). A wild man is one who is willing to walk in the light of Jesus, having been given the grace to take the inner journey, as the inner darkness is exposed and then healed by the light of Jesus. That which remains hidden does not find the relief of the healing light of Jesus’ presence. Listen to The Message, “But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience, a shared life with one another, as he sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son,purges all our sin” (I John 1:7)