But deliver us from evil…
(Overcoming Our Egos)
When pride is overcome, we cure a symptom of our separation from God not its root cause. We are like the frog born at the bottom of the well, who is unaware of the larger world that exists beyond the walls of his home. These walls are what psychologists have come to call the ego, and the well itself what Jesus (lacking our modern lingo) called the pit, where the fire (i.e. our desire) is never quenched.1 It is what some have called our “original sin”. Yet “sin” is the wrong word. For sins are connected to choices. And we did not choose to be placed in the well—although it is our choice whether or not we remain there.
The well is better described as our original condition. And Jesus’s entire ministry was about teaching others to overcome it. Asking us to abandon our egos though is a tough sell. Because while we know that egoism leads to pride, hate, violence, theft, adultery and every evil under the sun,2 we also believe that our egos define who we are. We think that if we lose our ego, we will lose our identity; and we are offended by those who suggest otherwise.
This offense that we take is registered in the Gospel of John during the story of the Last Supper—the last fellowship for Jesus before he crucifies his ego, abandons the well, and experiences full consciousness in Christ. At the dinner table, the disciples cry out against the “harsh doctrine” they are being taught.3 Their shock is not over the eating of the flesh and blood of the Son of Man (as those are just metaphors), but that in becoming “united” with Christ that they will lose their sense of self.
We, like the disciples, consider our egos as being solid and permanent. That is the devilish illusion. For if we look back upon our lives, we find that the person we identify as “me” changes as we grow. The middle–aged man or woman often looks with strange fascination toward the person they were at eighteen, just as the senior does toward their middle–aged self. Sometimes we cannot even believe the person we were yesterday!
These changes are all evidence of the Holy Spirit at work, as it pushes us to recognize the vast kingdom that exists outside the well in which we live. When we overcome the well, we don’t lose ourselves, but expand our realities of place and self to include joys and experiences that were beyond our imagination. We leave our ego identity behind to discover our soul’s identity,4 which is ever growing and limitless.
Our journey out of the well is symbolized by Jesus’s teaching of the cross, and the Gospel writers’ depiction of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection. Whether Jesus was actually crucified or not is a matter that can be left to personal belief. What is to be recognized is that even if Jesus were not crucified by the Romans, we would have had to do it ourselves for the sake of the gospel story. Because in order to understand the profound depth of Jesus’s renunciation of the ego, we need a crucifixion parable to guide us.
Parables are able to provoke that “aha” experience we get when…
The Lord’s Prayer. To continue reading, click on page 2 at the bottom.
- It would be better for you to enter the kingdom of God with only one eye, than to have both eyes and be thrown into the pit: 48 Where the worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched. – Mark 9:47-48 [↩]
- For it is from within, out of the hearts of men, that there come evil thoughts: unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, 22 Greed, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, haughtiness, folly; 23 All these wicked things come from within, and do defile a man.” – Mark 7:21–23 [↩]
- On hearing it, many of his disciples said: “This is harsh doctrine! Who can bear to listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, aware that his disciples were murmuring about it, said to them: 62 “Does this offend you?” – John 6:60–62 [↩]
- He must become greater, and I less. 31 He who comes from above is above all others; but a child of earth is earthly, and his teaching is earthly, too. He who comes from heaven is above all others. – John 3:30–31 [↩]
For thine is the
kingdom, the power, and
the glory, forever, amen.
(Understanding God Time)
The Lord’s Prayer began by grounding us in our relationship with the Father, and it ends now by solidifying our faith in that kinship. We have already talked about how the kingdom, power, and the glory of God are played out within the living hour; but most of us are not satisfied with this daily bread. We want to know that there is a divine plan, with a definitive beginning and end, that’s been arranged by the Father.
Our desire to see the culmination of God’s plan is what led Jesus’s early Jewish followers to believe that he was an earthly messiah. And it is what fuels today such false beliefs as the rapture and Jesus’s second-coming out of the clouds. Without an end–game in place, we find our faith under assault,1 as we try to make sense of a world filled with horrors, suffering, and loss. Yet it is precisely this lack of knowledge in God’s final act (like our uncertainty in what happens to us after we die) that creates the condition which rewards those with the faith of but a mustard seed.
If we are to acquire that life giving faith, and get glimpses of the Father’s divine plan, we must take a “big picture” view of our lives and the history of the world. This means letting go of human time and entering God time. With human time we focus on beginnings and ends, and see time as a product that can be saved, lost, and spent. And we view morality within the limits of those human constraints. But with God time we are dealing with a cyclical ebb and flow that cannot be pinned down—and where moral reckoning occurs on a timeline that far exceeds an individual lifetime.
Our life in Christ is beyond beginnings and ends—which is why Jesus says that he existed before Abraham2 and his words will live on even after heaven and earth pass away.3 The Holy Spirit constantly is in the process of rising and receding. This means that the crucifixion of our ego is not a one time affair. We are called to repeatedly lay down our lives,4 as we rise ever closer toward our divinity.
Jesus imparts this teaching of recurring crucifixion when he tells us that we must pick up our crosses daily.5 And our repeated rise toward Christ is demonstrated in the gospel story by Jesus’s reappearance within the form of a person that his disciples do not recognize.6 When, during the course of our spiritual evolution, we shed our egos, even those closest to us often fail to recognize the new person we’ve become. The fact that Jesus chooses to crucify his ego yet again, having already risen in Christ and been able to teach the gospel, demonstrates that no matter how high we’ve risen the ego continually builds new obstacles that need to be overcome.
When we pray For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever, amen, we are thus confirming our faith in today’s living Christ;7 as well as God’s divine plan that we, his children, can feel only intimations of but never fully know.8 As the 19th century Unitarian Minister Theodore Parker once said: “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I can calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see, I am sure it bends toward justice.”
You have been reading Chapter 12 from the book The Living Hour: The Lord’s Prayer for Daily Life (with New Testament Gospels). This faith book on life and the power of the The Lord’s Prayer is available for purchase in trade paperback below.
If you appreciate the work of LivingHour.org, please support us today by linking to our website. We also welcome your financial support. You can make your secure online donation via PayPal by clicking the following icon:
Buy the Trade Paperback for $15.99
- A violent squall came on, and the waves kept crashing into the boat, so that the boat was actually filling. 38 Jesus was in the stern asleep upon the cushion; and the disciples roused him and cried: “Teacher! Is it nothing to you that we are lost?” – Mark 4:37–38 [↩]
- “You are not fifty years old yet,” the Jews exclaimed, “and have you seen Abraham?” 58 “In truth I tell you,” replied Jesus, “before Abraham was, I am.” – John 8:57–58 [↩]
- I tell you that even the present generation will not pass away till all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. – Luke 21:33 [↩]
- This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life—to receive it again. 18 No one took it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to receive it again. John 10:17–18 [↩]
- “If anyone wishes to walk in my steps, let them renounce self, and take up their cross daily, and follow me. – Luke 9:23 [↩]
- After saying this, she turned round and looked at Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 “Why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” he asked. Supposing him to be the gardener, Mary answered: “If it was you, sir, who carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away myself.” – John 20:14–15 [↩]
- They could not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were at a loss to account for this, all at once two men stood beside them, in dazzling clothing. 5 But, when in their fear the women bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them: “Why are you looking among the dead for him who is living?” Luke 24:3-5 [↩]
- The heavens and the earth will pass away, but my words shall never pass away. But about that day and hour, no one knows: not even the angels of heaven, nor yet the Son, but only the Father himself. Matthew 24:36 [↩]