(Part 69)


November 5, 2016

People usually experience three stages in their relationship with Christ — emotional, intellectual, volitional. These have to do with the heart, the mind, the will. The stages, which overlap, can come quickly in succession, or take long periods of time.

The first stage is when one meets Christ and is touched by the Spirit. He has an emotional experience, a high. In the parable of the sower, he is the one who received the word with joy. But unless he moves strongly into the second stage, he can fall away because he has no roots.

The second stage is when one begins to live Christ. He gets to know Christ more. He prays, reads the Bible, undergoes formation, studies aspects of the Christian life, begins to share Christ, serves in ministry. He has an intellectual experience, a deepening, a greater understanding of what the new life is about. He is entering into discipleship. In the parable of the sower, he would be one whose faith takes root. But many of those in this stage still fall away. They strive to live by the Spirit but are overcome with the works of the flesh. They are the foolish Galatians.

The third stage comes as a decision of the will. He has totally turned over his life to Jesus. He has been honed by trials, persecution and suffering. He is determined to endure. He denies self and embraces the cross. He accepts the loss of all worldly things and even consider them rubbish. He is consumed by zeal to proclaim the gospel. He is deliberate, determined and dogged. He has decided to follow Jesus all the way, without conditions, knowing full well the challenges and pain that come, and there is no turning back. Because of his intimate relationship with Jesus, he has grown in knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. He understands and practices mercy. He is an authentic servant leader and a holy warrior. He is a prophetic witness. In the parable of the sower, he would be one who has deep roots, has endured trial and tribulation, has overcome worldly anxiety and the lure of riches and craving for other things, and bear fruit a hundredfold.

There are those in the second stage who have not truly experienced the first stage. He is the one who is catechized and sacramentalized but not evangelized.

One who reaches the third stage continues with the second, and have occasional instances of the first. God continues to touch the heart, the mind and the will — the total person. Until he becomes another Christ. He then is a saint.

Let all the saints come marching in.

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