This “I am” concept is simple and yet important. In Christian writing and dialogue I come across some very vague thinking regarding concepts such as self. It raised in me questions such as who am I? Who is this person that is saved and what am I saved from? Who must I die to and what does the term, “to live is Christ” mean?
If I must die that Jesus can live in me, some of the more simplistic answers given me, what is the point? Logic tells us that for something to be saved some part of it must continue to exist afterwards or else it is not saved but destroyed. To be honest, if salvation meant losing any sense of self in order to be consumed by another person, even if it is Jesus, then I am not interested.
But this is not the case. So, who am I? Scripture tells me that I am created in the image of God. God is spirit. He does not have a face, body, vocal chords, not even gender. When Abraham asks God who He, God, is God answers simply with “I AM WHAT I AM” meaning that who He (even the term He is not correct simply a handle because I am too lazy to do a HE/SHE) is cannot be contained in mental labels such as good or loving or forgiving. God is and what He is cannot be described. When the Pharisees asked Jesus who He was, He gave them the same answer. So, if I am made in God’s image then it means that I am a spiritual being, first and foremost, like God. So if I am asked who I am then my answer is simply “I am”. This “I am” refers to my true, spiritual God created self.
This true self was clothed in a physical body that contained, amongst other interesting bits, a brain that was/is able to be aware of its surroundings through complex chemical/electrical impulses stored in millions of fat cells. This body was intended to receive directions from me, my true spiritual self, and translate that into actions in the physical realm that would bring about life in the physical. My body became the doorway through which the spiritual became material. God incarnated.
What happened at the fall was that the brain/mind hijacked the body and tried to become its source through knowledge. The body now existed primarily for self preservation and to that end, the mind created a false sense of self that would function in ways that would avoid threats to itself. This false self is based on concepts such as, clever, good, bad, handsome, beautiful, successful, failure. “I” can only be what I can label and understand with my mind and always for the preservation of the physical self. It is this false, physical self that I am called to die to.
So, for me, salvation/consciousness is that God induced place where the mind gets restored to submission to my true, eternal, spiritual self or, in short my “I am”. At this point I start to live with God as my source and physical existence becomes secondary to my true goal of revealing the divine in the material.