Once upon a time, there was a man who said to himself, "I think, therefore I am." It was a revolutionary statement, because up to that time, people didn't think this was the way to begin. "In the beginning, God. …" Yes. "In the beginning was the Word. …" Yes. But now, for the first time, someone was saying, "In the beginning, I."

It didn't take long to catch on. Pretty soon everyone was saying it, and saying it in their own way. "I feel, therefore I am." Or "I experience, therefore I am." Or "I am mystical, therefore I am." Or "I am creative, therefore I am." Even "I am religious, therefore I am."

Eventually, someone said, "I am, therefore I am." And everyone applauded, because it seemed to be a stroke of divine genius.

Then, away from the maddening crowds, far off in the wilderness, a voice was crying out, "Prepare the way of the Lord." But people no longer had ears to hear that sort of thing. It sounded faint, quieter than a whisper. To most people, it sounded like gibberish. Others listened really closely and thought they could make out the words. But they just frowned, disappointed with the result of all their efforts, saying, "But what does this have to do with me, with my problems?"

A remnant could still hear that whisper of a voice in the wilderness, and hear it distinctly. They understood it, and they believed it with all their heart—well, at least as much of their heart that didn't believe "In the beginning, I." But they believed it enough to recognize that something needed to be done. People needed to hear the message in all its wonder and revolutionary power.

But how to do that? They lived in a world where everyone woke up with this prayer on their lips, "I am, therefore I am," and went to bed with ...

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In "SoulWork," Mark Galli brings news, Christian theology, and spiritual direction together to explore what it means to be formed spiritually in the image of Jesus Christ.
Mark Galli
Mark Galli is former editor in chief of Christianity Today and author, most recently, of Karl Barth: An Introductory Biography for Evangelicals.
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