Redemption is right there within reach.
As always, your cultural climate can make a huge difference. If you grow up in world fully expecting that nature itself is obliged to take you seriously on your terms, you’ll struggle with redemption. It will be painful and emotional. Western Civilization builds in us the expectation that we all can and should assert the rights of nobility, as it were. On at least a subconscious level, we are repulsed at the idea that someone should hold privileges we don’t get. “It’s not fair!” How often have you heard that?
Thus, we should hardly be surprised that someone should refer to conversion as the “dark night of the soul” and we see converts weeping, etc. Even a mere psychological conversion can be traumatic in that sense. There is a whole branch of psychology dealing with breaking people down, of pushing them off their perch so that they become malleable to some external influence. A Western mindset sets you up for this kind of thing, and it’s the only cultural milieu in history to have this flaw.
Do you not recall how the Apostle Paul responded on the road to Damascus (Acts 9)? In the psychology of his culture, even a man with great authority understood the nature of such things. He might have pushed it aside to become a ranking rabbi himself, but it was never that far from him. Why was it such a big deal that the Roman Centurion who asked Jesus to heal a servant would treat an itinerant rabbi with such respect? Jesus said such faith was rare only because the rabbinical leadership of His day had been Hellenized and conditioned into that Western arrogance, while Romans had not yet bought into that nonsense. In both cases, the man in question held radically different expectations than do folks around us today.
This is why condemnation is such a powerful chain on our souls. We are forced into compartmentalization. On the one hand, our conscious mind demands things that could never be, and the only reason we get away with it is because it’s the ubiquitous cultural mythology. On the other hand, we know instinctively that this is inherently rebellion against Our Creator, and we dare not admit it to ourselves consciously. Western Civilization is inherently schizophrenic in that sense.
Further, other cultures tend to have at least a semi-conscious acceptance of living by the dominance of the heart over the head. Westerners make redemption a conversion experience, and Western Christians cannot comprehend how certain Asians, for example, have no trouble claiming Christ while retaining their pagan religious commitments. Their hearts remain in the pagan realm while conversion to Christ is merely an external and intellectual formality.
Western Christian missionary work is more about Western culture than anything else.
For us at Kiln of the Soul parish, the biggest problem we have is awakening Westerners to the heart-led awareness as the core of faith. There is no conversion; you don’t buy into anything. You are simply finding yourself. If that new self-awareness includes drawing near to us in our work, sure, there are some basic structural concepts that we share. But there’s nothing in the shift of awareness itself that binds you to us. We have learned to like it that way. The most important thing you can do is not join us in our teaching, but in our awareness from the heart. You submit to the Creator, not to any of us, and you make that submission on a level of commitment far above mere intellect.
He has been there since at least the moment of your birth, waiting for you to reach within and find Him.