My holiness is my salvation.
There is an odd sort of cart-before-the-horse energy to this lesson of A Course in Miracles. Two lessons ago we learned that our holiness blesses the world. Yesterday we learned that it can literally do anything. Only today do we encounter the idea – logical in its own right, though arguably somewhat out of order – that our salvation lies in our holiness.
I don’t mean that as a criticism. And I certainly don’t mean to indulge in vain intellectualism of the sort this lesson is clearly warning us away from (in a couple of paragraphs that feel like Jesus is looking straight at me and wagging his finger).
Like the text for which this workbook was written, the ideas used for this exercise are very simple, very clear and totally unambiguous. We are not concerned with intellectual feats nor logical toys. We are dealing only in the very obvious, which you have overlooked in the clouds of complexity in which you think you think (W-pI.39.1:2-4).
For me – I’m not suggesting this is or should be your experience – it is almost as if the lesson’s appearance in the workbook is designed to elicit the very temptation that it aims to undo. This isn’t rocket science, says Jesus. If you’d only just focus . . .
And indeed, as the lesson slowly sinks into the mind through application and study, the essence of it clarifies. We cannot give away what we do not have. The savior must be saved before he extends salvation to his or her brothers and sisters (W-pI.39.3:4). That’s it. This lesson invites us to begin to solve the problem of guilt (and fear and anger and loneliness and desperation etc.) at their source: our minds. It is a deliberate undoing of that which torments us, the better to render us fit for undoing guilt (and its attendant emotions) in other minds and other places.
In this sense, it is almost like the preceding lessons are teasers. You can move mountains! You can stop time in its tracks! The whole wide world is blessed by your mere existence! These are facts, perhaps, but they are contingent on our own salvation. This is reminiscent of early admonitions in the text: the only job a miracle worker has is to accept the atonement for himself (T-2.V.5:1). Everything else – without exception – flows naturally and effortlessly from this one decision.
Lesson 39 then is really a refresher, bidding us to return our focus and attention to where – and on what – it belongs. We are here to accept the atonement, to be healed by it, purified by it, and capable of extending salvation everywhere on its account. Nothing more – because there is nothing more – and nothing less – because nothing less is worthy of a child of God.