It is true that we have obeyed, that we have striven to avoid sin, that we have received grace, forfeited it and recovered it, that we have acquired merit or lost it, that we have tried to do our duty, endeavoured to aspire and to love. All this is real, before God.
But it has not been real to ourselves. We have said prayers? Yes. But we have scarcely prayed.
[...] But after this new and marvellous existence, all is changed. Jesus Christ begins to exhibit to us not merely the perfections of His past, but the glories of His presence. He begins to live before our eyes; He tears from Himself the conventions with which our imaginations have clothed Him.
[...] We have known facts about Him all our life; we have repeated the Catholic creed; we have assimilated all that theology can tell us. Now, however, we pass from knowledge about Him, to knowledge of Him.
We begin to understand that Eternal Life begins in this present, for it is to “know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent” (John 6:3). Our God is becoming our Friend.
On the other side He demands from us what He Himself offers. If He strips Himself before our eyes, He claims that we should do the same…. He knows every instant in the past in which we have swerved from His obedience: but, as our Friend, He waits for us to tell Him.
It is tolerably true to say that the difference between our behaviour respectively to an acquaintance and to a friend, is that in the first case we seek to conceal ourselves, to present an agreeable or a convenient image of our own character, to use language as a disguise, to use conversation as we might use counters; and in the second case that we put aside conventions and makeshifts, and seek to express ourselves as we are, and not as we would have our friend to think us to be.
This then is required of us in the Divine Friendship.
Up to now our Lord has been content with very little: He has accepted a tithe of our money, an hour of our time, a few thoughts and a few emotions, paid over to Him in religious intercourse and worship. He has accepted those things instead of ourselves. Henceforth
He demands that all such conventions should cease; that we should be entirely open and honest with Him, that we should display ourselves as we really are – that we should lay aside, in a word, all those comparatively harmless make-believes and courtesies, and be utterly real.
Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914): The Friendship of Christ, chapter 2.