John 8.31-59 Some insights into spiritual growth 3

“I tell you for certain anyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (v.34)

Jesus’ mission was to preach the Good News which is: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

In this passage from Luke 4.18-19 Jesus is letting us know that we are slaves, poor, captives, blind and oppressed. The remedy is the “acceptable year of the Lord” which can be understood as the Kingdom of God. Can you imagine there being bondage of any kind in the Kingdom of God? He says: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand (right here right now); repent (change your mind), and believe in the gospel (good news).” Mark 1:15

We find Jesus talking here to believers (v.31) who do not understand what he is saying. Sound familiar? (v.43), “why can’t you understand what I’m talking about?” I’m reminded of Jesus’ statement on the cross “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23.34

What is the sin we are slaves to? Sin from the Greek; hamartia means to miss the mark. The commentator from the online Blue Letter Bible says of this word; “It is the most comprehensive term for moral obliquity.” Maybe what this commentator is pointing out here is that the word hamartia itself is a morally oblique term. It is very possible this word is used on purpose to describe an amoral condition of blindness or ignorance. That we have not offended God for the simple reason we are unable to reason. We cannot see the target (God) and we have no clue as to how get there. Is this a moral failing or just the condition we find ourselves in?

Some of the synonyms for obliquity are: ambiguous, darkness, inscrutability, murkiness, mysteriousness, and opaqueness. Of course we keep missing the mark because we cannot see the mark. Is it not inscrutable that theologians would take such a morally ambiguous word and create an entire moral system based on the idea that God hates what spiritually blind people do? Of course God does not hate anyone and he is no more offended by our actions then we are of mentally compromised people. We just don’t know what we are doing. And this ignorance has us imprisoned, slaves to our insanity. There are no Venal sins, no mortal sins, no sins of omission and no sins of commission. These theological terms describe only one condition our inability to see.

There really is only one sin from which all our mistakes have their root. We mistakenly believe we are separate from ALL there is. God. We believe in the impossible. We believe in something that can never be. There are not thousands of choices for our happiness there is only one; choose God or we are stuck in our blindness.

Here is what Jesus’ contemporary theologians had to say:

39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”

41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains. (John 9 NIV)

This was said after healing the man born blind.

What we have done is cloak our ignorance in the fig leaves of theological thinking and convinced ourselves we can see. “Abraham is our father.” “We have just one father, and he is God.” said the people. Because of what they were taught they believed they could see.

For many of us our minds are full of theological theories and because we accept them and have called them MINE we are very attached to them. Did you know that your most important possessions are your beliefs? Aren’t we willing to kill for them even die for them? Unfortunately history proves this all to true. With this insight we see that the people in Jesus’ day were just like us. I find it interesting that at the end of Luke 4 and the end of John 8 the people are trying to kill Jesus. Isn’t this something we need to watch for in our lives? How do we react when someone threatens our theology? Do we demonize them? Once we do it is a very short path to the killing fields.

For the past 20 years I ave been a professional caregiver mostly working with people with Alzheimers and dementia. During this time I have been hit, accused of stealing, thrown up on, yelled at, told to leave etc. I would have not lasted very long in this work if I had taken any of this personally. These people no longer know what they are doing. In comparing our intelligence and spiritual insight to the creator of the known universe does it not seem that the human race has a case of Alzheimers? Now into this scenario comes a caregiver, a comforter who tells us we aren’t in our right minds. And why? because we have made a mistake, we believe that we are separate from God. This belief has given us dementia and we now think we are OK. However deep down inside there is a small bit of remembrance of how things used to be. It is this memory that Jesus is speaking to. It is like during those times of clarity when the one with Alzheimers remembers the name of her husband and begins to talk of all the wonderful things they used to do together.

What keeps us a prisoner? My mistaken belief that I can get back to God without help—”I can see.” This is where all of our insane actions (sins/mistakes) come from. I will have more than I need if I steal it. And we have forgotten we are sons of the King. I will have more love in my life with just one more lover. And we have forgotten that God is Love.

This way of interpreting hamartia in the light that God is not offended in any way brings us to a place where we must take another look at the death of Jesus and its purpose. But that is for future posts. Why if God is not offended did all those animals have to be sacrificed and why did Jesus have to be “sacrificed”? Just something to think about. And what of guilt?

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Day 21 of 40 day Prosperity Plan

SRF Garden 6 2288, "IN TO"

SRF Garden 6 2288, “IN TO”

Day 21 of 40 day Prosperity Plan

For those of you who have recently joined me on my Prosperity journey, this is inspired by The Abundance Book by John Randolph Price. His forty day plan involves 10 meditations repeated 4 times. These posts are the journaling he recommends we do following each days meditations.

“God is lavish, unfailing Abundance, the rich omnipresent substance of the universe. This all-providing Source of infinite prosperity is individualized as me—The Reality of me.”

On day fourteen I was contemplating our physical being and how it was made out of other things that in themselves are not our physical being. That who I am and also what everything else is, is made from trillions of things that are not us. That everything is empty of an individual self, and yet somehow this other stuff has all congealed into what we experience in the physical.

We are also mental and Spiritual beings. The physical is the lowest energetic vibration in what we ‘see’ or ‘think’ of as ‘solid’. Molecular science points out we are not solid but are made from a whole universe of space in a microcosm of constant movement. It turns out we are not solid at all.

The next level up in the ladder of consciousness is the soul level. This is made of things we do not see; mind, will and emotions. This ‘soul’ is also made of trillions of things–thoughts are ‘things’ on the mental level. to demonstrate this to yourself pay attention to your thoughts and see if you can have two thoughts occupying the same mental space at the same time. If you have spent anytime in meditation you will have discovered that one thought follows another just as cars follow each other on the freeway. You will also discover that you can go between each thought to a place of ‘no thought’.

In the physical world there are accidents when two cars try to occupy the same space but in the mind there are no accidents it is only because thought moves so fast they seem to be simultaneous. Our mental life is also made up of millions of thoughts that are not us. I am not these thoughts I’m writing today. I am not all the thoughts that flow through my mind each second. I am not what I think I am. Zen Buddhism’s “no Mind is a place free from the tyranny of thought. The place of transcendence of the mind where we can understand immediately and directly without the interpretation of thought. This place is the “….Reality of Me.”

In Christianity this is called the “Mind of Christ”, as Paul says “have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” The Spiritual Mind—The Reality of Me—is on the Spiritual level which is not the ‘me’ of the body or the mind it is the ME as created by God who individualized itself as each one of us. This Real Me is all those qualities we use to describe God in positive terms: Loving, Good, Peace, Joy, Abundance, Unlimited, All knowing, All Powerful, All Present, Light.

Meister Eckhart calls this Real Me the Aristocrat. Here are a few things he says about this Aristocrat: “He is taken up with the Love of God.” “He has forgotten the things of this temporal life and has been caught up into the likeness of God, having become a child of God. there is no higher grade, nothing beyond this. It is eternal rest and blessing–the end of the inner new man, eternal life.” God’s Son or Idea is like a flowing spring in the core of the soul.”

He starts out his essay this way: “Our Lord says in the gospel [Luke 19.12] ‘A Certain noble man went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.’ In these words our Lord teaches how noble man is by nature created and how divine, by grace, he may aspire to be. This is the point of a major part of the Holy Scripture.”

“The Reality of Me.”

God part 2, OMNI

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God part 2.

          Well it’s been fifteen minutes since I wrote the title of this blog and I find an inner peace and serenity coming over me and the realization that I have little to say.

I keep coming back to an experience I had several years ago. An experience of not knowing. Here is what happened: I was sitting in my car—in a shopping center I think—when I felt a warm glow in my heart chakra and a very soft, loving voice telling me, “you don’t know anything.” To which I readily agreed. The warmth began to spread downward and ended in my base chakra and the voice spoke again, “you have never known anything,” from which I came to understand that everything I thought I knew since I first could know, I have never known. I was filled with a deep sense of peace and bliss which lasted for several hours. I was then told not to tell anyone about this at the time. As I write this I am filled again with that same peace and bliss.

I’ll get back to ya latter.

Omni

          All is such a simple word. Everyone in every language knows what it means and how to use it, so much so we don’t really think about it. There are two uses for ALL one which refers to describing a quantity within certain parameters and the other used when speaking of the Deity. This in itself is a revelation of the nature of our relationship to deity.

Used as an adjective, pronoun or adverb all of us know what it means when we use it. A quantity of people or things that we wish to communicate about, as something’s included and therefore excluding the rest of a certain class, event or action. For example: “All the food in the refrigerator;” as opposed to all the food not in the refrigerator or; the first being a limited amount of food and the second is an enormous amount, if we don’t limit it again with another qualifier such as; all the food outside the refrigerator but in the house, as opposed to all the food outside my refrigerator which is in the rest of the world. So with the temporal things in the world all is always used as a qualifier to denote this as opposed to that a setting of boundaries to limit the things we are talking about and make ourselves clear.

          We also use the synonym of whole: The whole apple means the same thing as all of the apple and every whole number between one and ten means the same thing as all whole numbers between one and ten. We may drop the qualifier of “whole” number to say all the numbers between one and ten which then includes fractions to as many decimal points as we wish which would make a huge amount of numbers but the last one would still be ten.

When it comes to God, we must first decide, as part of our definition, what are God’s parameters, if any. Are we talking about a God with limitations or one without limitations? Our current level of theological sophistication is rather new in the history of God talk. For centuries, God was always local and limited a God of boundaries. In many cultures throughout history and even today God—in some orthodox theologies, as we will discover—God is still considered local, partial, limited and only acts within a particular range of power. This local God treats his people better than those others by providing and protecting his people as long as they meet his requirements whatever they may be usually some form of acceptable moral behavior accompanied by sacrifices, worship and penance if required, further cementing the tribes identity as favored of their God. Not only was God limited but his adherents were also limited in number. Us few against the rest of ya.

In the Old Testament, the one God written about was considered local to the Hebrew people, who considered themselves the chosen people of the One supreme God, and all other gods were to be vanquished and put away from the camp, thus separating the deities and those who followed them. Does God have boundaries? Has he limited himself or have we anthropomorphized God by claiming we are the special people whom God only loves and cares for? This is an important question to answerer. If answered in the affirmative we actually create a limited God. If we say that God is love we limit his love to us his “special” people chosen by him to go to heaven and the rest be damned. We can see very easily by this the cause of all wars, strife, conflict, hatred, prejudice, and a love which has been turned upside down. In this view of God, God actually gives us permission to hate the “other” which of course is not love at all.

The breaking of this limited nationalistic God was the first hurdle the infant church had to jump over. We see this in the stories of Peter and Paul in the book of Acts. Peter was shown a vision three times of a blanket filled with unclean animals and was told to eat them. When Peter refused because it offended the religious teachings he was raised in, God told him to not call anything unclean; “When God says that something can be used for food, don’t say it isn’t fit to eat.” Of course this was talking about the gentile centurion Peter was later to meet. Being a gentile was bad enough but a centurion as well? God was really breaking the boundaries the Jewish religion had placed around themselves.

Paul, an example of the limited nationalistic view of God, may have gotten wind of this new vision of God, a God without boundaries. He saw it as his mission to wipe out the heretical new sect who had a different view of God than the one of the his “chosen” people. His conversion and subsequent assignment to the gentiles—those “unclean animals”—was the second step in the revelation that God is a God for all people and nations. But the idea that God had a special people did not die out, it was just moved to another group. The seeds of specialness did not take long to reemerge. In I Corinthians 1: 10-13. the ego/sin nature—which loves separation—had the Corinthians quarreling about what group they belonged to. People have a natural tendency to attach themselves to strong charismatic leaders and in doing so find pride in the feeling of being in the elite. Paul asks a very important question; “Is Christ divided?”

In the Christian tradition Christ is God. Therefore we can just as well ask; “Is God divided?”

I will leave you with one last quote by a contemporary Rabbi:

Deu. 6:4. Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God; the Lord is one.

“The basic credo of Judaism is that G-d is One. Not just that there is one G-d, but that his Oneness precludes the existence of anything apart from him. This is what I mean when I proclaim the Shema, Judaism’s central declaration of faith; ‘Hear, O Israel, Hashem our G-d, Hashem is One.” One. Alone. Nothing else.”

By Rabbi Yakov Asher Sinclair from Lens Work Extended # 84 Seasons of the Moon