Spiritual Growth, A Metaphor

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Proverbs 27.19 “You see your face in a mirror and your thoughts in the minds of others.”

James 1.23 “If you hear the message and don’t obey it, you are like people who stare at themselves in a mirror

1 Corinthians 13.12 “Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face. We don’t know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understands us.”

Spiritual growth is like standing in front of a mirror with a giant spotlight directly in back of me, like one of those used at grand openings that illuminate the sky. It is shining directly at the mirror and is so bright I can not look at the light or its reflection in the mirror. In order for me to stand in front of the mirror I must get as close to it as possible with my nose touching the glass. But still light is leaking around me especially my head and I must put on sunglasses to tolerate the light. I find one pair of sunglasses will not do so I add layer upon layer of dark plastic until I can tolerate the light. My eyes will naturally adjust and once I get comfortable I am able to live there in what I think of as light but really it is still dim darkness. After a while I get used to the intensity of the light and feel comfortable enough to peel off a layer of dark plastic this causes somewhat of a discomfort but it is tolerable. This is done over and over until all the plastic is removed and I can actually remove the sunglasses. However my nose is still up against the mirror. Now as my eyes adjust to the brilliance leaking around my head I begin to see my face clearly but not my entire body. As the desire grows to see all of me I take my first step backwards toward the light. I know to turn around would blind me but my goal is to see in the light so I keep moving. As I back closer and closer to the source of light I see more and more of my reflection in the mirror but a strange thing begins to happen, the farther I get from the mirror I begin to disappear into the light. The light is surrounding me, swallowing me, enveloping me until eventually all I can see is the light and I have disappeared. And yet I know I am still me. I have disappeared and yet still here. “You are the light of the world.” Jesus, Matthew 5.14

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Thought for the day

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Is this a true statement?

“In the Scriptures God says,

“I swear by my very life

that everyone will kneel down

    and praise my name!”

Rom 14.11

Changing our minds part 2

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Changing our minds part 2

 In part one of changing our minds I pointed out that Jesus is intent on changing how we perceive God. When he was talking in the Synagogue to people who had been taught that God was a God of vengeance and that any misstep on their parts would result in dire repercussions unless of course they participated in the wiping out of their misdeeds thru countless animal sacrifices. Guilt, blood and fear were the mainstay of their spiritual mindset. I also pointed out that Jesus left out the vengeance phrase when he quoted Isaiah 61.2 see it here.

 One of the most difficult if not impossible things to do is change peoples minds. It is difficult enough on even the most trivial of matters much less on a topic of such import as God. Kinda like trying to get a camel thru the eye of a needle. Especially if the camel doesn’t want to go.

“Do not be afraid of God.”

“If you have seen me you have seen the Father.”

You have nothing to fear from God. Just watch my life and you will understand.

Fear is the hallmark of the kingdom of the world. Fear is the opposite of Love which is the hallmark of God’s kingdom. The banner at the gates of the kingdom of the world we can read Dante’s warning; “All hope abandon, ye who enter here!” At the gates of the Kingdom of God we may well read; “Do not be afraid, perfect Love casts out ALL fear.” Even the fear of God.

It is the kingdom of the world that Jesus entered.

Many times in the New Testament the people were said to be afraid of the religious authorities. And the authorities themselves were afraid of each other. Fear was as endemic then as it is now because the kingdom of the world never changed. All emotions attract similar emotions and fear is the bedrock of all negative lower conscious emotions, hence those perpetrating the fear would be the ones most afraid. Could this be the reason Nicodemus came to Jesus at night? As a member of the ruling class—the perpetrators of the fear culture—the Pharisees, he needed to come to Jesus at night to get his answers. The only Pharisees who came to Jesus during the day were solely interested in finding a way to condemn Jesus and eventually kill him.

Now to a very puzzling statement by Jesus that would seem to contradict what I have just pointed out. On the surface I always thought this was an echo of one of the many Old Testament injunctions to “Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.” Deut.6.13

Into this spiritual darkness—was Nicodemus in spiritual darkness?—Jesus comes and says many times don not be afraid. “28“And you shall not be afraid of those who kill the body that are not able to kill the soul; rather be afraid of him who can destroy soul and body in Gehenna.”  Then Jesus goes on to describe the love and care of God;

29“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny, and not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father?” 30“But your hairs of your head are all numbered.” 31You shall not be afraid, therefore; you are better than many sparrows.”

He describes his father as a compassionate being so concerned that he knows the smallest details of our life—the hair falling from our heads. And even the tiny sparrows are counted and cared for by him. Is God the father the one Jesus is talking about?

Is God the father the one to throw your body and soul into Gehenna?

When Jesus said if you have seen me you have seen the Father is there anything at all recorded in the gospels that demonstrates the father is like that? Absolutely not.

Are we not worth much more than sparrows and the hair that collects in our drains? Would God be capable of doing such a heinous act as destroying his very life for all eternity in hell. I say his very life because ALL life is of God and is God. LIFE is God’s very nature. Would he be able to do the very thing we would condemn any human for doing. Shall we ascribe to God the role of mass destroyer? A being much worse than any perpetrator of the worst crimes committed by humans against humans?

Who is the one who destroys? Does God destroy life? How could he since He is life itself. To destroy life he would have to destroy part of himself, this makes absolutely no sense at all. Speaking nonsense and attaching God to it does not turn nonsense into rationality (C.S. Lewis). In John 10-10 Jesus says; “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

The thief here is normally understood to mean the devil. The personification of evils, the anti-life. Shall we ascribe anti-life principles to LIFE itself? Non-sense! Since I no longer believe in one individual entity that has the power approaching that of God and in fact evil itself has no real life or power over us unless we allow ourselves to live in the lower negative levels of consciousness which attracts evil spirits. This is referred to as spiritual darkness/Gehenna—this was literally the city dump used as a metaphor for a wasted life—hell. The only “one” who has that power is us. “Be afraid of him.”

Listen to what Emanuel Swedenborg says about God and people who think like this: “From these few points you can see how insane people are who think that God can condemn anyone, curse anyone, throw anyone into hell, predestine anyone’s soul to eternal death, avenge wrongs, or rage against or punish anyone. People are even more insane if they actually believe this, let alone teach it. In reality, God cannot turn away from us or even look at us with a frown. To do any such thing would be against his essence, and what is against his essence is against himself.”

This is the picture Jesus paints: God is NOT a God of vengeance, not a God to be afraid of. This is a God who is like the sun who gives His light to everyone without exception and the one who brings life giving rain to all no matter if we call them evil or good, God is constantly giving his life to ALL people. God does one thing, give.

“Don’t be afraid! I have good news for you, which will make everyone happy.” What could make us more happy than God himself coming to earth to show us what he is really like? Is not this the real good news. We no longer need be afraid, of anything. “This very day in King David’s hometown a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-12 CEV. This was spoken by an angel of the Lord. It is interesting to note that in the Old Testament every time an angel appears to someone and if their first reaction is one of fear the first thing an angel says is do not be afraid. In this Christmas story His angels say the same to both Zechariah and Mary. They say this because they saw fear in the hearts of both.

Now Joseph was afraid of public scrutiny if he took the pregnant Mary as his wife thinking she had been unfaithful to him. So the angel deals with his fear exactly where it is needed: “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife…”Matt. 1:20

Immediately the New Testament goes right to the heart of the world systems’ of religion, government, societal mores and personal well being and says “DO NOT BE AFRAID.” The hallmark of the world system is fear. Fear in all its forms is used to keep us in line and take away our free will. Fear makes us slaves. Love came to set the captives free.

It is my point that the fear of a bulling vengeful God is the model for all other fears. There is a saying in some circles; “As above so below. As within so with out.” Meaning what is held in our highest consciousness will express itself below in our heart and what is held in our heart of hearts will determine our life.

“You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.”

“You have nothing to fear.”

“There is nothing you can do wrong.”

From Proof of Heaven: a Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the after life. By Eben Alexander, M.D.