Between Mystic and Imperial lies The Way

31 08 2011

I continue to read articles on the internet that church attendance continues to drop and church leaders are wondering why they aren’t making a difference in the Kingdom of God. Perhaps it’s not because you don’t believe, but because perhaps Jesus isn’t in the building. Perhaps it’s because the church acts too much like the world instead of like Jesus.

I tried over the past year to go back to a church group, but the fit just is not there…yet.

There are Christians who only follow a doctrine and NOT the teachings of Christ. I know this all to well, because I used to be like that.

I’ve been reading the works of Dallas Willard and have discovered that most churches don’t help develop the soul. Western Chruchianity ignores the restoration of the soul, going from hate and fear to one of love. Good news is that more people are discovering the Christ within and leaving the long faced religion to discover the wonder of the Kingdom of God within.

In “Renovation of The Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ”, Willard points out that Christians should not be defensive, which is so opposite of what Western Churchianity does. So many times you hear pastors and laity defending the faith. Instead of being in defensive mode, there should be some offense played. Being active in doing what Jesus says to do. The Christian should be having their soul restored and not just saying that they accept Jesus as lord.

Willard points out that there should be the following qualities as Christ is formed within:

1. Letting love be completely real
2. Abhorring what is evil
3. Clinging to what is good
4. Being devoted to one another in family-like love
5. Outdoing on another in giving honor
6. Serving the Lord with ardent spirit and all diligence.
7. Rejoicing in hope
8. Being patient in troubles
9. Being devoted constantly to prayer
10. Contributing to the needs of the saints
11. Pursuing (running after ) hospitality
12. Blessing persecutors and not cursing them
13. Being joyful with those who are rejoicing and being sorrowful with those in sorrow
14. Living in harmony with each other
15. Not being haughty, but fitting right in with the “lowly” in human terms
16. Not seeing yourself as wise
17. Never repaying evil for evil
18. Having due regard for what everyone takes to be right
19. Being at peace with everyone, so far as it depends on you
20. Never taking revenge, but leaving that to whatever God may decide
21. Providing for needy enemies
22. Not being overwhelmed by evil, but overwhelming evil with good.
(From Renovation of The Heart by Dallas Willard, pg 195-196 , 2002)

I find that most churches that I have attended and have been a part of don’t have people in them that present these qualities. Even I still have a ways to go to these.

I’ve also found it to be true that you can not know God without an experience of him or his love. For all the doctrines that have tried to bring unity to the body of Christ, those same doctrines have cause such a rift between our thinking and the thoughts of Jesus that I find I no longer believe in the doctrines.

I finished watching a documentary series that was produced in the 1990’s called “Legacy” which gives the history of society. I highly recommend you watch the 6 episodes and find out how damaging the Western thought of “might makes right” is to our world and the teachings of Jesus. I find that the far east part of the world was much more peaceful til the “barbarian” west invaded the “old” world either to expand the rule of the west or finding ways to become rich by trade routes.

Mr. Willard’s list is proof that we in the West don’t get how the world should be. We have been forcing an ideal that is NOT in conjuncture with peace. Just as forcing “communism” on a people is wrong, so is forcing “democracy” on unwilling people. Forcing Christianity on people is wrong.

Forcing ANY view is wrong. No one FORCED you to read this post. Why you chose to read it I don’t know. But I do know that when I force people to conform to what I believe instead of letting the person come to a conclusion on their own, I have failed to love them.
FORCE is not the way to make things happen.

Our western culture has been a survival of the fittest, forcing people to be “better than they are” Fearing that we are not complete in who we are from the start.

Is it fit to live in pointless fear?

Is it fit to spread fear and destruction?

The Aztec nation built a city on fear. Human blood sacrifices to appease a vengeance ridden god. A god who forced his worshipers to do what he says! Rome and Greece brought “freedom” to the Jewish nations and Africa by bringing their gods and wisdom. A “manifest destiny” so to speak. There was some pluralism going on too. Rome let the Jews have their god, but really didn’t like him to my understanding. The couldn’t believe in only ONE God.

Of course that change with Constantine. But the view of Jesus’ God changed. It’s the one we have followed ever since.

Now we appease a false god who says that the only way to protect the weak is to pick up weapons of war and kill each other. Conform to his way or burn in Hell. We are forced into moral behavior.

Here in the USA we continue that tradition of sacrifice to a god who is no different than our nation. This “god” tells us to work hard or fight for him so democracy can reign. If you don’t you are not in god’s will and are going to hell. This is all harsh words and forced ideals.

THIS is not the way the Eastern world viewed God. Eastern mystics saw humans and the universe/world as one. If humanity is suffering than the whole universe is suffering. From HOW Jesus taught, I see he held a similar belief. Most of his comparisons of the Kingdom related to nature. We are like good soil and bad soil, plants and weeds, Unlike the faiths that say we are “nothing” just live and die and that is it, Jesus says we ALL are Children of Divine Lordship. And it is NOT after we die, but right here and now we are Divine along with the Spirit. It wasn’t ONLY Caesar who was divine. Jesus saw this THIRD way of living within this time and place than what was being done by two different views.Somewhere between Easter Mysticism and Western Imperialism lies Jesus’ WAY.

Jesus’ teachings tell us not to fear, turn the other cheek, go the extra mile. Finding the way to love the Divine in each person, even those you considered an enemy.

Once again, I suggest that ALL people who follow ANY form of moral code, watch the documentary “Legacy” which is streaming on Netflix and available for rent. I found it enlightening and confirming on what I have learned about God. I agree with Mr. Willard on how a society SHOULD look. And yet, this should not become a creed or fast and hard laws to be put in a nation’s, church’s or family’s constitution. These should flow naturally out of one’s life. It does require some training into more mystical ways, such as prayer, letting go of “reality” for a bit and believe the impossible but always coming back into reality and make peace the reality.

There is much to be done to restore the vision of Jesus to the world. Putting our warrior/sacrificial/forced ideals behind us. That we don’t need to sacrifice our souls, but to freely give our lives away to others. How can you give your life to others when your body is lying in a grave? How can you give your life to others when you are shooting at them? How can you HATE so much that you forget that you and I are Divine Children of God?

Hate is of a cruel lord who wants only to serve himself. Societies fall when the hate rules the land. It’s time to stop the hate. Stand firm not in moral “goodness” but in LOVE. You can have all the moral codes you want, but if you don’t do them in love, you have nothing. We LOVE to live in a hate world, but that is killing us.

I leave you with this from a certain letter that is in the The Message:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut.
Doesn’t have a swelled head.
Doesn’t force itself on others.
Isn’t always “me first”.
Doesn’t fly off the handle.
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything.
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over someday; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit.We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incomplete will be canceled.(1 Corinthians 13, The Message)

Are you completed? Are you ready to BE love? I know I want to be. Lord, help us be Complete. For LOVE really is the way, the truth and the life. Amen!



2 responses

31 08 2011
Gary Walter

I agree – good thoughts. I love Willard’s work – got to hear him speak a couple of times, and have some CDs of those talks if you’d like to borrow them.

Thanks for continuing on the Journey Steven!

My problem is the soul drift I experience when I don’t have a community of faith to support me. How are you handling that – especially with kids!

31 08 2011

So far we are teaching the kids to work things out. We use VeggieTales for lessons and they love those BTW. We also have supportive relatives who we get together with from time to time. The “faith community” I find are here on line. Strange to have a “church” with people through email and twitter, but it works. I find that with LOVE your faith community is those who you are with at the moment. I just don’t seem to feel that we need a “clubhouse” community at this time. There’s you of course Gary. 🙂

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