Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Who was Adam? Who are we?

Salvation is not a rescue solely of the spirit. When I found this out, when this fact hit home, I was enraged that I had been taught otherwise. The life had been sucked out of the One True Way by saying it amounted to a golden harp and a big fluffy cloud for all who were “saved” … FOREVER! As a kid, I was afraid to ask, but I was a little concerned that I’d be bored out of my mind … FOREVER!

Even when I found out that, in fact, Heaven (as we know it) is a holding tank of sorts where Christians go if they die before the salvation process for earth is complete, I was a little discouraged. In fact, we’re all coming back to live on earth eternally. But even so, only the location had changed, I’d still be bored out of my mind … FOREVER!

My big revelation came when I discovered the truth about the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ of our existence. Why were we created, and what are we? I began to think of everything with a more eternal perspective, considering this present age of fall and redemption to be a blip, a detour, a hiccup, a purification, a test. What began with Adam, including all the intentions for and capabilities of his life, will continue on when all is said and done. The salvation process is to restore us to Original Adam, redeemed and regenerated Adam, and for us to continue on in his eternal destiny – our eternal destiny.

God created Adam. And it was good (good is an absolute, synonym of ‘perfect’, because God does not create imperfect). After a while living on his own, long before the infamous 'fall', God saw what had become of Adam, an unqualified degeneration, and for the first time in recorded ‘history’, God said that what Adam had become was ‘not good’ (imperfect, slightly flawed, synonym of ‘evil’). If I lost you, see my perspective on the word ‘good’ here.

My point is the inference here that either God changed His mind about the perfection of Adam, or Adam changed, and the solution was a change to Adam's body and a creation of Eve. Suddenly Adam was not perfect, and his form needed to change. If God had intended to create man as animals in the first place, why not make a man and woman together initially? Why change the good if it was still good?

‘God created His image and likeness in a single man. Adam was a man and also a woman; for God did not, in the beginning, make man and woman; He did not create them at the same time, because the life in which the two properties of masculine and feminine are united in one, constitutes man in the image of God, after the manner of the Father’s and the Son’s property, which together are one God, not divided; for perfect love is not found in one property, but in the two, one entering into the other.’ *

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage…”
Matthew 22:29

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ **, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one.”
Matthew 19:4-6

‘[Adam] could no longer live in obedience to the will of the Father; his lust for the earthly fruit overcame him; and he sank into a deep sleep; and God saw that it was not possible for him to live in obedience, and let him sleep; sleep signifieth death.’ *

‘During his sleep, the woman was made out of Adam, and the image of God was destroyed. The man and the woman were made into creatures of this outer world, fashioned into mortality’. *

And so, the dual nature was introduced - the eternal struggle between the intentions of the heart and the instincts of the [now bestial] body. A switch to natural sustenance, a new need to be fed, an inescapable impulse to procreate, and the potential to die, were it not for the strength their spirits had maintained. Born was a greater potential for character flaws with the 'survival' animal mentality - selfishness, greed, lying, stealing - let's call it sin. A life lived for love looks far different than one lived for duration. A life that may end is lived much differently than a life without end. Born was the distraction brought by all these things, and the loss of focus on Creator, on Dad, on Love. Soon Love would not be the centre any more.

(And funny enough, if Adam had believed that God loved him as He did, wouldn't he have trusted His command not to eat from the tree? The root of disobedience is the doubt of God's love for us. We cannot believe it's true, and we fall. To Adam the question was posed, "Did God really say...?" and His intentions were challenged. God is holding out on me? God doesn't want me to be like Him? Well then, let me eat! Our fall out of love manifesto.)

The truth is, Adam was made in the image of God. God, who is whole and complete and perfect in Himself; God, who does not require any form of sustenance or energy; God, who neither sleeps nor slumbers, never tires or grows weary; God, who speaks into existence any and every thing of physical or spiritual substance; God, who alters the universe of creation with a thought; God, who exists forever and ever. Adam was a child of this Father, and if our own lives teach us anything, children grow up to be the same creature as their parents. It’s the law of offspring.

The only need God ever had, as the One who is Love, is for an object of affection. And this one and only need brought us into being. What is love without an object? What is the love of one towards none? What is the light and warmth of the sun without terrestrial bodies to catch its rays? Light finds purpose in other things, in giving to other things. The same with Love, the same with God. We were created to be loved.

‘No knowledge of any evil was in him; no lust, no covetousness, no pride, no envy, no anger, nothing but love. The celestial image clothed him with divine power. He could have removed mountains with a word; he could rule over the sun, moon and stars; all was in his power, the fire, the air, the water and the earth. Every living creature feared him. His life fluid was heavenly. His will was in God, and God was in him. He was in paradise, clothed with heavenly glory, the light of the majesty of God … he knew no woe, no sickness, no death; he lived in joy and delight, without toil or care.’ *

I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Mark 11:23

Let Jesus describe to us who we are becoming - by His life and actions. Healing the sick was never a doubt in His mind; walking on water took the effort of walking on land; when crowds of haters backed him to the edge of a cliff, He disappeared and reappeared elsewhere. He raised Himself from the dead.

At the resurrection, ‘the perishable [will] clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality’ (1 Corinthians 15:53). And in the meantime,

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Romans 8:18-25

Finish it well Jacob…

‘O great and holy God, I pray thee, set open my inwardness to me; that I may rightly know what I am; and open in me what was shut up in Adam’ *

* Jacob Boeme: The Image of the Heavenly
** In the beginning, God did not make them male and female, he made them male and female. All you have to do is read the 'and' differently to find a new meaning.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Save the World, Save Me!!

John 3:16 states that because God loved the world, He incarnated Himself on earth in His Son (I kept looking at that wondering if it’s right because I felt compelled to mention His death, but it mentions nothing of His death, just His arrival). Our planet, the home of the ages, has experienced salvation. Christ came to it, lived on it, and died so that it would not experience the doom it had been destined for. Indeed, it has been rescued from its end, and will have eternal life, and its salvation will be complete when Christ comes back again to live on it forever and ever (why do they teach us we'll live in heaven forever?!).

John 3:16 also says that this eternal life is also available for people on an individual basis. In fact, whoever believes that God was incarnated on earth has this salvation.

At this stage in history - the ‘end of days’ - we can look back over history and observe the salvation process (assuming it’s the same ‘procedure’ for earth as it is for us). I think this is wisdom. We have creation, establishment, nations, the seed of salvation – Israel, empires, Christ’s birth, His life, His death (the day the sun stopped shining and the earth shook), His resurrection, the destruction of Israel, the church and its glory, empires, world wars, reestablishment of Israel (in place for another ‘birthing’?), and all hell unleashed in pure blackness and destruction, then glory and the reign of Christ.

For us who believe, is there any resemblance to our own salvation process? Is this the way salvation is worked out to completion in us too (Philippians 2:12)? Do our hearts, as our cores, resemble something like earth? I love how Jacob Boehme addresses this point:

As Christ was born in a stable, and cradled in a manger, so is Christ in man ever born amidst the animals in man. The newborn Savior is ever laid in a cradle between the ox of self-will and the ass of ignorance, in the stable of the animal condition in man; and from thence the king of pride (as Herod), finds his kingdom endangered, and seeks to kill the child, who is to become the ruler of the ‘New Jerusalem’ in man.*

Christ was born in the world, is born in us. He returns to the world forever, He returns to us forever. I think we could benefit from watching Christ’s salvation work on the world.

Some interesting points on the world’s salvation:
1. The world did not choose God, God chose the world and saved it without its permission
2. God brought about the fullness of salvation in His time and at His will; the earth merely bore the process, but had nothing to do with arranging it, striving after it, or positioning itself for it
3. The original form is recoverable and is not discarded to start new (ie. it's the same earth forever)

* Jacob Boeme: The Image of the Heavenly

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Power of the Mind, and the God Illusion

Mind over matter is a very real thing. I’m not talking about bending spoons or levitating, but I think the mind has very real capabilities of meddling with our realities, and in fact meddles with our realities constantly. A mind determined towards one thing or another will often bring that thing into being. Those who don’t give up achieve. Those whose minds defer to other things achieve less. 'You can do anything you put your mind to', we say.

Even things of little or no consciousness can be brought forth by the power of the mind. Take for example our friends, who we subconsciously gravitate to based on deep psychological needs or desires. Or how those who find purpose in being needed attract the needy. Or women who’ve been abused attract abusers. Those whose life experience has taught them their value is in their beauty will surround themselves with those who make them feel beautiful. It’s all of the mind - we create our own realities. To “cure” conditions like the girl who attracts abusers, we visit mind doctors, psychologists, and change our minds so that we think differently about ourselves and stop attracting that type.

One can’t help taking a look at the minds of the religious in all their sacred fervor. I think a lot of the time we humans pray to a god we’ve created with our minds. Rousseau said, ‘God created man in his own image. And man, being a gentlemen, returned the favor’. All fine and dandy (whatever helps us sleep at night), but the scary part is that we create an interactive god, whose signs and [therefore] presence follow us.

A god’s people will pray to him corporately and individually, go on with their business, leaving their requests and petitions with him, and then go and answer their own prayers. The one praying for a job looks for a job and finds one. The one praying for a convert preaches and saves some. The one praying for riches keeps his eyes peeled for an investment opportunity or educates himself on better money management. The mother who prays for her children nurtures them and they turn out to be great people. We pray for our deep desires and we can’t help but move in their direction, and in our determination, make them happen. Those who add faith to desire create for themselves an outlook of anticipation, and the physical 'aura' of achievement, and often other people comply with their requests based on this strength and resolve. (Wow, I'm sounding really new age! but it's true!)

We can set our minds to see certain things. If I am considering buying a 1990 Integra and I claim to have never really noticed one before, soon enough, I see an Integra every 5 minutes as I drive around. Am I the only one that things like this happen to? We choose what we see [subconsciously, and because it appears out of our control, it convinces us it's of the external]. I could take the sight of so many Integras as a sign that I should buy the Integra! The same is true for things like sexual attraction – there is a massive glaze of people and passersby, but for some reason, you can spot that one person coming half a block away. Why do our eyes stop there? A person whose context is prayer will see answers to prayer everywhere.

This is the god illusion, the self-delusion. I hate to be the skeptic, but I am so wary of all of this. The god illusion is the source of all kinds of misery: it impassions suicide bombers; it finances private jets and Jags for televangelists; it bankrupts the true church of authenticity and fills its walls with the superstitious; it enlists boys into the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. On the flip side, it helps a lot of people get through their days, and even their lives. It gives purpose to their waking, and strength for their obstacles. I can’t help but think of a rabbit happily munching on a carrot underneath a crate held up on one side by a stick and a string. The carrot deceives them and leads them to an end.

In Churchianity, we are always taught 2 things that actually enable the God illusion and keep us in attendance. The first is that this is about faith, not experience. Don’t look for an experience; you just need to believe He’s there and that you’re His. The second is that prayer must be accommodated by action. Now I’m not saying these aren’t scriptural; all I’m saying is that it’s convenient we’re taught this. If (when) these points can be backed up with a verse or two, the onus is on us for faith, not God for action. If we believe this, we’re less likely to give up, less likely to stop going to church and to stop tithing. Teaching a God-onus takes some bravery, and humility. In fact, it takes faith!

Here’s a God-onus: “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:22-24

In all I’ve learned, with as many prayer-hours as I’ve put in, I’ve always sought genuine and substantial God experiences. As much as people told me not to seek out these things, I could not live with myself if I could not give some element of sight to my faith.

The true test is to pray and do nothing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Time Accounting

I have been looking a lot at the expectations and supposed prophecies for the year 2012 (ie. dooms day) recently – very interesting stuff. Now, I don’t really believe all that, but I humored the possibility for a moment, that the world and my own life would end in less than 5 years. And I justified the thought by pairing it up with the fact that I can’t guarantee how long my life will be anyway, doomsday or not.

We’ve all asked ourselves what we would do if we found out we had six months to live, so I thought I’d start accounting for how I was spending my time, pretending I had 5 years left to live, in days, 1825. Every evening, I’d write the number of days left until 5 years (the last day) were up, and I’d write an accounting of how I spent that day.

It was depressing! I stopped doing it after about 2 weeks because I was getting a really clear understanding that my time was being squandered and I was living for nothing. Every day, I’d spend most of my waking hours at work, I’d come home, feed myself, and if the day hadn’t exhausted me, maybe a social outing in the evening. No substance, no meaning, nothing!

People who want to lose weight sometimes use the method of keeping a food journal, where they keep track of everything that is going into their bodies. This provides a different perspective on their diet and a way to count the different types of nutrients being consumed. It often helps people eat more of the right things. Time accounting is like a food journal; for me, a necessary evil. It confirmed what I already knew about everything being meaningless, as Ecclesiastes states. But it failed to tell me what I should be doing.