Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Word, The Embodiment

John says that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word he was referring to was Jesus, and he was speaking of the entrance/coming of Jesus to our world, to creation.

I can’t help but be filled with joy at the observation of our creation when I consider deeply the nature of language, of our communication. It’s insanely creative that we can bring from the unseen world of thought a perceivable form of what is there – an object for the common reality. We all have our own little reality inside which is only observable and knowable by ourselves. But there is also the reality that is shared by everyone (however real or false it is), where matter is and can be observed and interacted with by everyone. I imagine a small red ball – my own reality. I see a small red ball – the common reality.

Words are a bridge from our inner reality to the common reality; they enable us to communicate what is going on inside, to make an object of our inner selves for the common reality. It’s a fantastic creation that these dime-thin vocal chords, and air pressure, and wind pipe movement can put out a combination of sounds that can be interpreted and perceived like the small red ball in the common reality.

And so it is that God, the one whom we cannot see or perceive with the resources we have to perceive the common reality, made an object of himself in Jesus. He is the word of God, the expression of God’s own unperceivable reality, the creation of God (as opposed to ‘by God’). The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, John said.

What’s even more wild and joy-inspiring is the why of this Word: why did He do this? Why did He make an object of Himself and come to live among us? In fact the what and the why are synonymous; they define each other. He is love, so He came. He came, so He is love.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Take My Life and Let it .... Be

For as long as I consider myself to have graduated from thinking like a child, I have been perplexed by the purposelessness of life. It seemed to me that being born, growing up, marrying, reproducing, raising children, having them grow up, marry, reproduce, and so on until the day you die is a bit of a waste of time. When all is said and done, it amounts to nothing more than what we started with – life is as life never was. A lot of people apply the life-after-death beliefs to add purpose to their lives, or they give a cold shoulder to the concept of death to extract purpose from their lives, or they say there’s purpose in their relationships. Even with all of those, with death, life is purposeless.

I came to realize that there is no purpose to what we call life because we have mis-defined life. If I were to ask you to tell me about your life, what would you say? Probably something about what you do for work, or what you’re studying, something about your family, your friends, your religion, where you live, your car, your house… your life! Most of us define our lives (and ourselves) by our interaction to and relation with the world of objects. The purpose is missing because the world of objects is passing, is non-concrete, is ending. I think there are very few people – very few – who would define their life in terms of non-matter, of non-relation to other things. And I suspect these people, who have found another way to define their lives and themselves, are much happier than the rest of us.

The busy world of matter, where we live and out of which we are created, is so engaging and distracting. It’s difficult to get an outside view of it, especially a lasting one. The mind, the part of us that relates to the world of matter, is so busy sensing the world, reacting to the world, engaging the world, and defining itself by the world, that it creates a sort of glaze over our true eyes, the eyes of our hearts. It’s an unconscious way of living that most of us spend our entire lives under. It’s so sad to see that everything we define ourselves by, and everything we obtain our worth from, and the entire novel describing ‘my life’ is a complete and utter myth. We live a lie, and it’s destructive.

It’s clear then why Jesus said, “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” over and over again (Matt. 10:39, 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, 17:33, John 12:25). We had always thought this was a special word for those who’d be martyrs for him, but Jesus, the one who brought salvation, was talking about stepping out of the life that is a complete figment of the imagination, and to step into real life – to ‘find it’. He whose project was to make us whole again was telling us to stop living the false life, and in so doing, find true life.

The truth of the matter is that ‘my life’ has nothing to do with the world of matter; ‘my life’ is something that is flawed even in the way we give the concept language. There is nothing to call ‘my life’, as if it’s something I possess, rather than something I am. Our true definition and purpose comes from being alive, which has nothing to do with possession, but with being awake. Jesus, who lived as the perfect example, said “I am the life”, which is true compared to “I have a life”. Again, our identity comes up – I am. I just am. I don’t have life, I am life. This is such a fundamental truth. So simple, yet so hidden behind the relentlessly busy mind.

Thank God: the knowledge of illusion is the end of illusion.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Perception, Truth, and Acceptance

There has got to be one truth, regardless of the limitless number of perceptions, and therefore interpretations, of it. Take yourself for example – unknown in truth by everyone, even your own self. Your spouse could be talking to you, telling you something very important, but in length, so your mind begins to wander. What appears to her as attentive listening (her perception) is actually a façade (an assumption of her mind), behind which is a mind trying to remember what you forgot to pick up at Home Depot. The perception is false, and whose fault is it? Is there any fault at all? Isn't it just 'nature'?

Words are a wildly creative and ingenious phenomena in our communication with other people. It’s amazing that 5 vowel sounds, and several other harder sounds created by buzzing vocal chords and the muscular shaping of the sound pipe, can be combined to make expression of our thoughts. Though ingenious and incredible to think about, words are not perfect; in fact, they fall far short of our intentions. Like the example with the wandering mind above, the words create the façade, or more adequately, the object which can be observed and interpreted by another. The object representing his present thoughts about Home Depot was a face expressing interest and attentiveness - or so it was perceived. The object, or manifestation, of his true self was falsely communicated or perceived, and most often this is the case with our words as well.

There are so many steps in communication – thought, expression, observation, interpretation. I think something, I create an object of it by speaking, the other party observes the object I created, and interprets it into thoughts of their own. The goal is to have my thoughts and your thoughts equal each other after the communication has happened. I’m sure this never happens perfectly. I think that is a truth we need to accept – it could help in our relationships.

There are so many ways we manifest ourselves and what is going on inside, and there are a million ways to interpret or perceive it. This is the case with Jesus too. No matter what his choices of words were (as one coming into the world of human interaction), it was open to interpretation and perception. Even words written, and the words of Paul and Peter and John, and all the prophets before Christ are just words, and are imperfect.

There is no wonder why there are 30,000 denominations then. I had always thought that there were this many interpretations because there were this many stages in the journey (of which the longest part is the learning of truth, the renewal of the mind). But I’ve come to understand that it is because of the interpretations, the perceptions, themselves. There are as many different perceptions of Christ as there have been people, and this is something we should also accept.

'Spirit and Truth' – this is something of a higher level of communication, and has to do with intimacy with God. Intimacy is the ultimate form of communication – it is the full knowing – it passes the communication, interpretation, perception stage, it passes words and comes to understanding. This knowledge in ‘spirit and in truth’ has surpassed communication of the minds, using words and objects and thoughts, and has gone from spirit to spirit, heart to heart.

Many people Jesus spoke to could not understand what the heck he was talking about with all his stories. Understanding this, Jesus would often wrap things up by saying ‘He who has ears let him hear’ (Matt. 13:9), which would probably cause further confusion. Noticing this lack of understanding in the people, ‘the disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"

He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

'You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people's heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts and turn,
and I would heal them.

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.”’
Matthew 13:9-16

Understanding that the knowledge of Christ is acceptable to every human being – whether intelligent or thick, seeing or blind, hearing or deaf, even children, even those whose mental capacity is severely damaged – helps us to understand the way to knowing Christ. We’ve got to get to know the person of Christ, which has nothing to do with his outer expression – his words, his height, his clothes, his facial expressions, his diet, the way he walked. If knowing him meant knowing these things, salvation would only be for those alive in Israel 2000 years ago. Knowing the true Him, knowing Him in truth comes by heart language, by intimacy, not by head language. This is just something we need to accept in order to move forward.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Identity to Last

It seems in us is a need for identity, for self-definition, and separation. We want so much to be either associated or disassociated, known for something or as something, and called a certain way. A lot of this has to do with the ego, whose food is identity, and whose position is lost as we enter ‘the kingdom of heaven’.

In our relationship with the world of matter – including our own bodies as matter – we define ourselves by our relationship with its parts. Someone who owns a house proudly states “I am a homeowner” should it come up; someone who goes to school says “I am a student”. Most of the time, our communication to the world of matter is nonverbal, which can simply be driving your shiny 2008 car, which in some way identifies you (ie. you are better able to afford this car than someone else).

Identity can be an association with a religion, with a city, with a country, a race, a political party, even with a gender. In fact, from very early on, we learn how to display our identity as a male or a female. We dress our baby girls in pink and our boys in blue; we demonstrate the identity of the sexes to them as they grow up by involving them with the cooking or working on the car, playing catch, etc.

A lot of the time, identity is in not being something, or not associating with something, or in not thinking a certain way. And the ego comes in, wanting always to be right in either its choices or its non-choices, and points out the flaws of the other way, or points out the best points of our way. The ego feeds on being right.

Identity involves matter, and very rarely non-matter. Many have led themselves down long, dark, and even deadly paths finding much of their identity (and thus worth) in their physical appearance. We identity ourselves as beautiful and enjoy the attention that brings, but when beauty fades, that inner person is left to find something else to grasp onto for identity – or maybe it tries endlessly to never let the beauty fade (plastic surgery?). In our quest to identify with the ‘better thing’ (ie. strength instead of weakness), we go to great lengths to identify ourselves with strength. For the strong of body, spending hours at the gym, having large arms, toning certain muscle groups to maximize the appearance of strength. For the strong of mind, spending years at school or in personal study. If we identify ourselves with the weak thing, we either beef up the weak thing, or highlight our strength and make it stronger.

Not that this is all bad, nor an absolute (ie. not all guys who work out for hours on end have a self-worth problem). This is a commentary.

However, all the things we seem to find identity and self-worth in are temporary; they fade away. What wisdom is there in that? I think it is wisdom to strip away everything we identify with that corresponds to something that won’t last as long as we will – this includes assets, anything to do with our bodies, maybe even our relationships – and to start building again from that foundational core being that we are and add to it things of value and worth and duration.

Each of us is not a body, or a mind, we are a spirit, or some would call it a consciousness. What of you can observe the endless chatter of the mind? What part of you is that in there? What part of you doesn’t belong to the perceived or perceiving world? The world of matter is of the perceiving world, is related to the mind as the perceiver. And there is something deeper in, which is not perceived by the mind, but perceives the mind – the real you – the true existence.

At some point down the road, we get to a point of realization or revelation, when we become true sons of our Father, being like Him, when we can say ‘I Am’, which is how He identifies Himself. We can stop saying I am male, I am 25, I am a supervisor, I am 6 feet tall, I have a blog, my favourite colour is green, I drive a black Civic, I am Canadian, I am this, that, and everything else. I just am. I am. This is where we are going - the simplest, yet the most meaningful existence. It’s an identity that lasts forever.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

How Long Must I Wait

song by Phil Wickham

I close my eyes, I'm trying to listen
'cause it's been so long since I heard you speak
Send your love, cover over the distance -
between you and me

Oh, how long must I wait for my love?
'Cause I need you, oh I need you
My heart is bursting and breaking apart
oh my love

Come on and blind my eyes, I'm looking to heaven
Holding all your promises against my chest
I offer up the life I've been given -
to my last breath

Oh, how long must I wait for my love?
'Cause I need you, oh I need you
My heart is bursting and breaking apart
for my love

You're coming just as sure as the sun is rising
Here comes the day it's breaking in my heart!
Your children are running to you!

Oh, how long must I wait for my love?
'Cause I need you, oh I need you
My heart is bursting and breaking apart
oh my love

The Pearl and the Price

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:44-46

These can give us some great information about the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ which Jesus often talked about. In the first mini-parable the kingdom is the treasure, in the second one the kingdom is the merchant looking for treasure.

In the first, Jesus is saying that the kingdom, upon finding, is worth giving up all of your possessions and your whole life to obtain. The second says it’s a two-way street. We are the pearl that he found, and in his passion, went away and sold everything he had to buy it. (He does not say the kingdom is the treasure in both).

My main point is of the latter parable, where we are pearls of great price, not the kingdom, as a lot of people say. I want to talk about the price – the first great sacrifice – our price. Has it ever struck you that Jesus, long before he ever went to the cross, was forgiving people of their sins? In Matthew 9:2, for example, he says: “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven”.

In fact, Mark 1:4 says: “so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (and Luke 3:3). When Jesus showed up at the Jordan one day, John said of him: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). It seems there was something in the presence of Christ on earth that meant that the forgiveness of sins was possible.

And lo, we miss this sacrifice. We get the big one, the crucifixion, which was the payment for sin, but we miss the first one. Christ forsook forever his place, the nature of his being, the pure oneness, and took on flesh to carry out this salvation plan. He was ‘knitted together’ in a human body, ‘since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity’ (Hebrews 2:14). Jesus, ‘who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness’ (Philippians 2:6-7).

Christ, the King of the Kingdom, ‘sold everything he had’ to buy us, the pearls of his great price.

In my post The End of Salvation I discussed the culmination of salvation being a marriage, or a reversal of what was wrong in Genesis when Eve was created out of Adam (for this reason… the two will become one flesh). In Summary of Salvation, I said “Becoming one (in ‘marriage’) with another who has already died and can never die again gives us freedom from death”. Christ had to come, in body, to become one with us as the only way to give us everlasting life. His arrival on the earth was an allowance for the forgiveness of sins (which causes death) to begin!

Now, this is just me speculating, because there isn’t anything to back me up here, but logically, God, who we have labeled a Trinity (3 parts) wasn’t always this way. Could it be that before anything was created, there was one God, total, whole, complete, perfect? And for this rescue of man to take place, the very being of God had to undergo some sort of split or fracture?

It would seem that because correcting the split of Adam into more than 1 being involves an eternal union of man and Christ, that there must be some degree of separation between Christ and Father. In fact, Christ spoke of His Father as a completely other being all the time. But both are God. Was there always this separation, or was there one complete being originally? If 3, we get into cause and effect; who begat who? Is there more to the God story?

My point is that the birth of Christ allowed for the forgiveness of sins. Water, symbol of flesh, was used in baptism; full immersion to indicate entry into the Body of Christ – the Body of Christ, ever think of that? The Body of Christ, in the manger, the Body of Christ. Some things to chew on…