Here in this grand country, the United States of America, the christian church still has not learned its lesson. About 1700 years since Constantinople became the center of Christian Religion, where the Church made the foolish mistake of becoming the chaplain to Empire, we are still doing the same thing. We look to the President to be our human salvation for the church in this day and age, to protect our rights as humans. We baptize the wars, we call for the shedding of blood of our enemies. We pray for victory in our vengeance in the name of Jesus. We give lip service to worshiping Jesus, but most of the time, we truly are more concerned with the country we live in.
There are a few different contributing factors. First off, we don’t fully understand what it means to be the Church. We exist and go to places called church, but we are individually each, the church. We are the Bride of Christ. But we are just beginning to reawaken to this reality ourselves, in spite of the fact that God has been attempting, in EVERY SINGLE GENERATION, to awaken us to it. Some have caught it. Others have slammed the door shut. But this is catching fire like never before.
Secondly, we tend to ignore the political teachings of Christ. We love Him as a moral teacher, and an ethics teacher, and a social justice champion. We love Him as a prophet. But WE HAVE DENIED HIM His place as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
Third, we have ignored the teachings all throughout church history, branded many heretics, and cast them out, writing them off, for teaching us to truly live in the Kingdom of Heaven. We say stupid things like: That’s for the future, but we have to live in reality… and Well Paul, that sounds nice, but that’s after the rapture of the church…
These are the three that really spring to mind. I plan to use this post to expound upon them each.
So, for the first point. We don’t fully understand what it means to be the church. A few possible reasons for this. Historically, King James ordered the word to be used to maintain his authority of being “head of the church of England.” The Greek word in the text is “Ecclesia” which literally translates to City Council. The city council NEVER sat on it’s arse and listened to sermons and sang songs, then maybe prayed a little before leaving. They came together to determine what the next step was to advance the Kingdom. Today though, we don’t even believe Jesus can be the head of His own body, and the Husband to His Bride. We think today that we need pastors to head of the congregations, instead of Holy Spirit to lead us by the Word of God, who IS Christ. Who calls the Ecclesia to order? Jesus. Who is the Head? Jesus. It’s ALWAYS about Him. Such arrogance in us, to think we can lead Him better than He can lead us. To get in between Him and His Bride.
Second, the problem that has led us to our nationalistic tendencies.. We deny Him His rightful Kingship, and ignore His politics. Jesus is Lord, and in charge. We have, however, in our infinite foolishness, followed instead the way that seems right to a man, the way of Logic, and Reason. There is absolutely NO logic and reason to the Gospel, so if you appeal to those, then you might need to consider trying His Kingdom. We insist upon retributive violence, in the name of almighty justice of course. Somewhere along the lines, we got this silly notion that we need to make sure someone has to pay for the crimes that they have done. Somewhere along the way, we stopped trying to restore people to society. We started dehumanizing them, so that we could justify sentencing them to death, as though we had any such right. Turns out, Norway restores it’s prisoners and brings them to the place of being back into society. So. You tell me. What is more profitable and life giving? Death Sentences, or Restoration? USA or Norway? Something I desire us all to think about. When will we step out of His way, corporately, to let Him be who He is? The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our Bridegroom. His politics always lead to proper restoration. To peace. To Truth. Grace. Forgiveness. Long Suffering. Patience. Mercy.
Last but not least, and in my opinion the glue that ties BOTH of the above together, is we have not understood the Kingdom of Heaven. The few who have come along all throughout church history that had gone beyond the surface of the scriptural teachings of this, to experiential understanding of it, were incredible, and often written off as lunatics. Starting with the apostle Paul. We don’t tend to talk much about his ecstatic drunken trances in the Spirit. Or we don’t give it the full weight of what it meant when the scriptures talk about it. More and more now, are coming to this experiential knowledge of living from the Kingdom, and being in heaven on earth, as well as being heaven on earth. Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God! What is the Kingdom of heaven? It is righteousness, joy, and peace, in the Holy Spirit. Jesus said something which translates two ways, and both are completely accurate. The kingdom of Heaven is inside you. That’s the more common translation. The other one, is that the Kingdom of Heaven is in our midst. The Holy Ghost has been poured out upon all flesh. Not just Christians who believed and prayed a prayer for salvation. The Holy Ghost is all over everything, everyone, everywhere, flowing through all things, at all times. Why? Because Christ is all and in all, and all things are sustained in Him.
How then, Paul, do we live such an experiential life? You seem to think you know it all..
Ah. I wish I knew it all. I wish I had it all figured out. But that shall never be. I will simply tell you what’s been happening for me. I learned to stop, and be still. To rest in Him. When the Bible says we love Him because He first loved us, it is dead on the money. When I deliberately engage in that stillness, and rest in Him, His love pours over me, into me, and through me, flowing back to Him.
Kiss me with the kisses of thy lips, oh lover, for YOUR love is more intoxicating than wine! That is a paraphrase from Song of Solomon. Historically, this book was the “Bible” of the early church, before they got Paul’s epistles. It’s all about that divine love, and unio mystica. When I stopped seeing God as someone somewhere else counting every mistake, and instead as closer than my wife, God went from scary, to Lover. I love Him.
I no longer fear the Lord, but I love Him. ~ St Anthony the Great said this, which lines up so beautifully with the book of 1 John, which tells us that perfect love casts out all fear, for fear has to do with punishment. The Gospel leads up, all creation, the entire story of humanity, led to the point where a little baby was born, and placed in a manger in Bethlehem, who grew in grace, and wisdom, to manhood. He performed so many signs and wonders that we don’t have records of it all. His ministry was always at work, no matter where He was. But in spite of that, I notice that the busier He got, the more He pulled away to pray alone and be with His Father. One such night, Judas Iscariot led the Romans to Him, and sent Him off to His death. Jesus went willingly, like a lamb to the slaughter. He poured out His blood on the cross, while recalling the faith of David, citing the first verse of Psalm 22: My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
It was in that moment, that He was revealing to ALL there that they had just fulfilled the killing of the Messiah. But then, Instead of crying out: You FOOLS! You have committed Deicide! He instead cries out: Father forgive them, for they know not what they do! To which I can see the Father saying back: Of course, my Son! That’s who we are and what we do! Since that very moment, we were all adopted. We are and were all included in His death, burial and resurrection. Jesus saved the world. From SIN. While showing us His Love, He showed His wrath, cursing Sin itself to death in His own broken, servant body, and then, when He rose again, He came out glorified as the conquering King, who conquered death, by dying and then taking His life back up again. In His own body, HE showed us the Kingdom of God. He showed us how it works. How it flows. Our own resistance to our acceptance is the only thing that can send us to Hell. At the cross, Jesus changed us all, and set us down at the divine table with Him, and in Him. Our resistance finds us getting up and walking out of that party. It also, ironically, finds the Father with us, standing in the outer darkness, pleading with us to come back into the light. To come back to the party.
I want to simply encourage all of you. Come to the table. Break the bread with us, and drink this wine. Christian or not, come, partake, feast on His Love, and be satisfied.
The Christian Mystic