Posts Tagged ‘mystery of God’

A lot of folks grab onto this set of scriptures in Corinthians and use to wax eloquently about the end times, the last trumpet and all that. But I’m much more intrigued by the mystery of change in the “twinkling of an eye.” The mystery is not when this will happen but the process and result.

I Corinthians 15:51-52a
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

A quick search on the Internet shows the “twinkling of an eye” is actually at the speed of light, compared to a blink (which is controlled and is generally between 300 and 400 milliseconds). But the twink is more like 1/6,000,000,000th of a second. This means, if you blink, you miss it. This means, in human terms, it’s instantaneous. This means it’s probably not of this dimension. You know what I mean? It’s “other time.”

Now, if that is not a mystery, I don’t know what is.

I wish Christians spent more time talking about the mysteries of their own religion. Instead, we are all grounded into habit and ritual and norms and the idea of mystery has become abnormal.

It’s in the mystery, in the things of twink, that anything is possible. Healings and love and transformations can happen that fast. God is outside of time. God lives in the twink.

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Odd passages about Paul “struggling” with the energy that Christ has given him for the sake of others. And that energy is for them to experience the two-fold mystery of God: Christ within (where our unique relationship is built with the Holy Spirit) and without, in our relationships with others.

Colossians 2:2
My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ . . .

This idea of Christ within and Christ without reminds me of the various ways people get caught up in their own brand of Christianity. Some put all of their energy into good works and service, reaching out to the poor, developing community and building fellowship (all good stuff), while others put everything into those private places where contemplation, prayer, study, and various other personal disciplines expand their inner domains.

Paul’s work is on both fronts for his people that they might be “encouraged in heart” (interior work) as well as “united in love” (exterior work). The complete understanding comes from both sides of the equation. This reminds me of that well worn passage in James 2:14, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?”

I don’t do well in this dual role. And yet, intellectually I know that both feed each other. I know that my interior life endows my walk on the outside with better choices, if I allow it to do so. And really, good works can draw a person into a deeper inner life, if permitted.

I am intentionally adding the proviso of permission here because I don’t believe I do it. I don’t give way to the power of the Spirit within. If I did, I’d be doing better (the fruits of that relationship with the Christ Spirit would be more evident). This is part of that “free will” concept. I can limit my relationship with God. I can have surface-only interactions. I can pick and choose. It doesn’t really serve me to do it, but I can. And unfortunately, I do become frightened and put on the brakes.

When the Toronto Blessing was in full swing, one of their most popular phrases was “More Lord, more.” I understand now it was a way to “allow” God in more. It was teaching self to let go and receive. It was not about God giving more, it was about the person opening the door wider to the flow of grace.

The mystery of Christ needs both arenas for full understanding. There is a “battlefield” both within and without. But the interesting aspect of these skirmishes is that I would do better through surrender–that is, surrender to the One who reigns over both and all.

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We are asked to put on God’s armor in order to stand against spiritual forces from the dark world. Sounds like fantasy but there is a decision to be made here: truth or fiction? I’m leaning toward the truth side. And if true, the real battle has been waging on without me.

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

I have not been asked to advance against the enemy, merely to stand. And yet, I have not been moving forward or standing, not really. Instead, I have been buffeted about internally. My mind has been captured by the distractions of the world, my spirit veiled by self-absorption, and my heart hardened.

The greater fool, I, for trying so hard to do battle in this 3-D world. I’ve been totally caught up in my ambitions, my weight, my aging, my eyesight, my losses, my children’s successes or lack thereof, and so on. I’m not even on the right playing field.

Currently, I’m reading the Suzanne Collins trilogy, Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. These stories take place in a futuristic world where our country has been divided into districts, all serving the “Capitol.” Each district has a single industry. Once a year, each district must send two “tributes” (teenagers) to fight to the death, with only one victor. The victor’s district is then blessed with extra food etc. for that year. In the second book, because the lead characters foiled the Capitol in book one, the games take on a cruel turn. I won’t give that away, but a phrase has stayed with me that is relevant to my discussion here: “Remember who your enemy is.”

In our world, we have forgotten who the true enemy is as well. Instead, our countries fight wars, terrorists prevail, our sons and daughters die violently, people starve, and natural resources are despoiled. We continue to struggle with the symptoms instead of the root causes.

Photo by Angelo Juan Ramos

It all comes back to the Light and illuminating from within: living a life of love, submitted and thereby filled with the Holiest Spirit, who works in union with my personal spirit. And out of that life pours forth compassion, forgiveness, and beauty.

I can go about serving others, visiting the sick and dying, feeding the hungry, comforting the homeless, and giving from my livelihood. But if I do these things without the Light, they are band-aids.

It’s time to stop living as though it’s such a great mystery. The mystery has been revealed through the Christ and is a living, powerful presence in me through the Holy Spirit.

I want to stand today. I want to be counted as one standing. I want to shine.

(FD 15)

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If there’s a kingdom, then there’s a king. And the verso must also be true: if there is a king, there is a kingdom. Even if the king is in exile, there is a place, whether we accept it or not.

Acts 28:23b
…From morning till evening he [Paul] explained and declared to them [the Roman Jews] the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.

I guess this is the thing that captured my thoughts today. It doesn’t matter if people believe or don’t believe. The kingdom still exists. The kingdom endures.

There is an old “zen” question about a tree that falls in the woods; does it make a sound if no one hears it? Yes it does. It’s prideful to think that we are the only ones to hear, to acknowledge what is. We are limited in our understanding of the universe. We are limited in what we hear and see. We are limited in our own ability to engage the kingdom of God.

But, Jesus invited us to hear, see, taste and touch the kingdom. Jesus gave us entree.

There was no pushing or shoving or demanding. Jesus did not cajole. Jesus offered himself as a door and choice.

It’s a mystery.

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Pastor uses Colossians 2:1-3 as his companion scripture for today’s meditation and I have to say, it’s quite powerful. I have it underlined in my Bible, but I haven’t revisited this in awhile.

The first phrase that jumped out at me was, “the mystery of God” and then, how that mystery (which is Christ and what it meant to be Christ – i.e. the work of the Christ for humankind) is available to us. It’s God’s desire that we “get it!” … that we understand it. God wants us to understand the mystery. God wants us to “know.” And, as we understand the depth of that work for us and in us, then wisdom and knowledge are discovered.

I still maintain that wisdom is a discovery process. Sometimes, it takes time to understand how something works. Someone can give you a gift and you only understand some of its working parts. Think about something complex like a computer or software. There’s a process to learning how it works. The longer you work with it, the better you get… if you are persistent … if you are willing to learn… if you get help when you get stumped… if you read the manual! And then there’s the “aha!” moment.

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