LOL - maybe, maybe not! Truth is, almost everything I write about, everything I live about, everything I think about, is resting on a foundation of transformation ... I've come to see that it's THE point of life ... the focus in life. All of the scriptures, and all of every other religion, points to an inner-transformation (of the mind).
One of the troubles with transformation, is that religion has tended to see this transformation as something to be mandated and enforced from the outside -- to manipulate and control the people so that they conform to the external standards of the prevailing group-think ... and imagining that this compliance equals transformation. Jesus had something to say about that concept ... something about whitewashed tombs filled with dead man's bones ... somehow that doesn't strike me as an endorsement for that approach to transformation ...!
I had a conversation about this in the past couple of days -- the discussion centered on the concept of "correcting the errant ones" (actually, I rather inspired the discussion -- there are entire realms of Christianity wherein I'm considered to be errant, and deceived, and deceptive, and dangerous, and heretical, but I really don't want to brag ;)) ... I'll share the essence of the conversation here. After a rather long indictment against the errant ones (complete with a list of what the errors were), I said this:
I notice that pride, particularly religious pride (the sort that was focused on sidelining and excluding others) was the only issue that Jesus railed against. He met the "sinners" where they were ... was known (derisively) as "friend of sinners" and was accused of being a drunkard (oh, and in cahoots with the devil, too).
Makes me wonder if those of us who "keep sinning," and those of us who "keep pointing fingers at those who keep sinning" haven't both missed the point ... wondering if it's all a matter of not yet encountering the living Presence of Christ, who alone can touch hearts and transform lives, from the inside-out ...?
Wondering, too, if we haven't gotten the nature of God "all wrong"...?
I can't help but recall Jesus' story of the prodigal (which is really a story about the heart & nature of the Father) ... in this story the father is in every way the total opposite of the expected male patriarch. He allows the son to make choices against him, and even empowers him to do so by giving him the inheritance. Later, when the son has come to his senses (after coming to learn from the consequences of his choices -- the only way we seem to learn), the Father refuses to exercise his right to restore order, or impose a punishment. Both the son's leaving and the son's returning are seen as both necessary and painful -- a gift of adult freedom. The God I experience from this story is a Father who refuses to "own" us, refuses to demand our submission, refuses to punish our rebellion. This God respects our freedom, mourns for our perceived alienation, waits patiently (& expectantly) for our return, and accepts our (mixed-motived) love as a gift. When the Father speaks to the disgruntled older brother, I see a God who teaches us to not prefer the security of law over the adventure of grace.
And most shocking of all, I see this: The power God refuses to assume over us is surely *not* given by God to any human over another...!
I see that we get this penchant to rule over others, to correct others, to control others' thoughts and actions, *not* from Jesus, but from the Pharisees Jesus rebuked.
Ok, let's just say that it didn't go over too well...! ;)
Here's the reply:
On the contrary! Jesus the Messiah desires to rule over us. Jesus the Messiah corrected others all of the time, and he still does (Read the Gospels and Revelation to see where I'm getting that notion). Jesus the Messiah desires to control our thoughts and action by means of the Holy Spirit. None of these things you listed is wrong in and of itself. It is HOW these things are done that differentiates from Jesus' way and the way of the Pharisees whom Jesus rebuked.
Methinks we're comparing apples and oranges here. Now, while I do see that Jesus said that His Spirit would lead us into all truth, I don't see anything about Him wanting to "control" our thoughts and actions. I think the entire purpose of this earthly experience is for us to learn to exercise our choices, and to learn from the consequences of those choices, and to voluntarily yield ourselves to the higher truth that we learn to know in Christ (the true meaning of the word "submit," BTW).
Knowing that my words were likely falling on rocky soil here, and yet being willing to sow seeds, if at all possible, and because I find more profit in conversation than in conversion (& also because I learn as I share), I did respond, as follows:
LOL - of course He does...!
But with a different spirit than how we humans try to do it (ego vs. Spirit).
He told us specifically to *not* lord over one another ... it's what the Gentiles, those who do not yet know God, tend to do -- it is an unction of the ego. Christianity has become (no, always was) ego-writ-large, and institutionalized.
Simple church (i.e., house church/organic church), in missing that, simply does the same thing, on a smaller, more intimate (often more damaging) scale.
Jesus taught us, through His life and actions, that nothing brings down the walls of division as much as acceptance does. When we learn this, when we can go to those we deem to be "sinners", those who we label as "errant", and give them the gift that Jesus gave (understanding and acceptance), we enhance their and our own spiritual growth. We can dare to see more worth in others than they can see in themselves -- just as Jesus did, and does, with us.
Change that's rooted in non-love doesn't solve anything -- have we not learned that? Have we not yet learned, throughout church history, that when we meet a problem with the same level of awareness (hate vs. hate, anger vs. anger, fear vs. fear), we only exacerbate the problem? Have we not yet learned of our penchant to act out of our own carnal/egoic desires, and to project it onto God, as if HE led us to exhibit hatred and sanctioned our self-righteousness?
Have we not yet learned that external conflicts are only mirrors of our own internal struggles (hence the mandate of how to contend with logs and specks)? When we see an external conflict -- particularly in one whom we deem to be errant and in need of correction -- it's an outward sign of what's going on within ourselves..! It's a message that we're in need of healing. We only see the "error" in another one, because of what's already within our own hearts. We project our own stuff onto others, because we don't *want* to see it in ourselves ... if we put it "out there," we get instead to scapegoat, blame, malign and cast out (we do this most dramatically with the devil) ... but the reality is we still have that very same error within our own hearts, only now we believe our own "story" that we got rid of it ... ensuring that we're all the more blind to our own stuff. Do we not see that this is the very hypocrisy that Jesus came against? The only thing that Jesus came against...
We have to come to see that the oppressor and the victim, the sinner and the sinned-against, the weak and the powerful, the evil and the righteous -- all exist within ourselves.
It's not overcome by a battle (a carnal/egoic thought in itself), but through the process of absorption ... darkness is a no-thing/nothing ... when Light is shined upon it, it evaporates, being absorbed by the Light ... so too is evil a no-thing, the shadow of resistance to God who is Omnipotent ... not a challenge to God, but only a challenge to our minds. As we think in our hearts, we are. We can change how we think in our hearts, as we look deeply, see the shadows, and allow the Light to shine, transforming us from the inside-out. Transformation happens by the renewal of our minds, not by the correcting of our (or anyone else's) behaviors.
Christianity has long been obsessed and fixated with fixing up the outsides of ourselves and others -- while ignoring the inner wounds that need healing. We shoot our wounded, and call it "ministry". We point fingers while ignoring what's going on within us. We tend to scream the loudest about that which we most strongly deny within ourselves.
Jesus met the sinners where they were, in the thick of their sin, looked deeply into them, saw what was there, loved them, embraced them, accepted them ... and only *then* said "go and sin no more"... after the assurance of *no condemnation*. Only then, only when we know that we are loved and accepted *while still sinners*, can we come to see that we no longer need to seek acceptance through counterfeit means, no longer need to seek identity through carnal/egoic means, no longer need to numb out self-hatred through self-medicating means ... when we know, really KNOW how much we are loved and accepted *while we still perceive ourselves to be God's enemies,* the darkness of our self-deception is obliterated and absorbed by His all-consuming Light, and we see ourselves - finally! - -as HE does, as the beloved, as the offspring of God that we always were (as Paul affirms), as the ones Jesus came to liberate from captivity -- and what holds us more in captivity than the very lies that we unknowingly believe...? (as Paul affirms, we are only enemies "in our minds")
He came to set the captives free ... to show us that we belong to God ... He still (& always will) leave the 99 to seek after the one (or one billion) who is lost ... seeking not until it's "too late", but seeking until He finds them. And when we are found by Him, what more do we need?
Maybe most of us don't yet know, really know, how much we are loved, how much we are treasured ... maybe most of us don't yet know that He has found us...?
If we knew, if we really knew ... how would we live? How would we respond to God? How would we see ourselves? How would we treat all others ...?