Having a devout faith, I do not care for the visible Church.
There is an invisible one. I love that one.
|Someones conception of the mystical "New Jerusalem" |
coming down from Heaven--
the Kingdom of God which we do not, yet, know.
It seems to be that the fundamental error of the modern Christian can be shown in the most famous, most rehearsed, and most prayed part of the Bible, known as the "Lord's Prayer."
It is not a Creed! It is a prayer!
We are not taught by Christ to state and avow that God's Kingdom is on earth and that God's will is done on earth just as it is in Heaven. These things are not true-- we are taught to pray that they will become true!
From the false belief that the visible Church exists in the Kingdom of God falls all other major errors of the modern church. The outward pointing finger of accusation as "evangelism;" the self-assured holiness of the faithful; the presumption of damnation of anyone and sometimes even everyone else; and worst of all, the abandonment of the invisible, spiritual, and mystical life of the faithful.
Modern Churches hold virtually no expectation of the spiritual life of its members. Not surprisingly, it then busies itself with worldly matters such as politics and social agendas. These are nothing more than civic organizations using God to justify their worldly desires.
I am thinking of a not-so-well-known part of the Bible just before the part where Jesus teaches his disciples, at their request of Him to do so, how to pray and gives them the words of what is known as the "Lord's Prayer."
Just before that, Christ has been teaching many and He selects seventy-two of His students to accept an assignment. He commands them to go out in 36 teams of two, and simply do two things in each town into which they walk.
1) Find one, and only one, household which which welcome them.
2) Heal the sick.
That is it! They are not told to yell warnings of Hell and calls for repentance, they do not quote the Bible to them (at them) and they do not do anything more than have a meal and heal any sick.
Those teams return some time later amazed at their experiences. People were healed! The seventy-two students were joyous. To their surprise, the found that not only did they heal the sick, but were even able to cast out demons.
Now, if you do not believe in real but invisible entities which have malevolent intent-- demons-- then I fear that nothing I write can be of use. I live in the visible world but have glimpsed with spiritual eyes the invisible. It is what humans do-- we are body and spirit and the soul can see what is invisible to the body. For some reason, I seem to have have more frequent experience with "seeing" the spiritual world than some people, but I believe we all do it-- simply a part of being human.
It is not merely that there are invisible beings, but a whole invisible world. That invisible world is not entirely unlike the physical one we all perceive. Our minds are amazing in that what we see spiritually can be given a physical description.
Consider the popularity of TV shows investigating the paranormal: Ghosts and Aliens being the most obvious examples. The mind is processing and then projecting the "language" of what is perceived by the soul-- with spiritual eyes-- into a reasonable and physical facsimile. As psychology becomes increasingly a scientific study (although still largely tied to statistics) there is an increasing correlation developing between the rise of new psychological symptoms and the fall of the spiritual component of the societies in which these symptoms develop.
|Ghosts and Aliens!|
I am not alone in suspecting that the interest in the paranormal images of our literature and folklore is more than merely wondering "Is there something more?" Rather, the question is driven by the soul's experiences which have not yet been articulated in the mind and which then nags the mind to process. That is to say, that all humans have spiritual experiences and only some come to accept them as a necessary component of human life.
That, then, is a requirement of the Church-- to facilitate the complete humanity of its members, marrying the divided person, joining the invisible with the visible as equally real and accepting the intangible experiences as deeply meaningful, hopeful, expectant, and above all, normal for a healthy life.
|Falling like lightning|
Now, write yourself into that Bible story. Imagine that you and a friend walk into a strange town, and a stranger comes up and invites you in to share a mid-day meal. While you are there, you pray that any sick will become well, and in your short visit, that is exactly what happens.
All you want to do is to heal sick strangers-- it is all you were asked to do.
When you come back, amazed and joyous that it actually worked-- that strangers were healed by your showing up with the desire to do just that, your Teacher responds to your report with these words:
"I was seeing Satan fall from Heaven like lightning.1"
Rephrasing that question: What does the climax of a battle between Angels which took place in a previous age and which began the present age have to do with students returning to report to their teacher that they have healed the sick and even cast out demons?
Well, obviously, the last part is the easiest connection to make-- that mere men had cast demons out of sick persons.
In my previous post, I stated that war is a part of the spiritual world. This is an example. Before humans existed, or at least very early in the existence of man, a battle was fought between angels. In the statement of the Teacher to the students reporting their surprised success in the assignment they had undertaken, we find an implicit connection to the invisible with the visible.
That the Teacher sent them out only with instructions to heal, they report that, beyond healing, they had unexpectedly found that they even had the ability to cause invisible spirits to do as they commanded. No willing creature easily accepts being controlled by another.
It may be worth pointing out that it is a rare person who, finding that they can control another, will use that only against malevolent creatures.
Consider the concept of, "If you could, at will, become invisible, what would you do?"
Give yourself some time to go through the obvious fantasies, for good, ill, or simply fun.
Now, put those ideas aside and consider what if your invisible soul has real power? What would your invisible soul do, knowing that it both has power and is unseen?
I submit that our souls exist, even though we do not see them. I further submit that our souls have real power. I submit that prayer is the work of the soul and the soul, not bound by the physical world, is able to do that which it prays. As a Christian, I believe that a powerful and willful soul will act according to its nature-- its character.
The great mystic Saint Paul writes that the spirit intercedes for us in sighs (or groans) too deep for words.2 I believe he writes of our own spirits-- our souls-- the invisible component of our human person which perceives and exists in the invisible spiritual world. A practical application of the acknowledgment of our own souls is to seek to reconcile both realities our human nature does perceive.
One example (and their are countless ways to accept and integrate one's own soul) is to pray for spiritual and not worldly matters. Are we praying for riches, power and success, or are we praying for healing, peace, and understanding?
I want to write much more, but I will end with just this:
What if? What if you soul has real spiritual power to battle and win against malevolence and even sickness? What if your invisible soul, doing invisible work, can have visible effect in this world? What would you do? In this case, it is not merely a rhetorical question. Is it?
1 The odd verb tense and mode, "I was seeing" is in the actual original Greek text. It is usually softened to the more common "I saw." The form used, even in Greek, is unusual, and perhaps rightly thought-provoking.
2 The Letter of Paul to the Romans in Chapter 8. I have translations which capitalizes the word "Spirit" and other translation which do not. When capitalized, the translator believes that Paul is referring to the Holy Spirit, which in Christian doctrine is part of the Godhead-- one of the "three persons in one God" (known as the "Doctrine of the Trinity"). When the word, "spirit" is not capitalized, the translator either believes or leaves open for the possibility that Paul writes of the spirit (soul) of the person praying. Note, Paul uses the full term, "Holy Spirit" five times in his letter to the Romans, but he does not use the term here, but merely "spirit."