Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Albert Einstein once said: 
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.  
I once brought up that quote and someone tried to argue with me, telling me how detailed and complex some of Einstein's work was.  I went on to explain that I feel that what he was getting at was this: sometimes we have to work really hard to convince other people of a truth.  We have to put painstaking details into our proof of a theory or principle.  But if we cannot summarize this theory or principle in a way that is simple and easily understood, then we don't truly understand the principle ourselves.

So I would like to try to explain a theory I have - a simple idea which I believe allows one to take a new approach to perceiving all other truths.  The Truth which connects all truths, as it were.  So here I will attempt to explain this theory in a simple way.

I believe there are two forces that are in battle with each other, and that every struggle in this life can be boiled down to this struggle.  The two forces can be described in a variety of ways.  It can be said that they are relationship and separation, cooperation and competition, Heaven and Hell, or my favorite: love and non-love. 

Now I specifically choose to say "non-love" rather than any other term because I do not think we really have a word that describes the opposite of love.  Oh, people will try to argue with me and say that "hate" is such a word.  But if you really think about it, hate is not really the opposite of love.  Have you ever heard of a "love/hate relationship"?  Why do we talk in this way?  If you think about it, hate is never born from a vacuum.  Hate is the result of broken love.  Sometimes we hate another because we used to love them and they hurt us - our idea of that person came into conflict with their actions, and we decided that this idea of the person was an illusion and therefore we "hate" the real person.  Or sometimes a person takes something we love away from us, and we decide we hate that person.  Or perhaps we have been taught by someone we love to fear a certain type of person - so when we come across someone who fits into this artificial category we have been taught to keep, we decide we are duty bound to hate them.  But this, once again, is born from love as we take this attitude because of what we have been taught by those we love.  Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that the opposite of love is not hate, but is rather a vacuum.  Hate is merely imperfect love based on the illusions of separation and competition.  Hate is to love some, but not all.  Hate is loving parts of a person, but not accepting them wholly.

Let's try putting this in different but similar terms: existence is relationship.  I am unable to know anything outside of my relationship to it.  Christians believe in a concept of God as a trinity, which implies that God exists in eternal relationship.  Put this into the context of the fact that I John 4:8 and 16 says that God is love, and parables such as the sheep and the goats which imply that if we wish to show love to God, we must show love to our fellow man.  God is in a state of eternal, unbreakable relationship with us, and when we choose to love others in a way that refuses to break relationship no matter our differences or transgressions, we enter into that eternal fellowship.

I think that the majority of Christians totally miss the point in the way that they talk about Heaven and Hell (see my series: "Checkmate For Hell").  They come so close, though. They'll tell you that Hell is "separation from God."  But let's think about that.  If God is the source of all life (as in Num. 27:16, James 1:17 for just two examples), then total separation from Him would mean non-existence.  You cannot be totally separated from God and continue to exist.  And the model of God that we see in Jesus is a God who refuses to give up on us, no matter what.  The model of Jesus shows us a God who refuses to allow relationship to be broken - perfect love that lives out the model of I Corinthians 13.  Jesus modeled a love that refused to fight for his own "rights", even as he was led away to be slaughtered, and while hanging from the cross he said "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  In this moment we find the perfect model of self-emptying love that refuses to allow relationship to be broken.

Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane in John 17 that we will be One, as he and the Father are one (verse 11), "as you [the Father] are in me and I am in you."  (verse 21)  This is the force of perfect love - relationship so close that the members of the relationship,
in their continual self-sacrifice for one another, cooperate in such a close relationship that they become "One".  Paul elaborates on this in Romans 12:4-5:
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
We are supposed to belong to each other, as cells in a body belong to each other.  The cells of a body serve the body, and in serving the body they are nourished and upheld by the body.  When a group of cells stops serving the body, and the cells seek to serve themselves, this is competition/separation/non-love and in the human body we call that cancer. 

The Bible has a way of talking about the concept of the powerful voices in society and/or government that coerce people into self-destructive collectives - the Beast.  The Beast tries to convince us to serve ourselves at the expense of others, and it feeds off of this while those in control - the rulers/authorities/powers spoken of in Ephesians 6:12 - grow off of this competition.  The people in society are largely harmed by it, but those on top grow in power and yet are never satisfied.  The Beast tries to tell us that we should scorn those who are different.  But the Bible provides a message that is a stark contrast to this, as we can see in I Cor. 12:12-26:

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Life is a series of choices that can be boiled down to choosing whether to create and sustain a relationship, or choosing to close ourselves off from relationship.  When we break relationships - when we close ourselves off from loving our brothers and sisters - we choose Hell.  And when we create and sustain relationships in a radical, self-giving, scandalous, loving manner, we choose Heaven.  The language of Christianity has been subverted by many into a language of control - you must believe as I do, dress as I do, go to the same church as I do, or you're going to Hell.  But if you think very logically about the model of God presented in Jesus, this makes absolutely no sense at all.  Jesus is the God who died - the God who gave up all control and allowed harm to come to Himself rather than inflict harm in order to protect Himself.  So we take this model, and believe...that somehow if you you don't worship Jesus just the way He wants He's going to throw you into eternal conscious torment?  The God who died rather than lift a finger to protect Himself is going to throw us into Hell if we don't do just as He says?  It makes no logical sense.

The world is constantly trying to tell us that there are groups of people who are not worthy of relationship, or that the solution to a broken relationship is to take action that causes further separation.  These are the lies of Hell.  The Truth of Heaven is that we are all interconnected, and we need each other to survive.  When we open ourselves, and give our hearts to all, refusing to demonize anyone or shut anyone out, we have chosen Heaven.  We must fight the lies of the world, but we must learn to do so in a way that does not cause more schisms, but that seeks to mend the schisms themselves, and fight the lies that seek to create more schisms.  So often we are told that the way to fight a schism is to destroy (or shut ourselves off from) those who originally created the schism - fight fire with fire.  Fight non-relationship by creating more non-relationship.  Protect life by destroying life.  This is the lie of Hell.  Christians love to hiss about "the world" and look down in disdain at it from their lofty theological heights.  They love to say "in the world but not of it" - a phrase adapted from verses taken far out of context that has completely lost its meaning, because most who use the phrase seem to be modeling the philosophy of "make your own world and don't ever look outside of it" (which, curiously, sounds more like prison, or Hell, than Heaven).  What they forget is that God loved the world despite the fact that it did not love Him back.  God showed this through sending His Son into that world, and His Son loved that world even as it was putting Him to death: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  

"Not of the world" doesn't mean retreating from the world.  "Not of the world" does not mean shutting yourself off from it.  "Not of the world" does not mean condemning the world.  "Not of the world" means loving the world even when it doesn't love you back.  "Not of the world" means rejecting destructive behavior and showing relentless creative love that restores relationship.  "Not of the world" means renouncing self and embracing interconnectedness and relationship so that we may be One as Jesus and the Father were One.

No comments:

Post a Comment