Fresh Thinking, Inspiration, and Vision on the Process of Spiritual Transformation
We live under the shadow of the Almighty. We live in the presence of eternal God. That reality asks something of us if we are to know it in living, which is very simply to give it expression, to let it come through us.
God isn’t called the Creator for nothing. When that reality comes through us, a world is created, a very beautiful world. To the degree that there is some kind of diminishment of the light coming through us, the world that is created is in some way partial. It is not all of what it should be.
We incarnated in human flesh to create a world. The world that we know didn’t exist in the way it does before we were here, and wouldn’t exist except for the fact that we are here.
The creative power that we bring into the world was described in the opening verses of the Book of John:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
“The same was in the beginning with God.
“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
“In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (John1:1-4)
Apparently what was translated as “the Word” comes from the Greek word “logos.” But whatever the origin of the translation, the Word is that creative power that is potential in all of us. That creative power has a relationship to our words.
Our words have a way of creating something, either something beautiful, something that adds, something that uplifts, something that brings wholeness, or our words come like a thief in the night to steal, to take away, to make a world that is somehow partial. That has an impact on other people. However, it’s interesting that the person who is ultimately saddled with the experience of whatever it is that comes forth in words, or in any other way, is the person who is originating what is being expressed.
Last night I was reading THE FOUR AGREEMENTS, by don Miguel Ruiz. If you haven’t read it, it is a beautiful, strong book. I sometimes wonder if all the people who put it on the best-seller list are reading it. It would change a life, actually, if somebody took it seriously. The first agreement has to do with being impeccable in your word. The author makes the point that what you do with your words, you are doing to yourself, most importantly. You are either creating a living hell for yourself or you are creating heaven on earth. We have that opportunity.
The way things work out, we end up sharing whatever it is we’re creating with other people around us. In some way, we are inviting others to do likewise—either come and create a living hell with me, or come and create something beautiful and wonderful and wholesome. So our words matter. The creative energy that we bring into the world matters and makes a difference to us and to other people.
Today is Easter Sunday. That’s preceded by Good Friday and Palm Sunday. Has anyone had an experience of darkness in some way over this past week or so? Has anyone had a sense of touching the trouble of the world in your own heart, in your own experience, over this past week? In Jerusalem, every year they trace what they believe to be the way of the cross, so that in some way they share in Jesus’ experience of carrying the cross. I wonder if those same people attempt to share his experience of resurrection and ascension as well. I hope so.
But I don’t think it should be surprising that if we, in whatever way, celebrate what we understand to have happened two thousand years ago, we will touch into that pattern that was the outworking in Jesus’ life. If we can touch the wonder and the life of Easter morning, we may touch something of the agony he experienced.
That agony is clearly recorded in the Bible. I don’t know what your beliefs might be in the matter. Some focus a lot on his misery. Others might think he more or less skipped through the whole thing. After all, he was the Son of God. Both views may tend to miss what was really going on. According to the record in the Bible, there’s clear indication that, in some regards, it was a horrid experience for him. It speaks of him groaning. At another point it spoke of him weeping and, in the Garden of Gethsemane, it said that he fell on his face. As the story tells it, the pattern of spiritual participation around him virtually broke down in those last weeks, and he was left to absorb the shock of what was happening in his own body and in his own being.
For most of us, there are times when there is something for us to face, and face alone. There are times when, as it seems, there is no one to go to about it; when you understand that this one is yours to somehow work through and to transform in your own being, so that something that is very bitter that has come in your life can be transformed and transmuted, so that your whole experience can be transformed and transmuted into something else. Isn’t that the story of Easter?
It is a story that involves darkness. What happened in the tomb happened in darkness. It happened in night, actually. It was yet dark when Mary came to the sepulcher and found that the body wasn’t there. So the miracle that happened, the miracle of life, happened in darkness.
That’s a good thing to remember. The miracle of the resurrection to life in a person occurs in the darkness. It doesn’t happen in the full light of day. It may bring a person to the full light of day, but that’s not where it begins.
The great spirit of Love called the body of Jesus forth from the darkness. That great spirit of Love, who he was, called him forth.
I’ve shared with a few people the question that has come up in my mind about the story of Easter, and it has to do with Palm Sunday. It’s the simple question as to why Jesus went into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. So to bring the story to mind a little bit, it had come to a point where he was being pursued by the authorities. He was “laying low” as much as he could. Then there came a situation with Lazarus, where he was called to public visibility. That raised the risk for him.
Meanwhile, there was a big desert out there. He could have taken a detour, it seems to me, and been hiding in that desert pretty easily. He could have hidden someplace other than Jerusalem. But, as the story goes, that’s not what happened. He came right into Jerusalem, which meant that the issues that were up with the authorities were very likely to come to a head. There was a lot of risk in it for him, or so it seemed. So why would he have been so foolhardy, seemingly, as to go down into Jerusalem?
Of course, you might have the belief that it was all part of God’s master plan and he was just following out the master plan. But I think that tends to miss what was facing him at that time. My understanding is that it wasn’t all so predestined as it may look now in hindsight.
So the answer I’ve come up with for myself, to understand why he went down into Jerusalem, has to do with what he had already come to terms with, related to his own life. This was portrayed in the story of the temptations, particularly the third one.
“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
“And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8&9)
All the kingdoms of the world, seen from a high mountain—that’s pretty sweet. From a very high place, he was surveying the world, and there was some message he was getting that if he would relinquish his integrity as a human being, he could have it all. He might even have been able to have a ministry. When the Bible talks about all the kingdoms of the world seen from an exceeding high mountain, I don’t think that we are just talking money. We’re not just talking being well off or comfortable. We’re talking about the highest things that a person might accomplish in their life. “You could have the highest things that you could ever accomplish, or that any human being could ever think to accomplish, if only you would just back off on your integrity and compromise on this thing, whatever it may be.”
For a lesser person, considering going into Jerusalem, they might think, “I could lay low for a year or two, and maybe have a ministry, maybe have some kind of life, some kind of fulfillment.”
But if Jesus was that kind of man, he would never have embarked on the project in the first place. Right from the very beginning, as he came into Galilee teaching, he was rejected. So right from the beginning he was willing to face that rejection, and everything else that was thrown at him.
Why did he go down into Jerusalem? Unless a man or a woman decides to go into Jerusalem every day, they will never do it. He would not have started his mission, his grand project, if that were not his attitude. Every day, when you wake up, you have to decide whether you’re willing to go into Jerusalem, because the issue is up today. The issue is up every day. Will we bring our word into the world? Will we bring our creative power? If you won’t do it today, you won’t do it tomorrow or the day after, or the day after that. This is the day. This is always the day to go into Jerusalem and face the issue.
I understand that in the practicalities of life, we don’t always face everything head-on. There are times for strategic retreats, and for subtlety. But internally, the spiritual issue must be faced. We will either shirk it in this day or we will not. We will either move forward and bring our word, no matter how risky that may seem to us—we will either bring forward our creative force and creative power into the world, or we will shrivel up and live an unlived life, a partial life.
There is that voice in human consciousness that speaks up and says, “I can work this out for you. I can work it out so that you will be comfortable and happy.” That is, as it’s put in the story of the temptations, the voice of the devil, or Satan—not some cloven-hoofed entity. The voice being depicted is a part of the human makeup. It has the qualities of a dark magician—“magician” in the sense that it’s manipulative. It’s a manipulative way of living in the world to make oneself happy. And that dark, manipulative voice finds listening ears among groups of people. People try to make other people happy by manipulating things for them.
There is another place to live from that claims for ourselves our birthright as a sovereign human being. In our sovereignty, we know that who and what we are has it all already. “Oh, very interesting! You’re going to give me the whole world? I already have it! It’s already mine, in sovereign identity.” That’s a bad deal, when you look at it. If somebody is trying to give you something that’s already yours, that is a swindle. Standing in your integrity, you do already have it all. We have it all if we have our integrity, because from that stance we are one with what has it all, that great spirit of the Creator, which is our spirit.
So it’s good to know that there is a part of the human makeup that doesn’t think that it has it all. On a bad day a person might take a bad deal, selling their own birthright for what they think they don’t already have.
Thank God there was a man two thousand years ago who didn’t buy it, who wasn’t willing to take the deal, who chose to bring the creative force of his own life into the world and change it thereby. I don’t think there can be any question that that happened. Whatever you may believe about what did or didn’t happen in the tomb or thereafter, I don’t think there can be much argument that because there was a man of courage and integrity, the world changed.
I’d like to read just a few lines from a talk given by the founder of Sunrise Ranch and this ministry, Uranda. This is from a talk he gave in 1950, entitled “Letting the Vicious Circle Be Broken.” He’s talking about the fact that there is something positive needed from a person to break the cycle that is going downhill for them. And the same is true for a body of people. The author of THE FOUR AGREEMENTS talks about what can happen to a group of people. He compares it to a computer virus, something that gets into the system; one person is blaming it on another, and it infects the whole culture. It can infect a person, so that a person can’t find the way out. They’re caught up in a pattern of blame and a belief that they don’t have it all. And it can happen in a body of people too. Here are Uranda’s words:
“As long as you sort of pat the thing on the back and say, ‘Well, now, just remember this and we will treat you gently and trust you come out of it’—did you ever see someone come out of it that way? In all my ministry I never did. The individual who has allowed himself to get involved in a vicious circle must let that vicious circle be broken forcefully, otherwise it continues on. Sometimes it can be broken more or less painlessly if the individual ceases identifying himself with it, but nevertheless it must be broken forcefully. You cannot temporize; you cannot compromise with evil things and make progress toward reality.” (Uranda, February 12, 1950, TSS 8:83)
Jesus brought into the world that creative power that has the potential for breaking the vicious cycle for all of humanity. Apparently people weren’t willing to take him up on it at the time. If the larger collective vicious cycle is to be broken, it has to be broken in an individual first. That’s the story of the temptations: he broke the pattern in himself. He took positive, radiant action in himself, and because he did that, he was in position to take it for others.
In the first two temptations, he essentially quoted scripture. He spoke the truth back to the temptation to give up his integrity. And finally he simply said, “Get thee hence.” Get out of the house—you don’t belong. That part of the human makeup, that would try to seduce a person into compromising their integrity, can go.
So let’s be people who walk proudly into Jerusalem, whether on an ass or some other way; people who don’t take the back door but who are willing to see the thing as it is and address it as it is, and bring to bear the power of the living God into human consciousness, so that human consciousness—mind and heart, thought and feeling—is changed. It can be done in a sweet way; it can be done in a strong way. But if it isn’t done in an absolute way, it won’t be done.
So where is your Jerusalem?