When we turn to one another for counsel we reduce the number of our enemies. ~Kahlil Gibran
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. … Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
~ from Paul’s introduction to Love, in 1 Corinthians 12
Oh beloved, it is true.
We live in a world system that seems to thrive on division. Beyond the scattering force of our selfish sin and its terrible engine (our wretched pride) there are megatrends across the centuries that continually show up to accelerate the destruction of our souls – and of creation itself.
Our sins are are easy enough to see. We lust, hate, steal, curse, and lie. But things go deeper than the doing of things that transgress rules or omit virtuous behavior.
We are, as GK Chesterton said, “… all in the same boat, and we are all seasick.” Everything about the old man of us is so focused on itself that it really truly does not care an iota for others as it grasps, and lusts, and hates, and rages, and seeks to destroy anything that would get in its way to get what it wants – RIGHT NOW.
So, there is not just a list of things we call: sins. There is a factory that manufactures these behaviors from the designs of our broken and hardened hearts. All of this brokenness. It is terrible, and it is tearing us apart from G_d, from our true self, and from others.
And the weirdest part about each of us being so egocentric, is that the our first temptation is to blame others for our failures.
Oh yes, some people do some awfully bad things to us. But, when we brush past the touchstone of our real identity, we know that, in greatest measure: I, Me, and Myself are the greatest problem in the universe.
There is an answer. And, as is most often the case, the problem was solved before the problem even began. In fact, this problem was solved before the very foundations of the earth.
Can we see it?
Now, this fool of a writer is a bit of a mystic. I grew up in a family of warriors, professors, lawyers, and poets. We spoke of the optimal. We saw the beauty in the sunsets. We wept over the fallen. We marched with the downtrodden. And, we fought towards that which we knew was the most real: We fought to eliminate the barriers to peace, to falsehood, to injustice, and to the darkness of isolation.
Beyond all of this, I have fed on a steady diet of reading that spoke of the deeper connections, beauty and meaning in life. Gene Edwards, Calvin Miller, Thomas Merton, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, George MacDonald, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon, Teresa of Avila …. Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Zephaniah, Zechariah, Malachi, John The Beloved Disciple, and the intellectual Paul, quoting Greek Philosophers Aratus, Epimedes, and Menander in Acts, 1 Corinthians and Titus.
I began to see something in all of this writing: connection. All of this understanding flows from the basis of what reality really is.
I repent me of the ignorance wherein I ever said that God made man out of nothing: there is no nothing out of which to make anything; God is All in all, and He made us out of Himself.
Oh, fear not, i am not so foolish as to say that we are just one, big, happy, human family. Nor would i dare to say that whatever we choose to believe is OK. Mystical views are not melting-pots. Rather, writers like those above, show us that we were never meant to be alone. We were never meant to be opponents. We were never meant to look at someone and see them as “Them.” We were designed to live in pure and holy communion with G_d and others.
Beloved, we are already – in Christ – drawn into a joyous Triunion that has been the basis for existence before existence even existed. G_d in Three Persons did not just make a craft project of the universe.
No, They forged a physical reality of their complete surrender to each Other. Their profound Love for each Other built a habitation for trillions of beings formed by Their very Word. They created a place in which we Live and Move and Have our Being – in Him.
“Wait,” you may say. “So what? This guy is going off the deep end with fluffy philosophical stuff. I have a real life right now, with problems and conflicts, and terrible circumstances that need real answers!!”
Yes. Yes we do.
However, how might all those terrible situations around us resolve themselves if we – those of us in Christ – resolved to see people the way that our Triune Creator sees us (read: worth our death, our treasure, and our talent)?
What if we looked at our supposed enemy and chose to say: “This person is my brother or sister. They are made of the same stuff and history and situations and Creator as myself. They are – in a very real sense – part of me.” How might our local fellowships, our politics, our businesses, and our families fare if we chose to see those in our midst as “Us,” rather than “Them?”
Maybe all those mystics have a point. Tonight is your night, beloved. Time to look at others, and to see them for who they really are: us.
Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.