Finding Your Center of Power

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Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:22-24).

Last week we focused on the parable of the prodigal son, which is all about coming home. Coming home is a return to your center of power, a key element of the mystical thread that we’re considering as the Gospel of Jesus.

How do we find our center of power? Jesus says to have faith in God. That is, draw your attention away from that mountainous problem that looms before you and recommit to turning your faith in God.

A story found in 2 Chronicles really drives this home with a practical how-to. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, is informed that many of Judah’s enemies have formed an alliance and are coming to attack. Jehoshaphat responds in fear, but he vows to “seek the Lord” and calls for a national fast. Addressing the Lord, he says, “In thy hand are power and might. We are powerless. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon thee.” Then the Lord spoke through the prophet Jahaziel. “You will not need to fight in this battle. Fear not, and be not dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s. Go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.

The recognition that the battle was not theirs but God’s indicates they had found their center of power. Jehoshaphat then orders singers to go before them singing praises. In the end, the forces arrayed against Judah began to fight amongst themselves and they destroyed one another.

God within is our center of power, the source of our strength. If we are drawing our strength from what we have rather than from who we are, we may discover that we don’t have what it takes to win the battle.

When Jesus says, “…and does not doubt in his heart,” he is echoing Jehoshaphat’s, “In thy hand are power and might. We are powerless. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon thee.” In other words, both are describing a very definite shift in focus. How will the mountain be cast to the sea? How will the army be defeated? We don’t know. We only know that our eyes are upon thee. Our faith is in God.

This is the homecoming, the return to our center of power. Problems come in the form of mountains and great armies that seem poised to destroy our peace. Return to your home, your center of power by reaffirming your faith in God, the absolute good working through your life right now.

 

 

 

 

The Gospel of Jesus

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We have four Gospels about Jesus, but do we have a Gospel of Jesus? I like to think we do, and it’s found in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). The story not only provides a summary of the entire problem of sin and salvation, it also gives us the key to the mystical thread that I believe represents the heart of his message.

Luke positions this parable and the two that precede it—the lost coin and the lost sheep—in the early Christian context of the wayward sinner, which is how it is usually considered today. Though we’re led to believe that Jesus taught a repent or else message, his original intent was probably more in line with the less abrasive, forgiving words and actions of the father toward his wayward son. It’s been suggested that Luke was seeking to appease a remnant of John the Baptist’s following who would have been accustomed to John’s harsher tone.

An overview of this parable shows that it contains all three phases of the Hero’s Journey: 1) the departure 2), the initiation 3) the return. The son leaves his ordinary life to heed the call to adventure. Once out, he encounters severe trials that lead him to the brink of disaster. His transformative moment occurs when he comes to himself. The arrogance of youth is replaced with humble compliance. He returns home a changed character.

I think the perfect litmus test for Jesus’ gospel is found in how well his various sayings align with the tone of this parable. The sinner is punished by his sins, not for them. The father does not forgive the son because he never condemns him. He expresses nothing but unconditional love. The only condemnation in the story comes from the older brother, who represents the demand for punishment found in so many mainstream religions.

If we go back to the statement that Truth is the omnipotence of God expressing as the spiritual essence of every individual, we see this principle portrayed in the prodigal story. The father represents this perpetual state of self-expression in his love for both sons. Our wayward thinking does not change the expressive activity of God in us. We may wander into the far country of despair, but because this relationship of oneness is unchangeable, we can come to ourselves and begin our journey home, no bargaining required.

The younger son breaks the rules and the older son insists on punishment for his sins. Both suffer as the result of their transgressions. The father goes out to welcome his wayward son, but he also goes out to console his angry son.

The story clearly illustrates the unconditional love of God, a message worthy of being treated as the good news, the Gospel that Jesus likely intended to bring to the world.

The New Birth

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Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3).

We’ve all heard of the born-again Christian. We may think of this new birth, as one mainstream Christian writer puts it, as occurring in one who “turns from sin and with his or her whole heart trusts in Christ as personal Savior and Lord.” But the context of this well-known encounter between Nicodemus and Jesus gives no indication that this is what Jesus meant. He explains to Nicodemus that “flesh gives birth to flesh, but Spirit gives birth to spirit.” The new birth is a transition from that which is born of the flesh to that which is born of the Spirit. One cannot see the kingdom of God, he says, unless they experience this shift, this new birth. Interestingly, we see this same idea expressed in the Hindu Upanishads: “Thou canst not behold Me with thy two outer eyes, I have given thee an eye divine.

That in us which is born of the flesh is our body-based self-image, the core identity most of us use to navigate through life. We can refer to this surface self in many ways including the personality, the ego, or as Paul’s “mind of the flesh” (Romans 8:6). The physical body is the central component of the self-image. In contrast, that which is born of the Spirit is, of course, our spiritual essence, the image and likeness of God we know as the soul. We come to know the soul, not through “thy two outer eyes,” but through our intuitive faculty, the eye divine. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6). To go into your room and close the door is a way of saying, Turn away from the senses, listen and learn to feel the innermost promptings of the Spirit. This is not an intellectual pursuit but an intuitive activity in which we attune to the quiet radiance emanating from our spiritual center.

This new birth occurs in most as a gradual awakening. It may begin as unrest accompanied by questions about life’s purpose. This evolves into a new way of thinking. We eventually lay down the books and actively pursue a first-hand experience with God. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).

When the door is opened, God is immediately transformed from speculative theory to concrete reality. Our new birth opens our eye divine to see this otherwise invisible spiritual realm, this kingdom that, as the Gospel of Thomas states, “… is spread out upon the earth, and people do not see it” (Saying 113). This is not simply a shift in ideas. It’s a consciousness transforming renewal of the mind, a new birth. The soul is brought into our field of awareness, not as a conceptual abstraction, but as the living energy we know as the true basis of our identity.