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Connecting the Right Dots

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

The Bible: A Text in Travail

Connecting the Right Dots
Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Bible in its totality, from Genesis to Revelation, mirrors the development of human consciousness, with its usual pattern of progression and regression. At the beginning is the Law, which the Hebrew people called the Torah, or the five books of Moses. Several of those books, especially Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, show us a people who define themselves in terms of identities and boundary keeping.

In the first stages of life, you find identities and boundaries, not by who you positively are (you do not know yet), but by what you are or are not against. A third of the Hebrew Scriptures, many of the historical books too, are about separating from, and triumphing over; holiness is seen as separation from evil things and elements, and victory over outsiders. That is helpful for developing our first egoic identity (the container), and for most of us this represents at least the first 25 years of our life; but that is not yet a full spiritual identity (the contents). The trouble is, an awful lot of people stay at that first stage of boundary-keeping that “law” and group well provide, even though it traps us inside of a black or white, dualistic consciousness. But we have to start there or we have no ego container. What is a virtue for a 16-year-old boy is a vice for a 60-year-old man. Yet it is necessary to give people an initial sense of self importance, separateness, and security—all the things the ego wants and, in fact, needs. This is the Catholic Church I grew up in during the 1950s in Kansas. And it worked!

So can you see why most people are hesitant to move further, toward places where they cannot uphold themselves, or prove they are right and good, but can only be upheld by Another? Such actual Biblical faith is rare, it seems to me. As Jesus said, “When the Son of Man returns, will he find any faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). Paul speaks of justification by faith alone apart from the works of the Law (read Galatians 3). He even says the Law was given for the purpose of showing you that you cannot obey the Law (Romans 7:7ff). Wow! The Law actually assures a kind of certain failure so all humans have to rely entirely on God’s grace and mercy and not their own worthiness or any kind of superiority. God is actually pretty clever, if I do say so myself.

In Jesus, Paul, and John, God’s presence within you is the basis for your worthiness. When you learn how to abide in that place, you will fall in love with God. And at the same time you’ll fall in love with yourself because now you know it is not all about you anyway!

We never want to make a disjunction between the so called Old Testament (which implies “out of date”) and the New Testament, although most Christians do. Jesus believed and built his faith through his own Jewish Scriptures, yet he also used them quite selectively, which is how we too should read the Scriptures.

For example the theme of grace, which I call the theme of themes of the whole Bible, is already clearly taught in places like Deuteronomy 7:7-9: “If Yahweh set his [sic] heart on you and chose you, it was not because you were greater than any other people, but in fact you were the least of all the peoples; but Yahweh is a faithful God who is true to his graciousness for a thousand generations.” Yet this wonderful text is followed immediately by a “two steps backward” text in verse 10: “Those who hate him, he will repay to their face by destroying them.”

The Scriptures seem to grow just as slowly as we do. Remember when you first blurted out “I love you” to a girlfriend or boyfriend, and then felt like a fool for having said it, and wanted to take the words back? I find that exact pattern in the Bible. As soon as it says something wonderful and over the top with love, mercy, or compassion, it invariably pulls back. Humans can only edge toward love, and the Bible includes the problem quotes inside the solution quotes. There are plenty of resistance verses in the Bible—but accompanied by verses that express immense leaps forward in human consciousness. Just trust and allow those wonderful leaps—they are always there—and then connect the dots! You will see for yourself where it is all heading.

Gateway to Silence:
Seeing with eyes of love

Adapted from Scripture as Liberation (MP3 download)

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