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The Kingdom Of God And Individuation


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In my observation the kingdom of God demands that we become individuals. Jesus refers to his followers as the ekklesia, usually poorly translated "church." Most Greek/English lexicons correctly translate ekklesia "called-out." I believe ekklesia means just what it says, that as followers of Jesus we are called out. But called out from what to what? Jesus makes it black and white when he says we can not serve two masters, God or money. Money is what the power of this world is based on. To be sure, there are other economys, such as religion, military,sex, politics, etc.. These all together represent the status quo. The the goal of the status quo is to keep things the way they are. Keep the power structures in place, rulers in power, money in the hands of the rich, religion under the controll of church hierarchy, and so on. This is what I beleive followers of Jesus to be called out from.

 

In the kingdom we are not subject to the laws of "this world." Rather, we are subject to faith. We think, do, believe because that is what we choose to do. If you will, we are not concerned about heaven or hell. If there were no heaven or hell we would still follow Jesus. Not because we have to, but because be believe we are right and just in doing so. We will follow him if it cost us leaving behind the religion, politics, and beliefs of our birth. We will put out hands to the plow and not turn back even if it means that in some form we will experience crucifixion. When I was disfellowshiped by my old denomination, I thought it was the end. That was twenty years ago and I'm still alive.

 

If I am called out from the powers of this world, then what power do turn to. This is critical. In the late Rollo May's book, Power and Innocense, A search for the sources of violence, he makes a strong case for the individual's need for the power to be. To be what? Be me! John Sanford says in his book, The Kingdom Within, these striking words:

 

". . . entrance into the kingdom requires the disidentification with the group and the assumption of the burden of being a person."

 

The Kingdom, which is not of this world, that Jesus pointed us toward is found within (Luke 17:21). How do we get there? I have for a long time found the first beatitude, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," Matthew 5:3, gives us an important clue. This and the rest of the beatitudes all agree that it is through finding our own impovrishedness, neediness, failure to always do what is right, ego driveness, inner-shadow, that we will find the kingdom where God abides. In other words it is not spiritual or religious superiority that is needed to enter the kingdom. Instead it is through the humility to accept ourselves as we truly are, including our unconsciousness, that gets us in the realm of God.

 

In my work as both a minister and a counselor, I have discovered that every human pathology presents is a door into the soul. As we find our brokennesses we are able to finally accept what it means to be a human being. Then we can begin to meet the needs of our inner-world. There is usually a need to have someone who has walked this path to help create oppouturnities for inner acceptance and healing, and they are there when we want them. But the healing of our inner-world gives us the critical power to be me. After I had begun to practice inner healing I had an unusual oppoutunity to experience the power I have been talking about. It seems that a member of my old denomination, who was angry with my views, came up to me in front of a number of church members and said, "I happen to know that you're a hypocrite." If someone had said that to me a year earlier, I would have jumped back at him to defend myself. But I had been working on inner healing for some months. This being the situation, I replied, "Now that I think about it, your right. I certianly don't intend, or want to be, a hypocrite. Truthfully I know that I have been a hypocrite many times in my life. If there is a particular hypocracy you want to point out I will be happy to listen." He walked away. I didn't hurt anyone by acting out anger, I didn't feel angry.

 

The Kingdom is where we meet the God "I AM THAT I AM" and "i am that i am" God is touched by such humility, such acceptence of our imperfect humanity (consider Job). God sees power in humility. He gave the kingdom to his Jesus when Jesus accepted the ultimate humility, which was His acceptence that he could not change the world by controlling it, owning it, or imposing himself on it -even if he was God. But Jesus believed that by letting go our outer-world desire for power we would find in our souls the power, the kingdom, and God's everlasting glory.

 

I realize that I am attempting to talk about profound ideas in a very brief statement. In time to come I hope to be able to say more.

 

Bob the facilitator

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In my observation the kingdom of God demands that we become individuals.
Robert

 

Robert, I agree with your observations. I feel many men and women have reached middle age without achieving mental maturity; therefore, as Christians I feel it is necessary to assist them through the neglected layers of the mind. It seems you are doing this in your life. If people have not developed and completed the first layers of their mind, they won't discover the higher layers of the mind, which seems work in a hidden way to create something meaningful in our lives. I also feel the process of becoming an individual should be given priority for this reason because following the inner meaning of life is more important to an individual than anything physical.

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". . . entrance into the kingdom requires the disidentification with the group and the assumption of the burden of being a person."

Good observations. I really like that quote. It hits on something I've been thinking about recently (well, for a while actually). I would argue that one of the group identities that we are called to overcome is also a religious identity. So, in order to adopt more fully a Christian identity, we need to let go of a distinctive Christian identity.

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Good observations. I really like that quote. It hits on something I've been thinking about recently (well, for a while actually). I would argue that one of the group identities that we are called to overcome is also a religious identity. So, in order to adopt more fully a Christian identity, we need to let go of a distinctive Christian identity.

 

If you mean Christian in the sense of the institution known as the Church, I agree, we need some distance. But I don't know if we should abandon it completely. While the institution of Christianity, especially fundamentalism, has lost sight of the kingdom of God, it has also been the vessel bringing you and me to the stage of our current level of spiritual awareness. It have provided both insight and adversity. Both these polar opposites are sources of consciousness, faith, and spitituality.

 

As we become more conscious we need to be cautious that we don't become arrogant about our "better way." We may need to present ourselves as called out from institutional Christianity by our inclusiveness, compassion, and openness to the beliefs of others. Jesus was always respectful of his mother religion, but acted and spoke in an inclusive way. And, I think, that we still cam benefit from our relationsip with mother church. There are many others in the old milieu who are struggling toward a conscious faith. We need to be in a position to support and encourage them.

 

The power of progressive Christianity is not it's superiority, but rather it's humility.

 

Bob the facilitator

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If you mean Christian in the sense of the institution known as the Church, I agree, we need some distance. But I don't know if we should abandon it completely. ...

No, I mean a distinctly Christian identity. Maybe it would help if I differentiate a couple of terms.

 

When I think if "Christian identity," I think of that which post-liberals emphasize as important to faith formation, indeed the most important element. Counter to that, I argue, is identification with Christ. On the cross, Christ does not identify with his race, nation, or religion. He identifies with the fullness of humanity. By doing so, he identifies himself as a "fully human" symbol, to which we point to as being "fully divine." So too, as we are more immersed in his spirit, our identification moves beyond tribal identities (which includes the Christian religion) and we are drawn into identification with the fullness of humanity, an event that, too, is divine. Thus, since the act of identification leads to an identity, I said "in order to adopt more fully a Christian identity, we need to let go of a distinctive Christian identity."

 

 

 

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No, I mean a distinctly Christian identity. Maybe it would help if I differentiate a couple of terms.

 

When I think if "Christian identity," I think of that which post-liberals emphasize as important to faith formation, indeed the most important element. Counter to that, I argue, is identification with Christ. On the cross, Christ does not identify with his race, nation, or religion. He identifies with the fullness of humanity. By doing so, he identifies himself as a "fully human" symbol, to which we point to as being "fully divine." So too, as we are more immersed in his spirit, our identification moves beyond tribal identities (which includes the Christian religion) and we are drawn into identification with the fullness of humanity, an event that, too, is divine. Thus, since the act of identification leads to an identity, I said "in order to adopt more fully a Christian identity, we need to let go of a distinctive Christian identity."

 

I think you're absoulutly right. Thanks for your response.

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