This one just stunned me… for two reasons.
Believe this or not, I do NOT tailor my writing to his posts. Nonetheless I am constantly amazed by how often we seem to be saying the same things at around the same time.
The first element that startled me was that Fr. Richard here expresses so very clearly the idea I try to communicate (with much less clarity)… that we ARE redeemed, transformed, adopted, embraced, miraculously fashioned children of God… quite awesome creatures in the tableau of the cosmos. But that we are not (for the most part) AWARE of this.
Why is this so? How can this be? How can someone be a divine and royal prince/princess and not know or experience it? Well, the easiest answer is that we just don’t know. Either we’ve not been told, or if we’ve been told, we don’t understand or believe the message.
For me, the Gospel is such incredibly Good News… vastly beyond our imaginings or expectations. Not only are we “saved”, “rescued” from bondage, made free when we had been enslaved… not only that… But having been fashioned initially by God, then tainted with the stain/illusions of Original Sin, we are then embraced… transmuted like lead to gold… and imbued with our legacy and adoption as children and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ by the implantation of the Holy Spirit within our core.
Jesus spent significant time and attention describing all this to his companion disciples/friends at the end of the Gospel of John. He took care to specify that these truths were to apply not only to them, but to all who believed because of their words.
And yet, why does this not seem to bring about the reality of the Kingdom of God on earth, in our societies, among our cultures? I mean, if the Lord’s salvation brings about this “repopulation” of our communities with living, breathing, walking vessels of Him… why don’t we see this, hear this, experience this happening all around us?
I think Symeon put his finger on it. There is this vast difference between the “IS” as God speaks it forth and makes it… and what WE subjectively perceive, believe, and experience.
How can this be true, you ask? How can a person be transformed into the living vessel of the resurrected Christ, and not know it, feel it, experience it?
It has always seemed this way to me…
What if a man walked up to you one day and handed you a lottery ticket as he said, “Here is a winning lottery ticket for you. You can redeem this for $25 Million. This is a gift from Me to you. Farewell.” He walks away as you stand there staring at this piece of paper in your hand, with an official state seal and some numbers printed on it.
Now… what ARE you?
You… are a millionaire. Assume that the ticket is valid, and you are a bona fide, official, millionaire.
That’s one way of looking at it.
But another way is…
You are a confused person, standing still, staring at a piece of paper, wondering if a crazy man has just walked up and handed you a bit of trash litter.
Are you a millionaire? Well… yes and no. You ARE, in an “objective” sense. What resources are now officially at your command, define you as a millionaire. Yet, by the same token, you are not. Because you don’t experience it, you don’t believe it, you don’t perceive any of that change.This is not yet true in a “subjective” sense.
There are steps you must now take to “actualize” this change, to make this change subjectively really true, actual, and experiential for yourself. Until you perceive this as true, it is not yet true to you and for you.
To me, a multitude of Christians walk all around us, every day… unconscious of their “adoption papers”, “new identity”, and “lottery ticket” in their pockets. Jesus has walked up to them, they have encountered and embraced Him (at least with a polite handshake), and He has handed them their new life documents. But with a sort of dazed look, one after another of us just have this “too good to be true! Cannot be!” reaction. Rather than grasping our new and regal status with both hands, we sort of talk ourselves out of it, back up to a vastly more comfortable position of much less responsibility and accountability, and settle back into a herd, to chant with a group to be made worthy to be admitted to this Kingdom wherein we’ve already been made nobility.
Like the story of Queen Esther and King Ahasuerus, one enters the presence of the King only by his sufferance. To enter unbidden is to invite death from which only his pardon can grant rescue. Here we are in the presence of The King, upon whose face it is death to look. And, beyond being granted grace to live, He grants us adoption as sons whereby we can cry out “Abba! Daddy!” and climb up into His lap! Whenever we choose! Who can imagine this?
This matter of our oneness, adoption, and inclusion into the divine nature is/was the first point of overlap I noticed between Fr. Richard’s notes on Symeon and some of my posts. The second was the illustration of the match flame, the fire, in “When One plus One equals One”.
When God draws us into Himself in moments of “identity-free prayer”… that some call contemplation, or mental prayer, or transcendental meditation… there can be the phenomenon of entering into the divine very much like touching the Consuming Fire (by His invitation) with our own lamp on our lampstand. The question very much becomes, when two fires meld into one, where are the boundaries? When a match flame joins a conflagration, which one is which afterwards?
When a torch or lamp is lit from a mighty fire, how much of the “mighty” flamage enters into and onto the torch? To what extent is the torch changed, or the torchlight improved, from the encounter?
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Comments welcome! This could be a fun discussion!