Paradox

Imagine a world where everyone walked around day and night but didn’t know what sleep is. Life expectancy would disintegrate, and health and immune strength would disappear. Productivity, accuracy, focus, and clarity would vanish. Memory, recovery, learning, creativity, performance and quality of life would abscond.

Imagine all of this suffering was so common it was considered normal, and peddlers were selling pills by the millions to treat the symptoms, and everyone wondered why there is no peace on the world.

Sleep is a natural and necessary mind state. But what if you met a person that did not know how to sleep? What would you say to them to help them learn? It would be quite difficult to describe the inner mind practice of falling asleep, it is quite subtle and intangible, and impossible to point to and say, “There! That is what I’m talking about. Follow that. It will lead you to sleep.” And yet it is so natural!

The surprise is that we really do live in this kind of world today, but instead of a lack of knowledge on how to sleep, very few of us know how to wake up, and instead of a world that doesn’t sleep, we live in a world that does not meditate–a normal and natural state of mind.

Imagine that this lack of meditation caused all illness and suffering, but all of this suffering was so common it was considered normal, and peddlers were selling pills by the millions to treat the symptoms, and everyone wondered why there is no peace on the world.

But how do you teach someone to meditate? There is no way to jump into their experience and guide them. Like falling asleep, the hardest thing about meditation is not meditating. It is just understanding and experiencing for yourself everything someone who knows is trying to teach you. To get to the experience of saying, “Oh! That’s what they meant! It’s so clear to me now!”

Falling asleep involves letting go of everything you know is real in favor of attaching to what you know is illusion at first, but soon forget, and you loose yourself in the illusion. Waking up, or meditation, is just the reverse. It is letting go of everything you think is real in favor of attaching to what you think is illusion at first, but soon realize that it is the only truth, and you find your Self in the waking.

Who would have thought that meditation was so powerful? First it has the power to bring peace to the world, then it has the power to destroy it? I find it quite amazing that doing nothing does so much!

God, Pudding, and Match.com

Sometimes I hear the idiom “the proof is in the pudding” and I think of the Jello snacks my Mom used to pack in my lunches. Today I heard it and it made me think,  “I have no idea what that means.”

Upon thinking about it for a moment, “the proof is in the pudding” seems to mean that the truth of something can only be tested by putting it into action. Like a new policy, or law. It’s a, “let’s use it and see if it works” kind of deal. (Word-detective.com does a great job explaining this phrase in detail here.)

So when I left the cage door open, and my sister’s hampster “Bear” escaped into his relative freedom, my father whipped up a make-shift “Bear trap”. Gazing upon this trap, composed mostly of duct tape and a dab of peanut butter as bait, I could have quite rightly said, “Well, Dad, the proof is in the pudding.” In other words, we could sit here and conjecture all day on weather it will work, how to improve its design, or what bait to use. In the meantime, poor Bear is exposed to the elements, and to the hunger of wild animals, namely our cat, “Scribble”. So let’s use it and see if it works. To everyone’s surprise, it did!

It seems to me, however, that many, if not most, of the religious people I know don’t think there is any proof in the religious pudding. When it comes to religious ideas, religion is an intellectual exercise of Philosophy, Theology, Scripture, or all of the above. They would much rather talk about God than give themselves to Him. For many, a relationship with God is in the mind. It is as if to say, “God will love me when I have the right idea of Him”.

But there is a real problem with this approach to God. Imagine you are looking for a girl/boyfriend on Match.com. You scroll though hundreds of candidates and fall in love with “the one”. You read their profile, follow them on all the social media and print out pictures of them to place around your house and cubical at work. Your heart bursts when you see their picture, and you are stirred to anger if anyone says something negative or wrong about your beloved. You would defend your idea about this person shamelessly, even to the point of blacklisting many of your friends and family for not seeing this person as you do. An idea about a person is a poor substitute for the real thing.

So, when it comes to God, He refuses to be known intellectually, and for good reason. Our idea of God will never be God, but only serve as a godforsaken counterfeit decoy.

All my life religion has told me to trust in those special few who have had experience with God. I’m done with that. I’d much rather follow the stirrings of my own heart that scream out to me to have my own experience of God. Jesus doesn’t so much want to be worshipped as much as he wants us to imitate Him, helping us to realize that yes, He is God, but not more than we are! 

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

2 Peter 1:3

God became man so that I may become God. This Union with God is what every spiritual tradition is talking about!

“As we turn toward participation we now can see that most of religious and church history has been largely preoccupied with religious ideas, about which you could be wrong or right. When faith is all about ideas, you do not have to be part of it; you just need to talk correctly about it. You never have to dive in and illustrate that spiritual proof is only in the pudding.

 The spiritual question is this: Does one’s life give any evidence of an encounter with God? Does this encounter bring about in you any of the things that Paul describes as the “fruits” of the spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22)? Are you different from your surroundings, or do you reflect the predictable cultural values and biases of your group?

 The “participatory turn” is learning from concrete practices, personal disciplines, and interactive dialogues that change the seer and allow and encourage the encounter itself. Many Christians today are rediscovering prayer beads, prayer of quiet, icons, contemplative sits, Taizé chants, charismatic prayer, walking meditation, Zen chores, extended silence, solitude, and disciplined spiritual direction. Up to now, you could have a doctorate in theology as a Catholic or Protestant and not really know how to pray or even enjoy prayer (experienced union), although you could recommend it officially to others and maybe even define it. Now we know that we must personally live our faith.

I hope you will dive into your faith and experiment with ways of opening yourself to transformation, to encounter, to conscious participation in God.”

-Fr. Richard Rohr

Faith is Not Belief

The following is from biblehub.com

4102 pístis (from 3982/peithô, “persuade, be persuaded”) – properly,persuasion (be persuaded, come to trust); faith.

Faith (4102/pistis) is always a gift from God, and never something that can be produced by people. In short, 4102/pistis(“faith”) for the believer is “God’s divine persuasion” – and therefore distinct from human belief (confidence), yet involving it. The Lord continuously births faith in the yielded believer so they can know what He prefers, i.e. the persuasion of His will (1 Jn 5:4).

[4102 (pistis) in secular antiquity referred to a guarantee (warranty). In Scripture, faith is God’s warranty, certifying that the revelation He inbirthed will come to pass (His way).

Faith (4102/pistis) is also usedcollectively – of all the times God has revealed (given the persuasion of) His will, which includes the full revelation of Scripture (Jude 3). Indeed, God the Lordguarantees that all of this revelation will come to pass! Compare Mt 5:18 with 2 Tim 3:16.]

  1. The root of 4102/pistis (“faith”) is 3982/peithô (“to persuade, be persuaded”) which supplies the core-meaning of faith (“divine persuasion“). It is God’s warranty that guarantees the fulfillment of the revelation He births within the receptive believer (cf. 1 Jn 5:4 with Heb 11:1).

Faith (4102/pistis) is always received from God, and never generated by us.

Ro 12:3: “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith (4102/pistis)” (NASU).

Eph 2:8,9: ” For by grace you have been saved through faith (4102/pistis); and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (NASU).

Gal 5:22,23: “22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,

patience, kindness, goodness, faith(4102/pistis), 23gentleness,

self-control; against such things there is no law.”

2 Thes 1:11: “To this end (glorification) – indeed each time we pray about (peri) you for the purpose (hin) of our God counting you worthy of the call – even that He may fulfill (His) every good-pleasure that comes from (His) goodness and work of faith, in (His) ability.”

Reflection: Faith is only (exclusively) given to the redeemed. It is not a virtue that can be worked up by human effort.

  1. Faith (4102/pistis) enables the believer to know God’s preferred-will (cf. J. Calvin; see 2307/thelçma). Accordingly, faith (4102/pistis) and “God’s preferred-will (2307/thelçma)” are directly connected in Scripture.

2 Ro 12:2,3: ” And do not be conformed to this world, but betransformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will (2307/thelçma) of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 3For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure offaith (4102/pistis)” (NASU).

5 2 Cor 8:5,7: ” And this, not as we had expected, but they first

gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will (2307/thelçma) of

God” (NASU).

7″ But just as you abound in everything, in faith (4102/pistis)

and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love

we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also”

(NASU).

Heb 10:36,38: “36For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will (2307/thelçma) of God, you may receive what was promised” (NASU).

” BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH(4102/pistis); AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM” (NASU).

1 Jn 5:4: “For whatever is born of Godconquers the world;

and this is the conquest that has conquered the world – our faith

(4102/pistis).”

  1. In sum, faith (4102/pistis) is a persuasion from God that we receive as He grants impulse (“divine spark”; cf. the Heb hiphil form of believe, *mn, in a later discussion). Faith is always the work of God and involves hearing His voice – whereby the believer lays hold of His preferred-will (cf. J. Calvin).

1 Hab 2:1: ” I will stand on my guard post And station myself on the rampart;

And I will keep watch to see what He will speak in (Heb me” (NASU).

Hab 2:4: “Behold, as for the proud one,

His soul is not right within him;

But the righteous will live in his faith” (= 4102/pistis, “faith from the Lord”).

More on what faith is . . . and isn’t

  1. In Scripture, faith and belief are not exactly the same. Faith always comes from God and involves His revelation thereforefaith is beyond belief!
  2. Faith is God’s work; faith isnever the work of people. We cannot produce faith ourselves, nor can we “drum it up at will.” Rather, faith comes as Christ speaks His rhçma-word within (see Ro 10:17, Gk text).
  3. In all of Scripture, only the termfaith is ever used in the following way: Ro 14:23: Whatever is not of faith(4102/pistis) is sin.” Heb 11:6: “And without faith(4102/pistisit is impossible to

please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (NASU).

Reflection: Nothing quite like this two-fold witness appears elsewhere in the Bible. These sweepingstatements sober the heart and inspire the soul!

The Lord offers to inbirth faith in each scene of life – so that each matters equally in eternity . . . no matter how insignificant they seem (Lk 16:10 with Lk 17:6 and 2 Pet 1:2).

Key quotes

“Faith always pre-supposes revelation” (W. H. Griffith Thomas,Genesis, 55). “Faith is always a response to a divine revelation” (W. H. Griffith Thomas, Hebrews, 143). “Faith . . . both in its initiation and every step of the way, is Spirit given . . . faith is God given” (W. Hendriksen,Galatians, 197). “Faith precedesworks, and is not something merelydeduced by

reason of existing” (D. Edmond Hiebert, Thessalonians, 2 Thes 1:11). “Faith is always a gift of God” (L. Morris, John, p 520). “The basis of faith is God’s revelation of Himself . . . Christianity came

to be seen as a faith event” (O. Michel, Dictionary of New Testament Theology).

“Faith is the divine response, wrought in man, by God” (from Berkof’s Systematic Theology, representing the views of Barth and Brunner).

“Faith always has the element of assurance, certainty and confidence . . . and evidential value substantiating the thing we hope for . . . with faith, there is no strain or tension; rather, it has the element of assurance and confidence in it . . . if there is strain or tension . . . trying to persuade yourself to keep from doubting, you can be quite sure that it is not faith . . . faith is not the law of mathematical probability, . . . faith is not natural . . .faith is spiritual, the gift of God . . . you cannot command faith at will, faith is always something that isgiven-inwrought by God; . . . therefore, if you want to be a man of faith, it will always be the result of becoming a certain type of person” (M. Lloyd Jones, Romans, Ro 4:18-25).

“Faith is the divinely given conviction of things unseen” (Homer Kent Jr.,Hebrews, 217, quoting Theological Dictionary of the NT vol 2, 476).

“Faith is the organ which enables people to see the invisible order” (F.

  1. Bruce, Hebrews, 279).

“Faith is knowing what is His will toward us; therefore, we hold faith to be the knowledge of God’s will toward us” (John Calvin, as quoted by R. McAfee Brown in Is Faith Obsolete?).

“Right faith is a thing wrought in us by the Holy Spirit” (Wm. Tyndale).

“We have made faith a condition of mind, when it is a divinely imparted grace of the heart . . . we can receive faith only as he gives it . . . you cannot manufacture faith, you can not work it up . . . you can believe a promise, and at the same time not have the faith to appropriate it . . . genuine, Scriptural faith is not our ability to ‘count it done,’ but is the deep consciousness divinely imparted to the heart of man that it is done, . . . it is the faith that only God can give . . . do not struggle in the power of the will . . . what a mistake to take our belief in God and call of faith . . . Christ, the living word, is our sufficiency . . . (Charles Price, The Real Faith, Logos/publications).

Note: On the distinction betweenbelieving (belief), and faith in the Scriptures see Js 2:19; Jn 10:38; Ac 8:13, 26:27,28; Ro 14:2; 2 Thes 2:11; 1 Jn 4:1; also Jn 2:23, 7:31, 12:42 and 4102/pisteuô (“believe”).

As in the Gospels, a person’s believing (belief) is vital (cf. Heb 11:6). But a personal encounter with Christ (a true connection with Him and His Word) is always necessary for believing (“man’s responsibility”) to be transformed into faith (which isalways and only God’s word). See also Mt 8:10,13, 9:22,28,29, 15:28; Ac 20:21; Ro 9:32; Gal 3:9,22.

Summary

Belief and faith are not exactly equivalent terms. When Jesus told people, “Your faith has made you well,” faith was still His gift (Eph 2:8,9). Any gift however, once received, becomes the “possession” of the recipient. Faith however is always from God and is purely His work (2 Thes 1:11).

Note: The Greek definite article is uniformly used in the expressions “your faith,” “their faith” (which occur over 30 times in the Greek NT). This genitive construction with the article refers to “the principle of faith(operating inyou” – not “your faith” in the sense that faith is ever generated by the recipient.

[The meaning of the definite article in this construction is “the principle of faith at work in you,” “the operating-principle of faith in them,” etc. For examples see: Mt 9:2,22,29; Lk 17:19; Phil 2:17; 2 Pet 1:5, etc.]

Faith (4102/pistis) involves belief but it goes beyond human believing because it involves the personal revelation (inworking) of God. Faith is always God’s work. Our believing has eternal meaning when it becomes “faith-believing” by the transforming grace of God.

Reflection: Demons believe (and shudder) . . . but they do not have (experience) faith!

Js 2:19: “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder” (NASU).

 

It’s All Go(o)d

Surrender has nothing to do with giving any thing to God. Surrender is the complete and utter demolishing of my old structure of living that was enslaved to personal thought and personal preference.

It is the thorough disenchantment with everything from which I once placed my hope for happiness in, replaced by a radical and confident acceptance of anything and everything that God is pleased to send my way, trusting in his goodness and love, even when what he provides is experienced as quite unpleasant.

It is the entire and final admittance that I don’t at all trust my own judgement to know whether something is good or bad, and to become like a rag-doll in hands of God, placing no hope or desire of my own on my daily events, except what ever it is that God intends by giving it to me in the first place.

It is the last desire, to let go of all form and enter into the Nothing. It is the utter realization that everything is actually nothing, and Nothing is actually Everything, and that I am both. It is the true understanding that the last shall be first and the first shall be last.

Surrender is not an act of will. It is the ultimate, concluding, denial of my personal will. It’s all good because it is all God!

Teacher of the Divine

O, Mother Mary, Mother of the Divine and my Mother; teach us to pray as you did the Apostles in the upper room before Pentecost. Open my mind and heart to the love of God that comes to us through your Son. Renew in me the Spirit of God, that He in turn may renew my mind, so that I may see all things as God does. Teach me, my Mother, how to surrender to this new Spirit, so that I may truly be a child and heir of Our Father in heaven. Above all, Mother, grant me a trusting patience as I await the coming of my Spirit, resting in the security of God’s gifts to me that I have already received; an unimpaired faith, an unyielding hope, and undivided charity. Amen.