contemplative monk : Intentional Spirituality Transforms

Change is the Constant

Promise -Reji via Compfight

The sheer staggering beauty of abiding in the vine, is that we enter into a divine mystery, the unfolding of eternal life.

Everything has changed. We all know it. What used to work, used to be safe, used to be secure is now risky, or just plain doesn’t work. We’re at a loss. We don’t know where to turn to find a safe place, somewhere we and our family can prosper. We’re walking through–we’re living in a time of change and chaos.

Here’s the scoop: We’ve entered a new era and we’re all struggling to cope, and adapt.

So What’s Happened?

The last time we had a seismic shift like this was in the 1600’s with the invention of the printing press. Information flourished and the Age of Reason or Enlightenment began. We seized upon the idea of the possibility of a human utopia. Science and reason were held up as our champions,  while warm-hearted mysticism was held up to ridicule as superstition and fairy tales. The Church in reaction, along with the Reformation kicked out anything that smacked of mysticism to the curb. They held up linear logic and reason as the foundations of our faith, theology and Scripture. And we’ve been arguing ever since.

Two Man Made Children

Two man-made children, two solutions to ‘the sovereignty of God’ vs ‘the responsibility of man’ conflict, works vs grace,  two world views rose up, out of this linear logical agenda. They are ‘closed system Fundamentalism’ and ‘institutional Liberalism’. Both solutions have failed us, and continue to divide us. In churches they implode in upon themselves. Their division taints and kills everything they touch. But for the grace of God, we would not have survived. Those old structures imitate but cannot navigate life. In the spiritual life, we include both and transcend them. Another way to say it: in the presence of God our divisions fall away and are consumed by the glory of God. Spiritually we become One.

Age of the Spirit

In the 1960’s, the Age of Reason came to a close with the dawning of the Age of the Spirit. The evidence is everywhere we turn. And it’s not just with Christians. Islam, Zen, meditation research, brain science, retreats, pilgrimages, seminars…people searching for more, usually in spite of the Church. People are hungry for spiritual reality, and the four spiritual laws aren’t enough. The days of build it and they will come is over. The Factory Church is on life support.

The seismic shift of the 1960’s gave birth to the Digital Revolution. Our tools are awesome. We can fact check everything, but we’ve discovered that information is not enough. Knowing the right answers isn’t enough. Our whole educational system, including the church is built on the corporate factory model.

Life is Lived Out of our Comfort Zone

This is why many of us, myself included, have become monks without monasteries, and go to churches without walls. Its because, walking in the mystical presence of Christ is the only way to navigate the chaos we find ourselves in. It’s how we live compassionately with wisdom. Now I’m not saying everybody needs to become a monk, or go to a church without walls, but think about it. What’s the last thing Jesus spoke to your heart?

We are in an age of the spirit, whether you like it or not. It’s the cry of this generation. It surrounds us. Zen, mindfulness and meditation are the buzz words of today. Huffington Post calls it The Third Metric. It’s on the bestseller lists, it’s the secret question of every heart. People are sick and tired, of being sick and tired. They want spiritual reality, not a charismatic freak show. Seriously, we’re all a mess, every single on of us, and there’s no easy answers.

Jesus Whole Life Was Mystical

Because of love, Jesus came to rescue us from the illusion that we’ve got it all together, as well as our life in utter brokenness, guilt and shame. He came to rescue us.

Jesus’ whole life was and is mystical. It’s beyond our comprehension. It doesn’t fit into this world, in fact it transcends it, it preempts it, even in this moment. From His birth, to his baptism, to his temptation, to the wedding feast, to the miracles, to the sermon on the mount, to the mount of transfiguration, to his death, burial and resurrection, it’s all mystical and beyond our control.  Because Jesus loves us, he came to made a way where there was no way. A way deeper than the Tao and the Oneness of all things, because it’s born of the Holy Spirit, the One who created all things. The eternal life Jesus offers us, is deeper than mere spiritual unity of this whole universe, because it is the life of G-d, the God who created the universe, however he did it.

What’s incredible, is that we can bring our mess to God, all of it, a thousand times a day. We come just as we are, and God heals us from the inside out. It’s a divine exchange and it’s called grace and forgiveness. It’s the life of God’s Spirit that flows into us. Living in the Spirit is a spiritual lifestyle, not a mere experience, no matter how wonderful.

God Calls Us into the Mystical

We have entered the Age of the Spirit. The Age of the Soul or Reason has passed.  So look up and draw near to God, as the old ways are passing, look, God is doing something new. See how it sprouts up, a season of the restoration of all things. God is restoring us to his original intent, in spite of us, not because of us. And it’s all through Jesus, by the power of His Spirit, in fact…

The beauty of holiness is abiding in Jesus. This holiness is the wholeness of God, greater than our own wholeness…a wholeness born of God. And as we abide the vine, we begin to live within incredible mystery, the unfolding of eternal life.

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