Contemplative Monk : Intentional Spirituality Transforms

Where Are We As The Church?

 

How Did We Get Here?

Have you ever wondered how we got to where we are as the Church?

This has been a constant question of mine for my last 50 years.

I’ve got relatives and friends who tell me it’s the Blessed Sacrament that saves us. Other’s see it in the expansive worship of groups like Hillsong, Bethel, and IHOP. I have one priest friend who tells me I’m going to Hell because I don’t receive the Eucharist from a Russian Orthodox Priest. I’ve talked to Snake Handlers who tell me that ‘the proof of being filled with the Holy Ghost’ is “the snakes don’t bite.” I have another friend who passionately tells me it’s by living the Whole Law as far as it’s possible without the Temple. My Baptist friends tell me it’s living what we believe. My Methodist friends tell me it’s living what we know. My Presbyterian friends tell me it’s pre-ordained. My Anglican friends tell me it’s living out the Liturgy. My Luthern friends tell me it’s living out our Confession. There are people on the street corners I pass every day with signs saying,  “Repent you brood of vipers in church or you’ll burn in the lake of fire forever.” Now that I’ve stepped on everybody’s ‘us and them’ toes…

This is NOT a binary put down

Listen up! It’s not who’s right or wrong. It isn’t as simple as that. But we all have seemingly endless denominations, non-denominations, and post-denominations who all say, “We have Jesus. We’re the real deal.”

So how did we get here?

I had an Aha moment last week that’s still unfolding and here it is: Someone said to me, “God meets us where we are,” and I told her she was right. God, however, said, ‘Deeper.’ I immediately saw that if I’m 300 lbs and receive Jesus, I’m still 300 lbs. If I’m a racist and receive Jesus, I’m still a racist. or If I’m superstitious, and receive Jesus, I’m still superstitious. And I heard, ‘Deeper.’

“God meets us where we are.”

Here’s my conclusion:

“Our unity is born in the presence of God and not in our states and stages.” ~ Bob Holmes

Our Three Story of Brain Awareness

At Worship on The Water ie The Flora-Bama Church, there is an incredible wisdom teacher, Dr. Wil Baker who I credit for this concept. I once asked him why he didn’t write it all down and he said, “Then I would have to defend it.”

I’m not a scientist so any inconsistencies and conclusions are not Dr. Wil’s’ but my own.  But I hope you will find this helpful.

Now as we start, first realize that this is a gross over-simplification and not a scientific fact, but I see three basic levels of awareness.

First Level: Our Survival Brain Awareness

Our survival brain awareness operates on fear, anger, and pleasure. If Jesus meets us and we are living mostly at this awareness level, I’m likely to see a God of hell fire and damnation. A God of great fear and judgment who rules from the outside in, top down. Jesus is other and salvation at best is seen as a distant heaven after death, as a great reward for pleasing God.

At the level of survival awareness, the upper levels are distant and far off, if seen at all. For examples, all you’ve got to do is look at Facebook when people fall into survival mode. Politics and Religion are two trigger points to lose your level of awareness. It’s all hands on deck and let’s destroy the enemy at all costs. Politicians and preachers are quick to use these tools because the results are immediate. Fear and anger are caught not taught.

At what level of awareness was your Church’s theology developed?

“We’re driven by fear or drawn by love. Which one sways your heart. When the bottom line has been defined, Which one will cause you to start.” ~ Bob Holmes

Second Level: Our Binary Brain Awareness

This is our normal, everyday awareness level. It is our linear, analytical, logical, right and wrong, black and white awareness of life. The whole Reformation was built on this awareness level of God.

What’s helpful to know is that from this awareness level, we can see everything below it so we can include our survival brain into the equation. What we can’t see is up to the third level, unless it’s an occasional glimpse of through our intuitive heart.

At this level, we experience Jesus and the Holy Spirit but God is sort of other and distant. Out dual brain can’t handle the Trinity of God. This affects our theology and practice in ways we can’t fully see or understand. Our binary brain is good at organization and laying out a six-year plan for growth and development 😉 but it is not good at comprehending the vast mystery of God experientially.

How is your experience unique and distinct with each person of the Trinity? Can you distinguish between the presence, or discern between the three?

Third Level: Our Whole Brain and Whole Hearted Awareness

“The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.” ~ Fritz Perls

As ‘God meets us where we are’, here is where we turn to our third level of awareness of God which is being whole brain and whole hearted. Where our everyday second level awareness distinguishes between opposites and distinguishes, our third level of awareness sees things as wholes, the unity and connectedness of all life. Where our second level is primarily working with time and space, our third level steps into the awareness of eternity. This is where we see and experience the mystery of God because God is all knowing, omnipresent, limitless beyond all time and space. But it’s also walking with God as with a friend in the cool of the day.

This is the awareness of saints and sages, and it is available to every one of us. This is the awareness of the restoration of all things.

Here unity, and wholeness and eternal abundant life are lived as heaven on earth, as the kingdom of life and light.

This, our third level of awareness, sees in awareness our first and second levels and includes them as a supported integration with the third level in what we call abundant life. This process is called spiritual integration.

I hope this is a help in seeing where we are is at what levels we have related to God. It determines what we see in Scripture, how we pray, but most of all how we abide in Christ.

At which level of awareness did you meet Jesus at, and at what awareness level are you primarily living at now?

Bonus:

Let me give you a quick example using this three story model: The fear of the Lord is clean and enduring forever.

Can you see how that would affect your relationship with God and your theology?

Abide+

 

Photo: Christ Church Pensacola, Fl. Robert Holmes Photography

 

 

 

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