Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Question Two

I answered the first of the "three questions" addressed by Ashley in her blog post, Jesus and Me.  The questions grew from a "homework assignment" that a friend of hers was working on in the course of her participation in the School of the Spirit.

Here is my answer to the second question.

2.  Who is Jesus in my life?

This is where things get hard for me to talk about because I don't know whether Jesus is "the same" as Christ.   

I hear a lot of people talk about Jesus in the same way I talk about what I have explained I mean by Christ and it's fine with me if people want to do that.   As I have said many times, I don't care if people call the intervening agent of authority in their lives The Light, The Spirit, God/Goddess, Christ, Jesus, the Messiah or The Big Kahuna.  I don't really care if they see it as an intervening agent--whether "that of God in everyone" is conceptualized as a little piece of God that is some kind of aspect of us that grows on our inside and shapes us or as something in our make-up that "put there" and belonging and responding to God and thereby shaping us.

Don't care.  Inney shaping agent or outtey shaping agent--no matter to me.

I care about the shaping.  

I have conceived of God (and no God) in a lot of different ways in my life, and have struggled earnestly with myself and others who have conceived of It is the same and different ways from what I was believing, the conceptualization I was holding on to, at that moment.   

None of those beliefs and notions has a been of real help in the "conversion of my manners" or "conforming me to Christ"--although some of them have been a real hinderance.  Looking back, I can see that "The Work" has proceeded in me, over the years, as I described it in my Answer to Question One, no matter what I believed or didn't believe, although sometimes an episode in my shaping ended with my laying down what I believed before the episode began.

I have reached a point that I prefer to lay down (or, perhaps, lay aside) all "belief," at least all belief about things I have not experienced: all "belief" about where my experience "comes from"--all speculation about the nature and character of God--and all "belief" about where it's taking me (except that which I can see)--all speculation about the purposes of God.

I don't know what to believe about that experience and what's behind it.  I do know, though, to have faith in it, to trust it and act on it.

I have never "met" Jesus unless, as I say, Jesus and Christ are the same thing.   I can't know that (although I could believe that and have).   

For a long time the writings of Lloyd Lee Wilson have been influential on my "beliefs" and I am more comfortable with some of the theology he writes than I am with the works of others, especially the works of theologians long on the more "orthodox" Protestant notions.   HIs Pendle HIll Pamphlet (409), "Who Do You Say I Am?" sits easy with me, and I encourage all to read it.   This theology "makes sense" to me in light of my experience--his Jesus "explains" my experience, is consistent with it.  It accounts for the "known data."  

But, again, in the most loving and respectful way, I have to say say that like all belief about the nature, character and plans of the Divine, it can't be shown to be "true"--to the exclusion of other explanations.  Is the "known data" all the data about the ineffable?  And, most important, my acknowledging  it's "truth" has not a condition precedent to the work that has been done and remains to be done in me.  

 "Who Am I, as a Disciple of Jesus?" is the title for the last section of Friend Wilson's pamphlet.  In it he writes:  "My faith commitment is to God on the path illuminated for me by Jesus the Messiah."   I would not say that (although his choice to use of the word "faith" instead of "belief" is certainly one I would make).  I know, though, that he means the same thing by "Jesus the Messiah" as I mean when I say "Christ."

Why is this distinction so important to me?  

Equipped with an experiential/experimental Christ, as opposed to a notional Christ/Jesus, it's the difference between listening and thinking--and that is all the difference in the world, all the difference between the world and the kingdom.

I remember the "What Would Jesus Do" query.  It invited us, in making moral choices, to consider--to reason from--what we thought Jesus would have done.  One cannot do that unless one has some kind of notion--and speculation it cannot help but be--about who Jesus was and what made him tick.  That kind of reasoning from theology/speculation has led me into some pretty painful places.

There is no necessity, in my experience, to reason from any set of notions, even from my notions (or anyone's notions) about what Jesus would do, if faced with and particular moral  situation.   

I have plenty of my own notions about Jesus, though, and I will share at least one of those in my upcoming answer to the Third Question.

1 comment:

Ashley W said...

Timothy, I am happy that these questions inspired you! I sent your post to my classmate who asked the questions and the rest of the class, so they could see your perspective as well.