Singing Off Key (or: You Must be Born Again)

This post is for our Lightworker’s Study of the Gospel of John. We are on day #15 (scroll to the earlier posts, if you like). On the left, click the folder icon, then sign up.

John #15

Gospel of John 1:12-13 “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.”

Hello Lightworkers,

This verse contrasts the “will of the flesh” (the “will of man”) with a spiritual birth (i.e., being “born…of God.”).  Often among Christians, the mandate to be “born again” signifies rebirth at a single moment in time, when you hand yourself over to God.

In contrast to that scheme, consider that rebirth here may mean a life lived according to the Soul, instead of alien value systems.

In coming alive, the Soul’s purposes may conflict with dehumanizing values. You may pour sincerity and heartfelt longing, for instance, into a relationship, a job, or a dream. Yet you may meet with resistance, ridicule, or rejection.

If you live for approval and success, you might naturally feel that that you’ve done something “wrong,” since you have met with obstacles and failure.

On the soul level, however, perhaps you’re doing something “right”. Your own soul calls you to take a risk, to make yourself vulnerable, to do things in a new way.

You are like a person who loves to sing. In singing, you do it off-key at first. Nobody wants to listen. They hold their ears. Naturally, you feel miserable, that you should sing, without any talent (apparently).

Although disappointment would be natural, in such a case, it could well be that your  soul needs space to come alive, to discover its own originality, and to do things in its own way. By honoring your mistakes and by plunging into your endeavors, you will learn rapidly (no doubt) to sing better, if that’s what you wish to do.

You have shown your own soul that you are willing to put the Soul first (the Spirit), rather than the “will of the flesh” or the “will of man”.

Sterile efforts, in contrast, exhibit “the will of the flesh” or “the will of man” (1:13). Here, you may suffer neither rejection nor difficulties. You may calculate, successfully, so that you are admired for having it “all together.”

But if you’ve lost your passion for being alive, then the soul is dead. You will have ceded control to  the “will of the flesh” and the “will of man” . Your life is controlled by conventional opinion and alien value systems.

Question: Where does your soul wish to carry you?

John’s prologue (1:1-8) depicts the descent of God (the Creative Word) onto earth as Jesus Christ.  Christ lives as a stranger. As your soul awakens, you may feel like a stranger. Take heart: a homecoming awaits you, as these verses (vv.12-13) confirm.

The children of God are born of the Spirit. The soul keeps on living and bringing you alive.

This post is for our Lightworker’s Study of the Gospel of John. On the left, click the folder icon. Sign up.  

 

Interlude: a few facts re: Gospels

This post is for our Lightworker’s Study of the Gospel of John, which will be conducted for around 40 days. On the left, click the folder icon, then sign up.  

Religious tolerance illustration#14: John study

Hello Lightworkers, We are taking a little break, in that today’s post will provide background information about the Gospel of John. This information is standard and you may know it already.

I give information only sparingly, since there is already enough information out there–in fact, too much. Who needs more piles of facts? Instead, I aim for inspiration and illumination. Today is an exception. I will provide some facts.

The genre of Gospel: canonical and non-canonical

While there are four Gospels in the New Testament, other early Christian works (outside of the NT canon) fit the literary genre of Gospel, such as the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Thomas, among others. Canon means “rule”. The canon is constituted by the sacred scriptures, authorized by the early church, to be the rule for faith and morals.

It is debatable, why certain early Christian works were not included in the canon, especially those contemporaneous with the NT itself. Did Mary’s authority, in the Gospel of Mary, challenge the emerging precedence of Peter in the church? So that Mary’s leadership, like that of females more generally, needed to be suppressed?

Gospel of John within the Bible

Considering just the four gospels within the NT (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), the Gospel of John is distinctive, because it freely elaborates upon many of the stories about Jesus, which are found in the other three Gospels. John’s theology of the Word, Light, and Life, and his emphasis on miracles (which he calls “signs”), are also unique.

Three of the Gospels (Luke, Mark, Matthew) are called synoptic,—from the root, syn=together + optic= related to seeing or the eye. These three can be “seen together,” since they share much source material.

All four gospels, including John, consist of earlier sources (whether in writing or transmitted by oral traditions): a) sayings and sermons (teachings); b) miracles (e.g. healings, nature miracles like ‘stilling a storm’, provision miracles like ‘feeding the multitudes’); c) controversies (e.g. Sabbath disputes; doctrinal debates); d) the account of Jesus’s passion (i.e. trial, crucifixion and death); e) the empty tomb stories,  resurrection appearances, ascension; f) birth narratives (only in Luke and Matthew); g) possibly a “signs” source, i.e. a cycle of miracle stories, upon which John depends.

Question : if you were to dig up these sources – in a jar, from the desert – and to compile a book out of them, what principles and message would motivate your composition? How would you tell the story, in terms of your themes and audience?

Be sure to subscribe to this Bible Study, so that you will receive posts in your in-box. We will cover John for around 40 days.

 

 

God the Refugee

Gospel of John #13 

John 1:10-11: “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. He came to his own, but his own people received him not” (1:10-11).

1Hello Lightworkers,

The UN Refugee Agency recounts news of many refugees worldwide, such as these (in the picture above) who escaped Libya for Europe: UNHCR . Consider how horrific the conditions would need to be, in order to compel you to embark on such a journey, crowded onto a boat, abandoned to the hazards of the sea.

In our human histories, most of us can trace our ancestry to refugees – or immigrants – of one kind or another. The biblical myth of origins, about Adam and Eve, inscribes into our collective spiritual autobiography such a story of expulsion and exile.

The preface to the Gospel of John 1:1-18 replicates this story of being a refugee, a stranger in the world. God is a refugee and stranger.  The outcome of the story, however, need not be tragic, as 1:12 promises, “To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.”  (1:12)

How do we receive the refugee, the stranger? Who embodies the creative Word ?

To recapitulate John’s prologue: The light-bearer Jesus Christ is identical to the creative Word, which brings all things into being (alluding to Genesis 1; John 1:1-5). See earlier posts in our study of John, e.g. :  The Invisible Power of Creativity The prophet, John the Baptist, who is attuned to this creative Word – announces its coming (1:6-8), equivalent to the “true light that enlightens every human being” (1:9).

Tragically, the world does not recognize its own creator, for the light-bearer (Jesus) is rejected: “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. He came to his own, but his own people received him not” (1:10-11).

According to the evangelist John, Jesus Christ embodies God.  Because the world is estranged from God, God appears to the world as a stranger.

The stranger may be an actual refugee in our midst, since all of us share the divine spark.  To recognize the divine within another is to honor our very selves.

Or the refugee may be our own selves. The creative Word, lodged within, is the foundation of our being. Yet, we make of ourselves an exile.

Question: Where are you making your self an exile? How can you extend hospitality to this alienated part of yourself?

Who decides your birth and makes sure that you are safe in the womb? Whoever it is, it is not “you” as you may define yourself, in terms of your social roles on earth or your human history. Make friends with the creative principle of the universe, which exists inside of you.

The Shift: Speaking our Truth, Seeing into the Beyond (Prophets)

#12 John 1: 6-8

Hello Lightworkers, and prophets:

At the moment, many of us sense that our world is shifting, not only economically and politically (where the old order is breaking down) but also spiritually. We are less inclined to trust experts or conventional authorities, while we are eager to embrace our inner knowing.

Question: What is your inner knowing prompting you to do? What holds you back? If you look at this decision closely, where’s the light within it? How can you move past fear, step-by-step, into a fuller presence of yourself?

Like John the Baptist, at the start of John’s Gospel, integrity and sincerity are required of us, so that we may be prophets in three senses of the word. 1. Prophecy means “to speak for” or “on behalf of”; 2. and to speak “in advance” (temporally) or to foretell; 3. the prophet is sent by God.

Let’s unpack these meanings.

John 1: 6-8 “6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.”

1. In witnessing this reality, our inner knowing prompts us (like a prophet) to speak for and on behalf of the light.  In life, to stagnate is to die, since life by its nature grows, dynamically. Similarly, light needs to be circulated, shared, and spoken about, just as light that is hidden under a bushel – or in a cabinet – will fail in its function of providing illumination. Despite inhibitions (which are natural), it is time that we express the light, or soul-presence, within ourselves and on behalf of others.

2. We who are sensitive to spiritual realities may, like John, perceive the light before it comes into the world. Dare to speak of change, to welcome it, and to prepare others for it–rather than clinging to the old order.

3.  Because the prophet is sent by God, with the task to elicit recognition of the light from others, s/he knows that s/he is not, her or himself, the light.  There is no conceit in someone, whose function is to get the self out of the way, in order to become a clear channel for the the divine truth.

Question:  How will you serve as a prophet of the light? How can you share and testify to this light? So that others may dwell in it too?

Hi All, We’re focusing on the Gospel of John. You can subscribe to receive the posts immediately or weekly.  

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Greek Icon John the Baptist

Note on Jesus Lightworker

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Hello All, For today, check out this page : Lightworkers/Historical Jesus

For the email subscribers (and word-press):

IF you’d like to share, please send me a private message (Contact page)

I’m curious to know: 1) What are your top 3 questions and interests about the Bible? 2) What’s the thing that bothers your most (about the Bible and/or Religion and spirituality); 3) what fascinates you about spirituality?

I’d love to get a sense of that, as I experiment.

Thanks!

Demonizing love/sexuality: Attacking the Light

Gospel of John #11: verse: John 1:11. The theme is the theology of the light-worker who suffers rejection by the mainstream.  

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Awakening the Sexuality : Coming of Age Story

Hello Lightworkers,

How do we establish our identity as a group without making an enemy of non-conformists?

In Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson recounts the sexual awakening of Jeanette within a fervent evangelical church in northern England. Demonized by the community, Jeanette is subjected to an exorcism because of her putative sin: same-sex love.

Exorcisms are sometimes justified in terms of ethical dualism. What is good must banish what is evil. John’s Gospel works with such metaphysical dualism.

Light is good. Light banishes darkness.

If the so-called “evil” (the sin, darkness) is actually not evil at all — but rather good (e.g. a kind of love) –, however, then the exorcism turns upside down.

A religious authority (such as an exorcist), in claiming the good light, in fact brims with punitive intent, inasmuch as s/he punishes the good as if it were evil.  This malice may be fabricated by projections of his/her own shadow of fear. The accused becomes a light-bearer, in truth.

The Gospel of John articulates a theology for lightworkers. The light-bearer often suffers rejection, even at the hands of religion (hence, the crucifixion): 1:11: “He [the light-bearer] came to his own, and his own people did not accept him.” The light is love itself, for “whoever walks in love lives in the light.” 1 John 2:10

Even though John’s Gospel contains no exorcisms, his theology of the light entails an admonition, pertinent to the kind of exorcism (demonizing) that is portrayed by Winterson in the context of a provincial evangelical church.

Anyone who tries to expunge another’s flourishing love (such as the zealous and misled exorcist) hides from the light. For John, the light exposes hearts (3:19-21). Good people gravitate toward the light, while evil-doers hide from the same, for fear of being exposed.

Misbegotten exorcisms may be Satan’s ingenious tactic: convince legal and moral authorities (churches, law-givers) that certain manifestations of love (i.e. same-sex) amount to evil, and that their perpetrators are demon-infested, in need of purification. Next, invent a ritual for expelling the so-called pollutant.

Jesus himself was accused of being demon-possessed. His family, thinking him mad, urged exorcism.  In this context, Jesus remarked: (Mark 3:23-24) “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”

Satan means adversary or one who opposes or hinders; deception is his weapon. Satan maligns the light (i.e. acts of goodness and love), falsely in the name of the light. The one who falsely claims to be in league with the light turns to attack the light-bearer–hence betraying that he is divided against himself.

Goodness has the last word, however, according to the Gospel story. For to expunge the light would be to kill Life itself, which is indomitable (hence, the resurrection).

PS: This issue remains controversial for some, while for others it will be non-controversial.

PPS: If you believe this is a non-issue: Christian Mommy Blogger Marries Female Athlete

 Choose Light. Choose Love. Choose Life.