We all like to think we are smart, do we not? A very pleasant thought, indeed… But when we ridicule others and/or indulge ourselves in feelings of superiority– far from being intelligent –we are usually just being egotistical. Likewise, when we cling tenaciously to a certain set of opinions or beliefs– unwilling to expose them to the light of reason and easily offended when they are called into question –are we not carnal?
On the other hand, the Spirit of light and life– the light of Reason in the broadest sense of the Word –is that which joins us all together (cf. Gk logos in John 1:1). As such, there would seem to be no good reason to be defensive–no real need to be overly protective of our beliefs or opinions; and no call whatsoever to ridicule others who have shown themselves willing to expose their beliefs and opinions to the light of reason in the spirit of free and open inquiry.
Indeed, those who are inordinately attached to their beliefs– those who feel threatened by free and open inquiry –should bear in mind that, in the gospels, Jesus is not out to promote religious doctrines or beliefs, per se. Rather he is inviting us to take up our cross and to follow Him; to enter into His life–the new, abundant life of the Kingdom which is always at hand; within us; among us (cf. Luke 9:23; Matthew 16:24-25; Matthew 3:2; Luke 17:20-21).
To be sure, “believing in Him”– hearing and obeying his Word –very quickly turned into accepting a creed and following various moral and religious precepts (often in legalistic fashion), but this does not reflect the Spirit and the Truth in which (and of which) Jesus actually teaches (cf. John 4:23-24; John 6:63).
When Jesus asks us to take up our cross, he is asking us to die before we die–to be willing to die. In part, this means that we must come to terms with the physical suffering and death which is our destiny, one an all. But it also means to leave the past behind and to place our future in God’s hands. It means to die to our particular points of view; to die, perhaps, to that in which we are personally invested–that to which we are personally attached (cf. Luke 14:26-27; Matthew 10:37-39). And it is well documented that this sometimes means we must reconsider our most cherished beliefs and be willing to forgo many of our personal preferences (cf. Acts 10:9-15). The Apostle Paul testifies to this as follows:
“Whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:7-8).
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:19-20).
In addition to “taking up our cross”, we are ask to “believe” in Christ and to “follow” him. To believe in him– to authentically live by faith –is to trust in and rely on his living presence in our life; to keep our ears attuned to the Divine logos which never ceases to proclaim the good news of the kingdom, here and now. It is to know the One who IS– always the same –yesterday, today, and forever (cf. Exodus3:14; John 8:58; Hebrews 13:8). It is to recognize the still small voice that originates in the aware presence and alert stillness that we are–to follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life that I Am. This is Christ-in-you, the hope of glory; the living Word of God. This is the light of the World–apart from which, there would be no world, no truth, and no life:
“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:3-4 KJ 2000).
“[He] was the true Light, that lights every man that comes into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name: Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:9-13 KJ 2000).
To receive Him– to hear and obey this Word –is to lean into the stillness of this moment; it is to walk in the light as He is in the light; and it is to have eternal life (cf. Matthew 6:25-31; I John 1:7; John 3:34-36).
“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24).
Recognizing and walking in this light, what, indeed, do we really have fear? Hearing and obeying his Word, what, in fact, do we really have to lose?
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love” (I John 4:18).
“But we have the mind of Christ” (I Corininthians 2:16).
We have the mind of Christ and THIS is the Way, the Truth, and the Life to which we are called–the Way which is with us always, here and now (cf. John 14:6; Mathew 1:23, 28:20).