“We are celebrating the feast of the Eternal Birth which God the Father has borne and never ceases to bear in all eternity… But if it takes not place in me, what avails it? Everything lies in this, that it should take place in me.” ~ Meister Eckhart
“I know that good . . . is always coming; though few have at all times the simplicity and the courage to believe it. What we call evil, is the only and best shape, which, for the person and his condition at the time, could be assumed by the best good.” ~ George MacDonald
Jesus is coming soon. As such, Christians have traditionally been taught to look for his appearing (parousia). But while the early church clearly thought that his appearing was imminent, here we are, 2000 years later, still looking… What’s up with that?
Without pretending to limit what God may do in the future with regard to “ushering in the kingdom” (as my childhood Pastor used to express it), I want to suggest that one meaning of Christ’s coming — his promised appearing — has to do with a kind of ecstatic realization of his presence that is possible here and now. The word ecstatic should be understood in its most basic sense of being “displaced” or “out of one’s mind” (as ordinarily conceived). For from the standpoint of fallen humanity, to be “displaced” in this way– to transcend ourselves –is the modern day equivalent of being found clothed and in our right mind in the presence of the Lord (cf. the Gadarene demoniac).
Indeed, what if the promised kingdom really IS (and always has been) ‘at hand’, ‘within us’, or ‘among us’, as suggested by the gospels (Matthew 3:2; Luke 17:20-21), but we have just not seen it, having somehow overlooked it (looking for it in the wrong way, perhaps, or from the wrong angle)!? What if we really are members one of another in a spiritual body whose head is Christ, but we continue to think of ourselves as separate!? That would mean that despite our misconceptions, we are not (merely) these bodies (that we so often imagine ourselves to be); and not (merely) these petty little minds (consumed, as they so often are, with our petty ambitions); but, rather, that we are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” — “a habitation of God in the Spirit” (Romans 8:16; Ephesians 2:22). It would mean that “we have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16) and that, as such, we have access to abundant and eternal life in Him, here and now (cf. John 5:24, 10:10). Who would have ever thought?
Obviously, this is not a new idea (as is illustrated by the scriptures referenced above). But in order to really SEE THIS, we must see through the “mini-me” (and its vain imagination) and realize that we are in Christ— that is, in Reality —the pure capacity or pristine awareness in which, and by virtue of which, all that we experience takes place [i.e. we are, in Christ, “the light of the world” (John 8:12; Matthew 5:14-16)]. And just as the coming of Christ is compared to lightning which originates in the east and is visible also in the west (Matthew 24:27), so too the mind of Christ encompasses all that appears within this field of aware presence that I Am. As such, those who look for his appearing can, in an instant, realize and more fully participate– here and now –in this authentic, abundant life which transcends our physical existence (as ordinarily understood) and which transcends the mind-made sense of self that has been conditioned to identify (merely) with this body and with its own self-absorbed (and more or less fictional) autobiography. For in contrast to the carnal or egoic mind (which is lost in thought and in time), the mind of Christ is pristine awareness, timeless and eternal–before Abraham was, I Am (John 8:58). Indeed, it is only by virtue of this “I Am” presence that we can obey the Lord’s command to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect—i.e. to be at-one with the One who makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and who sends his rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (see Mathew 5:38-48).
Alas, as William Blake so eloquently wrote, “man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” As such, we must recognize, once and for all, that we are not (merely) these bodies or these hopelessly confused autobiographies. Moreover, we are not necessarily following Christ simply because we are traipsing around the desert behind Jesus of Nazareth and/or preaching in his name. Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom (Matthew 7:21).
Nor do we truly follow Christ by adhering to some set of ethical precepts or by giving our assent to some creed or set of doctrines (or by adopting some system of belief, new or old). Rather, we follow Christ by realizing the mind of Christ, hearing his Word, and abiding in Him, here and now. As it is written, you must be born again–i.e. born of the Spirit or born from above (John 3:7).
Earlier, A Spiritual Exercise was posted here that calls into question our conventional understanding of the relationship between our brains, our bodies, and our perception of the external world. For some, this exercise alone may be sufficient to point them beyond the “mini-me” to what is sometimes referred to as “BIG MIND” or, more traditionally, “The Mind of Christ.” Those who follow this link will also find other links to other pages which offer additional clues for those who look for his appearing. “Now is the accepted time . . . now is the day of salvation!” (II Corinthians 6:2). Whosoever will may come and drink of the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17; cf. John 7:37-38). Good news—the kingdom of heaven is at hand!
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? . . . 28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
“Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head’ ” (Matthew 8:19-20).
Matthew 24:26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”