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Sunday, December 09, 2018

Living the Godspell ( Good News ); the Glory of the All

'How DOES one 'live' the Gospel?! To answer this question, one must first ask him or herself this question: 'What IS the Gospel?' Ask any Bible-believing Christian & they'll likely tell you something along the lines of 'get saved, so you can go to Heaven when you die'! 'Been there, done that! In other words, we've been over this piece of ground before & it should be fairly clear to my readers by now that the Gospel is NOT about 'going to Heaven when you die! 'Heaven' is here & now; it is the peace ( in our hearts ) that passeth all understanding. According to the Greek Scriptures, the latter part of what we Westerners call 'the Holy Bible'; the Kingdom of Heaven is within you; not that this world is the Kingdom, but as the Bible says, 'as He is, so are we in this world' ( I John 4:17 ): as He embodied the Kingdom of God, so do we. The universal truth of 'the Kingdom Within/the Spirit Within' is one that might stand reexamination from an Eastern point of view, especially as regards the original audience, but as I have yet to answer the question, 'What IS the Gospel?!'; let us continue with that theme..........

The Good News, as we've explored previously, is that, according to the Hebrew Scriptures, the Creator God invested Himself in ( to ) His own Creation, becoming part of it, that He might redeem it to Himself. In the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, as has been elucidated previously within the 'pages' of this blog, the Creator God showed that Man ( kind ) was indeed One with Him, that it was through their choices ( covenant? ) that they manifested the Spirit Within, for good or evil. Whether or not one believes that the Gospel was for Israel Only, it should be clear that there is a Universal Truth in this God-spell which bears the reckoning of the ages!

On a bit of a side-track, it might well be asked whether the Gospel to the Hebrews & Greeks ( Gentiles? ) is indeed the Gospel for humanity: in short, yes, it is! A long-term answer would reveal that, while the Gospel, or God-spell IS for us ( 21st century Westerners ); it should be noted that it doesn't necessarily sound the same as the one to the Hebrews & Greeks ( Ancient Near Eastern 'world' ). The message is basically the same, but we must understand the cultural differences that make up the Story. Every culture has a Story & though these Stories may vary, to whatever extent, based on these cultural differences, they tell the same basic Story; the One who 'made the worlds' is, in Essence, the Power, or Spirit, that resides within humanity!

The question has been asked before, if in a slightly rhetorical manner; 'Why are we reading the Hebrew & Greek Scriptures, here in America, rather than the Buddhist or Hindu ( Sanskrit )?' The Q'ran is actually fairly similar, in some respects, to the Hebrew Scriptures ( 'cultural differences?' ), but in our English Bibles, we have a New Testament, a fulfillment of what the so-called 'Old Testament' prophesied, while Muslims, not unlike the Jews, or Hebrews, are still waiting for fulfillment of 'the heavenly vision'.  Many Christians actually almost ignore the 'Old Testament', likely for this reason. This has actually been detrimental, for it  ( both 'Testaments' ) is really one continuous Story & without this understanding, one cannot interpret either correctly. In essence, one views the Creator God as a petty, vindictive Being ( as in Islam ), or a God who is helpless to save unless we 'enable 'Him. Either way, a false view of the Nature of 'God' is conceptualized!

'What then', one might ask, 'IS the Nature of 'God'?' The Nature of 'God' as we saw earlier, is OUR true nature! No, not our human nature, though that CAN be a manifestation of our true nature. Our true nature, as we've seen previously, is Spirit; in Essence the same as the One we call 'God'! Every culture also has a concept of this One, whether they name It 'YHWH', 'Allah' or 'Krishna'. Employing a visualization I've used before, one might recall the old illustration of the four blind Indians who described an elephant. One grabbed ahold of the tail & thought, 'this is what an elephant is like!' Another grasped the elephant by one of his legs & thought how similar an elephant was to a tree. The others followed suit, with their perceptions being based on the ear & trunk of the elephant. They were all correct, but their different perceptions were just that; perceptions based on THEIR experience!

The 'God' of the Bible, then, while certainly a 'facet' of the One ( True God ) is simply the Hebrew & later, Greek perception of the One who is 'All in all' ( I Corinthians 15:28 ). The Orthodox view of 'God', of course, is that the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures contain the most comprehensive & true perception of this One ( though they most likely wouldn't use the word 'perception' ), but, clearly, there is much more ( not unlike humanity itself ) to the One who fashioned the Universe (s? ) than can be read in the pages of our English Bible & indeed, in the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures!

Since, in this view, the One that Christians call 'God' cannot be fully, or perfectly, described by any given culture; can this One be described? Can one offer any but their own or someone else's perception of 'the One Who is'?! ( that was a rhetorical question, by the way ) Like the Indians in the Story, is one description right while the other is necessarily wrong? No, they're just different perceptions! Some might say that, 'well, the Muslim perception ( 'Allah' ) is just WRONG!' Be that as it may, if  ANY 'God' tells you to murder the infidel just because he or she has a different perception, that perception IS wrong!

The One ( Source, All, etc ) that spread the Stars, the One who has even been named 'the Universe' is certainly much more, infinitely so, in fact, than has ever been or ever will be elucidated by any human being! The fact that every culture has their own Creation Myth should tell us that there is One ( Almighty ) Being that brought all else into being, materialistically speaking. As Creators ourselves, because we are of the same Essence, Humanity has done much to further that work of Creation, though on the other hand, one might note, humanity has done as much to retard the evolution of that same Creation!

The True Gospel of Christianity has more to do do with the Kingdom of God ( on Earth ) than it does with any hope of 'Heaven'! Oh, sure, the Hebrew & Greek Scriptures have much to say about 'Heaven', but even more about the Kingdom thereof.  Jesus ( 'God' in the flesh ) told the Pharisees, 'the kingdom of God is [g]within you' ( Luke 17:21 ). If the Kingdom was within them, of whom it was later said, that they were 'Christ-killers', can it truly be said of any other group of humans that the Kingdom is NOT within them?! Then again,we must keep in mind the cultural differences between that age & this.....................

So, since the God-spell, or Good News, IS for all, how DO we live it? Do we go around telling everyone we meet that, if they aren't already, they must be saved ( born again )? Obviously not; salvation, at least in the Biblical sense, was a Hebrew concept. This is not to say that people no longer need salvation, but it ( salvation ) looks a little bit different today. Salvation in today's age doesn't necessarily involve accepting Jesus as ( Israel's ) Messiah. It can involve anything from being saved from a lifetime of addiction to being pulled back from the edge of a cliff, from drowning, or out of the way of oncoming traffic.So, there's your answer; THAT'S what it looks like to live the Gospel, no matter what Gospel, or God-spell, you subscribe to. If you pull others back from the edge, no matter what that edge looks like, you're living the Good News, no matter if you're Christian or Jew, Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim!

Charles Haddon Shank

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