#0083 The Holy Ghost comes filling up our spiritual lungs with fresh air
Link relevant to today’s posting…
Scripture relevant to today’s posting…
Love for Enemies
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.
Luke 6: 27-29 (NIV)
Today’s posting is part II of an excerpt from the book I am currently working on. This article looks at the difference between an hierarchy-based community and a community which is NOT hierarchy-based; this type of community would utilize concepts and principals of egalitarianism. The reason I wanted to talk about this is because, although Jesus’s message was filled with elements of the egalitarian principal, the Church continues to operate within the well-worn hierarchical structure, embracing and pushing its principles. Theoretically and practically speaking these two concepts are in no small way polar opposites. So at the end of the day, the message of hierarchy runs against the grain of the message of egalitarianism—in other words the Church is poised to and does operate in opposition to the “big picture” message of Jesus.
Hierarchy v. egalitarian-based communities
Egalitarianism (from French égal, meaning “equal”)—or, rarely, equalitarianismor equalism—is a trend of thought that favors equality for all people. Egalitarian doctrines maintain that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term has two distinct definitions in modern English: either as a political doctrine that all people should be treated as equals and have the same political, economic, social, and civil rights; or as a social philosophy advocating the removal of economic inequalities among people, economic egalitarianism, or the decentralization of power. Some sources define egalitarianism as the point of view that equality reflects the natural state of humanity
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Egalitarianism)
(continued from Wednesday 4-13-16)
As Christians gathering in our home parishes and congregations today we hold little if any resemblance to the early gatherings of believers as they struggled to emerge as entities after Jesus’s death and resurrection. We would be naïve in assuming the tenor and the tenets of these early communities were anything remotely akin to Christian congregations of today, though the temptation to make the comparison is quite common with TV evangelists and preachers. Among the 1st things to consider is every one of His disciples was Jewish, just like Jesus was. Gentiles (non-Jewish people) didn’t enter the picture until Paul came on the scene; and along with this Jewish factor came all of the deep traditions their heritage carried with it. In the early going they had some key decisions to make concerning their allegiance to this heritage and especially to the Law of Moses which had always been central to it. Their decisions would determine what the future of their movement would look like. As we look into the gospels at the admonitions of Jesus we see Him preaching the principles of the Kingdom of God and as He did, He’d, by necessity, have to undermine and even decry the existing narrative on which the Mosaic Law hung. As Jesus would do this, He was not just going against their religious ways of thinking and acting, He was also going against their very way of life. The religious structure which was being managed by the Pharisees and the Sadducees was designed to serve the Mosaic Law narrative. Although the Pharisees were making lots of noises about worshipping and paying homage to the God of Abraham; what they were really about was serving this traditional and well-worn narrative. Jesus clearly saw this and knew how to challenge them on issues of the Law and the rest of their traditions with the divine authority indigenous to His being. Would His disciples be able to do the same without Him? That was the big question. They didn’t have to wait too long until the answer would come.
The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Acts 2: 1-4 (NIV)
The energy that came into room that day was the Holy Ghost—the 3rd person in the Divine Trinity. This was the same Spirit that was indigenous to Jesus and was the essence of His being. It’s this same energy that is the personification of the Kingdom of God—and It’s introducing Itself that day to all of humanity through the people we know as the apostles. There’s a Christian denomination or sect who refer to themselves as “Pentecostals”. This is unfortunate because in doing this they have, within the circles of popular/religious culture, laid claim to the term Pentecost and assigned to it their dubious beliefs. In doing this they have diminished the word and the Pentecost event itself. All this aside, let me talk about Pentecost and what it means to our discussion. This event signifies the Holy Ghost coming to the earth to fill the spiritual emptiness Jesus left in His wake when He ascended into heaven. I like to think of the sound described in this scripture—“…like a blowing and violent wind” more like that of the sound heard in a vacuum when a door is opened and air rushes back into the space all at once. The vacuum for me is symbolic of the spiritual void Jesus left in the world. Another way to visualize it is; in the early days of Jesus’s absence the disciples were fraught with anxiety and filled with suspense, it was as if they were holding their collective breath in anticipation of what might happen next; when all of a sudden—on this day—the Holy Ghost comes to them filling up their spiritual lungs with fresh air.
One of the residual manifestations that tagged along with the Holy Ghost’s impressive entrance that day was that those people (and subsequently all of humanity) were left with with a strong inclination to be together. It was beyond an inclination, it was an imperative. And it wasn’t just a desire to gather they felt; they had a new and specific vision of how to do this. Essentially this desire and vision came directly from God in the person of the Holy Ghost imprinting upon their shared consciousness this imperative to gather and to build a gathering structure in this egalitarian model as it is defined above. This isn’t a common area of discussion in today’s religious communities because, conceptually speaking, it flies it the face of the idea of priesthood and religious hierarchy altogether. Despite this fact, the sum and substance of this type of community arrangement finds its very origin in the Holy Ghost as it helps humanity conceptualize more clearly and more deeply the very nature of God. It helps people get closer to the ideas Jesus laid out in the “Kingdom” parables; the Lord’s Prayer and His Sermon on the Mount. (“If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.” Luke 6:29 NIV)
If you have a question or thought about this or other postings please feel free to send them in. Thanks for reading.
TBC: Wednesday, April 20, 2016