Many people don’t realize that the Apostle Paul never met the historical Jesus and hardly ever quotes Jesus directly. In almost all of Paul’s preaching and writing, he refers to the Eternal Christ Mystery or the Risen Christ rather than Jesus of Nazareth before his death and resurrection. The Risen Christ is the only Jesus that Paul ever knew! This makes Paul a fitting mediator for the rest of us, since the Omnipresent Risen Christ is the only Jesus we will ever know as well (see 2 Corinthians 5:16-17).
Jesus’ historical transformation (“resurrected flesh”) allows us to more easily experience the Presence that has always been available since the beginning of time, a Presence unlimited by space or time, the promise and “guarantee” of our own transformation (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-58). In Jesus, the Timeless Christ became time bound so we could enjoy the personal divine gaze (see 1 John 1-2).
Whenever the material and the spiritual coincide, there is the Christ.
Jesus fully accepted that human-divine identity and walked it into history. Henceforth, the Christ “comes again” whenever we are able to see the spiritual and the material coexisting, in any moment, in any event, and in any person. All matter reveals Spirit, and Spirit needs matter to “show itself”! I believe “the Second Coming of Christ” happens whenever and wherever we allow this to be utterly true for us.
What if we’ve missed the point of who Christ is, what Christ is, and where Christ is? I believe that a Christian is simply one who has learned to see Christ everywhere. Understanding the Universal or Cosmic Christ can change the way we relate to creation, to other religions, to other people, to ourselves, and to God. Knowing and experiencing this Christ can bring about a major shift in consciousness. Like Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9), we won’t be the same after encountering the Risen Christ.
The Universal Christ is present in both Scripture and Tradition, and the concept has been understood by many mystics, though not as a focus of mainline Christianity. (See John 1:1-5, Colossians 1:15-20, Ephesians 1:9-12 if you think this is some new idea.) We just didn’t have the eyes to see it.
.. God’s first “idea” was to become manifest—to pour out divine, infinite love into finite, visible forms. The “Big Bang” is now our scientific name for that first idea; and “Christ” is our Christian theological name. Both are about love and beauty exploding outward in all directions. Creation is indeed the Body of God!
.. But it seems we so fell in love with this personal interface in Jesus that we forgot about the eternal Christ, the Body of God, which is all of creation, which is really the “First Bible.” Jesus and Christ are not exactly the same. In the early Christian era, only a few Eastern Fathers (such as Origen of Alexandria and Maximus the Confessor) noticed that the Christ was clearly historically older, larger, and different than Jesus himself. They mystically saw that
- Jesus is the union of human and divine in space and time;
- Christ is the eternal union of matter and Spirit from the beginning of time.
.. When we believe in Jesus Christ, we’re believing in something much bigger than the historical incarnation that we call Jesus. Jesus is the visible map. The entire sweep of the meaning of the Anointed One, the Christ, includes us and includes all of creation since the beginning of time (see Romans 1:20). This Advent, let us wait in anticipation for the eternally coming Christ.
In their eyes, religious conservatives aren’t making a cynical bargain by embracing a president with dubious religious bona fides. They finally have the street brawler they’ve always wanted.
they all centered on returning the country to a better and more comfortable time.
To economic nationalists, it meant going back to an era of high tariffs and buying American. To defense hawks, it meant returning to a time of unquestioned military supremacy. To immigration hard-liners, it meant fewer jobs for foreign-born workers—and, for some of those voters, fewer dark faces in the country, period.
But for many evangelicals and conservative Catholics, “Make America Great Again” meant above all else returning to a time when the culture reflected and revolved around their Judeo-Christian values. When there was prayer in public schools. When marriage was limited to one man and one woman. When abortion was not prevalent and socially acceptable. When the government didn’t ask them to violate their consciences. And, yes, when people said “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.”
.. the president recalled the Founders’ repeated reference to a “Creator” in the Declaration of Independence. “How times have changed,” Trump said. “But you know what? Now they’re changing back again. Just remember that.”
The audience roared with a 20-second standing ovation.
.. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council .. Trump’s greatest impact is legitimizing those people and views that have been marginalized. “Barack Obama used the bully pulpit and the courts to demonize those who held to the very values that made America great. And Trump is doing the opposite,” Perkins says. “What the president and his administration can do is once again make people feel like it’s OK to stand up and talk about these traditional values, and engage in these conversations. Then we can win hearts and minds, and that’s where the transformation begins.”
.. When Moore spoke to a Friday luncheon sponsored by the American Family Association, he was introduced unapologetically as someone who would put Christianity ahead of the Constitution.
.. He raised eyebrows by inviting former White House aides Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, the polarizing promoters of Trump’s “America First” message, to speak at the event, despite neither having any roots in the Christian conservative universe.
.. This shotgun wedding resulted in some predictably awkward moments. Bannon, emphasizing the importance of grass-roots politics in winning elections, raised the 44th president’s former job title. “What’s a community organizer? I’ll tell you what it is. Somebody that could kick your ass—twice.” There were crickets from the audience; it was almost certainly the first time someone had ever used a curse word during a speech to the Values Voter Summit.
.. Erick Erickson, a frequent Trump critic, tweeted, “Sad to see this said at a Christian conference. Where is the grace? Where is the mercy? Where is the Christ?”
.. Many Christian voters embraced Trump not despite his provocative style but because of it, betting on a brash street brawler to win the culture battles they had been losing for generations.
.. And their faith has been rewarded: From abortion policy to religious liberty to judicial appointments, Trump has delivered for social conservatives more than any other constituency, making them the unlikely cornerstone of his coalition.
.. With political victory, however, has come the loss of moral high ground
.. If he wins the Senate seat, a spiritual renaissance in America is unlikely to result. But something else will: a deepening alliance between economic nationalists and social conservatives, two distinct tribes that are growing codependent in the era of Trump. As Perkins now sees it, Republicans will win elections only by merging these factions—hence his inviting Bannon and Gorka to speak.
The Holy Spirit is God’s very own life shared with us and residing within us (see John 20:22). When we pray, we are steadfastly refusing to abandon this Presence, this True Self, this place that already knows we are beloved and one with God. But our false “contrived” self is so needy that we must practice living in this presence through conscious choice (“prayer”) at least once, but preferably many times, every day. Contemplative prayer is “our daily bread” that keeps us nourished so we can dare to believe the Gospel, to trust the Divine Indwelling, and to remember our God-given identity.
.. The True Self cannot really be hurt or offended. The false self–our egoic identity–is offended every few minutes. But if we notice when we take offence, and what part of us is offended (always a provisional identity), this will train us to gradually reside more and more in the Big Truth. (Most of John 14-16 circles around this message.) Thomas Keating charts conversion as a series of necessary humiliations to the false self.
In order to fully experience the intrinsic union we already have with God, who is Love, it seems that we need to first be love ourselves in some foundational way. We can only see what we already partly are, which is why I like to call it a mirroring process.
.. Sometimes people will come up to me and say, “Oh, Richard, you’re so loving!” But I know I’m not–and I know they are! They are seeing themselves in me. Spirit recognizes Spirit. To know the Truth, one must somehow be abiding in that Truth, and the deepest Truth of every human is Love, as we are created in the image and likeness of an infinitely Loving God (Genesis 1:26-27), which Christians call Trinity.
.. If we are in a state of negativity, what Julian of Norwich calls “contrariness,” we won’t be love or see love. We must watch for this contrariness–we all experience it quite frequently–and nip it in the bud. This contrary self often takes three forms:
- comparison (common in the female);
- competition (common in the male);
- and contrariness or oppositional energy (common in all of us).
Our false self is actually relieved and empowered when it has something to oppose. The clearest identifier of untransformed people is that they are living out of oppositional energy, with various forms of comparing or competing, judging and critiquing. As long as we do this, wenever have to grow up; we just show how others are wrong or inferior.
.. In the Hindu tradition, darshan (or darsana) is to behold the Divine and to allow yourself to be fully seen. Many Hindus visit temples not to see God, but to let God gaze upon them–and then to join God’s seeing which is always unconditional love and compassion. During your time of contemplative prayer, allow God’s eyes to behold your nothingness and nakedness. Imagine God looking upon God’s Self within you, loving what God sees. If thoughts, emotions, or sensations distract you, return your awareness and attention to receiving God’s gaze.When your practice has ended, commit to seeing God’s presence in someone or some creature this day. If appropriate, you might greet them by placing your palms together at your chest, bowing, and speaking “Namaste.” (Namaste is a familiar Indian greeting which means “I bow to the divine in you.”) Or you might say, “The Christ in me sees the Christ in you.”