sheep and goats

CANDLE

One of my favorite parables in the Gospels speaks of the shepherd who separates the sheep from the goats.   The sheep were those nations (people) who lived lives according to the principles of love and compassion.  The goats were nations who lived licentiously and selfishly while professing to follow God. When the separation had been completed, the goats asked why they were not included among the blessed on the right, the sheep. Scriptures of wisdom in Matthew 25 tell us that the King replied to the sheep, who lived by spiritual principles:

“For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.”

To the goats he admonished:

“For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.”

The beauty of this passage is that the compassionate who brought aid and comfort to others were doing it because that was their love for others in action.  They had no ‘carrot on a stick’ promise of salvation for being caregivers to the less fortunate and, according to the writers of Matthew, they innocently questioned, “When did we do this for you? When did we comfort and nourish you?”

The King answered that what they had done to or for the least of his brethren, they had also done to him.  That is the essence of the teachings of the mystics.  We, the entire creation, are all one organism living on this earth to serve and care for our brothers and sisters, many of whom survive under environmental, political, and religious oppression.  When I harm another being on this earth, I am harming myself.  When I diminish the sanctity of another’s life, I am diminishing the holiness within me. When I refuse to provide mere survival essentials to my brother, I am thereby starving my soul and greatly grieving the God which dwells within me.

When hurricane Matthew in 2016 marched up the east coast of Florida, several evacuation shelters reportedly required the homeless seeking refuge from the fierce winds and rain to wear yellow wristbands while in the facility.  They were segregated, allegedly denied the same courtesies and supplies as the others, and not given cots or blankets.  One Florida county refused to admit to its shelters some homeless with prison records.  The officials in charge cited that their intent was to keep them isolated from the law-abiding “good people”.  What they did not consider was that most of “those” people, the homeless, were decent men and women with families who were in unfortunate situations of extreme need.  The Lord of Christianity, Jesus, the Christ, would have probably been relegated to the segregated crowd to protect the good people.

Was Jesus law-abiding?  According to the powers of Roman government and Jewish theocracy he was a rebel and a heretic.  His stories in scriptures and a few correlating historical accounts depict him as a vagabond, a magician, and a homeless man roaming the countryside with a gang of other losers, misfits, and runaways begging for the essentials they needed to survive.  They were viewed by the decent God-fearing society of the day as treacherous and dangerous, deserving of persecution and crucifixion.  Not until centuries later did the Roman Church fathers clean up the person of Jesus, sanctify him and define him as divine.

Do I stand today with the persecuted and crucified?  Am I truly a brother of loving kindness to my brothers and sisters who live in Syria, Puerto Rico, Florida?  I want to be, I often fall short, but I pray that I never stop trying.  How about you?  Let’s change this world.  We can do it one simple act of compassion at a time.

“And what is wisdom?  Wisdom is knowing we are all one.  Love is what it feels like, and Compassion is what it acts like.”  Ethan Walker the 3rd in “THE MYSTIC CHRIST”

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namaste

A friend recently observed that we (those of us who do not fit the WASP heterosexual mindset) have suffered tremendous oppression and discrimination at the hands of “believers” who profess the creeds and tenets of Christianity.  Historical accounts of this abuse can easily be googled and verified.  The legislation passed following the “rights” movements culminating in the equal marriage rights amendment under President Obama’s administration gave all enlightened people a glimmer of hope that such discrimination had been swept away forever in America.  Unfortunately, with Trump’s election and the advance of fundamentalist, evangelical Christians in the political scene, this celebration of social advancement was short-lived.

I personally have extreme difficulty reconciling my belief system, which is based on Judeo-Christian ethics, to what the politically vocal minority of Christian believers led by a cadre of so-called American spiritual leaders is foisting upon America “in the name of Jesus” and within their concept of God.  Where are the men and women of faith who are tolerantly, inclusively driven by compassion and love for all of creation?  Why are they not speaking out in defense of the Christianity which speaks for me?

Whenever I reference scriptural verses to support a viewpoint invariably someone will dispute my interpretation of those verses as not “proper within the framework……blah, blah, blah.”  Screw your framework.  The Spirit dwelling within me is as valid and as real as your theologically correct, fundamentally sound, and hypocritically driven gibberish.  I trust that spirit which drives me while many of you are still searching for the right gear to engage.  Let’s begin a dialog which tells the truth and invites unbelievers to join in the conversation.  That is how our faith can become a beacon for the lost and hurting.  It’s time to give up the proselytizing and simply join all of mankind regardless of race, creed, sex, and orientation in creating a better world.

One of my favorite writers, Ethan Walker the 3rd, opens his book THE MYSTIC CHRIST with the following words:

“And what is wisdom?  Wisdom is knowing that we are all one.  Love is what it feels like, and Compassion is what it acts like.”

From 1 Corinthians 13:2 in the NIV we are advised:

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

There are several thoughts I can share with my friend who is as challenged as I am by what is being passed off as Christianity.  First of all, no man has a free pass to heaven.  The doctrines he supports, the creeds he professes,  the name he chooses for his god will get that man nowhere if he doesn’t trust in the truth of wisdom, love, and compassion.  Furthermore, as a non-believer, my friend should never be intimidated with the threat of eternal damnation because the bottom line is that any theology whether it is Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or Hindu is nothing more than a philosophy born out of man’s need to express spirituality.

 

 

WISDOM

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Our world today is a far cry from what is described by the mystics as unity with the universal Spirit which some of us name God.  We humans have taken the path of least resistance in life following trails of arrogance and self-absorption.  It is infinitely easier to look at human suffering, turn our backs to it saying the starvation crisis in Africa is not my problem or the genocide in Syria doesn’t affect me.  Our lives become a chorus of continuing “me, me, me; what’s in it for me?”

Ethan Walker lll in his book “THE MYSTIC CHRIST” asks the question:

“And what is wisdom? 

and he answers,

Wisdom is knowing we are all one.  Love is what it feels like, and compassion is what it acts like.”

Referring to the author’s definition we should shamefully agree that truly what the world needs now is love and the resulting compassion.  That compassion needs to be expressed not only to neighbors and family, but also to famine and genocide victims on the other side of the earth.  That’s what is missing.  We do not see ourselves as one existence in unity with the total complexity of God’s creation.  We run wildly to and fro attacking brothers and sisters who worship differently, follow unfamiliar traditions, practice unusual customs.  We cannot see beyond our noses far enough to embrace the world’s diversity.  We lack creation’s wisdom.

 

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