consentration

The Problem of Faith

What has happened to faith in our world?  Faith has turned into something it was never intended to be.  Faith is NOT blindly following a person, a book, or a so-called god.

Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen.
— Hebrews 11:1
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Many if not most Christians have probably seen that quote before, but few have investigated what it means.  There are two words that we have to pay special attention to:

  1. assurance means foundation
  2. proof means that by which a thing is tested

So we could read Hebrews to say, "Now faith is the foundation of things hoped for, faith is the way we test and prove things not seen. "  That is a very different definition of faith than the one normally proffered.  Faith is not fixed or blind, it is earned and tested until it is proven to be true or false, then tested again.

When we allow faith to be cheapened, we steal one of the greatest powers a believer has.

But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have you been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus; for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast.
— Paul, Ephesians 2:4-9

Faith is a gift from God, so that no one can boast.  O, how often have we heard people boast about their faith?  That is how we know they have none.

If faith is a gift, and is the foundation of things hoped for and the way we test and prove things not seen, how do we get some?

Faith is the first of the Five Powers

  1. Faith
  2. Effort
  3. Mindfulness
  4. Concentration
  5. Wisdom

Faith empowers Effort.  Effort builds Mindfulness.  Mindfulness forges Concentration. Concentration strengthens Wisdom.  Wisdom fuels Faith.  So how do we start the cycle?

Test all things, and hold firmly that which is good.
— Paul, 1 Thessalonians 5:21

We start with the test.  When we are told that meditation will bring more stability to our minds, we try it.  When I first started meditating, I was unsure as to whether it would work.  So my faith was in the idea that meditation might stabilize my mind.  My effort was to try meditating.  I mindfully paid attention to whether or not meditation was helping me.  I concentrated on the actions I was taking, and studied the topic to make sure I was doing it right.  I grew in wisdom, not only of technique, but in the assurance that the technique was working for me.  That wisdom grew my faith in meditation and the cycle continued.

My faith in meditation did not come from my works.  Meditation works.  All I did was test and see that it was good.  My test did not make it true.  It was already true.  I received that first kernel of faith and took action to test it.  I did not earn the benefits of meditation or the knowledge.

This same process happens everyday for so many things.  It is how faith comes to us all in everything from whether or not our family loves us, to what we want to have for dinner.  Faith is part of a process.  The more our experience validates that faith, the stronger that faith becomes.

When faith is built on lies, fear, or bias, it has no power.  It is hollow and unable to console us.  It breeds anger, hatred, and mistrust.  These are the signs that faith is faulty.  

If faith leads to boasting, or that any one or any thing is greater or less than us, then that faith is not only false, it is a poison.  That is not faith it is bias or bigotry, which are born out of the five poisons:

  1. Ignorance
  2. Attachment
  3. Aversion
  4. Pride
  5. Envy

Faith does not ask us to reject knowledge.  Faith leads to Wisdom which controls Ignorance.

Faith does not cause us to blindly hold onto any thought, person, or things to the point where it causes suffering to let it go.  Faith continually tests all things and holds only to what is good.

Faith does not drive us to hate.  Hatred destroys us.  It is a fire in the soul that destroys all it touches.  Hatred is never Mindful nor Wise.

Faith does not breed arrogance.  There is nothing to boast about in receiving a free gift.

Faith does not agitate us to have what others have or make good that comes to others unbearable.

Faith is a gift, and is the foundation of things hoped for and the way we test and prove things not seen.  That is True Faith. 

The Law is abolished and we are One People in Christ Jesus

As we continue our study in the fourth of the Five Powers, Concentration (samādhi), we need to dig deeper into the revelation and wisdom we seek from the Holy Spirit.  As we dig deeper into the mystery, we see the work of Reconciliation that Christ has performed through the Cross and the Shedding of his Precious Blood.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility
— Eph 2:14-16

Christ is our Peace

In the broken duality of the world, there were two types of people in the world, the Children of the Promise and the Children of Wrath.  The Children of the Promise were the descendants of Abraham.  The only way to enter the promise was to be born into the tribe, or to submit oneself to the Law of Moses, given by men and angels (De 4:14; Acts 7:53; Gal 3:19; Heb 2:2), but Christ put an end to the Law, did away with the Commandments, annulled obligations, and abolished the requirements of the Law, and set us free to live according to the Spirit.

Jesus was crucified for blasphemy (Matt 26:65-66; Mark 14:63-64; Luke 22:71). The Law condemned God to death for blasphemy showing how it had departed from God. So at the crucifixion, the veil of the temple was ripped in two (Matt 27:51). We were exchanged from the  law of Moses and saved by the life Christ taught us to live.  All people are recreated in Christ into one people. 

Through this mystery, we see that there are no real differences between people.  The only differences that exist are the ones we pretend are there.  Our imagination can make these seem and feel real, but they are illusions we create to preserve our sense of separateness, and often superiority.

As we learn to see the One Christ that holds all things together, we learn to see how the suffering of others is our suffering.  Another person's pain is our pain, and their healing is our healing.

We are the body of Christ.  It is our mission and duty to work out this reconciliation in the world and to be a constant voice for peace.

Peace is the Central act of the Christian life.

Christ restored us to live as the Image of God in this world.  He made peace between us and God.  We continue this work by first making peace with ourselves, and then with our neighbors.

We experience this mystery through meditation, where we enter the peace of God at the Gate of Zion.  This peace is the root of compassion for ourselves and others.

As we live our lives, we must learn to allow the voice of Christ to speak through us.  The voice of Christ is peace and compassion.  Everything that goes against peace and compassion eclipses the Light of God, and becomes a stumbling block.

Concentration (samādhi) is the strength to stand against this darkness.  We develop concentration through meditation and mindfulness.  The more we keep the realities and facts of life before us, the more we will see the pains and problems that are the real roots of the situations we face in life.  We must develop a mindful awareness of the circumstances others live within.  Once we understand the pain at the root of the problem, we can begin to develop a salve for the issue.

Concentration is the Gate to Zion, and the revelation and wisdom of Christ

This week, we begin our study on Concentration (samādhi), this is the still, focused mind we develop through meditation and mindful living.  It is the 4th of the 5 powers, and a strong tool in our awakening to God and things as they are.

Mindfulness develops Concentration, and Concentration causes us to experience the deep interconnectedness of all things and the basic joy and peace that is our natural state.  In this state of Concentration, we are closest to the Holy Spirit, and are most capable of hearing the Still, Small Voice of God, our gentle and subtle Guide.

For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
— Eph 1: 15-17

A Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation of Christ

Wisdom is the gentle guidance of the Unseen, as well as deep understanding of our own interconnectedness.  Revelation is the naked awareness of things as they are, when the veils are pulled back and we see things clearly.

What is it that we are trying to see?

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities -all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
— Colossians 1:15-20 (NASB)

Christ Jesus is the creator of all things.  From the laws of physics to the subtle energies of our psyche, all things were created through him and for him.  He is the One holding all things together.  Any and all experiences of the sublime interconnectedness and interbeing of all things is a direct experience of Christ.

Have you looked out at a starry night or the dawn breaking over a hill and felt this connection to all things?  If you have, you experienced Christ.  In meditation, and we focus our awareness, and the artificial walls drop away, and we feel ourselves connected to the cosmos in the place of peace and unity.  That is an experience of Christ.

Through our Lord, all things are reconciled because on the cross, Jesus stood in the gap between life and death, faith and doubt, hope and fear.  Choose any pair of opposites and you will find them in the crucifixion.  But he did not just stand there, he transcended them all.  In that singular moment of sacrifice, he demonstrated and conquered the strained duality of the world, and opened the way for the reconciliation of all things in him.

In our walk with God, we seek to live this wisdom, and behold this marvelous revelation that all things are interconnected. 

This is the Gate to Zion

As we awake to this wisdom through these revelations of the interbeing of all things, we start to learn how to live in the kingdom.  We see that how we treat everyone and everything has an effect on us.  We stop living the lie of separateness.

Life in Zion is living in the revelation that we are all interconnected, and reconciling all things to the whole.  This is the path of Peace and Compassion.  This is the wellspring of Courage that can conquer all fear.

Sit, meditate.  Focus on your breathing, and gently return your focus every time it wanders.  Enter the Gate.  Enter the peace that passes all understanding.  Invite Christ into your heart, and live in his Sacred Heart.  This is the path.  This is Salvation.  Not only for our souls, but for the whole world.