Sir, We Would Like To See Jesus

we-would-see-jesus-tissot Sir, we would like to see JesusMost of the people in my world are in agreement with the Old Testament prohibition against image-making and image-worshipping (Exodus 20:4-5). One doesn’t have to be particularly clever to notice that using an image to portray God makes God much smaller than God really is. One doesn’t have to be clever to notice that making God smaller than God really is, is telling a lie.

Sir, we would like to see Jesus

As I ponder the Christmas season, I recall the Greeks in attendance at the Passover festival in John 12. They told Philip, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” It is unclear whether these Greeks were “Jews of the dispersion,” Jews living in Greece, or “proselytes of the gate,” Greeks who wished to participate in Jewish worship. At this point, it doesn’t matter to me. What I admire is their proactive attitude in their desire to meet Jesus. I admire their unwillingness to settle for someone else’s belief or testimony. I consider their attitude worthy of emulation.

The New Message from God has some significant issues with historical Christianity, and one of the big ones is the nature of Jesus. The revelation The Meaning of Christmas teaches:

“Though Jesus has been idealized, though his life has been made to be unique and un-matched by any other life, though he has been placed on a pedestal above and beyond every other person, in truth, his life represents the emergence of Knowledge within the individual.”

To idealize someone is to portray them as perfect or better than in reality. In my mind, to idealize someone is an untruth, just as image-making and image-worshipping is an untruth.

I realize that this is challenging to the beliefs and worldviews of many people. However, I’m not asking anyone to accept anything that isn’t confirmed in their own experience. Therefore, it is my hope, it is my wish, it is my prayer, that everyone who names the name of Jesus pray this prayer:

“Dear God, I would like to see Jesus. I would like to see Jesus as he is. I am unwilling to let anyone else’s belief or testimony overrule my own experience. I declare my willingness to do my part for this to happen. Amen.”

It is my hope, it is my wish, it is my prayer that you will follow the noble example of the Greeks who said “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

Stations Of The Prodigal

As early as the 5th century, Christian pilgrims visiting Jerusalem sought out places with connections to the crucifixion of Christ. There was a route known to pilgrims as the Via Sacra, which later became better known as the Via Dolorosa. The accustomed places of stopping for reflection were referred to as “stations” sometime in the 15th century. For better or for worse, the term “stations” caught on. Franciscans got the idea of making shrines in Europe referring to these stations. Eventually artwork representing the stations became a part of many Catholic and Protestant churches. The stations and the prayers associated with them became known as the Stations of the Cross.

The practice of contemplating the events of the death of Christ has found a place in the hearts of many Catholics. This practice has found a place in the heart of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis presided over the formal rite, The Way of the Cross, on Good Friday of 2014.

Stations of the Prodigal

I realize that this sounds rather presumptuous, but I wish to introduce a set of stations of my own. These stations will be called the Stations of the Prodigal. These stations are inspired by a series of paintings by 19th-century French painter James Tissot (1836-1902). Tissot spent the last 15 years of his life illustrating the Bible. He painted a series of paintings during the 1880’s called “The Prodigal Son in Modern Life.” There are four paintings in this series: “The Departure” (shown above), “In Foreign Climes,” “The Return” and “The Fatted Calf.” I have used two of these paintings in posts on other topics, but the idea of a series of Stations of the Prodigal has been percolating in me for a while.

I have shared the following scenario with a number of Christians. They have generally been willing to consider this as a possible interpretation. I believe there was a time when the younger son (who was not yet prodigal) was unaware of there even being such a place as the far country. In the normal course of events, someone (either the father or the older brother) told the younger son that it would be a good thing if he were to go into town and procure certain necessary supplies. These supplies would be available because it was known that a merchant caravan had just arrived from the east. The younger brother cheerfully went to town and accomplished his tasks. As he did this, he overheard a conversation in the tavern between a local merchant and one of the caravan’s camel drivers. The camel driver was boastfully describing the splendor of the festivities in the far country, the abundance and quality of the food, wine, women, song, etc. The local merchant sighed and said “Oh, Ahmad, what a life you live. I would do what you’re doing if only I could get out of this God-forsaken place.”

And in that moment, the younger son moved in the Stations of the Prodigal, from the Station of Innocence, to the Station of Uncertainty.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

What Are My Mistakes Good For?

Step 26 in Steps to Knowledge is the first step with the word “errors” in the actual step.  The word “errors” first appeared in step 24, “I am worthy of God’s love.”

“Your life may be filled with errors and mistakes, wrong decisions and poor choices, but you have still come from your Ancient Home to which you will return. Your worthiness in
the sight of God is unchanged. There is only great effort to repair your errors so that you may experience your True Self so that it may be rendered into the world.”

I recall having a certain amount of apprehension when I read the bit about great effort to repair my errors.  I recall thinking to myself “Oh dear, that might take a while.”

There is an idea in our culture which could be expressed in the form “Everything that happens to me happens for a purpose, and it serves me.” The context in which this step places that idea is “The pain people experience as a result of their wrong decisions causes people to value truth, which can lead to true Knowledge.  There are poor choices people make, which are not only purposeless and meaningless, but a hindrance to meaning and direction. These poor choices cause a great deal of suffering.  Stop making errors, mistakes, wrong decisions and poor choices, so that you can stop suffering so much.”

The Prodigal Son took the counsel of this step, learning to value truth through the pain of his errors.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

The Unexpected Treasure

Step 15 and Step 16 of Steps to Knowledge link to each other similar to the way Step 8 and Step 9 link to each other.  People doing Step 8 ask “Is this stillness thing important?” and Step 9 replies “Indeed yes, for in stillness all things can be known.”  People doing Step 15 ask “Is this inner listening thing important?”  Step 16 replies, “Absolutely, because beyond your mind, beyond the turbulent surface that most people identify as their minds, lies Knowledge.”

Step 16 declares that Knowledge, the great mystery of a person’s life, a person’s True Self, which is not apart from life, has things to communicate; thoughts, impressions, inclinations and direction.  As I think of this, I recall the words of King Solomon in the book of Proverbs regarding the benefits of receiving and striving after wisdom:

Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you. (Proverbs 2:9-11, New International Version)

Near the end of what is known as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told his disciples, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matthew 13:44, New International Version)

Many people fail to find the treasure because they are deceived by the ordinary appearance of the field in which the treasure is buried.  People wonder, “Can there be anything of value in that cacophony of restless, wandering thoughts which is my mind?”  The answer of Steps to Knowledge at this point is “Yes, but it’s going to take some practice to be able to sort it out.”

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

“Ye Shall Be As Gods”

For reasons I don’t understand, the Bible decided not to elaborate on the thought processes of Eve, between the serpent’s temptation in Genesis 3, and the time Eve and Adam ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

For reasons I don’t understand, the Bible decided not to elaborate on the thought processes of the Prodigal Son, between the time he first heard there was even such a place as the far country, and the time he said “Father, give me my share of the estate.” (Luke 15:12, New International Version).

I believe Eve entertained the thought, “If I ate the fruit, I’d be different than any creature in the garden.  Different from any plant, different from any animal, even different from Adam. I would be something that never before existed in the universe.  I would be special.”  I believe the Prodigal Son entertained the thought, “No one in my family ever been to the far country, not my father, not my older brother.  I’d be different from everyone in my family if I traveled to the far country.  I would be special.”

A Course in Miracles describes the human condition as having separated ourselves from God in pursuit of an experience of being special. Furthermore, because this experience of being special is an unreal illusion, we go to great lengths to defend the value of this experience, engaging in relationships (“special relationships,” either special love relationships or special hate relationships) for the purpose of reinforcing the idea of being special.

Step 13 of Steps to Knowledge, “I want to be separate to be unique,” recaps a good bit of the material in A Course in Miracles in a remarkably few words, in my opinion.  I consider the word “unique” to be but a synonym for “special.”

While being special has a certain buzz to it, our choice of it has had much greater costs than the benefits.  Eve must have thought “Maybe I should have asked God to elaborate when he said ‘Ye shall surely die.'”  The Prodigal Son recognized this as he was doling out the husks to the swine. I’ve been told that if I realize my motivation for separation, I will know that I want to come home, just like the Prodigal Son did.  Let this comment on Step 13 from a fellow student supply the exclamation point:

OK OK! I admit it. The whole thing of wanting to be God in my own life didn’t work out so well. I’m sorry for throwing that temper tantrum and storming out like that. It was brash and childish. Thank you for letting me experiment until I made a fool of myself and was forced to face the inevitable. I was sufficiently distracted for a few billion years and tried to pretend that I could manage on my own but I’m over it now. A better plan for Creation has failed to present itself to me. I have a hard enough time with the shopping list.

Can I come Home now? I miss my bed.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.