”Thou hast made us for thy self O God, and our hearts are ever restless until they find their rest in Thee.” Augustine.
The setting : Global restlessness a sign of hope.
The self satisfied ego has been the main blockage to authentic spiritual transformation and awakening. In the West between one and two thirds of our population is currently in a state of transition. It’s as if many have come to the end of one career and history is calling them to review their lives so as to find a place in a transcendent and unfolding narrative.
The self we have to get over:
When we are called to die to our self what self is it? It’s the self we paint in our mind that we call ‘us.’ Some call it the self-concept others an ego. Hayakawa, from San Francisco’s State University said, “We spend all of our waking moments maintaining protecting and enhancing our self-concept.”
We now know that the self-concept or ego, is constructed by our brain’s left hemisphere, the logical part of us. This is also where our anxieties come from, which is why Jesus said “Be anxious for nothing.” His answer to anxiety was to “Seek first the kingdom of God,” and we’ll find everything we really need will come to us. Of course this requires us to take a deep look into ourselves so as to face the core challenge of our existence, the issue we all have with ‘trust and control.’ We can’t have unconditional love and power at the same time.
You can’t have unconditional love and power at the same time:
Reminds me of the verse in Proverbs 11:24-25, ”There is that which grasps and loses, and that which gives and receives.” The ego’s main task is to ‘look good’ and ‘be right.’ This is why our roles are so important to us and why the great shift in roles that is currently happening indicates a time of great opportunity.
Apathy and being self-satisfied have been the great spiritual tranquilliser of the Christian West:
If we are to invite God in to heal our land we are given the required steps in 2 Chronicles 7:14. The people were told by God to 1: Humble yourselves; 2: Pray and 3: Seek my face. It all helps us escape the ego’s obsessive inclinations. Note the steps, and what comes first. Humility! We can’t be in our heart and ego infested head at the same time.
Historian Arnold Toynbee said just before he died, ”Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: 1st : a vision or an ideal, which takes the imagination by storm. 2nd: a definite intelligible plan for carrying out ideals into practice.”
Martin Luther King Jr. planned because he knew the danger.
This is why Martin Luther had it right when he said, “When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil man burn and bomb, good men must build and mend. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good man must commit themselves to the glories of love.”
In our post-modern world this battle will not be won by clever arguments. It will however be won by demonstrating the collective lifestyle everyone, in their heart of hearts, yearns for.
In South Africa it’s called ubuntu. In sociology it’s called inter-member identification and in early Christian theology it was called perichoresis, which loosely means dancing together in deep harmony.
This will be done through the kind of community life into which all can be invited to find their purpose; the kind of community that shapes a better to-morrow.
It is why Jesus shared the story of the good Samaritan. He was not simply looking after a battered man that the self satisfied religious people lifted their skirts and crossed the street to avoid. He was building what the social scientists call ‘bridging social capital.’ It was what Jesus was teaching when he said “Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called the children of God”.
The creative minority:
It has always has been the small group of committed friends who have changed the world. In Toynbee’s study of the rise and fall of civilizations he noted how a small group of ‘enthusiasts’ changed the course of history. The word enthusiasm is found in the book of Romans 4:11 and is translated “we rejoice in God,” ‘en-Theos’ means ‘these people are ‘in God’ and not simply ‘for’ themselves; being in this inspired condition they are always delightful and uplifting to be with.’ They with this spirit, become a major attractor and if well networked, start transforming the community networks they are a part of. (see my book Divine Art of Networking).
Next time: a strategy that works in Hindu, Muslim , atheistic and various indigenous and animist cultures. This strategy is based on the practical outworking of a commitment to justice and mercy motivated by compassion.
As well I will show the way to build transforming networks with bonding and bridging social capital, motivated by what Toynbee called the rolling out of God’s ‘moral glory on the move.’
All that is needed is a handful of willing people who have the capacity to read and discern the times they are in, and the historic opportunity that resides in the ’catalytic moment’.
The catalytic moment:
It’s interesting to note the Chinese word for crisis is a combination of two characters, one represents danger the other represents opportunity. A catalytic moment will always provide great historic opportunity for humble people with spiritual intelligence. As they say in the classics if you want to do a thing badly enough you’ll find a way; if you don’t want to do it, you’ll find an excuse!
These blogs will be dedicated to those who are committed to finding a way.