Spiritual Mathematical Knot

Spiritual Mathematical Knot

A conversation on Facebook helped me appreciate the ultimate spiritual mathematical knot – drawing closer to God. Baha'i RingstoneResponding to a Baha’i quote on the challenges inherent in searching for God a friend posted this tongue-in-cheek response “So. Pretty easy overall.” A mathematical formula to describe how easy it might be came to me in a flash. The difficulty we have in finding and drawing near to God equals our actual distance from God divided by how close we think we are. Let’s unpack this spiritual mathematical knot.

Thinking we have God in our back pocket creates a mathematical impossibility. You can’t divide by zero. This is the challenge facing those who, like I once did, think they are comparatively closer to God than others. 

A group I once belonged to was über-obedient. We kept many Torah Commandments, like the Sabbath, Holy days, and food laws. By having both the law and the testimony of Christ we believed we were closer to God than anyone else on earth. In some ways, maybe we were. We took God at His Word and organized every aspect of our life around obeying, following and worshiping Him.

impossible divideAnd yet belief in proximity to God kept us from drawing any closer. My personal battle with this is described in painful personal detail across the pages of the first two books of my Trilogy.  The People of the Sign describes my involvement with the Worldwide Church of God and its 1995 implosion. That devastating fail was underscored by many members blaming the other side instead of becoming introspective. Being a victim of divorce and kidnapping helped me understand the two sides. Detachment helped me realize I was nowhere near as close to God as I had thought, opening up the “valley of search” described by the Baha’i quote that led to this blog.

Spiritual Proximity Sensor 2

My personal search around the world is described in The Hardness of the Heart. How we view and treat our fellow man is directly related to how open our heart is to God. Self-sufficiency, judgmental attitudes and the belief that we already have enough of God in our lives creates an impassible divide between us and God.

There are many ways to conclude we are as close to God as possible, which becomes self-fulfilling. How close are you to God?Fear of turning to God due to feelings of guilt and inadequacy are but mirror images of this arrogance. They are also expressions of a focus on ourselves. These too are fetters of ego that create distance.

Yet anyone who thinks they are far away from God can easily draw nearer just by deciding to. Recognizing the distance allows us to instantly decrease it. Think of how Christ welcomed and embraced sinners, while condemning the Pharisees. Apparently such spiritual equations function more like quantum mechanics than classical physics.

How close are you to God?This makes searching for God  sound easier than it is, of course. But on the other hand, we usually make it harder than it is. And I think that was the point of my friend’s cheeky, and well-timed response to my Facebook post. Thank God for friends who help us untie spiritual mathematical knots. Or tie them, as the case may be.

Are you as close to God as you want to be? Or knot? John 13:35 says everyone can know who follows Christ by a simple test. Do you know what it is?
A Special People?

A Special People?

We have children of a certain age – 4 and 7. So I can relate to Jami, the author of this blog on a child’s piano recital. She humorously points out that she wants her children to know they “aren’t that great”. “You’re not better than others”.

I'm Better Than YouShe somewhat convincingly suggests that this is the message of Christ. It’s a great blog, and it inspired me to try to tackle this important topic myself, however imperfectly, because Jami’s blog raises a question that is at the heart and core of my book – “The People of the Sign”.

Why does God seemingly tell Israel, in Deuteronomy 7:6, the opposite of what Jami proclaims as the message of Christ?

For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.

Isn’t telling one people they shall be raised above all others the opposite of what Christ tried to accomplish? Isn’t Christ’s approach to this at the heart of why the Pharisee’s hated Him, and killed Him? Isn’t this question at the heart of all religious strife on this planet today, as evidenced by the highly explosive situation in the Middle East, focused on Israel?

This is a blog, not a treatise on theology, so at the risk of oversimplifying I’ll discuss just two quick points on why there is no contradiction between Moses and Christ.

First – if you want to find evidence of progressive revelation, that God has been raising mankind, the way parents raise children, here it is. Every parent knows you fill your children with love in infancy. You make sure they know that they are THE most important thing in your life. This statement by God is 100% in alignment with that principle.

Life is hardBut does that relegate Moses to “baby talk” – a lovingly told divine lie, a bait and switch, in which the baby later learns “it’s a cruel world, and I know I told you that you were special, but you really aren’t?”

There is a parallel verse that can help us answer this – Exodus 19:5

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.

Here we see, clearly, that God conditions such elevation. The same principle of “you are a special treasure above all people” is outlined in Exodus 19:5, but with a caveat. “If you will indeed obey”. Is God interested in being obeyed? Not so much. He is interested in the results of obedience. His laws are “great making”. The greatness part comes as a result of the learning that comes from obeying God’s holy and perfect law. And it does elevate the keepers of it above others, because they do become great.

And, in fact, the New Testament also addresses Christians as “a special people, a royal priesthood”. And there is a whole lot of theology that tries to deal with the seeming contradiction I raised above. The New Testament writers after Christ, especially Paul, and the religion that was constructed upon an imperfect understanding of what Christ brought, have wrestled with this question down to our day.

A major problem with Judaism is that, as a result of historical failure to keep the law they wrote a never ending series of protective laws, to ensure it was kept. A major problem with Christianity is that Divine Law was thrown out altogether. Today, we are still trying to figure this out, but it’s really not that hard. Check out my blog on a little known book called The Secret of Divine Civilization for a practical example of this.

HumilityWe are trending toward World War III because religious fanatics have so twisted and overheated the hearts of millions of followers that they are willing to risk global conflict to prove that they, not the modern nation of Israel, are the chosen ones of God. Secular society, on the other hand, abandons all Divine guidance.

At the center of all this is the world’s only Jewish State – and a people who, after 4,000 years and millennia of suffering, may be closer than we think to the answers to this conundrum. These are, in a sense, The People of the Sign – since the Sign in the name of my first book refers to the Sign of the Covenant God made with Israel – the Sabbath. But the answer to why I believe they are close to a breakthrough will have to wait for another day.