Let’s face it: most of us Jesus followers don’t believe that life is safe. The reason? Well, we unquestioningly believe that we’re living in enemy territory, a realm where someone other than the Divine is boss. This dualistic form of thinking has always been around, starting with extreme Gnostic beliefs and certain brands of Greek philosophy which influenced the early Jesus movement. In contrast, traditional Jewish thought tended to see God saturating the whole of life and taking full responsibility for it. A God who didn’t hold back in enveloping both the darkness and light of human experience. Added to the early Christian mix were the fallen angel myths of late Jewish Apocalyptic writings, those heady tales that had a decisive bearing on the embryonic faith. Soon after ‘the Satan’ was enthroned as ‘the god of this world’.
So how does such a take on life and the world we find ourslves in influence our personal spirituality. Well, let me suggest that those of us hooked on the anti-Satan Resistence Movement brand of Christianity have greatly underestimeated the length of the Divine Reach. Many Christians, particularly those of the evangelistic persuasion, tend to see the dark hand of the enemy in the minutae of life. So much so that they find it hard to enjoy anything and chill out in the knowledge that Love wins; indeed that Love has been in control all along.
The result of this dualistic war-footing approach is that one can never afford to take one’s eye of the psycho-spiritual ball. For, to do so is to court disaster. That’s the reason that many Christian believers are so into rigid self-discipline, disguised as the victorious life. Their stoical attempt at remaing kitted out in the ‘whole armour of God’ in case a fiery dart manages to penetrate their spiritual defenses. It’s a tough way to live. I know for I’ve been there, having played the spiritual warfare card for the early decades of my faith walk.
The key suggestion that I’m making is that our only ‘real’ enemy is our egoic-self, the one who projects fear for fun and conjurs up Don Quixote-like windmill foes to justify its driven existence. It’s a truly dastardly plot, one that much religious falls victim to. Ego loves an enemy without, for it diverts our attention from our own dysfunctional psycho-spiritual malaise, viz. internally skewed vision. For where there is Light we often see Darkness and where Darkness hides we perceive a holy religious Light. It’s all a matter of perspective, a case of which specs we have been indoctrinated to wear.
Thankfully, when we jack it all in due to burnout, leaving the stoical ranks of the Christian Army , we’re shocked to discover that Divine Love has been marinating life with its Presence all along. Life is much easier than we first imagined. Ego’s straw men go up in flames as we see the Light in places and people that we previously viewed as off limits to the Divine and Its Love. Of course you might conclude that I’ve become all wishy-washy and lovey-dovey, a utopian dreamer in a dangerous and threatening world. Not so, for all too clearly I realise the suffering that takes place all around us and our heightened natural instinct to avoid it and demonise it. Yet, I reckon that the Divine, the One who paradoxically resides above all and in our midst, has never yielded ground to our ego projections. In Reality there is only Source. The mock battles of our fervent minds are just that – mind games birthed by a wounded ego, one that hurts like hell.
To step back and lay down our arms is surely the sign of ultimate trust. That Obi-Wan Kenobi moment when we finally realise that we can’t be annihilated nor destroyed. An overriding knowing that flows from Divine Love Itself. An awareness that outside our ego’s virtual-world all is well and shall be well, world without end.