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Growing A Church?

Growing A Church?

Now I’d better own up before I proceed. I used to be a church junkie, albeit a slightly reticent one in my somewhat zealous youth. You see, I believed the evangelistic take on God and his kids. God is working in the world and His agency is the institution belovedly known as church. Back in my Irish homeland, as soon as one came into an experience of the risen Nazarene, one was instantly ushered into a sheep fold under the name of a ‘sound’ church. I was never really sure what a sound church was, for those who embraced the standard orthodoxy seemed to be asleep to me, the only sound being my snoring during the pastor’s sermon. No, for me it was a more radical version of Jesus community, or so I thought. I was a founding member of a Charismatic, (yes, speaking in tongues etc) fellowship that attempted to do things differently. I should have known better though, for all life-giving religious or spiritual movements eventually conservatise, becoming clones of their older predecessors. Northern Ireland was, and still is, peppered with man’s attempt to get Divinity into a box, much like any other Bible Belt area of God’s good Earth.

That being said, I want to look at our fixation at growing a church, to use a trendy but ineffective term that’s doing the religious rounds. If one has a church, a group bang in the centre of Divine Will, then why not grow it – the bigger the better right! Well no, at least in my experience. Here are a few reasons for small is beautiful.

1) God isn’t obsessed by church like most of His/Her kids.

Jesus groups were to be transient expressions of God realignment, not the be all and end all. Packed buildings of Jesus people on Sunday mornings aren’t on God’s agenda.

2) Spiritual life is best shared through conversation and friendship.

The Nazarene hinted at this when talking about the two or three gathered into His name. When a few folk, with open and respectful hearts tune into the Divine in conversation, there is an opportunity for Presence to manifest and flow between those present.

3) Growing churches was never a Divine suggestion.

Growing things is frankly more to do with market share than the Way of the Kingdom/Queendom.

Institutionalised faith needs institutions and institutions need cash to survive. Once established, rigid faith groups frankly need bums on seats to keep going, and of course as we all know failure is never on the agenda for those believing God is with them.

3) Growth is an organic experience and one that is deeply personal.

The numbers game in religious circles, patronisingly disguised as a concern for the lost, is nothing to do with true growth.

Spiritual growth is the growing awareness of who we are, and our place in the Divine Heart. Such growth often follows times of great personal darkness. It cannot be manufactured on the assembly line of programmed religion. Rather it takes place in the desert of aloneness, when Light invades our Darkness.

4) Growth of our group encourages religious competition.

I’m afraid I have to smile when a new church opens up here in Lincoln. The pastor priest will always claim to be in total harmony with the existing churches in the city. Their targets for membership are always the ‘unchurched’, especially the young unchurched who are susceptible to subtle, or not so subtle, love bombing. What often happens though is a case of sheep transference. When the shiny new religious stall is set out, Jesus people sniff out a better pastureland and hop the church fence to enter the new field of fellowship. And so it continues, throughout the ages. Like competing supermarkets, religious groups are in the marketplace of desire. the subliminal message is always this: ‘Our take on Jesus is more authentic than that of other groups, so come aboard!’. The merry-go-round world of church membership falsely feeds the growth dreams of model pastors/priests. We are getting new people so we must be fulfilling God’s agenda.

5) Big numbers inflate ego’s group identity.

When we get high on our numbers, ego is lurking, willing to elevate us to a special status, that of God’s chosen.

Growth is put down to God adding to our numbers rather than our clever marketing or manipulation of broken folk looking for answers. Ego, looks over its sacred empire and gives itself a pat on the back, while giving God all the glory, at least publicly.

It’s empowering to be a member of a large and cutting edge group, though in time the ride will end in disillusionment and tears. It’s at this stage that God may get a chance to have a wee chat with us and bind up our self-administered wounds.

6) Church and its size is irrelevant in the great scheme of things

While caught up in the church growth delusion we tend to see life as a life-saving operation. It’s a case of getting as many folk as possible into the Jesus lifeboat as possible before they check out of space-time. And as most of us know who’ve sailed the seven seas in such a craft, it’s really a delusion, for the boat of salvation is merely a church expansion programme. Divine Love has birthed all and will embrace all, church membership or not. To limit a spiritual coming home to joining a church is a big mistake. For often we leave the integrity of our God encounter at the door to play a different game, one driven by the need to belong and be accepted; a shinier version of the game that we played in our wilder days.

So there you have it. Some wee thoughts why it’s best not to get involved with your church’s expansion drive known as evangelism. Since the days of my evangelistic zeal I’ve discovered that God is big, very big indeed. Faith groups are only part of a world that is loved, a Love without restraints that waits at the city gate for those with ears to hear to listen and respond. The Voice is everywhere, even, dare I say it, in the back pew of my old hemorrhaging church.

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Clericalism

Clericalism

I guess there’s always been a bunch of folk who saw themselves as intermediaries of sort between God and man. How come? Well I believe that bizarrely the roots of religious belief can be found in mob violence – the founding murder, so to speak. I’d better explain.

Ancient man lived in small extended family groupings or prototype tribes. When something went wrong in their fight for survival and things began to get a little heated, a scapegoat was quickly found and dispatched in a fit of rage. This unexpected blood-letting released a quasi sense of cathartic peace in the remaining family members, who began to interpret it as the blessing of the Divine Spirit in the Sky! “Ah, so if we kill someone or something on a regular basis, we can obtain the favour of the One above. If we sacrifice to Transcendence, blessings will flow.” The birth of sacrificial religious thought which sadly continues to this day.

Over time, the tribe asked for volunteers to dot he dirty deed and so the priesthood was born. Those not afraid to get blood on their hands in exchange for a new prestige within the community. “We are a cut above the rest,” became their sacred slogan as they sharpened their clerical knives. And so it has continued through the ages. For some the blood is still part of the killing vocation, for others it’s now a symbolic role, dispensing the wine of the slain Lamb on a regular basis. Since time immemorial we have been into blood and so it remains. Further exploration of this obsession is for another day. What I really want to focus on is the sociological residue of such a belief system – the clerical class.

Now, let me say that I’m friends with a number of priests of varying shades. I’m not here to question their motives or their devotion to the Divine; rather I wish to question whether they are needed. Of course, when professional livelihoods are involved the cleric understandably fights back with 2000 years of Christian tradition or even more in the case of the older religions. I can understand that all too human reaction. When we need food on the table for our kids we’ll perform all sorts of pastoral back flips to justify our existence.

No, do we really need a professional class of priests, pastors and dare I say it, Apostles ( for my Pentecostal friends) in order to know God. Do we still require the experts to stand between Divine Source and man? Well, if we still insist on communities that centre around a round of religious gatherings in a purpose-built building, then the clergy still play a role, albeit an organisational one. For, let’s face it, if there wasn’t a paid official to do all the stuff, the whole system would collapse due to apathy. Folk have always wanted a Moses figure to go up the Mount and come back with a tabletised list of instructions from God, especially if they can also perform the role of CEO for the business named church.

I guess I’m saying that we don’t need a bunch of men or women to dispense the Divine for us, for Presence already dwells within. What we may need is one almighty shock to our ego system, that reveals this dramatic truth, one that rarely comes through the dedicated efforts of the clergy. A sudden death, a health scare, a divorce, redundancy etc all have the potential to jolt us into an Awakening experience. The place for answers is within, in the depths of our ego screams. There the Light dwells and we knew it not. Most folk within clerical systems of ministry are nice folk, though not all. Yet, there very existence may divert folk from meeting the Divine, heart to Heart. A little ministerial cul-de-sac that seems to help for a while until a new top-up of concern is needed. Life is messy and it’s there that Divine Love has chosen to dwell.

The trouble is that the priest/pastor/reverend etc can feel that it’s their job to keep the whole God show on the road. This is often done by teaching the particular dos and don’ts of their interpretive tradition. Having joined the clerical class to help mankind they can so easily end up propping up a moral empire based on the interpretive add-ons of their religious tradition. It’s so easy to switch into control mode in the name of the God of freedom. It’s the historical virus that invades the very heart of religious systems. The priest once more stands as judge and jury on the whole God-man thing, tempted to shed blood, albeit verbally on the chosen scapegoat.

Finally, let me tell you a wee story. A couple of years back here in Lincoln, I was out for a walk along the local High Street when I noticed a bunch of Christians doing their evangelistic thing. Always willing to have a chat will fellow God folk, I stopped and entered into a friendly chat with a guy, who turned out to be the pastor of the gang. At first our conversation was friendly but soon it was strongly inferred that I should be a church member and come along to sample his particular brand of gathering. At this point I suggested that the pastor try a wee experiment. Why not stop all church gatherings for a year, when folk could just mix with society at large. After 12 months have a meeting to see how many people had become Christians through contact with his flock. Unfortunately, I saw sheer disbelief in his eyes. “Dylan, I couldn’t do that.” “Why not?” I asked. “Well, frankly my members wouldn’t make it if it weren’t for our church programme.” Enough said. ” The Christ within would wither up and die if the pastor’s flock didn’t get their weekly worship session and sound Bible instruction.

The clerical system at its worst methinks.

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Sorry, Do I Know You?

Sorry, Do I Know You?

 

Without doubt life’s a weird dance. A 70+ years’performance with all the intricate twists and turns of inter-personal relationships and attachments. The longer I live the less I seem to know. Yet, maybe that’s the way it was meant to be. At the end of it all maybe we’ll just fall into the compassionate arms of Mystery having done our thing on the dance floor of space-time.

One of the most baffling elements in life is our perception of those close to us. We get to a place where we think we know them, only to be shocked and surprised by some of their newly emerging hidden layers. At times I wonder if we’re just relating to a projection of ourselves – an idealised me, rather than the real other, whoever that may be. I suspect that the majority of our daily interactions operate on this semi-delusional basis. All that we know about the other is the mask which they wear with pride. A camouflaged disguise to throw us off the scent of their inner brokenness and pain. Often, we are merely two masks boosting each others egos, a little mutual appreciation society that gets us both through the day.

Of course we can easily switch masks at the drop of a psycho-spiritual hat. Our numerous little sub-personalities, those that comprise ego, have quite a store of them from which to draw upon. A face for every situation under the sun methinks. Like some frantic trick or treater  we are skilled at flashing up a new face in order to get what we need, viz. a little care and attention to numb our debilitating internal pain. Is it any wonder that relationships come and go, prospering only to eventually hit the rocks of estrangement? Our friend has repeatedly seen all our faces and is growing totally bored with them. Time to move on and admire a new set of masks. “So long! It’s been nice knowing you, or more accurately, not knowing you!”

The dance of the masks has many stages on which to do its thing. Marriage is a classic example of such a performance area. Many marriages break down as the power of the illusion begins to lose its efficacy, finally revealing what the other person was really like all along. Paradoxically, marital mask wearing is a pretty dangerous game, for as it draws us ever closer together, we automatically open ourselves up to the possibility of our mask slipping. Our fantastical romantic projections fall away, leaving us with just another flawed human being, one crying out for authenticity and love. Shocked, some of us miraculously find a new love within, one with which to embrace the other’s now deeply apparent brokenness. Others, exhausted by the endless marrital games of hide and seek, decide enough is another and run for the nearest divorce lawyer. Licking our relational wounds we hide away until another mesmerising mask passes our way, enticing us into a brand new love dance.

Collective mask dances also prove to be potent protectors  in our ego’s defensive armoury. “There’s safety in numbers,” we reason before signing up and joining in. Bumping into numerous others on the dance floor of communal swing, makes us feel much safer for a while. Much social belonging takes this tantalising form. Yet, we interact on the basis of keeping our hidden Self behind a jolly veil of whole-hearted participation. Sadly, a high proportion of our religious involvements within those pietistic families known as church, tend to fall into this category. Churches aren’t really set up for stark realities, for such realities would explode the often superficial group dynamic almost as soon as it was established. No, we all have available to hand a convincing religious self, a devout mask with which to deal with the depth of interaction required in our particular sect of choice. Just turning up with a beatific smile each Sunday is all that’s required for some groups. Others ask a lot more of us, in terms of time, energy and above all cash, along with a zealous believer’s mask, one that reinforces the control of the collective group narrative. Yet, as soon as reality begins to break through an unwelcome chink in a member’s psycho-spiritual armour and their mask falls to the ground, the collective quickly offers them a replacement mask, one to be pitied and prayed for in the continuing religious dance. Of course, the alternative response is a swift expulsion, a communal act of isolation that sends the maskless one out into the desert darkness of unbelief.

So, when we interact with those around us today, let’s see if we can identify our mutual, multifaceted masks. For behind such veneers lie real people, those buried in the pain of ego entanglement. A little act of courage on our part, may see us removing one of our precious masks, thus allowing the other to reciprocate. The first, healing steps toward a genuinely authentic connection. Yet, to achieve such an intimate level of inter-personal knowing first requires our own internal knowing. Only Spirit can draw us into our own persoanl dark room, that Silence where we sit naked and alone with Source. But more of that next week.

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Hi Folks

Here’s one of the most potent and possibly disconcerting chapters in my recent book ‘Way Beyond The Blue’ for your perusal.

It’ll give you a flavour of the way I think and write.

If you want to read more, I’ve added the wee link to Amazon at the end!

❤ Dylan

 

 

 

Chapter 32

Yeshua Sayings That You Rarely Hear In Church ~ 4

‘For you took away the “key of knowledge”. You yourselves didn’t enter and you hindered the ones entering in.’

In this provocative, yet deeply perceptive statement, Yeshua bar Yosef once more turns the full force of the Divine spotlight onto the prevalent religious mindset of His day, indeed, onto the hidden mindset of all religious systems throughout the ages. The sacred skeleton in the cupboard can no longer remain dressed up in the pseudo-respectability that it cleverly attempts to clothe itself in.

So what exactly is this key of knowledge that Yeshua claims Judaism’s religious top brass were holding back from the common people? Well, in order to answer such a crucial question we need to examine the context of the Nazarene’s debate with His Jewish elders.

Yeshua has just fired both barrels at the number of excessive laws extrapolated onto the Torah by the Jewish Scribes. In other words, He was confronting the timeless issue of religious legalism that always reduces the big, spiritual picture to the minutiae of pietistic duty.

Yet, in the ensuing discussion, Yeshua unearths a much darker and sinister problem that lies as the foundation stone of all religious systems viz. violence and its accompanying hypocrisy; the hidden elephant in every holy of holies. The revelation of violence, lying at the heart of our commonly perceived route to holiness, is, I believe, the key referred to by the Galilean prophet-teacher; the key that opens the door to a totally new perception of the Divine Nature.

In first century Palestine the construction of tomb memorials to the prophets of past generations helped consolidate a much threatened, Jewish national identity, in the face of Roman oppression and occupation. The religious authorities in Jerusalem appeared to honour the pioneering spokesmen of their embryonic faith whilst paradoxically honouring their forefathers who’d murdered them. Yeshua decides to go straight for the sacred jugular in exposing the blatant hypocrisy of His fellow debaters by claiming that all prophets throughout human history, (Abel to Zechariah), had been murdered by the status quo religious representatives of their day.

Yeshua’s previous declaration that we cannot serve two masters appeared not to have registered with His supposedly learned audience. The religious violence of the past was repeatedly being hushed up, indeed, literally whitewashed over on the victims’ grand memorial tombs. A good gloss has always been painted over such religiously motivated murders.

The Nazarene, ominously a prophet Himself, dared to expose the violent spirit that continued to underlie the religious game since the dawn of human history. He well and truly succeeded in flushing this destructive genie out of its shiny, sacred lamp, thus determining His own particularly tragic, yet deeply prophetic destiny.

You are sons of your father who was a murderer from the beginning’ elsewhere exploded the early Jewish myth of a violent, angry God, the father in question being the Satan or Adversary of skewed human desire. No wonder Yeshua’s listeners immediately attempted to respond with violence, ironically proving the truth of His claims regarding their dubious spiritual parentage.

The murder of Abel, the first brother, is a telling prototype of all future religious rivalry and its resulting violence; the striking out of sacred jealousy birthed by a dysfunctional perception of the Divine. A founding murder misinterpreted as the result of a Divine rejection; a subtle mechanism that regularly keeps the religious show on the road.

‘For God and Ulster’

This paramilitary group’s slogan for war in my deeply divided homeland of Northern Ireland, says it all. The Divine has been mistakenly woven into the very fabric of human violence since Cain lashed out at his innocent sibling. Jealous of Divine approval, the sons of God go to war, carrying their dualistic Deity deep within their wounded, love starved psyches.

No matter how effective the cover up, the violence at the heart of religion will, given time, always rear its ugly head – like a jack-in-the-box that must eventually pop up. ‘Look how they love one another’ has become the taunt of non-believers worldwide as they witness the often bloody rivalry at the heart of all sacrificial religion.

As we all know, this radical revelation of religious violence by Yeshua quickly resulted in His own tragic, but not totally unexpected murder. Dressed up in the guise of politico-religious expediency; the Satanic genie had hit back in its time-honed modus operandi. Further unmasked through the Crucifixion of its Divine whistle-blower, the stunned violent godfather quickly struck back by insidiously dressing the risen Victim in violent apparel of His own. A perverse but deeply effective diabolical counter-play: a Father and Saviour Son who’d dispatch non believers to a place of eternal torment for their non-belief. A violent God now ridding Himself of violent men.

May I suggest that, like its Jewish predecessor, the religion of Yeshua also does a tomb job on its quickly dispatched prophets. Is this key of knowledge still important in our walk with the Divine? I believe so. The nature of religion, no matter what the brand, is still essentially the same; under its respectable Jesus layer lurks a hidden sibling rival that negates the very message of the Nazarene viz. a Divine Love that unconditionally welcomes and accepts all.

Thankfully, Spirit Breath, the inner Voice of such a Love can always be heard, whispering, far from the violent battlefields of religious systems, the fractured, dualistic world of them and us. Let’s constantly be on our guard; may we never mistake the Way of the whitewashed Tomb for the Living Way of Yeshua, the Lamb Victim, slain before space- time began.

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Christian Tribes

Christian Tribes

My  previous, wee post about socio-religio tribes has caused a wee bit of a stir among some of my Christian friends. I completely understand where they are coming from, having been a signed up member of their church-based mindset for most of my early adult life.

Simply put, their reservations run something like this:

‘Yes, freedom is a wonderful thing but doesn’t Christ ( The Nazarene) love his church and therefore it’s not a good idea to raise any criticism of its psycho-spiritual effects upon its members.’ 

‘Aren’t we wired for community and, in particular, for the community of God i.e. church.’

‘Isn’t it spiritually dangerous to be an ‘independent’ Christian, for there is safety in numbers.’

‘My church is wonderful and nothing like you describe.’

Let me try to briefly give a reply to each of these reactions, but before that I once again re-iterate that I’d rather write about Divine Love than faith group social dynamics. I have no vendetta against religious groups, their leaders or their members. We are free to choose our path of spiritual discovery; we are all human  and Loved by Divine Love no matter how we perceive these issues. I write for those damaged by their involvement in religious or spiritual groups and those still involved who are pondering their future involvement.  So here goes.

‘Yes, freedom is a wonderful thing but doesn’t Christ ( The Nazarene) love his church and therefore it’s not a good idea to raise any criticism of its psycho-spiritual effects upon its members.’ 

I believe that the church or ecclesia is simply those who follow the spiritual Way of Yeshua the Nazarene; those who through an awakening experience have touched the Transcendent as channeled by the words and life of the Galilean prophet. I do not believed that those who have awakened are any more loved by Divine Love than those who haven’t. All are born from Spirit Source and all will eventually come to a realisation of this, albeit for many, after the transition, known as death.

Yeshua himself spoke freely, using Jewish humour to expose the anomalies of the religious mindset and practices of his day. He spoke out of egoless Love but he did see Judaism as something that needed mollycoddled and left to its own devices.

The concern of the Nazarene was the Divine connection between his listeners and a welcoming God. Where religious or social taboos broke this connection he didn’t hold back in bringing such issues to light.

‘Aren’t we wired for community and, in particular, for the community of God i.e. church.’

For me community is the relational space whereby we share our mutual brokenness and Divine life flow. My community is constantly changing as folk touch my life and move on. I see it more as a river than a reservoir. A running exchange of Life flow rather than an institution that tries to keep the Divine Energy locked in its deep organisational wells. Of course some folk will become close friends, at least for a time. I see these as the Two or Three gathered into Yeshua’s name, a micro-community with a heart open to life and the changes that Spirit breath brings.

‘Isn’t it spiritually dangerous to be an ‘independent’ Christian, for there is safety in numbers.’

Safety from what? I no longer see the spiritual Way of Yeshua as a warfare with its ever-present prospect of being defeated by an external enemy. The only danger to our connection with Divine Love is our fractured psyche-soul or ego that attempts to inject fear and a strong sense of shame and rejection into our inner world. Divine Love is not fearful but confident of its Own Being. As with the Divine, so too with those realigned to its overwhelming Reality. Unfortunately, in my experience, religious groups may be the stage on which our fear driven ego does its thing, as it attempts to impress both God and man. The perceived place of ‘safety’ may in fact be more injurious to our psycho-spiritual health than the outer world of the non-believers.

No Christian, nor indeed any other spiritual adherent is truly independent. We are attached to one another at the level of mutual desire and indeed, if connected to Divine Love, we are automatically connected to others who carry the same Life Flow. We can sense this mutual belonging when we meet a fellow spiritual pilgrim on the Journey through life.

‘My church is wonderful and nothing like you describe.’

I cannot really say what your church is like. All our views are perceptions. Two folk may pick up completely different vibes whilst attending a faith gathering. Acceptance and welcome are a powerful drug, one that often clouds one’s judgement, at least until the social-spiritual cracks begin to appear. Desire transfer is by its very nature taking place at the level of the subconscious, promising relief to our childhood hurts and rejections. It can lead us towards Divine Love or to a dedication to the group identity, a pseudo-replica of true community. If you’re happy in your church, may your happiness continue. Based on my own experience, I reckon all things must pass in order for the new to come. But then again, maybe that’s just me and my unusual, Irish, psycho-spiritual wiring.

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Why Churches Explode

Why Churches Explode

Let’s face it. Churches are intense groups of folk who claim to have found God and certain that He/She dwells among them. It’s a heady basis for any gathering of people, no matter how saintly. Traditions of millennia have tempered the inter-personal dynamic of many, with a smiling nod of the head or the traditional hand-shake at the door being the only expected behavior of many attendees.

Yet for some church is a lot more; a hot-house of belief where a sense of family is encouraged with all the dangers that entails. When God is seen as the Big Daddy, the leadership, Big Brothers or Sisters, and the majority of folk, children of God at various stages of spiritual growth, then we inadvertently sow the seeds of trouble further down the line.

Over time the family connection takes over from the Divine connection within, subtly becoming the defining stage for our place in the world. Our fellow members become more important to us than those previously in relationship with us. We take our cue from our standing within the family, and especially how we are viewed by the established leadership.

Of course, such psycho-spiritual tweaks aren’t part of the public persona, where freedom in Christ or the Spirit is the name of the game, but they are there nonetheless. The longer we’ve been around a family church the more we play the game, secure in our position in the God rankings, particularly if our particular ‘ministry’ is valued by those who can discern such things.

The pressure within such faith groups is pretty intense with a high level of commitment expected by those around us. Indeed an introductory ‘commitment’ course, of weekly lectures is often a necessary prerequisite for those wishing to join. ‘Better to know what you’re getting into before committing’ goes the standard line. And yet, the high level of commitment required is itself a subliminal carrot that draws us into the tight-knit group. In the depths of our being we want to belong to a group that knows where its going, especially if that destination is the Divine Will itself.

As relational rivalry emerges within the family it is quickly interpreted by those in leadership as the challenge to love as Jesus loved. Indeed it is often seen as the reason we gather in intensity in the first place; the human community where our ‘rough edges’ are removed as we surrender our own desires and will to the greater good of the family. In practice this defusion device works for a while as we knuckle down to carrying our personal cross within the confines of the greater group identity.

Yet, eventually the bubbling undercurrent of ‘not being happy’, once more rises to the top where it will be swiftly dealt with by a sometimes coldly efficient leadership. The usual tactic of choice is to reflect the claustrophobic community concerns of the member back onto the member himself. Having looked for a safe and sincere forum where issues can be raised, the troublesome saint is often disillusioned at the response given viz. a subtle placement of blame upon his own character.

And so the scene is set for another departure, one that usually takes place through the ecclesiastical back door cleverly hidden by the somewhat patronising religious spin placed on it by the hierarchy of the group. ‘God has called Fred and Diane to a new work……’.

When rivalry within a religious family gets to the level of contagion, the group, like many blood-line families often explode and fragment. The number of such splits, especially within the Protestant stream of Christianity is endemic which is often covered up with the lame argument that God loves variety. Indeed He/She does, but not the psycho-spiritual shrapnel of broken lives that lie across the battlefield of religious disagreement.

My observations and experiences suggest to me that it all can’t be blamed on human nature, for such faith groups claim that they consist of ‘new creatures in Christ’. It would appear that the newly inherited Christ nature, loves to fight among Itself. Either this or the fact that we are not as ‘born again’ as we first thought.

May I humbly suggest that it is our mindset regarding faith or spiritual community that is at fault. Let me throw a grenade of sorts into the established model of church. There is only one ‘church’ and that is all who have been welcomed back into relationship and alignment by the generosity of Divine Love. In other words, church or ecclesia, those gathered for a common purpose is the totality of mankind. Some of us realise it and some don’t but all are there, at least in the eyes of a supremely benign and inclusive God.

So do I need to join a church if I follow Yeshua. My suggestion, contrary to much religious teaching is no. You are already in the group that God loves, the community of the redeemed who walk the face of the Earth. All belong to Divine Love and all belong to us. As you dive into the mass of heaving humanity you will join the Christ, the One who submerged Himself in the images of Divine Source. If it was good enough for Him it’s surely good enough for us.

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Why Do I Feel Weird In Church?

Why Do I Feel Weird In Church?

This is my last post, at least for a while on the subject of mimetic or imitative desire. I want to make it practical and help you identify the strange feeling that you get when you’ve attended church or any other faith community for a while. The pastor, minister, or priest has probably never warned you about it, but it’s there nonetheless, itching away under your confident religious identity.

In the last post we saw how Yeshua died to publicly expose and nullify skewed mimetic or imitative desire. Once this hidden control system was shown for what it was, Yeshua, through Holy Breath, realigned us into direct harmony with the Divine Parent, Abba.

It reminds me of an experiment I did in Physics class when I was knee-high to a grasshopper and had lots of hair. We were given a piece of iron and told how its molecules were totally chaotic, all pointing in a multitude of directions. As the magnets were distributed we were instructed to ‘stroke’ the iron in a particular direction with our magnet. Amazingly after a few strokes our little pieces of iron absorbed the magnetic field of the magnet while its molecules came into harmony by pointing in a set direction. What a great illustration of positive mimesis. By drawing alongside us Spirit has brought our wayward and skewed desires into line with those of Divine Love.

Well that’s the theory but of course we’re still living in the midst of a mimetic culture with its own powerful gravitational field. As followers of Yeshua we tend to hop in and out of desire fields – i.e. the Kingdom and our mimetic world system – ‘I want what you desire – indeed I want your desire, so I can be like you’

One of  the most freeing insights I’ve ever received on my Journey was to understand that the Christian community, commonly known as Church, is not the Kingdom of God. It ‘s designed to be a living model of Divinely restored mimetic desire but not the desire field itself. Just because we’re part of a faith community doesn’t guarantee that we’re enjoying the freedom from skewed desire that Yeshua has promised us by Spirit.

So what is this strange feeling that I talked about earlier  – the one that informs you that something isn’t quite right in your church? Instead of trying to honestly identify the source of such a feeling many of us Yeshua followers jump on, what I call, our religious treadmill – trying harder to fit in but ultimately finding things only get worse as we spin our way to emotional and spiritual exhaustion.

The problem is, however, quite easily identifiable – you’ve stepped out of imitative desire / harmony with Holy Breath becoming a slave to the surrounding group mimesis. This skewed desire matrix is what holds many religious groups together and indeed, gives them their particular identity.

Yeshua is of course the nominal figurehead but often the real mimetic centrepoint or model of the community is the zealous pastor/ minister/ priest. Scripture is often cleverly twisted in order to to keep the subliminal desire-show on the road. Folk are virally infected by the leaders apparent holy desire, gradually but subconsciously trying to imitate him in his seemingly clear connection with the Divine.

In my own experience, even my handwriting style became a clone of my pastor-model’s – I had the mimetic virus really bad, but that’s another story. Unfortunately such a leader-centered desire matrix leads to intense competitive rivalry within the band of followers, disguised as commitment to the pastor, community or even God Himself.

Such rivalry eventually leads to departures and splits – if the leader begins to sense the ever nearing approach of their desire clone, like some bible carrying zombie in the night of the dead, then they usually freeze out the follower through tighter control or an emotional expulsion.

‘If you’re becoming like me then you might replace me!’

In some rare cases the model leader is the one who has to depart due to the emotional dependency of his disciple clones. Like blood-sucking vampires, the ‘flock’ don’t give the leader space to be his/herself. Nervous breakdowns within professional faith leadership is usually the end result of such intense desire matrixes.

So, if you’ve regularly left church feeling worse than when you went in, stop and think! Your skewed desire alarm has been going off. You’ve probably sat through a dysfunctional exchange of desire that  subconsciously blocks your new-found mimetic harmony with the Divine. Amazing but true! Do spread the word around about this wolf in sheep’s clothing. If we talk about it enough perhaps we Yeshua’s followers might just start to enjoy the Divine life flow that the Nazarene promised!

http://amzn.to/1CHo7Vt

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