I’ve been asked to comment on the topic noted above. People wanted to know if my book, “Walking in Love: Why and How?” was written just for Christians and, especially, certain types of Christians. Also, why should a person who belongs to another community of faith or adheres to no particular faith community find anything of interest or usefulness in that book?
This blog is intended to respond to those questions.
First, the book is a product of my own experience. I think that, no matter how enlightened a person is (or thinks they are), it is inevitable that their unique path to enlightenment must always be considered “tainted” to some degree by limited individual personal experience. I know of no way around that problem. Even so, there is still something we have in common that unites us. As best I can determine, we humans are all the same, as created. I do think each of us “unfolds” according to a blueprint that is unique to each one of us. It is that personal experience of each that I turn to, to uncover the common ground I refer to, even though we may live out our lives in the context of different cultures.
This is why I wrote the book as I did. It essentially says: “Take anything I write here with a grain of salt, so to speak. Treat it as tentative unless and until you find what is being said to be consistent with your past personal experience or you find it to be consistent with your experience as you try it out experimentally.”
Why should anyone even bother reading and taking anything I write seriously, when there are thousands (millions?) of different people’s experiences? Why spend my precious time listening to you? Why is your witness any better than theirs or, even, my own opinions?
I say you might consider taking me seriously because of my documented rich and extensive life experience that is chronicled in the book and openly verifiable. The book is about the process of growing spiritually. I am a product of that process. In spite of severe adversity, I have survived and prospered. I have done so with joy and peace, and continuing growth in my ability to love.
If that process did this for me, maybe it will work for you. That alone is a good reason for you to take me seriously.
There is another, much more important reason. As I worked out my personal “unfolding” I did gain some degree of clarity and understanding of what was going on and why? The more enlightened I became, because of my Christian roots and involvement in that culture, I realized the very process that I was going through was nearly identical to a spiritual development process I discovered Jesus had laid out in the gospels written in his name. This realization was given a big boost forward when, in seminary, I learned to accurately translate the original Greek of the New Testament into current English.
I say “nearly identical” because there were some differences. As I trapped out those differences and thought upon them, I learned that all the differences in understanding on my part were wrong. Scripture was always right and I was always wrong. This really blew me away,
In parallel, I began encountering other faith groups and listened to their messages. Many of them I found were quite appealing and enlightening to me. Also, with all sincerity, I found many of those things consistent with what I knew of Jesus’ teaching.
I think a similar kind of thing happened to Paul (and others). See Galatians 1:12. In that letter, Paul explained he did not learn the gospel from listening to men but was taught it directly from encountering the living, risen Christ. This idea is at the core of the traditional Christian Orthodoxy of Hesychasm, where one learns to “be still” and hopes for the grace of a direct human experience of the energies of the living God. As Psalm 42 of the bible teaches, “Be still, and know that I am God”.
Instead of becoming a minister of the gospel to an already-existing faith community of Jewish Christian in Jerusalem, Paul reached out to a different community of people–the Gentiles. His success there created, from scratch, a whole new faith community of Christians which eventually became dominant within the “big tent” of Christianity.
All of this convinced me Jesus did not come to walk upon this earth to form a partisan group of believers empowered to formulate a rigid set of beliefs and impose them on others but to give the world a process, based on the reports of what he said and what he did, where we could, in the words of the Bible, Isaiah !:18 “Come to (let us) reason together.” And Psalm 133:1 “…how good and pleasant it is for brothers (children of the same father) to dwell in harmony”.
So I have given you answers to the questions posed at the beginning of this blog. I am a member of the Jesus moment. I understand the goal of that movement is to bring all the world into harmony and do so by the power of love. That goal transcends whichever part of the Jesus movement you happen to be a part of as well as being directly applicable to those outside of such Christian faith communities, like Paul’s experience with the gentiles.
From this perspective, If the process described in my book is congruent to the process Jesus presents by his teachings and actions, as described in scripture, and is valid or useful, It will be so because it is grounded in our common humanity. It is open to all, for their spiritual development and benefit.
The important message of the book for the reader is to try out the process, to experiment, and see if your experience validates what has been presented. As Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see, the goodness of the Lord”. Take a nibble and see what happens in your life. If the result is good, take another bite. Don’t become discouraged if the results are irregular, at the beginning. Give it time to work. It’s a lifelong process.
If you are a Christian, maybe the process my book describes will help you in your spiritual journey. If you disagree with it or do not find it helpful, go in peace!
The book does emphasize the tremendous benefit of walking one’s spiritual journey in community with people who love you and are also “seeking the Lord”. In other words, the process should be used by a person in a community with others. What that community is, is your choice.