1 Corinthians 13.12 (NRSV)
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.
2 Corinthians 3.18
And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformedinto the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
Last week, we talked about Jesus’ transfiguration into pure, loving God energy as an example of all humankind’s potential. In the revelation of his true nature, Jesus shows that we, too, are conduits for God’s unconditional love. We talked about reaching a new, transcendent human potential by following Jesus into utter submission to God. In the transfiguration we see anindividualawakening to God. Jesus understood that it would take a billion individual awakenings to change the world.
The idea of individualawakening isn’t discussed much in the Roman Christianity of Paul and Popes. Most Christians have been taught (or intimidated) focus on thankfulness to Jesus for his cosmic sacrifice for humankind. As long as it’s making us more loving, all-accepting people, there is nothing wrong with that (Roman) interpretation, but it’s also not the entire story.
Jesus also, and I think more importantly, was a mystic. He presents us with a more mystical way to live that is designed to brings us to an enlightened view that is the result of a change at the core of our being. By following Jesus, we are transformed into a more accurate reflection of God, who is love. One by one, the world changes before our eyes. Hatred disintegrates. Love prevails.
Of course, we don’t live in a world of unconditional love. and we could convincingly argue that the systems Jesus raged against are worse than when he first started preaching about a new, more universally connected world. Paul grasps the breadth of the problem, realizing that, unlike Jesus, we are only dimly awareof our true being as God’s love incarnate. Or, at least, Paul understand that we are the potential of God’s love incarnate.
Again, awareness is the key. Jesus is aware. He knows who he is and encourages us to do the hard work of achieving that same awareness. It’s a difficult path, the way of Jesus, because it forces us to work against our human survival nature and instead rely on the unambiguous, ubiquitous love of God. As God begins to light us from within, our Ego fights back by filling our minds with fear. Ego doesn’t want to lose control. Becoming like Jesus means being caught in an existential struggle for balance between our egoic and divine natures.
Paul was excruciatingly aware of the conflict between these two operational modes. He understood that all of us,regardless of physical appearance, are reflections of God. He intuited the string theory idea of God as a single element that forms itself into everything. God isn’t just creator, God is also the created; not apart, or even a part, but a holistic inner emanation.
Paul poetically suggests we are “seeing in a mirror, dimly.” We see our reflection, but it’s only a physical reflection, and even that is distorted. Our spiritual perception of God is even worse. It’s almost as if there is some haze around us that prevents us from seeing God’s reality more clearly, from connecting to God as unwaveringlyas Jesus. I sometimes wonder if we’re not living in a cocoon trapping us in an infinitesimal shard of illusory reality, a more capacious point of view just beyond the veil.
Jesus teaches that only God can destroy the cocoon of lies preventing us from living life in tune with God here and now, lies like worthlessness and limitation, and the ever pervasive and perverse myth of lack—there isn’t enough to go around. These lies form a cocoon that extinguishes, rather than nourishes, us.
Yet, even as the cocoon is a barrier to a larger universe, it is also where transfiguration takes place, where we caterpillars are nourished while evolving into a new form. We aren’t trapped in the cocoon, we are momentarily resting as God nourishes us on our way to freedom, as we change from one divine form to another. The caterpillar is as divine as the butterfly, but the butterfly sees reality from an entirely new point of view.
Paul is clear that all forms of human being—from caterpillar to butterfly—glorify an unconditionallyloving God. He writes that we are moving “from one degree of glory to another.”For him, every human is beloved and perfectly good with God. Still, we are cautioned to be aware of the cocoon because, like the caterpillar ready to continue life from a new point of view, once we know the cocoon is there we can begin to break through it. Otherwise, what was once our womb becomes our prison.
So, let’s shake the dust from our eyes and begin to focus on a new reality. Let’s poke holes in our cocoons. Today, let’s stay in tune with God and perceive a truer, more total, more holistic, more interconnected reality. Like Jesus, let’s see God everywhere, in everyone, and encourage each other to spread our wings. By so doing, we’ll all begin to see our planet, our cultures, our politics, our religions, and our governments, from a brand new, much more exalted, much more conscious and conscientious point of view.
1 Corinthians 13.12 (NRSV)