ON LOVE; PART MCCCV
FIRST IS THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).
WHAT THEN IS LOVE? In a general sense love is benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good. In a theological sense, it includes supreme love to God, and universal good will to men. While this IS from an older definition of Charity, which IS rendered in the King James Bible from the same Greek word agape which IS generally rendered as Love, we should amend our own definition here to include the idea that in the reality of Love a man will accord to ALL men ALL things that he would accord to himself and to say that Love IS our thoughts and attitude of the equality of ALL men regardless of their outward nature or appearance…that ALL ARE equally children of Our One God.
PLUS THE EVER IMPORTANT AND HIGH IDEAL TAUGHT TO US BY THE CHRIST: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).
We began and ended the last essay with some thoughts on being “born again“. As we began we noted the way that this idea has been taken over by the Protestant division of Christianity and used to set them apart from both those of other religions or NO religion and from other parts of the Christianity. We noted how that this sense of division IS itself contrary to the unifying message of the gospels and the epistles and we used for this the Apostle James’ words regarding what he says of zelos and eritheia. James tells us of the thoughts and attitudes of men that embrace these ideas that “This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:15). While the Master uses the idea of being “born again” as a lesson to a Pharisee who, while leaning toward the Master, IS stuck in the pharisaical perspective of his doctrines, the Christian uses it as a badge, a claim to righteousness if you will, that IS worn by any and all who confess and affirm according to their particular doctrine’s precept. The ideas of being “born again” and of being ‘saved‘ ARE rather synonymous in their use and for the believer this includes his ‘salvation‘, his going to heaven when he leaves this Earth. This IS of course contrary to the Master’s words on attaining heaven as He tells us that “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). These words however DO NOT deter the doctrinal view which IS stated on one website as ‘Above all rewards though, is the knowledge that we will enter the Kingdom of God and have eternal life with Him‘ ***. This IS the common view of the Kingdom as a place to go after the death of the body but we should note here that this IS never so stated in scripture but rather interpreted from other sayings, many of which ARE rather obscure.
Being “born again” or ‘saved‘ also results in the Presence of the Lord in one’s ‘heart‘ as one makes Him ‘Lord of my life‘ and here we should be reminded of Luke’s version of the Master’s words which ask that rhetorical question “why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). In far too much of the Christian religions the idea of keeping His words has become a sign of a man who IS under the law and NOT under grace as doctrines preach but here we should clearly see Jesus’ words saying “in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:7). This idea goes back thousands of years, it was uttered by the Prophet Isaiah more than 2700 years ago. However, the timelessness of this message, missed by the Jews yet today, It IS ignored by the Christian who sees his own doctrines as more right than the Master’s words as they rationalize the idea that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3) into competing philosophies, all of which absolve the believer of their narrow ideas of sin and make him ‘saved‘. Add to this the Master’s words which show us the True Path to the Presence of God in one’s Life, the True Way to bring the Lord into one’s heart; Jesus tells us that “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). Again, the doctrinal view IS at odds with the Truth of the Master’s words, words which ARE clearly spoken and easily understood except for the Christian’s indoctrination into the doctrinal view of the Truth that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures“. A typical view of being “born again” IS presented by the website All About Religion.org and goes thus:
The way to become a born again Christian is clearly presented in God’s Word:
We recognize we are sinners (Romans 3:23) and that the penalty for that sin is death (Romans 6:23). Because of our sin, we can’t know and experience God’s love and we are spiritually separated from Him. To remedy our situation, God sent His only Son to die in our place—to take the penalty for our sin (Romans 5:8). After Jesus’ death, He rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-6). Jesus is our only way to God (John 14:6) and He gives us the gift of salvation. We can receive God’s gift through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and experience new birth (John 3:1-8). Receiving Jesus means trusting Him to come into our lives to forgive our sins and make us what He desires.
If you want to receive Jesus now, and accept His gift of salvation, you can express this in a prayer to God. This is not a ritual based on specific words, but rather, a prayerful guideline for your sincere step of faith.
“Father, I know I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.” ***
While this DOES NOT mention the confession and affirmation that IS found in Paul’s words to the Romans, words that ARE generally cited as the way to being “born again“, the essence of those words IS found in the ending prayer. In Romans we read that “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10); while out of its context this may seem a straightforward way to ‘salvation‘, it was NOT intended to be taken alone as it has been by the doctrines of men. Even taken alone however the meaning of the words IS distorted by doctrines which take the idea of confessing as to simply say that “Jesus IS Lord“, as many render this, while believing that He IS risen IS the key to ‘salvation‘. This idea fails on many fronts yet it IS a cornerstone of doctrinal Christianity; first there IS the idea of confessing or professing that “Jesus IS Lord” without considering the Master’s words saying “why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” or any of His other words on the Truth of gaining His Presence. Second there IS the idea that one shalt believe in thine heart” which IS a combination of both KNOWING and one’s deepest realization of that KNOWING. The picture of this realized KNOWING should ever come with Jesus words on that KNOWING, it ISpistis and pisteuo that will allow for “greater works” (John 14:12), allow one to move the mountain or to plant the sycamine tree in the sea. Finally where IS the righteousness that one “believeth unto“? This idea alone should lead us to see that it IS in keeping His words that we ARE saved but the doctrinal view DOES NOT lean this way. The doctrinal view claims that such righteousness IS imputed as it was imputed to Abraham who “believed God“; this idea IS found at the end of James’ words on the combined value of faith and works. Here again we have words that are used out of context, words which were intended to be seen in relation to the Truth that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:23, 26). In this regard even the nebulous ideas on faith in doctrines fails in the absence of the DOING and they fail all the more when pistis IS seen as KNOWING….even KNOWING the Truth is meaningless without DOING. While Paul’s perspective IS against works, against the works that ARE the focus of the Jews upon their mitzvah, James words ARE intended to show us that without our outward expression of realized Truths, our realization IS wasted and, moreso, to the man who confused wisdom with Wisdom there IS a greater burden. For the man who KNOWS some measure of the Truth it IS difficult to NOT become a DOER as these ideas ARE conjoined; the Truth which flows as that “wisdom that is from above” (James 3:17) must perforce be expressed through the propensities of the personality of the man, propensities which ultimately should be overcome. Nonetheless there IS an expression, there IS a sense of the apostle’s Truth that having such realization of Truth makes it so that the man “will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18). And we should NOT be confused here by the idea of such works; we should try to understand that the Greek word ergon refers to carnal DOINGS while the Greek word karpos, rendered as fruit, refers us to spiritual DOINGS and it IS in this way that they ARE presented. Whatsoever a man DOES in this world IS ergon and when this IS based in karpos which flows in that “wisdom that is from above“, we have a spiritual endeavor; when karpos IS NOT so motivated, it remains but the carnal DOINGS of men. And we KNOW the difference from the words of the apostles; from Paul’s list of “the works of the flesh” versus “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:19, 22) and from James list of what Wisdom IS from above versus what IS NOT.
On both sides of each of these lists, the carnal and the spiritual, there has been ONLY a carnal view of the Greek words. Generally these views support the doctrinal view and while they may have helped to define that view, it IS more the carnal moral compass of men that was and IS at work. It IS the inclinations of the moral wrongs of men, inclinations tied to the vanity in which ALL men live, that has defined the sexual sins of men and this while they overlook what should be equally sinful acts. Again we should remember that sin IS ALL things that ARE contrary to the Truths presented in the Ten Commandments and summarized in the Great Commandments presented by the Master. In this view ALL thoughts and attitudes and actions that ARE contrary to either of these IS sin and this IS made most clear by the Apostle James who tells us that “if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:9-10). What we should see here IS the clearly stated Truth that says that ALL that DO NOT “love thy neighbour as thyself ” in reality and in Truth ARE “guilty of all“. This IS the essence of having NO “respect to persons“, an ideal that IS barely spoken of in Christianity save for the simplicity of James’ example of the rich and the poor. But this ideal stretches to every aspect of human thought and attitude and IS contrary to the divisions that ARE perpetuated by the social, political and religious ways of men. To “love thy neighbour as thyself ” IS to Love every neighbor, everyman, in the same way as one would Love oneself but even this idea IS distorted by the doctrines of men where some teach this in terms of the meaning of Loving oneself and the failure of many to DO so. We should try to see that regardless of the way that one may Love thyself, that the call IS still there to Love every neighbor in an equal way. The greater failure however IS in the understanding of the Greek word agape and the way that this has ever been mistakenly related to the emotional and mental attraction and attachment to others and to the things of the world, an understanding that IS ever at odds with the reality of agape with NO “respect to persons“.
It IS in the self-centered views that ARE the product of the vanity, the illusion and glamour in which ALL men live, that most ALL men see themselves as the center of their little universe and this view has NOT been challenged by the church in their teachings. It IS this self-centered view that prevents men from seeing the reality of the Master’s words regarding treasure, mammon and the singular view that focus upon the Good, the Beautiful and the True, the things of God, will produce. Contrary to this singular view IS the Master’s words that tell us that “if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:23). We should note two things here; first that the meaning of evil, much like the meaning of sin, IS understood as those gross carnal actions that a man may commit and here we should also note that much of what IS understood as sin IS NOT considered as evil. Here, evil IS rendered from the Greek poneros which IS the same word that the Master uses to say “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11). Clearly the Master IS NOT calling the generality of men evil as this word IS understood doctrinally and through this we should see that an alternate view, and a more logical one, IS intended. In both uses the intent IS to show that being evil IS being focused in the self-centered world of vanity. If we look here at Vincent’s defining idea for vanity which IS from the Greek mataiotes we can perhaps see the idea of evil as: a perishable and decaying condition, separate from God, and pursuing false ends 4. This IS Jesus’ point in speaking about the eye that IS evil; this IS the eye that IS pursuing false ends and which, through so DOING, IS separate from God. The second thing we should take from Jesus words IS the relationship between being “full of darkness” and having one’s eye focused upon the things of the self. Looking at this from the perspective of the heart, the conscious center of the man in this world, we can perhaps understand the point of “the light that is in thee be darkness“. We must try to see how that the heart of a man, his conscious center, can be influenced in two ways and in infinite combinations of those ways. The heart can be influenced by the Soul, the Christ Within, or it can be influenced by the carnal thought and emotion processes of the flesh. We repeat here the full text from Matthew’s gospel so that we can better relate the Master’s ideas; we read:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” (Matthew 6:19-25)
In the vanity of Life which produces the self-centered nature of everyman, the natural inclination IS toward the self and it IS this that IS fomented through one’s nurturing and indoctrination; we should understand that such nurturing and indoctrination includes one’s religious upbringing as well as the ofttimes contradictory teachings that one IS instilled with through family Life and those things that one may learn through whatsoever education system. The greater point here IS that most ALL nurturing and indoctrination IS in regard to the ‘survival’ of the self; it seldom teaches the reality of agape in one’s interactions with others. It IS this natural man, religious or irreligious, that IS ever seeking after “treasures upon earth“; it IS this that his nurturing and indoctrination have shown him to DO. For some however there IS a conflict between this natural inclination and the ‘ability’ of the Soul to penetrate the heart in a meaningful way. For many there IS yet the problem that the Soul IS showing one a Way that IS contrary to such natural inclinations as have been instilled and contrary as well to the ways of the world that must be overcome. From this perspective we should be able to see that few there ARE that can readily “Enter ye in at the strait gate“….”few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13, 14). In ALL of this we should see that the True nature of evil as this term IS used by Jesus IS the reality of vanity, the reality of men’s focus on the self and their fondness for the “the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21), the illusion and the glamour in which they live. In His words before and after His words on this sense of evil we have His defining ideas on what this evil actually IS; defining ideas that ARE NOT seen in the doctrinal interpretation of His words. When we can see that one’s seeking after “treasures upon earth” IS tantamount to serving mammon, we can then better understand Jesus’ use of the idea behind poneros….that it IS NOT the same idea of evil as painted by the doctrines of men. In these ideas we should be able to deeper into the idea of darkness, as when the plight of men IS compared to the idea of Light from the perspective that the Christ IS “the light of the world“; here darkness IS the result of NOT having the Light. In the Master’s full saying here we have our own relationship to the Light; He says “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). This IS the reality of darkness and Light, the reality of Good and evil, and the reality of “treasures upon earth” compared to “treasures in heaven“. This IS the reality of serving God versus serving mammon and the idea of focus that ALL this entails. From a spiritual perspective the darkness, the evil, the “treasures upon earth” and ALL that concerns mammon ARE common ideas showing one’s focus upon the self and the things of the self. This IS of course contrary to doctrinal teachings and the general attitudes of men whose perspective on Life IS the Life of the flesh “with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24), the desires of men to NOT ONLY survive but to thrive beyond others. In Jesus’ words on Light and darkness above we should see the point that He IS making as He tells us “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!“. If we can relate these words to His former words according to Matthew saying “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16), we can perhaps see the radiating Light of the Soul in the expression of the man whose focus IS True.
We should try to see that Jesus IS NOT speaking ONLY to ‘believers’ as this idea IS interpreted today, He IS speaking to His disciples and to whatever part of the multitudes could hear His words. He IS uttering a generality that he later qualifies as He says “Ye are the light of the world“; the qualifier IS of course that one should “Let your light so shine before men“…. to “put it under a bushel“. In this we should try to understand that ALL have this Light, ALL ARE a Soul, a Christ Within, which IS that Light. The point here IS that one can hide this Light in the evil of one’s focus upon the things of the self or one can “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven“. Perhaps it IS in understanding the Light Within everyman that we can get the idea presented in His saying “how great is that darkness!“. There IS another place in the New Testament where this idea of the Inner Light can be seen and understood against Jesus’ words here in His Sermon on the Mount; the Apostle John shows us this in the prologue to his gospel, speaking of the Christ he tells us that “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not“. The apostle continues to tell us of the Christ saying “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:4-5, 9). In ALL of this we should be able to see how that the ideas of Light and darkness, and Good and evil ARE divorced from the doctrinal view that sees these ideas and the like ideas found in one’s choice of treasure and what or whom to serve, in purely doctrinal terms of believers and non-believers. The reality IS that this IS the plight of ALL men, the burden of vanity that afflicts ALL men regardless of the religious leanings and we should try to see here that the greater darkness can be found in the lives of those whose doctrinal view attracts them to the Lord but keeps them apart from the Truth. We should be reminded here of Jesus words saying “woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13). In this IS the condemnation of the way that the doctrines of the Jews DID “shut up the kingdom of heaven against men” and this according to the inclinations of men which yet today afflict most ALL.
In the doctrinal machinations of men over the centuries the deeper meanings of the reality of the Christ have been lost and melded into the Life of the man Jesus ONLY. ALL who believed otherwise in the beginnings of the church were called heretics and driven from the mainstream which had seized authority over the spiritual teachings as they used this authority to form the doctrines of men. We should note here that most ALL of these human ideas, ideas codified through their councils, still hold most ALL denominations and sects yet today save for some minor changes and differences in points of view. It IS the result of such differences that the number of sects and denomination has steadily grown over the centuries as men have come to disagree with the presentation of the doctrines and then have taken authority to form a new division. We should NOT underestimate here the effect of politics and changing social norms in the constant dividing of the One Truth into so many parts and we should try to understand how that so much of these differences ARE quite meaningless and serve ONLY to create additional distractions and choices for men who DO NOT realize that they ARE yet subjected to that vanity, the illusion and glamour of Life in this world. There IS but one common denominator throughout most of the Christian churches today and that IS the found in the ideas of atonement and salvation, that Christ died for our sins and has forgiven the entirety of humankind; for some this involves past, present and future sins while for others there ARE some tighter parameters. While some denominations and sects attempt to live according to the law others shun the law in favor of their nebulous ideas of faith and believing ideas which ARE necessary for one to receive the promised salvation and atonement. For others the sense of salvation relies upon following prescribed sacramental routes and one’s performance of certain ritualistic church edicts; some of these rely upon the clergy’s ability to absolve one of his sins in order to attain salvation. This IS a broad brush approach to the denominations and sects that divide the One Christ and here we should understand that most ALL ARE based in the words of the apostles, words that have been misinterpreted to underscore the particular values that each prescribes to their members. Few if any use the words of the Master in their approach to Truth and while most ALL speak of Love, of agape, few understand the potent effect of its expression and fewer still truly grasp its meaning and its connection to the Life’ focus of everyman.
Most ALL of the church has substituted their own essentially carnal ideas for the Truth and while they speak about God’s Love through the vehicle of John’s words saying “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), few Truly understand what these words mean. If we could but see the depth of how one can “believeth in him“, if we could see the deeper ideas of pistis and pisteuo over the carnal interpretations, if we could understand that in these words IS our reality of keeping His words, perhaps we could begin to grasp the entirety of His message. His message IS agape, His message IS that we should keep His commandments of which the primary ideas ARE focus upon the Good, the Beautiful and the True and to express agape to ALL in ALL that we think and DO. It IS these ideas that must be bound to the heart of everyman who Truly chooses the Way and who Truly “believeth in him“….who Truly will accept and adopt His precepts and example as binding upon the life 4. The choice IS more than good versus evil as the church paints these ideas, the greater choice for everyman IS to accept his own Inner Truth, his unction, his Soul that IS ever prompting the heart to Repentance, over the man made dogmas into which he was nurtured and indoctrinated or upon which he stumbled in a search for a greater Truth. It IS in True Repentance that we find the reality of being “born again” and it IS this that the Master IS showing to Nicodemus. Jesus way of showing this IS necessarily obscure as there IS NO precedence for His words nor any understanding in the doctrinal views of the Jews. Nicodemus IS bound to his doctrine and IS befuddled by the idea of being “born again“. And even while the text shows us this spiritual “ruler of the Jews“, this man learned in the fullness of scripture and doctrine, IS befuddled and confused by Jesus’ words, the Christian church has deemed that it KNOWS better as they hijacked His words and applied them to themselves. The importance of this discourse between the Master and Nicodemus should NOT be underestimated, nor should the idea of being “born again” be allowed to drift into the simplicity applied by much of the church as they claim it based in purely doctrinal ideas. This discourse goes thus:
“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him,Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again,a he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered,Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:1-15)
We close today with our trifecta, our most simple phrasing of the Master’s injunction that men should keep His words:
- “If ye continue in my word , then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
- “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
- “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (John 14:21-24).
We will continue with our thoughts in the next post.
- 4 Word Studies in the New Testament; Marvin R Vincent D.D. 2nd edition
- *** https://www.allaboutreligion.org/born-again-christian.htm
Those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.
Voltaire, Writer and Philosopher