Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas meditation

I'd like you to think about something, so I'm presenting it as a meditation, one that is easily applicable to anyone who believes in the one true God and the Holy Spirit. It's particularly appropriate to think about on Christmas Day, however, it is something that I try to explain to people in my spiritual direction ministry all the time.

While the Holy Spirit must and needs to be defined in a number of ways in order to be truthfully understood, there is a meditative image that is also proper and essential, which is to think of the Holy Spirit as God breathing outward and exuding pure love.

Many Christians think that they understand God's love because they are grateful to God for the gift of salvation, after suffering and rejection on their behalf, of God the Father's Son Jesus Christ. Friends, here is what I am trying to share with you. Even if you fully understand and appreciate God's love in the form of Jesus Christ's love for you and sacrifice on your behalf, you only understand a fraction of God's love.

Loving God through Jesus Christ is good and it is correct, but understand it this way. To consider yourself completely aware of God's love only through the gift of Jesus Christ is like loving your parent because he or she gave to you an awesome and perfect present. You are still in danger of only loving your parent, and in this case God, because he gave you the best gift that you ever had. You still are not loving God, and thus, not feeling in return, all of God's love that you could experience, just as you are not appreciating the parent for all that he or she does because of the awesome one time for all gift.

In other words, I am telling you that you can understand and experience God's love directly, which is the source of the gift of Jesus Christ. In addition to loving God for having given to you, to all of you, Jesus Christ, you should also love God, and receive his love, simply for being God day after day, minute after minute. God is constantly exuding, through the Holy Spirit, a purity and constancy of love that few, except the most special saints through the ages, have comprehended even exists. But the Bible is complete with beautiful words, often those of God himself, expressing his love before he sent the best gift of his love in the form of Jesus Christ.

Do not love God because he gives you things, either real or imaginary (as you assume to have "abilities" that you presume are from the Spirit) because even as correct or well intentioned that love is, it is only a fraction of the entire spectrum of love that constantly beams down from God in the heavens upon you. That is another useful analogy. Loving God for all he has given to you is good, and correct, but if you love God only for the good things you have received (or hope to receive) it is like loving just the yellow visible band of light in the light spectrum, without loving the light itself.

If one experiences even for a few seconds a genuine acceptance and reciprocation of God's pure love through the Holy Spirit, it is amazing beyond belief and makes all other imagined loves (and transcendental experiences) fade in comparison into nothingness... but here's the thing. God's pure love through the Holy Spirit does not rival earthly attachments but enhances them in their goodness too. In other words, you do not become addicted to being totally within God's love through the Holy Spirit, rather, you are able and empowered to experience genuine earthly love... you do not need continual "hits" in order to carry on. Once one realizes in one's heart the amount of love that is available from God through his Holy Spirit, it does not have to be "re-administered" as if it were a ritual or a "high," but it makes you aware of the light in its fullness, even as you continue to live in the partial reality of material and earthly life.

When you feel the pureness of the Holy Spirit's God bearing love for you, it rocks your world and changes you forever. Rather than detaching and diminishing it makes you more protected and secure within actual reality, including life in an imperfect world. Too many modern "meditations" lead people away from attachment to the source of all pure love, which is God through his Holy Spirit. As one thinks one is reaching spiritual enlightenment and spiritual strengthening, one is actually detaching not only from the reality of the world, but the reality of God's personal and individual love available to you.

Here is another analogy to help. Suppose that your mother gave you an awesome gift, the best gift you could ever have, and it is a good thing to have, for it is godly and worthy. But suppose by having that gift you are immensely grateful to her for giving it to you, but you forget about all the times she bound your wounds when you fell, encouraged you in your homework, gave you hugs and kisses even when you considered yourself too grown up for them, when she went without new things of her own in order to provide for you, etc. You have become so blinded by the one awesome gift that she gave to you that you no longer notice how she does the other 99 percent of the time things of love and sacrifice FOR you, not given to you. Likewise you could love your father for something great that he gave to you, but forget that he labors in a job he detests but endures in order to support you.

That's how it often is with God. Even the most godly person is overwhelmed with gratitude for God's gift of the Savior Jesus Christ so much so that he or she no longer gives or seeks God's day to day love, in its most awesome and even knee shaking form, the pure love of God given to you through the Holy Spirit. It's like even the most godly people are so focused on being (correctly) grateful to God and the things he has given to them (both individually and also in the form of the Savior) that they never experience and thus do not feel even a fraction of the awesome purity of God's love like a beam of the purest gold and silver enfolding them in wings. If you catch the Holy Spirit's eye in genuine love, not trying to "summon" its "force," the purity of love will just about bowl you over and it will change you and your understanding of God forever.