Friday, May 30, 2014

Jesus is my Guru

Oh, that title is going to get some people “harrumphing!” But the word guru is just the Indian term for teacher and master. Jesus’ disciples called him Rabbi, because that was the culture in which they lived. Jewish spiritual teachers were called rabbi. Rabbi means literally “my teacher” in Hebrew. People call me pastor or reverend because that is the Christian custom. Even the term Christ is a title, not Jesus’ last name.

These days much of the language of American spirituality is cross-cultural. Many of those interested in spiritual matters use the language of the East. To say “Jesus is my Lord and Savior” does not speak to them. When they read those words all they hear is Western cultural religious conservatism. They cannot see beyond the words.  If they saw those words in the title of a blog, they would not click on the link. But the words “Jesus is my guru” might make the blog worth a second look.

On the other hand, many Christians will reject out of hand any Christian preacher who uses the term guru – for much the same reasons that non-Christians will reject the word Savior. It is outside their religious comfort zone. So it all depends on whom I am speaking to. I have done enough preaching to the choir in my lifetime, so I will risk the scorn of the Christian thought police and say things a little differently.

Jesus is my Guru. Devotees of Indian gurus will display a photo of their teacher. Buddhists have little buddhas decorating their home and garden.  Catholics will have photos of popes or pictures of Mary or their favorite saint. I have an icon of Christ as Teacher. It is not hanging on my wall, but appears on my tablet. I view it every morning during my devotions. It reminds me who my Lord is.

I am a Christian, but I cannot relate to traditional Sunday School paintings of Jesus or contemporary depictions of a smiley Christ. But I find the icons of Orthodoxy fascinating. So I use an icon of Christ to remind me of my Lord, while I read and pray.

Much of my spiritual practice involves a transcendent approach to God. In contemplation my persona drops away in the silent presence of the superpersonal Godhead. I do more meditation than intercession these days. Yet there is a part of me that is not touched by God in that manner.

My heart loves the Personhood of God. Jesus is God in a Person. Jesus is my Guru.  I love Him. I am unconditionally devoted to Christ. I trust no other teacher or leader. My soul rejoices in the presence of Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the gate to God, the door to heaven. For any Christians who are still reading this: Christ is my Lord, my God, and my Savior.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Life’s Transient Dream

I forget who I am regularly. It happens every day.

No, I did not get hit on the head, nor am I in a fugue state. I did not mistake my daily multivitamin for an Ambien tablet. Neither am I suffering from some form of dementia – at least not yet.

My forgetfulness is quite normal. Spiritual amnesia is the normal waking state of most humans. The only way I know I was sleepwalking through life was because I woke up one day, and I have been waking up ever since.

I am most fully conscious twice each day – in the early morning and early evening. This is when I do my spiritual practice of prayer and meditation. But wakefulness continues as an undercurrent throughout the day - like the sound of a nearby brook always present in the background, if I pay attention.

I wake up most clearly in the evening when I devote myself to an extended time of quiet prayer. I get on my knees, close my eyes and surrender myself to God. The thoughts of my busy mind gradually drift away, and I awaken from the dream of life. It is like going to sleep, only in reverse. It is waking from normal wakefulness.

I remember who I am again. My temporary amnesia clears, and I wonder at how I could have forgotten what is real. As the hymn says, then “ends life’s transient dream.” God is present. Christ is present. But I am not. As the apostle wrote, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”

The roles I play during the day slip off like clothing. My name has nothing to attach itself to. My carefully constructed personality is nothing more than a song in the air. There is only the unconditional love of God.

This is eternal life. This is the Kingdom of God. This is the Father’s House. It is our heavenly home. How could we ever forget?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Vision of Jesus

A vision occurred during worship in church the other Sunday. Just like the ones you read about in the Bible. I was preaching a post-Easter sermon on the famous story of the risen Christ appearing to two of his disciples on the Emmaus Road. While I was preaching, Jesus visibly stood behind me.

I did not see him, but a woman in the congregation did. She shared it with me privately afterwards. She explained that while she was listening to me proclaim the invisible presence of Christ in our midst, suddenly Christ appeared in the pulpit next to me in “a spiritual form.”

This is not a lady given to religious excesses. Indeed I would describe her as just the opposite. She does not come from a denominational background prone to this sort of thing. Neither do I. Yet she found it difficult not to interrupt the worship service and point out to everyone that Jesus was up at the pulpit.

My sermon for that Sunday was appropriately entitled “Hidden in Plain Sight.”

It has been many days now since this happened, and I have shared this with no one besides my wife. I have hesitated to share this with the congregation. But I got permission from the visionary to retell her story here. Perhaps it will edify others like it edified me.

When she told me what she had seen in church that morning, my heart was immediately warmed – just like the disciples described their experience on the Emmaus Road. I thanked her and told her that she had blessed me greatly by sharing this vision with me. It has been blessing me ever since.

Personally I do not consider myself to be the type of person who needs external confirmations of my inward spiritual awareness of God. I know that Christ is with me. I sense the Presence of God. But it is nice to get confirmation once in a while. Thanks, Jesus.