COMING INTO THE 

LIGHT

Part IV

THE OBSTACLES

 

If, then, I was to begin my quest in the search of truth, I had to come to terms with the fact that I was confronting the unknown, and my own lack of knowledge was the greatest obstacle in the equation.   It was difficult, but I had to come to terms with the fact that I was the cause of my own self-imposed ignorance.   In the realization that the answers I sought were supernatural, and lay beyond the physical, for the first time I began to truly believe what the Bible literally stated throughout both the New and Old Testaments -- i.e., the scriptures are a great deal more than what they appear to be on the surface, and deep within its historical narrative, it cloaks the keys to understanding the path to God and the answers to life.  

In order to come to terms with the obstacles that confronted me, I had to begin by defining and getting a clear vision of the problem.   Turning to the Bible, what it states is this: I cannot know right from wrong -- truth from error -- until I am able to see and perceive the world from the perspective of God.   Ultimately, what this means was that I had to somehow cease to make judgments from a carnal perspective.   In the same way that God looks out into the world and sees everything just the way it is, I too had to begin the process of drawing nearer to God by see everything without making judgments that are founded upon my carnal reasoning.  

As a person of faith, I believed that if God wanted to, He could instantly change everything in this world by just saying the Word -- and it would be forever altered from its present course.   If God, then, is all-good and all-knowing, it is reasonable to also conclude that He must have a good reason for leaving everything as it is.   As I pondered these mysteries of life, I had begun to realize that it is one of the great faults of carnal man to judge blindly -- without being able to perceive the reason why God permits life to continue in the manner that it does.   I reasoned that if God had it within His power to change everything -- and He does not -- then when I make judgments about things that I do not understand, I actually build a wall between myself and God.   I recognized that if I continued to judge the movement of the Hand of God, I could never draw nearer to Him, and come to comprehend the reason why He permits these things to continue.   A change in mind, then, had to begin by acknowledging what I saw, and then asking God to teach me not only why, but what these things meant from the wider perspective.

I began my quest by developing a rather unique prayer which I came to call the invocation of the disciple in search of the Light and Truth.   First I prayed in the manner that Jesus taught: I prayed for the kingdom to come -- for the bread of the morrow -- for the power to forgive all people -- and that I be released from my debts to my brothers and sisters who I have wronged in this life.   I prayed for greater faith and knowledge, and the strength to overcome and walk in The Way.   I then prayed for the Lord to take me into His Light -- to protect, heal and cleanse me, and reveal to me His vision of what I saw.  

In the beginning, everything seemed normal.   I would pray; I would mediate; I would contemplate; and I would come away feeling at peace with myself.   Slowly, though, I began to feel what I can only describe as a shift in perceptive consciousness.   It was as if I had begun to pray from a different place within my mind and being.   This new experience brought a deep feeling of spiritual depth and tranquility.

Each time I prayed and meditated, I would seem to move into this deeper place more quickly than the previous time.   Moreover, the experience itself seemed to be taking on a new depth and profoundness.   Slowly at first, I began to perceive Light emanating from what appeared to be an inner dimension of my being.   I began to experience what St. Teresa of Avila described as interior castles.   “The soul,” writes St. Teresa, is as “a castle made of a single diamond… in which there are many rooms, just as in Heaven there are many mansions” (Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila).

After a period of time in deep prayer and meditation, I began to feel what I believed to be the Hand of the Lord upon me -- and He would reveal to me a vision of myself from a more distant place deep within and beyond the normal layers of my consciousness.   I realized that the point from which I could now see was from a place that was unfamiliar to my ordinary waking state -- and yet, like one stricken with amnesia, I felt that it was a part of myself that I was somehow familiar with, and seemed to have previously known in a time that I no longer consciously remembered.  

As I saw myself immersed in the Lord's healing white and pure Light, I let everything that related to my life in this physical realm go.   In many respects, I did as the Bible instructed, and openly let go of everything -- every desire, need and want -- and I gave them to the Lord.   I refused to cling to anything, and simply released every thought that popped into my head to the Light -- and my prayer was this: Lord, I dwell in a confusing world of many diverse doctrines, and I am ignorant of what the truth is, and what you want me to believe.   I would then go through the process of placing all the doctrinal possibilities on shelves in my mind, and I would again pray: Lord, I surrender myself, body, mind and spirit to your service and will.   Let me be an instrument of thy peace and Light.   I dwell in a confusing world, and I have none other than you -- and you alone -- and only you are able to teach me what is right and wrong. 

After my prayer and meditation in the Light I would make time to study the scriptures and ponder the significance of what I read.   In order to protect myself from personal interpretations, I simply acknowledged the sense of what came to mind, and added it to one or more of my mental shelves that I maintained.   Often I saw multiple ideas that emanated from a common single verse of scripture.   I fasted, prayed, meditated, contemplated, and attempted to incorporate what I learned in my daily life.   In my search to fulfill the scriptures and be taught only by the Lord (Jn 6:45), I began to see that I had begun an evolution in consciousness that I came to understand at a later date to be a biblically based process of spiritual development.  

One of the things that I came to realize is that it is man's own ego which often is the greatest limiting factor in his quest to understand the Gospel from the perspective of a higher vision of reality.   It would have been arrogant of me not to have recognized the fact that an uncountable number of God-fearing and faithful men have pondered both the scriptures, and everything they knew about life, as they groped to create their many doctrines of belief that they set before the people so they would have a better understanding of Life and God.   That great minds have arrived at many conflicting and often opposing perceptions of the Word, only confirmed the message that I clearly saw in the scriptures -- i.e., that the true depth of the Bible was beyond human understanding.  

In my search for the very essence of the Word, I also had to recognize another great truth that is generally rejected by those we call religious experts: That each of us sees nothing more than what the Will of God permits us to see -- which ultimately meant that it must have been the Hand of God that had been moving the hearts and minds of the people that actually led each of these faithful religious authorities into their perception of the scriptures.   

As I contemplated the realization of this concept, I recognized that the emerging idea would be truly frightening to the average person.  Ultimately, it was the Hand of God that caused the Jehovah's Witness to believe in the manner they do -- and the same could be said of the Evangelical Christian, the liberal mainstream Protestant denominations -- as well as the Atheist and every other philosophy and theology the world over.   If, then, I was to go beyond their perception of the vision and beliefs which God had imbued other men in search of truth with, I realized that it was of paramount importance that I nether rejected or condemned what they said -- but rather, use their vision of the Word as a sort of springboard from which I was to propel myself to still greater heights.   Perhaps the key to my rationale was not to condemn -- but to instead attempt to see the truth that each of these individual thinkers of the past saw.   The result was that in recognizing all the doctrinal alternatives, and attaching myself to none, I was in effect making myself teachable by opening my mind to the possibilities, acknowledging my ignorance, and asking the Lord to guide me through the sea of confusion.  

Perhaps one of the most important elements of the teachings of The Way is the ultimate reality where it can be said: Every believer who truly desires to become a disciple of the Christ must recognize that God does not expect them to know what is true or false.   To rephrase this rather profound statement: God does not expect you to know, but to learn!   In examination of this great fact, we must ask ourselves what the criteria is that we should use as a foundation of belief?    The rhetorical Christian answer to this question would be that Jesus must be the only foundation -- but which Jesus do we build upon?   Do we believe in the Jesus of the disciples and first century Messianic Jewish followers of Christ?   Do we believe in the Jesus of Paul and the Gentile converts -- many of whom were very Gnostic in their perception of the Word?   Do we embrace the Roman perception of Jesus?   The Middle-Age Protestant Reformer's perception of Jesus?   Or any one of the almost endless varieties of the modern-day perceptions of Jesus that are preached from our pulpits today?   One of the paramount problems in coming to Christ is the fact that man has constantly recreated Jesus in accordance with his own cultural needs during the timeframe that he has lived.   Moreover, the Jesus of each individual sect of Christendom today, has very little in common with the next.  

The majority of Christians believe in the manner they do because they were born into a certain church -- because they adopted a doctrine that sounds good to them -- or someone who they look to as a religious authority inspired them to believe their doctrine is the right one.   From my own experience, the process that I found working within myself is to be ever mindful of the possibilities, and always cognizant of the direction the Lord was leading me.   Thus, in order to find Jesus, one must be ready to search for the genuine Jesus in a world of doctrinal confusion.

In the realization that I cannot possibly learn, when I already think I know the answer, I had to embrace a totally new mindset than what I had been imbued with since birth.   I had to neither condemn nor adhere to anything -- and be ever ready to permit the Lord to teach me new concepts and truths.   From a biblical perspective, the genuine surrender of oneself to be led wherever the Lord will guide you -- without limitations or restrictions -- is the exercise of true biblical faith that was prescribed by the Apostle -- i.e., a faith where one stretches forth their hand in the endeavor to make oneself ready and willing to follow and be guided into the unknown.

One of the first realizations that serious Bible students must immediately come to terms with is the fact that the English language is gravely insufficient to express the true meaning of the original Greek and Hebrew tongues.   The result is that Bible translators often use words and phrases that suite their own religious doctrine, while obscuring the real meaning of the verse in question.   One of the truly prime examples of this fact is seen where the English translation of the scripture says: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2 NAS).   The meaning of the original Greek, which literally means to “change the mind”, conveys a message of great depth that is not apparent in our English translations.   To phrase the thought that is being expressed, the true meaning is to “Open and unloose the mind, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.   This concept which is not understood, is truly important for the person of faith to come to terms with -- fore it is the beginning of The Way.

In our search for God, we must come to the realization that we look at life through the vision of our own doctrines of belief.   Modern translators and believers who interpret the bible through the filter of their beliefs, would never understand how one could find the Kingdom by opening and unleashing the mind.   Such an understanding of the Word would, in most instances, simply be beyond their vision of life.

In their doctrinal mindset, entrance to the Kingdom is entirely dependent upon belief in the historical personage of Jesus.   One of their favorite phrases is: “It's Jesus plus nothing”.   Since they can do nothing of themselves without Jesus -- and without Jesus there is no Kingdom -- they render this word “repent” -- and though repentance is good, such a meaning does absolutely nothing in the way of conveying the manner in which the mind must be changed, and the Kingdom is to be entered.   This rather physical mindset fails to take into account the words of the Lord when he said: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24 KJV).   Thus, it is via man's spiritual nature where he will meet with the Lord -- upon the consecrated realm of the spirit world -- and the door to this realm can only be entered through a genuine spiritual repentance -- a total change in mind and thinking -- in conjunction with a purification and consecration of the body, and the opening and unleashing of the mind in order for the scriptural mandate to be fulfilled.  

A genuine disciple of the Light who extends his hand for the Lord to take hold of, must be ready and willing to grow and expand his spiritual horizons in whatever manner the Lord directs.   I came to understand that, though many sincere believers think they are accomplishing this very thing, they fail to see that because they continue to cling to carnal perceptions of the Word, it is these manmade doctrines that act as anchors, and keeps them chained to this world in their quest to embrace a higher understanding of the Gospel message.

The fact that man has a spiritual nature where he must endeavor to meet the Lord is again seen in the words of the Apostle when he wrote: “And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor 12:3-4 KJV).   Thus, I understood all these passages of scripture to ultimately convey the idea that to be His Disciple, I had to open my mind exclusively to the Lord -- release my mind from all the doctrines of belief that chained the people to this world -- permit the Lord to open my mind and expand my reasoning powers -- and in so doing this, I had to put total faith in the message of the scriptures that I would hear the Lord knocking, and would then be in a position to open the inner door that the Bible says leads to the Kingdom of Heaven within me.  

In fulfilling the biblical requirement of opening the mind, I had to come to terms with a great fact that every Christian in search of a closer walk with the Lord must recognize in their life -- i.e., the Truths and Mysteries which the Lord would teach and reveal to me, would appear to be strange and foreign to the ideas and doctrines which I had grown accustomed to accepting as truth.   From a biblical perspective, if true spiritual knowledge was of such a nature that the Apostle described it as “unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter”, then I comprehended the biblical message that the disciple must be prepared to open his understanding to profound truths that were simply beyond his ability to even contemplate in his normal state of mind.  

If it is our desire to behold and know the Truth, then it is paramount that we first come to terms with a foundational principle which the Bible very clearly proclaims to the reader -- i.e., that the Gospel of the Spiritual Christ has never been spoken out of the mouths of carnal men.   In acknowledging this biblical fact, perhaps the second foundational principle which the believer in search of Truth must accept is the reality that the above is valid, even when the gospel is being preached by men who are known and acclaimed as accepted religious authorities among the body of Christian believers.   

When the people of the simple faith claim to have belief and faith in the witness of the Apostle, what this means is that when he warned us that the vision of the Kingdom and man's spiritual reality was “unspeakable”, that we do not ignore, or take this warning lightly.   If we are to move beyond what the Apostle himself calls the “milk” of the gospel, then it is imperative that we realize this great truth whenever we read Paul's Epistles: That if he could have, he would have described what he saw; so that we would be prepared to comprehend the things that he refers to as the Mysteries of God.   Taking this biblical fact one step further we must also realize that it is our own limitations of both perception and mind, that inhibits our clear understanding of what Paul referred to as the Sacred Secrets of God.  

 

 

 

Allan Cronshaw

Contact: allan_cronshaw@nazirene.org

 

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