Faith and Worldly Success.
August 27th, 2010.
Received by FAB
I am here, Jesus.
You have just finished this careful, thoughtful book, “The Lost History of Christianity”, by Philip Jenkins. It ends on a meditation of why Christian communities collapsed and died in North Africa and Asia. The author provides cogent reasons why, but then wonders why God permitted it. You wanted to know what I think.
Well, the author is lucidly clear that my message essentially was not one of worldly success, as so much of my Jewish tradition nevertheless emphasized. It was a message of oneness with God, pure and simple. So that I meant to draw a line between the things of the world and the things of God. Human ignorance has been the cause of so much that has gone wrong in human history, and when this is allied to political and military power, the results are catastrophic. But God continues to work, and there have been those who could discern this Divine compassion all throughout the history of Christianity, as communities rose and fell.
And as the author accurately points out, sometimes, the seed that is planted does not germinate until centuries later. Spiritual discernment is essentially different from historical analysis, for the former has its origin in the soul, and the latter usually originates in the mind. Without the soul perceptions, it is easy to see history as a tragic chaos of unfulfilled hopes. But with faith, other patterns can be discerned. For example, I discussed in The Old Testament Sermons, the example of enlightened leaders like Abraham and Joseph, who made possible, through their great development in natural love, the coming of the Divine Love and the New Birth. These leaders were separated in time by many hundreds of years, and yet they pointed to a growing development in love that God successfully used to advance humanity.
Extending these ideas, matters of life and death take on a wholly different color and meaning. To most people who do not have faith, physical death is the utter final tragedy, the end of hope. But to a person of true faith, death takes on a more benign and continuous relationship with the previous life. Death thus merges into the symphony of being, and is allied with life, instead of being life’s enemy.