Wednesday, 16 January 2019

My Kingdom is Not of this World

As the world sinks more and more deeply into illusion and ignorance with evil masquerading as good and the true good viewed as, at best, madness, we should remind ourselves of one thing. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. In fact, it may well be that it must be so.  True spiritual awareness can only really be established in the human heart on an individual basis when everything outwardly conspires against it. Only then can we say that any spirituality we might possess actually is our own and not acquired from outside.

It has always been the case that those who wish to follow the teachings of Christ with their whole being (and what other way is there to follow them?) find themselves at odds with the world. This does not just mean in an obvious way in that they are not interested in fame and fortune, but in less obvious ways too. Even spirituality, when interpreted in a way that conforms to worldly sentiment and opinion, must be rejected. The world is always the enemy of the spiritual even if there have been times when that is less pronounced than today, and there have been cultures that have tried to model themselves on a heavenly pattern.

But now that is certainly not the case. Now the spiritual has been decisively rejected and where it is allowed, it is so diluted by worldly values and ideals, meaning values and ideals that accommodate the worldly human being, that it is practically worthless. It has been robbed of inner meaning and cut down to reflect this world. It has been, if you'll forgive the analogy, effectively castrated which may be why so many modern church leaders resemble nothing so much as spiritual eunuchs, men without fire or passion.

However, this is not a cause for too much lamentation. It's a shame to see the good of the past thrown away and trampled underfoot. Let us not forget, though, that the past was far from good from a higher perspective. What was good in it was merely a reflection of the true good as it exists in the higher worlds. That will not be, it cannot be, lost. It is eternal.

And then there is the fact that this time of universal falling away from truth was foretold. It is the beginning of the end. That is surely quite an exciting thing. We must be careful not to get carried away by this excitement though. Those who complacently imagine themselves to be saved while others are not might be in for a surprise. What is required of us these days is that we watch and pray, meaning that we attend to the signs of Christ's presence and strive to align our hearts and minds with God. We must be detached from the world but, at the same time, speak out, insofar as we can, and let others know how the world is falling away from goodness and truth. Most people will not be interested, but some may be and, at least, we will know that we are not contributing to the evil state of affairs by our silence.

Evil today is only recognised when it is obvious. When it incorporates violence or hatred. But evil is basically that which works against good, and good is spiritual. It is what leads to higher spiritual awareness. Evil, therefore, is that which works against proper spiritual awareness. By that definition, we live in a very evil world and much that is thought of as good is actually evil. Many people who believe they are working for good are really on the side of evil. This includes all sorts of people involved in movements for social and political change.  Naturally such people would completely reject this interpretation of their actions and beliefs, but that is because they lack any real spiritual understanding which means any understanding of what the world is, what the human being is and what life is for. And often, it has to be said, they lack this understanding because of personal failings within themselves. For if you truly sense the good, you must acknowledge the source of this good which has to be God. These people are clearly not bad people outwardly and in the eyes of the world but they certainly lack the understanding of real goodness, and that is because they are not good people. Like calls to like. This is a hard saying but a little reflection will confirm that it must be so.

Christ said that his kingdom was not of this world. Those who would follow Christ must remember this and seek the real good beyond this world. But when that is understood and lived then the real good must inevitably percolate back into this world and start to change it from within. It is a matter of priorities, though. You will never make this world better by trying to do so from within its own frame of reference. It can only ever become better when a higher frame of reference, the spiritual, is brought to bear. Work on the spiritual and the material will improve, but the material will never genuinely improve when change is brought about on its own level whatever that change might be. This is because the evil that corrupts it comes from inverting reality and seeing the world as valid in its own right. "Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all things will be added to you" also means that if you ignore the kingdom of heaven nothing you do will lead to any good.

Note:  When I say the material will improve I obviously don't mean it will improve materially, though it might, but it will improve as an environment in which souls may flourish and develop which is the important thing. 


Bruce Charlton said...

@William - Good stuff.

What I think has made matters difficult for so many Christians, is that they have been taught (for nearly 2000 years, including many great saints and other Christian exemplars) that Christianity IS The Church. And outside The Church there is no salvation, and no truth. The individual's job is to obey the The Church.

Which specific church varies, of course. But for centuries the contrast was between The World and The Church. Unworldly meant within-Church.

But we are now in a situation where nearly all of the Churches are worldly first-and-foremost - and often leaders in worldliness; and if their teachings and practices were followed - then this would do as much, or more, harm as good.

Especially in terms of a materialistic, this-worldly focus. The churches mention Jesus from time to time; but the context is one that firmly puts Jesus in a subordinate place to the really 'serious' Church concerns of antiracism/ pro-mass-immigration, the feminist and LGBT agenda, leftist politics, global warming etc.

It really is difficult to escape from this Christianity=Church trap - at least I found it so, despite being a late life convert. I expended a great deal of time and energy (about four-five years) trying to find a church that was really Christian/ not-worldly - and to which I could promise obedience.

Only when the possibilities seemed exhausted did I reluctantly try to devise a means of 'survival' while waiting - and then only later did I realise that this was in fact what I needed.

I needed to take ultimate spiritual responisbility - and I had been looking for a way to pass this off onto an institution.

The main loss is tha sacramental side - specifcially Holy Communion in a traditional and not-worldly Church of England setting; which I did find to be valuable. Suitable ocassions for this are now few and far between.

The loss is real, but there is no alternative for me - and overall my spiritual situation is much better than when I was rather desperately church-shopping.

William Wildblood said...

I'm in the same boat as you, Bruce. There is no outer church that corresponds to my beliefs and attitudes so I have to go it alone or without an institution anyway. But, as you say, this is a good thing in that it means we must, if we are serious, develop our own spiritual awareness and not rely on anything external. In the everyday world a child has to leave home to become an adult and the spiritual world is no different. If people can find their place within a church, that's fine, but increasingly I think the more thoughtful amongst spiritual seekers are not able to do this.

I'm not saying this was always the case but it certainly is now when all churches have succumbed to worldliness. Some more than others, of course.