Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance, he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Phil 2: 6-8
As an independent minded, often strong-willed woman, the word “obedient” is not one that I typically adhere to. As such, I recoil every time I hear the word obedient used in scripture. I am grateful for the spiritual teacher that offered me a different perspective of this word, particularly in relation to the scripture passage above.
Obedient in this sense does not mean, “Do it because I told you.” Rather, the obedience that Jesus embraced was of a different nature. The pivot around which Jesus lived his life was his personal relationship with God. Through diligent attention to his own contemplative practice (prayer), Jesus turned again and again and again to the God of his understanding for inspiration, guidance, comfort, nurturing, healing and love. Over time, Jesus came to trust in this Source and understood that all that was revealed to him through this intimate relationship was truth and was for his highest good. He came to understand that adhering to the truth that was revealed to him through prayer was for not only his highest good but for the highest good of all. Adherence to this truth became Jesus’ obedience. He didn’t do it because God told him to, but because it was revealed to him as truth and he had come to trust in the highest good.
This is the obedience that we are invited to embrace in the contemplative journey. The guidance and direction in our life comes not from our mind (the world of wants and desires), but comes directly from our intimate and personal relationship with God through meditation and prayer and through careful discernment (with the help of a Spiritual Director if needed) of the truths that are being revealed. When we are obedient to the higher truths revealed to us from God, we find that our life unfolds in ways that are always for our higher good and for the higher good of those around us. Obedience in this way insures a life of greater freedom, contentment, peace and love.
Now, this is not to say that obedience to God’s truth is an easy path, in fact, it might be the most difficult. Obedience to this truth, afterall, is what got Jesus killed. However, if we do not live in this truth, we shall never truly be free – we will remain imprisoned by our fears, false perceptions ego attachements and compulsive behaviors. So the question is, do we want to remain imprisoned or do we want to be free? Personally, I choose freedom and have over and over again been witness to the fruits of this choice. And…the best news is that we do not need to do it alone!
So, if you have chosen or wish to choose the journey toward spiritual freedom and seek companionship on that journey, join us on Mondays at 7pm or Tuesdays at 11:00 am for the gathering of the Authentic Freedom Contemplative Community. You need not walk this path alone!
PS: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach is a great allegory for this journey of freedom. If you haven’t already read this book, I highly recommend it!!!!!!