Posted in Agape Project, Jesus, Oneness with God, Virtual Church

Agape Meditation Newsletter – John 3:16

Please find the Agape Meditation Supplement to the Virtual Church for Sunday, June 15, 2014.  The theme is John 3:16 – was Jesus about separation or love?

 

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

 

Scripture Reading:

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

John 3: 16 – 18

 

Additional Readings: 

Ex 34: 4B – 6, 6-8

Dn 3: 52-56

2 Cor 13: 11-13

john316sign

John 3: 16

I must admit, that I can’t help but cringe when I read John 3: 16 – not because of its words, but because of the way in which these words have been used to create separation instead of LOVE. Certainly, separation is something we can infer from this reading – a certain kind of privilege afforded to those who believe in Jesus as the only son of God and as the sole means of heavenly salvation. However, I cannot believe that separation or privilege were Jesus’ intentions. Instead, I believe, that the salvation about which the author of John is referring is the salvation we find in our earthly experience when we turn to Jesus as our teacher and guide and follow his example for attaining peace in this life and for coming to know our original nature as One with God and with each other in LOVE. When we take Jesus’ teachings and example seriously and apply them in life, all we have is love and in perfect love, there can be no separation.

Where have you found the unifying power of Love in Jesus’ teachings?  

How are you called to be and live LOVE more freely through Jesus’ teachings and example?

 

Spiritual Practices – Separate or One?

Set aside 20-30 minutes to enter into this meditation practice. You will need your computer or personal music device to access the music that will be used in this practice.

  1. Sit in silence.
  2. Slowly and meditatively read the scripture above.
  3. Listen to the following song: ONE by Creed. (Youtube Link HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLSU4KRXZ9o)
  4. Re-read the scripture above, open to how you might interpret it from the perspective of Unity/Oneness instead of separation.
  5. Re-write the passage in a way that more clearly articulates Jesus’ intention of LOVE and Oneness.

Authentic Freedom 

In Authentic Freedom, we recognize that the remedy to human suffering is remembering our Oneness with God, within ourselves, with each other and with all of creation. Remembering this Oneness does not eliminate the challenges of the human condition, but it does give us the support we need to move through these challenges while being open to God’s grace in the midst of them. We learn of this Oneness through the stories of Jesus’ teachings and the example he set for his disciples of a prayerful life. Contemplation is the process through which we remember this Oneness.

How are you following Jesus’ example of prayerful contemplation?

How have you found contemplation to be helpful in cultivating inner peace and giving you the resources to weather life’s challenges?

 

Posted in Inspiration, Jesus, Oneness with God, teachers

John 3:16

Today’s blog explores John 3:16, the scripture passage oft-quoted at sporting events and the focus of yesterday’s Gospel.  Is there a way to view this reading that eliminates the walls of separation and exclusion? 

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

John 3: 16

The Trouble With 3:16

At first glance, this reading may seem harmless enough, but if we take the reading at face value, and listen to the typical interpretation of this reading (and its surrounding text), it kind of says, If you don’t proclaim Jesus Christ to be your personal Lord and Savior, you will perish and spend an eternity in hell.  I never really believed in this kind of exclusive arrangement anyway – that there is only room in eternity for Christians….specifically those in “good standing,” but after 20+ years of contemplation of scripture and study of not only Catholic theology, but of the teachings and practices of our Jewish, Moslim, Pagan, Hindu, Buddhist, Native American and Yogic brothers and sisters, I really have a problem believing that there is only room in “heaven” for those who proclaim Jesus Christ to be their personal Lord and Savior.    (For you Catholics out there, it might interest you to know that the Vatican II Documents support the possibility of heaven for everyone. So apparently this concept of exclusivity was problematic to the Vatican II Fathers as well.  YAY Vatican II!)  So in the past several years when John 3:16 would show up in the cycle of readings, I would either cringe or just close my ears and write it off as irrelevant.  That was until I discovered the work of Neil Douglas-Klotz.

Enlightment Through Translations

Among other things, Neil Douglas-Klotz is an author – specifically on the topic of bridging the gaps between Christianity, Islam and Judaism.  His work centers on a prayerful and more accurate translation of ancient texts which helps us to better understand the teacher/author’s intentions.  Two of his works especially have had a HUGE impact on my own spiritual journey and my relationship to Christian scripture:  Prayers of the Cosmos and The Hidden GospelThanks to these works, I have a broader and deeper perspective on The Lord’s Prayer, The Beatitudes and many of Jesus’ reported sayings and teachings.  I am grateful for the way in which Douglas-Klotz’s work has eliminated the separation and tension that I have often felt in the traditional viewings of scripture.  So, without further ado…..I offer to you today a different perspective on John 3:16 that arose out of my prayer and was supported by Douglas-Klotz’s work.  I hope that if you too have struggled with the separation often caused by the traditional interpretation of this reading that this new perspective will give you room to breathe.

John 3:16 – a New Perspective

 For God so loved the world that God planted within all of humanity a spark of Divine truth and the restlessness that compels them to seek this truth.

And God so loved the world that God made it such that all of humanity would have the ability to rediscover, cultivate and fully embrace this truth and come to the realization of their wholeness and their Oneness with God.

And God so loved the world that God called all of humanity Sons and Daughters of God and knew that some would discover this spark of truth before others. Those that discover and embody this truth would find relief from the suffering of the human condition; suffering that is the natural consequence of forgetting this truth.  Those that discover and embody this truth are called prophets and come from all walks of life, all cultures, races, genders, ethnicities, religious beliefs and sexual orientations.  Those who through this truth come to self-realization and self-actualization are then compelled to share this truth with others so that they too may be saved.

God so loved the world that God gave humanity the gift of free will so that they could decide if and when they are ready to discover and embrace this truth.  Those who are not yet ready to embrace this truth are no less saved than the rest, they are merely unripe.  For those who are not yet ready to embrace this truth, God lovingly and patiently awaits their ripening.  For those that believe in this truth in the same way that the prophets believe in this truth, experience heaven on earth – a life of abundant joy, peace, compassion and bliss.

God so loved the world that God gave humanity each other that they might remember this truth……and this truth is LOVE.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Remember the Love That You Are!

Posted in Christ Consciousness, Jesus, teachers

John 3:16

Going out on a limb here…..on the journey of spiritual growth toward awakened enlightenment, we might want to believe some of the teachers who have gone before us.  Today’s blog offers a more expansive and generally inclusive interpretation of the now infamous John 3:16. 

John 3:16

We see it on signs at sporting events, hanging from billboards and plastered on bumper stickers.  The now infamous, “John 3:16.”  So, what does it say and what does it mean?  Here is what it says:

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him

might not perish but might have eternal life.”

 

But, what does it mean?

This is where things get a little dodgy.  I have a pretty strong sense that those who wave around the banner of John 3:16 mean to take this literally, word for word.  1) God is a man.  2) Jesus is “the only Son” 3)  If you do not accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you are condemned to “die.” (which means you get to spend eternity languishing in the firey pits of hell).  Since I’m not a literalist and since I believe God’s love is quite a bit bigger than we humans tend to give God credit for, I have a hard time believing this perspective on John 3:16. 

 

God is bigger than the Boogie man…

1) I can no longer accept the idea that the mighty Creator, the Absolut Source, the Divine Essence, the Presence and ultimate Truth can only be expressed or experienced as a man.  For me, God is not only bigger than the “Boogie man”, but is  far beyond what we can even begin to imagine, describe or attempt to define.  God is the all–man, woman, spirit, lover, friend, energy, life, creation, Presence, Absence…and everything in between. 

Only Son?

Now I’m really going to get into trouble.  Jesus the only Son?  What does that mean?  With all the amazing spiritual teachers and leaders who have come into our world, I have a hard time thinking of Jesus as the do all, end all, be all.  Now don’t get me wrong, Jesus is my dude!  I love this man.  He rocks.  He got it.  He taught it.  He lived it. Jesus is the teacher I go to when I am seeking insight, wisdom, peace, clarity, humility.   And…there have been others who have gotten it, taught it and lived it, and there are from whose teachings I have also benefitted.  Some might suggest that the problem here is that we are assuming the author of John was speaking exclusively about Jesus, when in fact, he may have been referring to Christ –  Christ being the “anointed”, the Divine potential of all of humanity and that Jesus was just one out of an infinite number of human beings who have and who will reach their own Christhood.  I know….brains are exploding everywhere as I even suggest such blasphemy…..I’m just saying….there might be another perspective on this whole “only Son” idea.  For many, the jury is probably still out on this one.

Believe in him

So whether or not the author of John was speaking exclusively about Jesus, the man, or the universal Christ that might be the potential of all of humanity…..he/she was talking about the importance of belief.  So what are we supposed to believe?  Some would hold that the author is telling us we have to believe in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior so that we may have eternal life.  I have heard others suggest that what is being expressed here is an invitation to believe in what Jesus taught and modeled.  If we believe the truth that Jesus taught, that we are One with God through love and that through this love we are also one with one another and all of creation….and that belief in this truth is the key to entering the “kingdom” HERE AND NOW….and that in this “kingdom” we shall know the peace that surpasseth all understanding (I know, these are really Paul’s words…but I think Jesus might have said something similar.)…..then we shall have a life that transcends the death of the human condition.  HMMMM…..sounds like something I can sink my teeth into. 

Lighting Bolts

Ok….the good news is that a lightning bolt has not come down out of the heavens and struck me down for speaking such blasphemy.  Maybe God (and Jesus) are a whole lot bigger than we ever give them credit for.  What if the “saving” is more about transcending the false perception of separation that is the cause of all human suffering and embracing whatever source helps us find tools through which we can find the peaceful contentment, compassion and joy that make up our truest nature so that we might experience everlasting life in the HERE and NOW.  And if we miss it this time around….we can trust that there is peace on the other side….no matter whose banner of truth we want to wave.  Just a thought.

Do you know peace, contentment and joy in your life?

What are the obstacles to that peace?

What spiritual practices might you explore to help you cultivate the peace that is your original nature?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com