Romans 8:10 Christ lives in you. So your body is dead because of sin. But your spirit is alive because you have been made right with God.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French philosopher and Jesuit priest, said “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” We are spiritual beings; created in the image of the Divine. We are children of God. The Bible refers to humans as having a body, mind, a heart, a soul, and a spirit. The soul is not well understood. Some denominations interpret the soul as being the non-physical part of a human being: the emotions, the appetites, and the desires. Like the body, the soul can die. Other denominations believe the soul is the part of our being that belongs to God, that we are immortal. Battles continue over these differences and new denominations have been created to suit everyone’s perspective. I try to stay away from those sorts of arguments; they just lead to division. Whatever you believe is true for you: it fits your heart and mind. It’s something you can connect with and is meaningful.
But God has made 7.7 billion of us, and humankind has created many religions as ways to relate to our magnificent God. So, while God is one-size-fits-all, religion is not. You’ve heard of the Minute Men? During the American Revolution, they were an independent, volunteer militia of primarily young men who were ready in a minute to do battle and defend their turf. Well, today we have Minutia Men. This is an all-volunteer mindset developed by people who will do battle over the slightest detail. They look for differences, things that do not align with the way they think and believe. The Minutia Man mentality is insidious and can leap out from hiding at any moment when threatened. It is part of the EGO network, which is an acronym for Edging God Out.
I’m having a little fun here, but intolerance is a serious challenge this country and the world faces. The United States is 4% of the world’s population. Christianity is one third of the world religion pie. Whatever Christian denomination you claim is just one of the 45,000 in the world. This congregation is just one of 5.5 million other Christian congregations around the world. Bottom line … most people do not think or believe or look like us. It is the arrogance of the human ego that makes us think that we are right, that our way is the only way. Hubris leads to intolerance, and to change that mindset new input is required. We need more education, more experience, more contact with people different from us, and a deeper variety of examples, opinions, and perspectives for our minds and hearts. If we have enough material to sort through, we can eventually find what is true for ourselves.
But many of us are inundated with the same rhetoric over and over again until we believe that is the only way to think. Some denominations maintain that their way, their dogma, their rules and biblical interpretations are the only way. They tell us, “If you do not believe as we do, you are evil, the spawn of Satan, and are going to hell because you are condemned by God.”
If you have spent any time in this church, you will recognize that I do not teach that. I speak on the idea that God is Love. I speak in terms that we are Children of God, so we are love. We are born of joy and peace and tolerance … of love. And while I may not have all the ins and outs of how the soul, and Christ, and God and mind and heart all work, I believe there is some part of us that is immortal, that has existed before we were born, and continues to exist after we drop the body, and for me that is our spiritual nature. Our spirit, the life-force of who we are continues beyond this physical plane. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 12:7 - “You will turn back into the dust of the earth again, but your spirit will return to God who gave it.” Upon the dissolution of our physical life, our spiritual nature returns to God.
Our spiritual nature is what some refer to as our Higher Self; it is our spiritual self and is unique to us. The indwelling Christ is similar but exists ubiquitously in all creatures. I really don’t have any real grasp on how all this works. I just try to make sense of it as I experience it. It is possible that what I think is my Higher Self speaking to me is really Christ. It could be God or the Holy Spirit. It could be angels or messengers, or spiritual guides. I honestly don’t care, nor am I all that interested in finding out until after I have returned to pure Spirit. I will know the source of my inner guidance at that time. I am just grateful that I have a powerful alternative to my feeble worldly thoughts.
So, we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and as such, we get input from the physical world and from the spiritual dimension. Truly, both sets of information are important. We can’t ignore either realm of guidance. But we are quick to dismiss the spiritual, because it is more difficult to hear and hold on to. Even my description of it is in physical terms.
But our spiritual nature, our consciousness, who we truly are receives spiritual guidance … spiritually. It is mysterious, different from anything we receive physically. We try to explain it the best we can, but it always comes out as a physical description: a nudge, intuition, a tap on the shoulder, a cosmic 2x4. We have our words that describe it, and all those words fail.
Regardless of our failed efforts to describe it, I believe that Spirit is constantly whispering to us. Our challenge is to be aware of those whispers. If we take that literally, and actually try to listen for something, we will miss it. If we look for something, we can miss it.
Yes, we are told to ask, seek, and knock, but the responses to all those pursuits may not come as spoken answers, visual solutions, or someone coming to the door and asking us in for tea. But it very well could happen that way. But it will be spiritual information transferred through the physical world, so we must be aware at a spiritual level when receiving the physical message.
Spirit will respond spiritually to our physical questions in a way that we can receive them. Today, I am just going to call those responses “spiritual whispers”. The best way for us to receive the whispers from Spirit, or Christ, or our Higher Self, is to become still. As much as possible retreat from the world’s chaos of sound and stimulation. “Be still and know that I am God.”
During our prayer time, I encourage us to move into the stillness and release the world. Once we have let go of all of it, mentally ask God: What do I need to know right now?
Over the years I have received various answers to that question, but the most vivid and important was this: “Patrick, you are loved just as you are.” This was a vital piece of my spiritual development that came as actual words.
When I asked this question yesterday, I got a different whisper. This time it came as an image. I saw myself in a small white boat riding on a turbulent sea. Although the sea was rough, what I observed was that I floated easily, calmly, and serenely over the top of every wave that came my way. My attention was drawn to the fact that I was not disturbed by the turmoil beneath me. For me that vision carries an important meaning.
During your prayer time, you will get your own response from Christ, and it will be something you need right now, and you will understand it’s meaning. For instance, you may sense something like, “You are enough,” and you will understand that to mean: You don’t need to be anything or do anything or accomplish anything. You, exactly you, are enough. You are deserving, you are worthy, and you are loved always. Stop pushing – let life flow.
You may hear or ‘feel’: “You are not alone”, or that you don’t have to wait until you are wise enough, rich enough, brave enough, anything-enough, to move toward joy. One whisper may tell you that you are good enough, while another one instructs you to slow down, listen, and move in the direction of happiness. Spirit may indicate that it’s all happening exactly as it should. You can lean back, trust, and relax, knowing that you are loved and held and absolutely safe. You are just right, exactly as you are.
What we hear or sense is what we need to know right now. It’s not magic and it’s not explainable by science; that is of the world. This is coming from Spirit, intended for our spiritual self, our spiritual awareness, and our consciousness. Now it may influence our physical nature as well. After all, we are having a human experience. But the whispers we receive are intended to be received spiritually and then used as our guidance dictates.
So, it is my prayer that we will use our prayer time to be still and know God; to sense Christ’s guidance, to hear Spirit’s whispers. Yes, we are perfect and loved just as we are, and the truth is that there is more. Through our open and willing responsiveness, we grow and transform beyond what and where we are. We are in the process of becoming, so let’s enjoy the journey!