He Was A Man

He Was a Man

When I was a young minister, I came across a man who was addicted to alcohol who was living on the streets.

The man said with a slur in his voice, “Hell is just a disinfesting place!!!”

As I have told several people over the years, this man’s proclamation forever changed the landscape of my consciousness.

He set in motion a profound transition from believing in eternal hell to believing in Universal Reconciliation.

But what was his reward?

He must have walked in the prophetic, just like I do,

He must have had a loving heart, just like I have.

He must have been destined for greatness, just like I am.

So why when he, an older African American Male who was obviously going through tribulations and trials, made his avowal did I not run to him and grab him and begin to pray that whatever the enemy was doing to derail his destiny be reversed and he be lifted high up on a hill so that men might see his good works and glorify their father in heaven?

Why, all of these years, when I have told the story of this man, have I treated him like a prop or a supporting character in my story rather than a man of his own, with his own hopes, dreams, and aspirations?

I remember reading the way in which Yogananda would sometimes talk about Indian Peasants in Autobiography of a Yogi, it was in this similar manner as if they were props or supporting characters in some grand Yogi’s story rather than women and men with their own hopes, dreams, and aspirations.

Or have you ever noticed the way that the people who were healed by Jesus in the Gospels were rarely given names, they were often just “a blind man” or “a demoniac” or “a lame man” as if they were little more than props in the story that the disciples were telling about Jesus and themselves,

But right now I assert to you that that man that I met was a man!

He was a man with a destiny and the prophetic anointing to see beyond eternal hell and show me a more excellent way!!!!

And so now I pray, “Lord God, please forgive me for all of the people that I have treated like props or supporting characters in my story.  Please help me to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that every homeless man or woman I bless has a name and a life and a destiny and a story and an anointing, help me to see them Lord God!! Help me to truly see them!!! And Savior please bless that man who changed my life so many years ago, please heal him of all that ails him, please set him high on a mountain of ease and comfort and joy and happiness, please bring him abundance, and please restore him in every way, that I may meet him again, high and lifted up above all humiliation and shame, and I may glorify my Father in heaven!

The Body of Christ

Catholics are the theologians of the Body of Christ, I never met one who did not enlighten me.

Episcopalians are the activists of the Body of Christ always serving both in liturgy and out.

Baptists are the evangelists of the Body of Christ always preaching Jesus wherever they go.

Quakers are the mystics of the Body of Christ always pressing the envelope of the inner life.

Pentecostals are the prayer warriors of the Body of Christ waging war on the enemy with unknown tongues.

Methodists are the builders of the Body of Christ constantly co-creating the Kingdom of God.

Presbyterians are the statesmen of the Body of Christ always conducting themselves with due deliberation.

Evangelicals are the anchors of the Body of Christ fighting voraciously to maintain certain truths.

Christian Universalists are the visionaries of the Body of Christ for they see to the eventual salvation of all.

 

Unity in the Body of Christ

My mom and dad, Melba and Gerald Lucas, are Episcopalian and they raised me Episcopalian and they are two of the greatest Christians that I have ever known.  My mom, though she know longer believes in Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation taught accounting at the community college level and I have never seen anyone with more compassion or dedication to her students, irrespective of how they treated her.  My Dad, grew up in stark poverty in various boroughs of New York and through nothing but stalwart faith got into the most prestigious high schools in Brooklyn.  I remember my father telling me a story in which he went to a normal school for boys in his age group and when he saw what kind of work they were doing he told his mother that there is no way that he would attend that school.  My dad went on attend college, get his MBA, and become a top executive without ever garnering financial support from anyone for anything.  My Dad believes in the Trinity and says, “Well if you want to say you’re a Christian, then you got to claim the Trinity”.  He is a big fan of Karen Armstrong and advocates for productive interfaith dialogue. Both my parents are pro-choice, affirming of Gays, Lesbians, Transgendered, and Bisexuals, and very progressive on other political fault lines of decision.

In Contrast, my friend Della Bryant is a charismatic evangelical who believes that Barack Obama might be a muslim, but who has greater faith in and love for Jesus and his body than I think anyone I have ever met.  This woman will be broke and in torrid neck pain and pray for another believer before praying for herself.  And even though she believes in eternal damnation she is constantly praying that God will hopefully soon bring about the restoration of all.

Readers of this Blog.  I grew up Episcopalian, I sent my daughter to Catholic School, I studied with Methodists, I joined a Presbyterian church, I have had a Catholic Therapist, I have a Quaker Mentor, and I usually worship at Charismatic Evangelical churches because their lively praise and worship of Jesus heals and invigorates my soul. So I can tell you in a clear conscience that WE ARE ALL SAVED!!!  I have yet to spend some time with any dimension of the body of Christ and not feel the Holy Spirit.  Yes, it is possible that when talking to an Episcipalian you might feel the holy spirit as you discuss whether or not Obama should have pushed harder for the public option in his healthcare bill whereas with a charismatic evangelical you will probably feel the holy spirit as they discuss how Jesus is miraculously taking them through the trials and tribulations of their life, but in both cases I have felt the very same holy spirit.

I used to be very hard on my charismatic evangelic brothers and sisters who believed in eternal damnation, because that particular doctrine destroys any possibility of all of us just being able to agree to disagree.  That particular doctrine creates such high stakes for error, that any error in thought a person might have becomes a sentence to eternal torment.  In my opinion, there are two doctrines that keep the body of Christ in a state of discord and disharmony.  One is eternal damnation or the belief that a loving God would sentence his sons and daughters made in his image to an eternity of horrific pain just because they did not acknowledge his son.  The Other is pluralism or the belief that all the religions say the exact same thing, there is nothing unique to Jesus and that he is just some master-soul among many who lived a great life.  In most cases eternal damnation afflicts evangelicals and pluralism the more high church folks like Catholics, Episcopalians,, Quakers, etc.

Both of these deceptions, pluralism and eternal damnation draw different contingents in the body of Christ to align with unbelievers against believers usually in some political way.   So you might have a contingent of new age and Episcopalian protesters for gay rights facing of against some evangelical protesters who are against gay marriage.  This would be relatively innocuous, if there wasn’t usually some real venomous thought and emotion going on among all sides about the issue.  And let this happen for 100 years, the length of time that fundamentalism and the social gospel have been in vogue and what you get is one half of the body of Christ that is convinced that the other half of the body of Christ is stupid, or worse you get one side of the body of Christ who believes that the other side of the body of Christ is hell bound forever.

But a Eastern/New Ager Type friend of mine Roxana once told me that we are in the age of Aquarius the most golden age in human history.  Because I believe that Roxana and many like her may in fact walk in a sense of knowledge about times and seasons I agree with her that despite what our circumstances may be telling us, we are definitely coming into a new age of bliss and heaven on earth for all people.  It is my belief that the Body of Christ or those who believe in Jesus will lead the way of this “Great Awakening” as we serve in love and share the message of our savior.  But right now Evangelicals are depicting Episcopalians as like apostate frozen chosen infidels and Episcopalians are depicting Evangelicals like village idiots who needed to at least get their GED before they started preaching the gospel.

At this point you might be expecting a solution?  Well here is not a solution, but a beginning.

Lord God,

We thank you for every Episcopalian, Methodist, Presbyterian, Quaker, Catholic, Evangelical, and Charismatic Evangelical on the earth.  We acknowledge that in a spirit of 1 Corinthian 14 we are all serving you and bringing you glory.  Now we ask that you destroy the deceptions among us that would keep us separate and hostile toward each other.  We ask that you bless us to love one another and ourselves with that kind of invincible, unconditional love that only you can give.  Please help us to dialogue with honesty and humility in such a way so as to find common ground on the issues that separate us and in cases where no common ground is possible bless us to lovingly agree to disagree.  Lord God please bless us to forgive ourselves and Christendom for the horrors of the past without losing compassion for those who feel the pain of those wrongs.  And Lastly Lord God, please miraculously bless us to stop speaking evil of each other in public settings as though we all do not possess the same Savior.  Thank you so much Lord God for your love for the body of Christ and for all humanity and thank you for what will soon be upon us.

In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Trusting in Yourself Or Trusting in The Savior?

Autobiography of a Yogi written by Yogananda is one of the most powerful books that I have ever read and it is an incredible testament to what one can accomplish through communion with God.  It is the story of a Hindu Yogi who encounters miraculous and astounding men and women and who himself brings the wisdom and praxis of the east to the United States.There is one chapter entitled “The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar” in which Yogananda’s guru resurrects his atoms from cosmic space and comes back to life after dying sometime earlier.  When Sri Yukteswar resurrects himself he gives Yogananda an account of the afterlife in which he describes an astral universe wherein people continue to work out their karma in beauty.

This is the first time while reading Autobiography of a Yogi wherein I was very suspicious of a miracle that I was reading about.  Sri Yukteswar’s account of the afterlife was nothing like the celebration of God that I have imagined when I think about the hereafter and to be honest seemed quite boring so while I do not doubt Yogananda’s veracity I am suspicious of either what he saw when he saw his master reborn or what his master saw as he traveled through the dimensions of the after life.  I also find it suspicious that most afterlife accounts either have Jesus as Savior but also accounts of eternal punishment or describe an astral universe where reincarnation, karma, and a “self-driven” sense of perfection are key components.  Is anyone really perceiving the beyond or are we just affirming our preferences?

Personally, while I believe that God operates in all the world’s religions and that eternal punishment is a dangerous fallacy, I do see a conspicuous difference between “trust in Jesus” and every other worldview.  I do not know of a worldview outside of “trust in Jesus” that does not put the emphasis of responsibility for one’s destiny on one’s self.  Trust in Jesus in contrast stresses surrender to The Savior and a trust in his cross, resurrection, blood, and love as a means by which to secure bliss both in this life and the next.  This is a radical contrast and summarily undermines the notion that “all the world’s religions are just saying the same thing.”  While I believe in loving myself to the utmost and trusting in myself in most cases I have learned as I have walked through life that I do not want my ultimate destiny in my own hands.  I do not believe in notions of eternal torment or hell or damnation or any other notion of terror.  But I do believe that we are not sufficient to secure our own destinies.  As I encounter Christians and people from non-Christian religions and I see our frailty and pride and selfishness and over confidence even as we often profess to be holy, I assert that we are beautiful yes but that ultimately we are infants in the grand scheme of things and we are not mature enough in any sense of the word to get there by ourselves.  So if you have not already, I urge you not out of fear or a sense that you might writhe in hell but out of humility and an understanding that no matter how powerful you think you are, you are in need of a loving savior to give your life to Jesus.  You will be glad you did.

God Bless!

Woody