The “How” of Divine Mutuality~Communication

“[P]rayer is not a matter of words or forms but an opening of consciousness to the life of the Spirit flowing in the present moment of God, the making of our mind to be one with the mind of Christ: not only to pray, then, but to become prayer.”

~Laurence Freeman

I’m sure we’ve all heard at some point in our lives that communication is the key to having a healthy relationship. And this does ring true, doesn’t it? It’s difficult to comprehend being close to someone with whom you hardly speak, or with whom you don’t understand due to poor communication.

We talked about trust last time, and now we turn our attention toward communication in our “how” of Divine Mutuality, or oneness with God. Since these two ingredients, trust and communication, are key to any good relationship, it only makes sense that these would be vital to a good and healthy relationship with our Maker–God, our heavenly Father, who is quite personal, as Jesus of Nazareth has shown us.

Therefore, let me throw this out there: I don’t see how you can have any sort of vibrant relationship with God without lots and lots of prayer. Lots and lots of communication with our Father. Now this communing includes sharing everything with God–thoughts, experiences, emotions, etc. as well as our desires and requests. But it also includes dedicated times of simply being with God, hanging out, talking back and forth, enjoying one another’s company. This we don’t seem to hear much from the preachers and teachers.

How the hades do you share life with someone if you never hang out, talk, catch up, rap about life?? Sometimes I think we forget that prayer is simply talking with God. It’s not a ritual of stilted language we recite to the wall or table in front of us. It is communication with our Creator, a real, living personal being of love. Yahweh.

This is one of those things I regularly harp upon, and feel I will all my days on earth in this form. It’s that important, and it seems sadly forgotten or neglected. Could it be that we are missing out on so much more that God wants to give and do through us because we are simply not asking, or sitting with Him in holy, trusting, communing expectancy?

It’s impossible for me to comprehend how one can stay spiritually strong to any degree without dedicated time for God alone. I know that if I don’t get that regularly, I’m a pathetic, fearful mess. But when I do practice it regularly, I’m a pathetic, Spirit-filled dork. Big beautiful difference!

The “How” of Divine Mutuality~Trust

Faith And TrustHe will carry you safely through the canyons of your life

Last time we looked a little at “Divine Mutuality”, oneness with God through Jesus. Now let’s skim the surface a bit on how we go about this, of our part in this all-important union.

There are two major, non-negotiable components to any healthy relationship: Trust and Communication.

Without one or both of these, you simply do not have much, if any, relationship at all. To be one with someone, you must have these two relational components, and I think it therefore applies to our oneness with our Creator, who is personal.

Let’s look at trust ¬†today. So much in Scripture is about trusting God no matter what. Faith, trust, belief….pisteuo. Pisteuo is the Greek word we translate in English as “believe.” But that can, and has, lost a little punch over the years with us. I love the way St John uses pisteuo almost every time in his gospel account~pisteuein eis~this is literally “believed into”, as in John 2:11: His disciples believed into Him. We don’t really say this in English, but it gives a truer feel for John’s expression. To “believe into” is to place your trust in, or entrust your life to, or a really good word–confidence–to place one’s confidence in. It goes far beyond the rather mental ascent that our English versions connote with their translations as “believe in”. A couple of letters can make a big difference.

I like how one scholar said, “The idea which this idiom conveys is that of the absolute transference of trust from oneself to another.” And of course good ole Brother Lawrence: “We have a God who is infinitely good and knows what He’s doing.”

Do you believe in a God who wants nothing but the absolute best for us (no matter how things might look), and then back up that belief with an entrusting of your entire life to His infinitely good care?

Or do we merely say we believe, and live lives of stress, worry, and anxiety?

DIVINE MUTUALITY

John 15 & 17

“Radical equality”, as we talked about last time, is not truly possible without “divine mutuality”. This is what Jesus talks about in John 15 with Vine and branch imagery–to be so very intertwined…with God.

In His prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus prays for Himself, His disciples, and for those who will become His disciples (us!), and this is all held together by unity.

But not just any unity.

The unity of Divine Mutuality.

This is unity at its deepest level because it is based in God. Jesus prays that we will be able to reach that oneness, the oneness that He has with the Father. Many preach that John 17 is advocating unity with one another, but a more careful reading reveals that Jesus is speaking of union with the Father, which yields unity with one another, if it is Christ, as He really is, whom we are truly seeking. Branches on the same Vine are inescapably unified.

This kind of cosmic, radical unity, this oneness, is as Logos and Father are one [John 1:1-18]. Again, this is not just any ol’ run of the mill unity here. Unity doesn’t really come to fruition through our striving to be unified with one another, for that gets chaotic and breaks down very quickly. As A. W. Tozer so wisely said, “Don’t you know that a hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically in tune with each other?” It is in tuning our hearts in all sincerity, honesty, humility, receptivity, and openness to the Christ, the Son of God, that we will then be unified with others who are seeking the same. The Spirit in us will recognize the Spirit in them, and we will be one, aligned with each another at the soul-level of connection…without much striving.

This is how we can disagree, and yet be in unity. I have dear Christian brothers and sisters with whom we do not see eye to eye on several issues, but we are at the same time unified because of our pursuit of oneness with God through Jesus of Nazareth.

It’s connection beyond words, because it’s better than words.

RADICAL EQUALITY

John 13

So He got up from the supper-table, took off His clothes, and wrapped a towel around Himself. Then He poured water into a bowl and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel He was wrapped in.

“I’m giving you a new commandment, and it’s this: love one another! Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

My wife Ana and I attended our first conference given by one of the monks¬†at Saint Meinrad Archabbey, Eugene Hensell, in November. The title of the conference was “Praying With The Gospel Of John”, and was rich and refreshing to say the least! It was exquisitely awesome to hear the gleanings of a man who has not only dedicated his life to prayer, reflection, and holy work, but who has taught on the Gospel of John for about thirty years! Seeing as how we are not to just keep these things all to ourselves, I look forward to sharing some of the insights we absorbed from a most wonderful weekend.

In taking off His outer garment and wrapping a towel around Himself, Jesus demonstrably and clearly takes the role of servant, an easy to see sign of great humility. In His time and culture, males did not touch another person’s feet in public. True, this is a private setting with the disciples, but still would have been pretty awkward for them. Honor and superior position were celebrated, and any shame was feared.

Recall from the incredible prologue back in chapter one of John’s Gospel that he tells us just who this Jesus is–none other than the Creator of the universe, of all things. And now here He is in human form doing what only the most servile would do, washing the dusty feet of other men.

Somewhat side note: Jesus asks the disciples in verse 12, “Do you know what I’ve done for you?” This would be a good prayer question for meditation and contemplation. You might sit with this question from Jesus to you, and listen to what the Spirit might speak.

Then in verse 34 Jesus gives a new commandment: To love one another. “Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

What’s so new about this?

How has He loved us?

Well, it goes back to the foot washing. He has become our equal!

RADICIAL EQUALITY.

That’s how He’s loved us. And that’s how we are to love each other.

Again, the Creator of all things is now on our level washing our dirty feet. Rarely do you really see people loving one another as true equals. No one says, “I’m striving to be radically equal!” But this is Jesus’s key instruction on how to live as disciples after He is no longer here in physical form (v.15). In 15:12 He says, “You’re my friends if you do this.” Wow.

You may ask, “How can love be commanded?” Well, the command is a specific way to love. How we love can be shaped, and here is how you love like God loves. Jesus showed us God, and here we see the way God, who is love, loves: by stooping, giving up all rank, position, and power, and choosing to sacrificially become our equal even to the point of the cross, showing us tangibly that there is no place too low, where He won’t go to love us and demonstrate it clearly in plain sight. Radically.

RADICAL EQUALITY.

Or we might even call it ridiculously humble service. Who is turned off by this? I mean, who doesn’t at least kind of wonder what a person has in them who serves others in this manner??

And this is how we are also to love–the way God loves (v.14). Recognizing, accepting, and internalizing just what He has done for us (not necessarily comprehending, because, let’s be honest, who really can?), will supernaturally energize and motivate us to love in this manner of radical equality.

Christmas is a fantastic time for gratefully remembering that God chose to enter the human condition, become one of us, taking on all of our limitations, problems, and suffering to make real the promise of redemption.