Today's writing is dedicated to a dear Friend, the Rev. Susan Wyllie, Pastor of Unity Church of Peace, Port Charlotte, FL. Susan has been an inspiration and example to me of intellectual honesty, compassion for all peoples, and faithing her way to serve her congregation and encourage them to share in transforming the world in the Love of Christ. Susan was recently ordained by the Unity Church. Blesings upon Susan, in her journey of faith and ordained service!
Welcome to OneLife Ministries. This site is designed to lead you prayerfully into a heart experience of Divine Presence, Who is Love. While it focuses on Christian teaching, I pray persons of varied faiths will find inspiration here. Indeed, "God" can be whatever image helps us trust in the Sacred, by whatever means Grace touches us each. Please share this ministry with others, and I hope you return soon. There is a new offering daily. And to be placed on the daily OneLife email list, to request notifications of new writings or submit prayer requests, write to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Rev Dr Brian K Wilcox, MDiv, MFT, PhD
Pastor-Teacher, Author, Workshop Leader, Spiritual Counselor, Chaplain
Brian encourages support of the 4-Star Christian organization Compassion, which supports children worldwide; for more see www.compassion.com .
"Lord, I do not want to gather merit for heaven.... [I]n the evening of this life I will appear before You with empty hands. For I do not ask you, O Lord, in any way to count my good works. Rather, I will clothe myself with Your justice and receive from Your Love the eternal possession of Yourself."
*Prayer of St. Therese of Lisieux
LISTENING TO SCRIPTURE
4 Your real life is Christ and when he appears, then you too will appear with him and share his glory!
5 You must put to death, then, the earthly desires at work in you, such as sexual immorality, indecency, lust, evil passions, and greed (for greed is a form of idolatry). 6 Because of such things God's anger will come upon those who do not obey him. 7 At one time you yourselves used to live according to such desires, when your life was dominated by them.
*Colossians 3.4-7 (GNT)
RECEIVING SACRED TEACHING
A holy man was having a vision, in which he met God. He said, "God , I'd like to know what Heaven and Hell are like."
God led the holy man to two doors. God opened one door and the man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a huge pot of stew, and it smelled delicious, making the man's mouth water. Persons sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They looked to be dying of hunger. They had spoons with long handles strapped to their arms; each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take some. Yet, the handle was longer than their arms. They could not get the spoons back into their mouths.
The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering, and he asked God, "What is this place?" God said, "This is Hell."
The man and God went to the next room, and God opened the door. The room looked exactly like that first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew, and, again, this made made the man's mouth water. The people had the same long-handled spoons, but they were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.
The holy man said, "I don't understand. What is this?" "This," my friend, "is Heaven."
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Hell and Heaven are present here. Just look around you, you will see Heaven and Hell everywhere. Look inside you, you will see Heaven and Hell.
We create Heaven and Hell. We create the consequences of Hell, then, we say such is God's Wrath. Such cannot be, for God is ALL-Good.
It is not possible for God to want to hurt any creature. No spark of wrath has ever been, or ever will be, in the holy God. If God's wrath was ever anywhere, it must be everywhere. If it burned once, it must burn eternally - because everything that is in God is without limit. God cannot be increased or decreased. It makes as much sense to say that God created the universe out of wrath as to say that God ever wrathfully punished any part of it.
God is the unlimited abyss of all that is good. Anything that is not a blessing is contradictory. It is eternally impossible for God to willingly inflict a moment's hurt on any of his creatures. As the sun's nature requires it to give the blessing of light, so God has but one intention toward all creation. His purpose is to pour the goodness of his divine perfection upon everything that is capable of receiving it.
It is the goodness of God, and a desire to communicate this good, that inspired creation. We are designed to receive God's goodness. This is a purpose that cannot change. God must always will what he willed from the beginning. God is a constantly, overflowing fountain of good. he is love itself. God is pure love, unmeasurable love. God's only motive is love. He gives nothing but the gifts of love. The only thing God requires of us is that we return love for love.
The attributes we give God are only human ways of coming to grips with a vastness that is beyond our metaphors and terminology. We suit our thinking and speaking about God to our limited selves. This can be a useful thing to do, but to conclude there must be conflicting qualities in God is sacrilege.
*William Law. Mystical Writings. In Bernard Bangley, Editor. Near to the Heart of God. "Our Illogical Ideas about God": January 19.
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We are making Hell; we are shaping Heaven. And both are here, before us. Look.
For the Divine being timeless, and infinite, both Heaven and Hell are so - as forms from the one Idea of Love. For that in God, from God - for all must be of God, is one Energy, and we shape according to the created free will in you and me. Therefore, we cannot say, "Hell is there." Or, "Hell is here." We can say, "Hell I see there." We can say, "Hell manifests for us to see here."
"Hell" and "Heaven," then, are qualities, not quantities. There is no more Hell here or there, not absolutely. Yes, we manifest more of Hell and Heaven, as beings of free will.
And God's wrath? Wrath is the manifestation of a universal law of negativity opposing the Good of Love, or manifesting the Good in that its sole intent is to fulfill the choice of our freedom, which was given in the Love we each live Within. That is, wrath does not come from God, except through us and the freedom to either choose good or evil. The "through" is the potential in God prior to its division in time and space.
Likewise, Hell is eternal only in that all is eternal, and as Heaven is so - and these, as all, in each moment we experience in our experience as moment.
There is no capacity in absolute Love to send a person to absolute Hell based on the person's non-absolute choices in relative time and space. This would make God a weird Being of contradiction within a Nature, which we say is Single and Simple - that is, free of contradiction.
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So, let us leave of this religious talk of illogical ideas, that when examined closely make no sense at all. And, also, such ideas as make God out to be a cosmic weirdo, not the God of Love, not the God in whom we so are that in God we are using the Love that God gives us to form either Heaven or Hell now, or an odd mixture of each personally and socially.
* * *
To be and live in Christ - who is more than just the Jesus of Christianity - is to live and be in Heaven, for Christ is the perfection of ALL-Good. Where there is Heaven, there is Christ, regardless of the religion or lack of such, for religion and all forms of spirituality are derivatives in time and not absolutes in Eternity. Indeed, where there is the least bit of communication of God's Beauty, in whatever form, there is Heaven - as much Heaven as a spirit-filled Service of Worship in a Christian church on Sunday morning.
So, St. Paul says, "When Christ appears..." When does Christ appear? Where appears Love, where Heaven shows Its Face. Why? Christ is the absolute of the Good, True, and Beautiful. This makes the spiritual Church, One without walls, name, doctrine, but of persons in the spiritual Christ-Consciousness - not merely in religion or spirituality as a social or personal phenomena.
What are the things that make for Hell, in you, me, society? St. Paul gives us those - though the list is not exhaustive: sexual immorality, indecency, lust, evil passions, and greed.
What is the root of these Hell qualities? Paul says earthly desire. Or, harmful passion. At the root of Hell is the desire to please oneself, not serve in Love, from these desires that are "earthly"; this is a spatial metaphor for base desires met to please oneself, regardless of the harm brought to others.
This can include even religious, or spiritual, desire. Cannot religion create Hell? Cannot spirituality lead to Hell? The most traditional, sublime, orthodox, and nicely decorated faith, when arising to feed itself greedily and close off from the other - even looking upon the other as the damned, is a Hell-Producing social-mechanism. I have been in churches, for example, all my life, and served professionally in them for over thirty years: I have seen a lot of Hell spread in the name of Christ.
I am fully committed to the historical Church. Yet, God being God, I have a hunch the future of God's work in the world will have little to do with the Church - at least as we have known it. Rather, what we have known as the secular is becoming the principal arena of Spirit's act of Justice and Loving, of the evolution of consciousness.
* * *
Possibly, we could have some - many - things wrong about faith. Indeed, is it not possible that there is much Hell in the churches? Is it possible Heaven is most manifesting in places most of the "devout" would never look? I think so. I think we will be surprised, when all is said and done, and we see as God sees - or in a closer proportion to God's seeing.
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Now, who are the Saints? Many of the Saints we remember are especially Holy persons who found the divine grace to live in the Hells of social-institution church structures and manifest Heaven. They loved the Church, even the historical Church, for they lived from Love, a Love that could Love even in the midst of Hell, and beyond it.
So, we make our choice. With each thought, act, and word, we choose Heaven or Hell. We cannot blame God for the "wrathful" results. We created those results. Do not assign anger and punishment to God, Who is ALL-Good, and who likely grieves at how we forfeit Heaven for Hell in so many ways - and then assign to God the consequences that are only our consequences, and which have nothing to do with the purely Good. For in God absolutely is only Heaven, and all else is a violation of the Simplicity and Purity of Love - That is God.
1) What, to you, is Heaven? What, to you, is Hell?
2) How can you bring about more of Heaven into your life? Your family? Among your friends? Into the world?
Rev Dr Brian K Wilcox
June 8, 2009
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*OneLife Ministries is a ministry of Brian K. Wilcox, of SW Florida. Brian lives a vowed life and with his two dogs, Bandit Ty and St. Francis. Brian is an ecumenical spiritual leader, open to how Christ manifests in the diversity of Christian denominations and varied religious-spiritual traditions. He is Senior Chaplain for the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, Punta Gorda, FL.
*Brian welcomes responses to his writings or submission of prayer requests at email@example.com . Also, Brian is on Facebook: search Brian Kenneth Wilcox.
*Contact the above email to book Brian for Spiritual Direction, retreats, or workshops. You can order his book An Ache for Union at major book dealers.