Do we experience Jesus Christ more when we die?
Posted on 05 August 2017, 18:51
Molly: I wanted to ask about Jesus Christ, whether we are with him all the time and whether we experience him more when we die.
Stephen the Martyr. Hear the words that you have spoken!
Are we nearer to him when we die?
Look at the things that we know, things that we have been taught:
That he is our Lord, is ever with us, that he is always close.
This we must understand, for there is no journey that we must take, not one thing that we must cast off, for the nearness of our Lord.
In our minds it may be conceivable that when we have cast off one barrier, or one body, we might see Him more clearly.
But - “See?” is that the right word?
For the Lord is a presence and a being-with, not as an individual but as all pervading and as with all.
What we should ask is “How must I recognize the Lord here with me now?
How must I look for him that I may see him?
But not with a physical eye to do the seeing but with the eye of my heart,
and with the eye of my emotions.
Feel great joy and you feel the Lord.
Feel great love and you feel the Lord.
Feel great happiness and you feel the Lord.
Feel first these things, for often we look for a feeling that is greater than our experiences that we have each day.
We must find for ourselves strangeness, in order to recognize what is ordinary.
What we seek is a heightened sense of emotion that we have through our understanding.
If when we feel love and we understand completely what it is that we love, then the emotions do heighten and we feel ourselves comforted or protected from all harm.
And our emotions are heightened at these times through the knowledge of when and whence the protection and love come.
Then we will recognize the Source of these emotions.
Would it not be a strange Christ that he should be at a distance and come only under special circumstances to special people that they might recognize him on rare occasions.
He would indeed become a stranger to us.
He is ever with us.
The understanding even that we have of ourselves is often the understanding of his presence with us.
The sorrow we feel at times when we are not pleased with our own thoughts and feelings is the sorrow he feels with us.
The joy that we feel when we are pleased, when we are happy, when we are content, is his joy, his contentment, for he is with us.
Let us not think that it is for special people, or that we must experience an emotion that we have never experienced.
For each of us experience the Lord and have continued to experience him even at this moment, for he is with us.
Think not to judge that you yourselves are lacking that you have not been at one with our Lord, for in truth you cannot be separated, if you would use that term.
The closest you will ever be to the Lord is when you are least conscious of him.
For the more that you are true to yourself and the least conscious of yourself, you do not say, “I know that I am me, for I feel that I am me!”
The knowing is in being.
There are times when many, through their seeking, as they might look upon their image in a mirror, might truly cry out with joy: “I see the Lord! I feel the Lord!
Now at this wonderful moment I am experiencing the Lord!”
They symbolically have stepped beyond themselves and have but observed what is always there.
I have said that the most distant thing is closer to you than the tongue of your mouth.
And the Lord is with you as is the blood in your veins.
But unless you bleed are you conscious of this blood?
The emotions that are heightened at this time, are a bleeding out of your consciousness that the presence within you can be viewed from outside yourselves.
These times are wonderful to behold; but do not allow them to take from you the knowledge that the blood that is Christ’s flows in your body.
Do not seek to bleed so that you might prove that you have blood.
If you bleed, rejoice, for then you recognize your Christ with another sense.
Do not despair also when others who see themselves bleeding, and are filled with joy of another and a different recognition, and say “I see the Christ!”
Do not weep for yourself, that you do not bleed.
When people die, they may well see Jesus as a separate individual as we imagine ourselves to be. But if we focus too narrowly in Jesus seen as an individual human being, and worship him as God, we won’t have understood what he meant by the Kingdom of Heaven. For what we call God embraces All That Is.
I repeat like a mantra, “in God we live and move and have our being.”
Said God to Moses out of the burning bush, “I AM THAT I AM” God is all existence. In John’s Gospel Jesus says, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”
In John 17 Jesus prays that we may all be one, Jesus in God, we in Jesus.
When we come to our senses we can see that we are inseparably participants in God.
When John has Jesus saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” we need to remember that in the original Greek abstract nouns attract the definite article, just as in French eg “Life” becomes “la vie”
I AM the Way = I AM the path, the T’ao, I AM truth, all truth, I AM life, all life . I AM the vine, the whole vine, you are the branches.
The strength of the churches is that they pass on the teaching of Jesus from one generation to the next. The weakness of ANY church comes when they suggest that picture of reality that they may present is sufficient. Their God is always too small, much too small, since God embraces all that is. I believe that we should always have these observations in mind, if we are to understand what Stephen is saying.
I consider Stephen’s teaching about Christ to be the best theology and really profound.
Michael Cocks edits the journal, The Ground of Faith.
Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr by Michael Cocks is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.
Michael on Skeptico.
For more on Stephen go to www.thegroundoffaith.net/issues/2017-02