The Natural Fulfilled By The Spiritual
|Civilization should be based
on the Natural fulfilled by the Spiritual. Manís need and want of the
spiritual is such a deep part of his nature that it is natural. The Creator God of
Nature created everything through
His Common Grace, the world, the sun, the universe, mankind, and all we
know of life plus more that is not known. The magnificence of nature is vast, complex raw and grand. Nature
in mankind particularly is
grand and impressive, but it is not enough. Manís nature needs spiritual
fulfilling to be whole.
One reason things now are at sixes and at sevens, going around in self-destructive circles, today and in the past, is that humans tend to look down on the natural and deny the spiritual. Instead we as humans ought to be accepting our natures and what is genuine about us while fulfilling our natures through the spirit and grace of God. We should be merging the divine with the natural, the spirit with the flesh, and incarnating the divine within ourselves. In the incarnation of Christ the natural young woman, Mary, was filled with grace and spirit. Then in a miraculous way she introduced to life the Savior and Redeemer of mankind. The story is a doctrinal truth as well as an allegory of what our lives should be doing: incarnating God.
In religious terminology Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He wants to take care of the sheep. Yet how can He take care of mentally confused and somewhat emotionally disturbed sheep who accept neither their place in nature, being natural, nor accept a spiritual guide to carry their flesh further? In order to have a benevolent and appropriate union of nature and spiritual ordering in life, the sheep first need to accept their natures, then the existence of available divine leadership by God. This is the spiritual ordering of things that flesh and spirit, life and soul, aim to attain.
We are not created in flesh to deny the flesh. That would be illogical. We are created flesh to order the flesh, to give self-control and purpose to strong flesh, so there may be the new incarnated union of flesh and spirit working together to show the glory of God in a more complete person.
Our flesh, our being, longs for the Spirit of God and through their union we achieve a miracle of the union of strength and flesh with the spirit of compassion, of order, of empathy with each other, of high divine purpose and transcendence. Then we have spiritual meaning from God in our flesh so we become beautiful and better as persons, human and brothers, spiritually high purposed and compassionate. The union of flesh and spirit, body and soul, are united to become individuals and communities that enjoy God and glorify Him forever.
The divinely natural union of body and soul, flesh and spirit, are not widely recognized as valid goals today. The materialists deny the existence of God so no spiritual purpose and exaltation of the flesh, no transcendent raising of the purpose of the flesh, co-exists in their lives with the flesh. These materialists are a tragic people leading sad and one dimensional lives. They deny God and the existence of spiritual needs in themselves first put in them by natureís Creator God to help them on their way to being sons of grace, the sons of the morning that is Godís transforming presence.
This is a time when people tend to deny everything that is true, genuine, natural and real. That would take faith in themselves and in God. Those without faith go under. They are without faith and you can see from the shallowness of their lives, they are going under. Their ďno faithĒ civilizations go under with them.
Even today in so called ďpost ChristianĒ history, people have not reached the goals set by pre-Christian thinkers of great depth long ago, such as: Know thyself. Did people but halfway know themselves, they would see themselves as children of the flesh as well as children of the spirit.
That is important because to know ourselves we must recognize the wants and needs given us by nature. There is no sense in denying nature. Abuse nature and regret it. But, alas, how many hungry children do I see fed with too much sugar, excess candy and heavily sweetened cereals? Natureís need of food is there but it not answered in a caring manner nutritionally. Thus some deny the needs of nature, but others misuse and abuse that need.
Always we must recognize and accept ourselves as made of flesh, and having the needs that go with it. For example, there is in women a wonderful need and desire to have children, needs given them by nature. But the desire to produce babies must be refined, spiritualized, treated reasonably. The future of the babies yet to be must be considered first. One owes that to the baby.
Yet I hear talk in the female emancipation movement of how families are not a womanís work. Sad. How sad. I rejoice in the freedom of women to do whatever work they wish, but why divide work from the family? Many woman I know are working so they can have a family. The load of economic responsibility is just too heavy for the men to carry alone. Why not have freedom to be what you are? Why must freedom come at the cost of denying the blessed birthing nature that women have been given? Why should a woman hesitate to embellish her femaleness by learning new professions and jobs when such embellishment enables her to fulfill her nature as a woman and mother?
My point is we must first accept and validate, not deny, the nature that we have. Then we may embellish it, transform it, transfigure it, sublimate it, use it fulfill it, and lift it. But we should not deny what nature has given us. That usually ends in tragedy. I suggest accepting nature, be close to nature, enjoy the rhythms of nature, revel in the universal urgings of nature. Get close to nature and admire nature. Simplify your nature. Fulfill your nature spiritually as well as physically. When you raise your nature spiritually, you do not forego the lower nature. You but add a higher dimension to it.
Realize what is in our natural selves is a suggestion from nature that will not easily be denied. It is a part of of our being. We are not created to deny our beings, but to order them, discipline them and fulfill them. If we deny our need for God, for example, it is a deep and integral part of ourselves that we are denying. We may become grotesques from denying reality, growing like stunted things without enough light and air. We humans are a part of nature with a sense of God rightly placed in us by our Creator for our welfare.
This sense of God in us is to help us control ourselves and above all fulfill ourselves. Otherwise we may end as beings not under control. We see those around today threatening rashly and often doing irresponsibly. We humans now have the capability to destroy nature and ruin the world and the atmosphere with it. We are humans out of control and often full of, not grace, but high tempers, hubris and powerful life threatening technology. Yet we as humans have been given a sense of God in ourselves to enjoy it as well as to control us. But too often do we not deny our want to believe and our need to believe?. A need to believe not just for ourselves, but for others, for the earth and for our communities. Therefore consider belief. It is a medicine from God.
Nature and the world, the universe, the Creation were created by God out of Common Grace, His care and desire to share life. The need of God we have comes from Common Grace. We should accept and validate Godís gift of need for Him. For all people and at all times there has been a sense of the Divine Presence. God has given us all His creation to enjoy. The world is our Eden. But Eden while beautiful and full of wonder is not enough. just as the original Eden was not enough. The occupants of Eden must use it, not abuse it. We are often abusing the earth instead of fairly using it.
Nature in the raw is glorious, magnificent, complex, full of reverberating echoes of grace, but mankind needs more than comes from Godís Common Grace. Mankind needs knowledge that comes from Special Grace or truths and insights that come from Special revelations of God. I doubt that mankind might attain this special higher knowledge on his own. God adapts these special revelations man kind need, through Holy Writings, holy divine actions like Jesus Christ and Reformers, leaders and prophets.
The insights of Special Grace are such higher truths that we can not easily deduce them on our own! They are truths such as: the redemptive love of God for us, the redemptive love of God we should try to use in knowing each other, the power of suffering, the purpose and way of suffering, the limits of selfishness, our moral duty to each other, the spiritual peace that passeth all understanding, our duty to care for ourselves and others, awareness of the spiritual dimensions of infinite time and place, the vision of a world of creative benevolence, natural laws, and the possibility of a non-warring world, our atonement in Christ through Godís grace.
These higher insights are the ones we as humans might not easily figure out, so they have to be revealed to us and the earth through special graces. These insights have no formulas by which to be figured, but they contain the spiritual truths the world needs most. Even today, the world is not up to implementing these truths in daily life, but because of their revelation through special grace, the special favor of God, the world has become aware of them. The seed of real progress has been planted in revealing them. These truths will in Godís good time and through God's grace grow. It was the publication of these truths that heralded the beginning of the Kingdom of God that Jesus preached.
It is by such truths applied that civilization is best measured, not by chemicals, nor industry, nor technology which may ease our paths and does make life more slick and convenient, but does not give that spiritual Enlightenment that counts, that spiritual awareness that takes a civilization, a nation, an area, a family and an individual higher. Only when we become aware of these higher truths, apply them and practice them in our daily lives does and will true civilization come inching in.
But look at the incompletely spiritualized world we still have today, where real work lies:
1. We still have wars. We talk about just wars. A just war is an oxymoron. Wars are always unjust to someone, the children, the women, the bystanders, the innocents abroad. Nor can we fight sin with sin, injustice by injustice, bad morality by war which is a bad morality.
2. The world that has such a need of God often denies the existence of God. The result is a vast number of people stultified in their spiritual growth, warped psychologically, and insensate to the higher spiritual truths and values. We occupy a world of stunted people absent from grace, the love of God and belief in God, who, like plants kept from sunlight, fade, turn dry and end grotesquely. (Be ye well aware all men suffer from original sin), but those kept from growing in God tend more to be bitter, soured and grotesque. The world is full of God-starved grotesques. Their souls, their values, their manners look like pictures of those let out of concentration camps after World War II. Look around you!. Can you not recognize the deprived, used and abused. Can you not recognize the new Frankensteins that these industrial times have turned people into? The rising values are non-human, mechanistic and selfish.
3. Many humans no longer see themselves as children of nature but as beings of power over nature. It is we humans who are now threatening the world through lack of individual self-control, hatred of others, contempt for life and inability to socialize ourselves. But while we will not socialize ourselves within the boundaries of civilized living, neither will we turn to God to socialize us. Our refusal to come terms with our inner selves, with our new scientific ability to destroy others, may one day wipe out life. Our refusal is to come to terms with our own demanding pride and moral hubris that may and can possibly wipe out life as we know it. How necessary it is that we see ourselves for the sake of life and the world as unruly bits and parts of nature that need to learn self-control before the earth is ruined by the devastating rockets of warring factions that can be fired in minutes We live threatened by a reign of rockets.
4. Unfortunately the religions of the world have often done more harm than good by dividing the world into rival religious hate camps. It is not just Christians, but those of nearly every religion who have let our tendency to assume superiority turn religion into hate groups dividing the world by creeds. Any personís name for God is important, but not as important as that person's recognition of the spiritual dimensions, regardless of the name of his faith or His God. Those who are in a faith, regardless of their expression of it, are joined in unity with those of other faiths by seeing and being aware of spiritual dimensions. These spiritual dimensions many mere Western materialists laugh at and are blind to. A person of any religion recognizes spiritual dimensions in the universe, but a person of no religion is blind to any spiritual dimension. He is for all practical purposes a spiritual barbarian, a materialist let loose to barbarize and de-value.
But let us be fair to the world. With the past religious leadership of some groups of all faiths, such as we have had leading the world of religions, how can we blame the great spiritual failure of today on outsiders? The religious faiths of the world need to catch up spiritually. Many of the different faiths have not learned yet the most basic lesson to be learned by any religious faith in the world: Donít think any religious faith is good because it teaches attendance at a church or temple, then after mumbling a creed think that is enough done even if their spiritual attitudes are rotten. This is what has been largely done by religious faiths of all creeds and denominations for the last two hundred years.
The religious faiths of today have before them one of the greatest faith challenges of all time: to learn to act like the religions they are supposed to be. Now I do not mean they should or will achieve perfection, but they can make a respectable effort to represent love instead of hate.
Where there should have been unity among faiths in seeing and presenting to the world the spiritual dimensions of life, too many of the churches and temples and mosques have allowed hate, violence, snobbery, sectarianism, and class and caste into a prominent place in their lives.
This is the challenge before all faiths of the world today: to make spiritual peace with each other and without their sacrificing their creedal uniqueness, which is quite possible, live in caring, concern and reverence of creation. This challenge calls for spiritual changes in the religions towards each other. No organization need be swallowed up, no creed changed, but the primacy of transcendent spiritual concern put first. We do not in the faiths need just one creed. We need not one organization. We need transcendent association with each other with respect and dignity.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.