Joy And Poverty

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I am sure the highest and best state of being that a person can be in is to feel fulfilled in God. But we must consider all humans are flawed, finite, fleshy and small in mind and being. Nor has any person ever risen to Christ’s perfecting in grace, so spiritual fulfillment on this earth will always be partial. But even partially to be aware, fulfilled and momentarily touched by Christ is to experience a raising, an illuminating, a touching of transcendent grace that may be relived forever. To be doing His will is deep satisfaction.

An awareness of Christ is a momentous thing that by-passes mere words. Words pass on concepts, but to experience Christ is to experience awareness beyond reciting words. I can give you a concept of Christ, but to know Christ you must experience Him. HE CAN BE FOUND. The scripture is right when it tells us to seek God and count not the cost. (Matthew 6:33)

Theology talks of “saving grace,” but I think this is too misleading a term. True grace saves us, but I am not obsessive about an egotistical immortality going on forever. I prefer a “fulfilling” grace now. If it saves me later, grace is nice, but if it fulfils me now, it is better. I am thankful for grace that will save in the next juxtaposition of my life, but it is grace that fulfils me now that I yearn for. Saving grace is Jesus being put off until Heaven. Fulfilling grace is putting on Jesus now. We need a grace that fulfills us for living on this earth. Even in “deep poverty,” did not the Apostle note in the churches of Macedonia the “abundance of their joy.” (II Corinthians 8:1) In spite of the doctrine of materialism, it is the Spiritual life that will and can make the victory over materialism. To be fulfilled in God makes joy on this earth. Doing as Christ wishes is most satisfying emotionally.

An experience of God is a life awaking awareness of the Spirit of God that is everywhere. The God Spirit gives us joy. It gives us a taste of the love, transcendence and acceptance of God. It teaches us. It energizes us. It makes us aware, then we burn out, and then are made re-aware. Grace recycles us. We have a resurrection of feeling. It is an awakening of the deep religious impulses in us that have not been fulfilled. Our religion is not primal enough. It does not reach inside us to where God is buried inside us. Our religion does not bring Him out enough. Is not the Kingdom of God in us, waiting to come out? (“The Kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21)

When we are in the presence of grace as we sometimes are in our families, churches, and nature, and have moments of grace, moments of God, why not have them, say so, share them and enjoy them? We need in society the rediscovery of divine feelings. Why? Because we live in a cold country and a hostile society where nearly everybody seems out for money first. Our society has aspects that are cold, secular, cynical and calculating as Scrooge. Honest feelings about God and many deep things, genuine virtues, have been laid aside, suppressed by the commercialization and brutalization of a people who are widely psychologically depressed. Why should they not be so considering the values the country widely practices?

The joy that the Apostle found in the churches of Macedonia that went along side deep poverty has been lost. God has been laid aside even in many churches and the great public joy has become things not God. Primal religion has been laid aside for shallow, superficial religious customs. Christ is not dead, but truly religion is in this day. The old poverty is still here all over the world but the old “abounding joy” that Paul found beside it is gone. It was not a joy in poverty, but a joy from a realization humanity was more than materialism and a lack of material things.

Today many in the world are trying to get rid of poverty. That is fine. Let’s all support this. But remember! Reducing the world’s poverty won’t make the type of joy in the world that Paul saw in churches return. That was a religious joy. God was first and HIS reign brought joy to mankind. To restore that joy, God in His Spiritual World must be taught, so that mankind is made joyful and happy by fulfilling grace. People will be happier when a sense of fulfilling grace is reclaimed the world over. That is our Mission: Preach Christ that the world may know more abundant joy.

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Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.