Awakening A Weekly publication of The Awakening Institute for Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Directi
Hi Everyone, I pray blessings upon you, that you are experiencing the presence of God in every moment of your days. Now is a good time to be still and let God speak in your heart.
The Mystical Way: The Way of Love
Next Friday night at 6:30 we will begin an eleven week study titled Christian Mysticism in Today’s World. This study will be structured around what we are calling “The Way of Love” with emphasis being placed on how this way can, and indeed must, be the way that profoundly effects every aspect of who we are; spirit, soul, mind, and body. This week I would like to share the basic framework of this eleven week study.1 This mystical way of love is made possible by God’s grace alone, without which we would be walking in perpetual darkness. By God’s grace light is shed upon the darkness. It is mystical because it is beyond our finite knowing. It is the “way” because it is a journey where we begin to experience that which cannot be known. It is love because it is an unconditional overture by God who makes the unknowable known to our hearts. It is a journey to an ever deepening faith to and then in God who is Love. This way can be easy, or it can be incredibly difficult, depending on our willingness to trust and to respond to God’s overtures of grace. Therefore, it is a way that includes both pain and joy. Initially most of the pain is derived from our resistance, as we hold on to our attachments. Later however, as we move toward union with God, with Love, the pain is derived from a personal experience of God’s pain for lost humanity. This is profoundly depicted in the passion of Jesus Christ. The pain derived from a close encounter with God’s passion is then transformed and resurrected with an experience of imputed righteousness, justification as a pure gift, simultaneous with a deep desire to behold God, to follow God and to be transformed by God into a new creation for the glory of God, which we come to desire above all else. This is not a linear journey, albeit presented here in stages. In fact it is a rather dynamic process with moments of perceived failure combined with moments when we receive glimpses of the eternal heavens and ultimate victory. This is a mystical movement of God who we cannot know; yet somehow do know intimately by our participation in Christ, who is God, who is Love.
The first dynamic is that of awareness or awakening to Love’s presence. This is a time when God’s grace, having acted preveniently, now leads to convicting grace when sin is recognized, Love is realized, and simple faith becomes active.
The second dynamic is that of purification as we receive and behold Love in our midst. We are purified by God’s justifying Grace and the guilt of our sin is removed by infused grace. Faith here can be seen as the power of being transformed from a worldly focus to a focus on Love.
The third dynamic is illumination as we allow ourselves to be guided by Love. This is God’s sanctifying grace when power over sin is imparted and faith seeking understanding takes hold.
The fourth dynamic is a liminal place where we stand at the threshold of becoming Love. This is a time of unknowing as we enter into a period when grace for perfect faith begins. This can be a time of darkness, but not hopelessness, which has been described as a dark night leading to the dawn of deification, glorification or union with God. This is a time when we paradoxically experience great suffering and great love as we stand at the corridor leading to a fully mature, fully alive state of Christian perfection.
The sixth and final dynamic is Love poured out. This is kenotic grace where God’s Love is poured out through us. This occurs as we come before God willing to be emptied of God’s precious Love for the sake of other people and all creation. We are then used by God as sin annihilators for other people. This is contemplation in action. This is the perfection of faith in perfect action for the glory of God.
1 “Christian Mysticism in Today’s World”, an eleven week course at The Awakening Institute, beginning on August 26th, 6:30pm at Epworth UMC. Please call 321-298-8801, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.