Sunday, July 01, 2007

Ekklesia and the Real Church

Christ is reborn as but a little Child each time a wanderer would leave his home. For he must learn that what he would protect is but this Child, Who comes defenseless and Who is protected by defenselessness. Go home with Him from time to time today. You are as much an alien here as He. (ACIM:W-182.10)

In the first six Chapters of the text, Jesus deals with the major issues of the distortion of his message, as well as his identity, suggesting sometimes that certain Biblical passages could be open to a right minded reading, whereas in other cases he outright dismisses certain parts of the tradition about him as being obviously in error.

Later on in the Course Jesus periodically offers us passages which to the attentive reader are reinterpretations of the content of the traditions about him, which may shed new light on the original meaning behind certain traditions, Biblical as well as extra-canonical. The passage above contains one of these gems.

It should be readily apparent that the apostles in general model all of us in how we grow in our relationship with Jesus through many stumbles and foibles that constantly get in the way when we waffle and fall back into choosing the devil we knew, the ego, and let go of Jesus' loving guidance. So Simon the waffler was all of us, and to all of us Jesus said to become the rock on which he builds his "church." This was taken by some as an exhortation to go into the real estate business, but a few (as in: "All are chosen, few chose to listen.") have always understood this on a spiritual level as the spiritual community of those who follow Jesus, out of this world, to a Kingdom not of this world of which he speaks to us, if we have ears to hear.

There are some interesting details in the original text of the New Testament, namely the actual (Greek rendering of the) word which Jesus used, and which has been rendered as "church." The Greek word is actually "ekklesia," which could be rendered as "out-calling" i.e. it is the gathering of the faithful, who respond to Jesus' call to drop the work of their hands and follow him. And, like he always teaches in parables, this also needs to be understood symbolically. The "ekklesia" is the gathering which forms when we leave our "homes" in this world, to join with Jesus for the journey to our real Home in heaven. Likewise Jesus was not calling us to give up our jobs, but to give up our investment in our accomplishments in this world, by following him to the Kingdom not of this world. And that community which forms in responses to the call surely is his "ekklesia."

Now read the paragraph above one more time. Each time we (one of the sonship) leave the safety of our (substitute) homes in this world, i.e. leave behind the emotional dependence of the would-be safety in the illusion, where everything is built on quicksand, for the path that will make us into a rock of faith, in response to his calling ("ekklesia"), the Christ is reborn in us. He also reminds us again that like there was no room for the Christ child at the Inn, neither do we pregnant with the Christ child in us have a home in this world, and we cannot but follow him, back to the Home of our Father in Heaven.

Note, the basic exegesis of the proper meaning of "ekklesia" as indicated above goes back to the work of Jan Willem Kaiser, which I'm engaged in translating.

Copyright, © 2007 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

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