Loving God. I don’t know when I started to do so. At my earliest recollection, I always loved God. I seemed to have an awareness of God that has always been a part of me. John the Elder, in the first epistle credited that he wrote, implies that believers are born of God and have the seed of God in them in which they cannot sin (1 John 3:9). I don’t know about this. This wording seems to me to be somewhat Gnostic, as the Elder was prone to be. The propensity to sin, in either omission or commission, seems pretty ingrained in our Adamic, or human, nature. The remedy for it is not salvation by works, but salvation by faith.
That is the other trait that I was aware about God. I always wanted to trust Him.
This is sort of difficult…to trust in God…completely.
It requires not only a denial of self, as Jesus taught, but a realization of who we are as sinners apart from God’s Grace. The Greeks in their tragedies had this conflict down pretty well. They used their plays or dramas, which usually reflected an inner conflict of an individual, with what his outside world dictated to him. Two of these tragedian terms were the Greek words, agnorisis, and peripeteia.
An event of an agnorisis is the moment in Greek tragedy that a large discovery, or revelation, or insight, is found about ourselves or someone else, or about the world we live in. It involves some recognition of a proven fact, or unknown principle or law, or unknown person whose influence supersedes the other influences that we labor under.
In studying the phenomenon of epiphanies, an epiphany is much the same. An epiphany is a moment or event that occurs to you in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear manner. This word, epiphany, also comes from the Greek. It means literally, “an unveiling, or a revealing.”
About every significant personal spiritual happening across all spiritual spectrums that people have experienced, involves these facets. In my study of historical Christian conversions, this most certainly happens. It is the natural progress of leaving behind or denying the natural man, to instead, to become a spiritual person of some magnitude, as nearly all religions and religious practices teach, regardless of any link to Christianity.
The North American Indians seemed to have this down in their own fashion of sorts. They would imbibe usually of some mild hallucinogenic substance, strip down to a loin cloth, enter into a sweat lodge, and stay there until they received some revelation. Most always, they would get a new name, to designate their spiritual emergence from this trial of suffering thirst, hunger, pain, sensory deprivation, and dehydration, into an altered state of consciousness. This new name was usually associated with an animal. This animal or other phenomenon, like the shooting star which was the famous war chief Tecumseh’s sign was, became their new moniker. Thus, the many North American Indian names that we know of such as Crazy Horse, Rain-in-the-Face, Sitting Bull, et cetera, are not just at surface, interesting yet seemingly childlike type names, but designations of their spiritual piety, achievement, and empowerment. Tecumseh, for example, was an incredibly accurate Prophet in numerous instances. He predicted the New Madrid Earthquake many months before it occurred. It is said that he was accurate right down to the very day.
The other Greek tragedy term is peripeteia. A peripeteia is where the Hero learns that everything that he knows, and believes in… is wrong! As a result, the Hero quickly undergoes a spiritual meltdown and self-disintegration. However unsettling psychologically this is, because of the principle of truth involved, it is a healthy condition. When he emerges from this disintegration of his former person formed by his untrue beliefs and knowledge, he re-invents himself by amending his character and personality according to the new paradigm in his life. A “reversal of fortune” happens.
As it can be construed, this event of peripeteia is somewhat more traumatic and more profound than that of an agnorisis or epiphany, although it may involve the same elements initially. In popular accounts of “born again” Christian conversions, or conversions that approximate such, or are described as such, a type of peripeteia is what occurs.
A good example of this, is the conversion of Saul on the Damascus Way.
Christ appeared to him in the noon-day when the sun was at its highest. Despite the bright sun at its noonday peak, another light enveloped Saul. The intensity of the light focused on him, it seemed to Saul, although others in his traveling party saw it. This particular light was so brilliant, that it forced Saul to the ground as it was blinding. Once he fell to the ground, a Voice said to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” It is common in oriental language of the Middle East at that time to repeat a name twice quickly in succession, to gain clear attention. Saul immediately replied, “Who are you, Lord?” To which the response was: “I am Jesus of Nazareth, who you persecute.”
You can imagine this: you are going to Damascus and on its outskirts, bearing authority to capture, imprison and perhaps to kill the fanatical believers of a Jesus of Nazareth who threaten to bring down the ire of the Romans upon the Jewish polity of which you are a loyal member of, being a Pharisee. You are doing the right thing, you believe, in getting rid of this plague of false belief among these misguided loonies. But, the next instant, you are confronted with a spiritual revelation of such import that it changes your life completely. You are sensory-deprived, you cannot see. Then, you undergo a fast and a time of prayer or spiritual seeking for further spiritual guidance in which you, in addition to not being able to see, do not drink or eat for three days. In a space then, of about 96 hours, you are undergoing a complete overhaul from the person that you were.
Back to Saul, who in his spiritual or third eye, sees a vision of a man named Ananias coming to him in which Ananias will lay his hands on Saul, and receive his sight again. Ananias will also give Saul some instructions on being born of the water and of the Spirit. After Saul obeys and is baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit, he immediately tries to join his Christian brethren by preaching Christ in their synagogues. His amended conduct is so opposite his former, that his former benefactors feel betrayed and want to kill him. Many of his new friends do not trust him. Hence, Saul has to flee and go underground for awhile. Saul later writes that he spent three years in Arabia, waiting and ministering upon God.
Finally, Saul emerges at the church in Antioch. Here, Saul is called to be “separate” along with Barnabas. He is now, “sent.” This event of divine commission or “sending,” warrants a “name change.” Saul is now called “Paul.” This new name becomes fixed when Paul consigns a sorcerer, living in Paphos, who tries to confront Paul with magic, with “blindness,” which was Saul’s/Paul’s former handicap. Whether this is only coincidental or part of the Law of Coincidences, the Bible account does not elaborate.
Yep, this sounds like a complete reversal. The hero Saul, becomes our Hero Paul. A complete transformation is effected and Paul has an amazing reversal of fortune.
This is one of the Bible accounts of conversion of what the Greeks would describe as peripeteia.
This is what we need… to love God truly is to deny ourselves. To love God is to trust Him when our agnorisis, or epiphany, or better yet, our peripeteia occurs to us.
Of course, Jesus as his practice or wont was, made this a simpler matter. He simply said, after denying ourselves, to “take up your Cross, and follow Me.” To be sure, when we take up our cross, something similar will happen along the lines of a further conversion if we continue to follow Christ. It is inevitable. The cross always signifies a crucible.
A crucible is not just a test, trial, or suffering that engages all of our senses, focus and strength. It is also a place in which different elements interact to produce something NEW.
Jesus also emphasized the quality of “new wine” into our spiritual dialogue to understand the Christian experience.
In order for the fruit of the vine, or juice, to be preserved, as there was no refrigeration in Christ’s day, it had to undergo a chemical breakdown and then, transformation, to be made into a preserved beverage called wine. It had to be fermented. Fermentation is an interesting process. It gives off heat and light, and involves effervescence. In other words, this effervescence gives off energy as seen in its bubbly fizz and vivacity. Sugars are converted into alcohol. The whole process requires a good deal of agitation until the desired result is achieved.
Isn’t this “agitation” what I have been writing about? Isn’t it some kind of agitation from our former selves that we can become something more, and better? The whole fermentation process then is akin to our spiritual conversion.
At the Wedding in Cana, Jesus introduced the “good wine” which was introduced toward the end of the wedding feast. This is the type of wine symbolically that Jesus introduced in the New Covenant or Testament. The “good wine” is preferred over any other. We can expect more “good wine” at the near of the end of this age, or during the “wedding Feast,” as called for by Joel the Prophet. Joel called this the Latter Rain.
You can see then, the many types, parallels, and truths being brought out, emphasized, and explained in many different terms and applications about real and true conversion and its deep effects.
As you can discern, God puts a lot of stock in our conversion, as Christ did too in the example of his testimony to Nicodemus.
Wouldn’t it be great to be a real hero instead of just what the media portrays that the public consumes?
They say our youth is disillusioned and lack purpose in life. They are not being challenged by Virtue… They are being destroyed by living only for their immediate carnal senses, sensual pleasure and unguided ambitions. There is no greater or higher purpose than the noble act of a living faith and its consequence: a change in character in which an elevation of mind and magnanimity is achieved from which true benevolence toward our neighbor, and our God, is demonstrated.
Yep. There is that “loving God” dynamic again. No one really can get away from it. John the Elder stated, “We love Him,” why? “Because he first loved us.” (1 John 5:19)
When we experience the conversion and its experience that God has for us, then we love God more than we can ever love ourselves. It truly is “so great a salvation.” (Hebrews 2:3)
It all starts with one step. One step of faith. The journey of faith will guarantee a “reversal of person and fortune.”
Are you up to this challenge?
Thanks for reading.
Copyrighted. Joseph Spickard, 2013. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this intellectual property without prior permission from the author is prohibited.