Well, hello friends,
welcome to week three, our conclusion for Jesus and Buddha. This is Ask A Buddhist Sunday, and we are going to in a few
minutes welcome Peter Timmerman and have an interview with
him for a few minutes, and then after that I’m
going to walk through a passage of scripture with
us, and then we’ll be done. But through this series we
have been wanting to establish that this kind of dialogue,
this kind of comparison when we focus on both
similarities and differences is really healthy. We do a couple of things
when we compare and contrast our faith with other worldviews, and it gives us an opportunity to learn about other worldviews,
which is just good, it’s good to learn about
what people believe and how they approach it, and sometimes it’s really
distinct and really different, and that helps us appreciate human beings and understand what are
driving motivating forces in people’s lives, that’s always healthy. But it also helps us to learn
about our own faith more, we understand the teachings of Jesus and the way of Jesus as Christians, we understand that better
when we are able to compare and see similarities and differences. And we have pointed out as Os Guinness, the American philosopher, says, that comparison is the
mother of all clarity. It really can help sharpen our focus and bring about clarity as we do that, and we’ve also said that when
we study Jesus and Buddha we can choose our focus. We could tend to focus
on just the similarities in the middle, and many people do, especially in interfaith dialogue, or we could just choose to argue and focus on our differences, but we have wanted to
model doing both very well as well as we can, looking at our similarities
and our differences with as little drama as possible and a great amount of
charity and acceptance, knowing that acceptance and agreement aren’t necessarily the same thing. And so throughout this series
I think we’ve been doing this, and today we’re gonna have
a chance to do that live with our show and tell Buddhist for today, would you welcome with me Peter Timmerman. Thanks for being here, Peter. (audience applauds) So glad that you are here, thanks for doing this.
– Show and tell Buddhist? – Show and tell Buddhist,
it just came out. I brought a guest today, to church. So (laughs) we wanna hear
about your story first of all, you come from a Christian
background, converted to Buddhism, tell us a bit about
your spiritual journey. – Okay, first of all, I
would like to just say how astonishing we find
this whole community, it’s the most amazing group that we’ve run across in a long time. My wife who is here, who is a
much better Buddhist than I am we are just, and we’ve been
treated incredibly well, and it’s just really, we’re
quite blown away by it all. – Oh, that’s lovely, thank you. – My story, I started off as a vague, mayonnaise-like Anglican,
and– (audience laughs) – There’s high Anglican, low Anglican, and mayonnaise Anglican.
– Yes, that’s it. (audience laughs) The low fat variety. And in my 20s and so on I went through a terrible relationship and
was a really awful person, and at some point I really, really hated all forms of religion, and
particularly Christianity, but over time I became
sort of drawn back in to some form of spiritual life, which may be true for some of you as well, and I started looking at all the different religious traditions. Islam, spent time in mosques and temples, Hinduism, traveled around
parts of the world, was in monasteries in various places, and I think that one of the things about the big world religions is that they have different qualities, so Christianity has
Protestantism and Catholicism and various other, and I think there’s a kind
of a tone or a quality that draws you to a
particular religious tradition and the feel for it,
whether it’s high ritual, or no ritual, or whatever it might be, and I was just drawn to
the Buddhist tradition, and have been one for over 30 years or so. And the great irony is that having been a Buddhist for this long quite early on I became
really intrigued about, this Christianity is more interesting than I had thought it was
while I was living through it, and so I’ve become much more
interested in Christianity, and particularly in Jesus, as
I know which is central to you as a figure, as a spiritual teacher, and the same is true of
the other world religious, so Buddhism is what led me to be much more interested in Christianity. – That’s fascinating,
and knowing your story meditation and mindfulness
played a big part in helping you through those early years and then continuing to grow. Tell us a bit more about
the power of meditation within the Buddhist tradition. – Well, the Buddhist
tradition is very strong on clear mindfulness, but a clear focus on the things of the world, your coffee cup, and this experience and so on,
and the reason for that is, and the only way of doing
this is to do a demonstration, sword fighting, we’ll
do this in martial arts. We’ll do a sword fight?
– All right. (mimics metal clanging) – Anyway, et cetera, and let’s suppose we’re at the same level, more or less, although I’m
better than he is, anyway. – I’m a pacifist. (audience laughs) – That’s true.
– There is no sword. Anyway.
(audience laughs and claps) – So, apart from
intellectual sword fighting, we’ll do the, so, we’re
here sword fighting, and there may come, and
we’re rolling along here, we’re in the flow of doing this, trying to keep in clutch with it and at some point I might go, hey wait a minute, I
could get killed here, and the moment that I could
go, I could get killed here, is the moment that he goes
(mimics flesh squelching) and kills me. There’s this sort of slow glue, in Japanese martial
arts it’s called tsuki, and it’s a kind of gluishness which opens up a gap that he
can come in and kill me with. – So when you’re distracted by the thought of your own mortality that’s when you lose the flow, and actually bring it about.
– Exactly, exactly. And in the Buddhist tradition this is, ’cause I’m trying to protect myself from getting killed or
whatever it might be, and in the Buddhist tradition
this idea of protecting myself is a paradox, because in
the Buddhist tradition there is no such thing
as a permanent self, there isn’t a thing that
can actually be protected from the changes of the world, in the Buddhist tradition there is no immortal, invulnerable
place where I can hide. Everything is interdependent
and everything is connected, and because of that, when,
in the Buddhist tradition when I go for things, when
I’m grasping at things, when I’m looking at the world, when I’m having a relationship with Bruxy, whatever it might be, it
gets poisoned and polluted because there’s a kind of self
egoism associated with it, whether I’m trying to manipulate or whatever it is that I’m trying to do. So in the Buddhist tradition
the whole idea of awakening, in the Buddhist tradition
the Buddha means awakening, is to awaken from this gluey
attachment to the world and to all things, and if
you can get rid of that then you can actually begin
to see things in the world clearer and more transparent and you can find out what they really are because you’re no longer in the way, you’re no longer standing in the way of the way that things are. So in the Buddhist tradition,
meditation is really important because it’s something that you can do by following something as
simple as your breathing, because your breathing is weird. Breathing is both
voluntary and involuntary, ’cause you can make decisions about it, but if you can sit and
follow your breathing you can slowly but surely, over
maybe long periods of time, you can actually finally breathe, you can do it without all
your mind working away, without all the other things, without going hey, I’m a great
Buddha, or whatever it might, you can actually just
have that experience. Mindfulness is taking
the meditation practice and doing it in everyday life, so that whatever it is what you do to begin with you follow this
glueyness that we all have, when I’m being distracted or I’m trying to do five things at once, or I’m in the middle of some big problem and I can’t actually do whatever it is that I’m supposed to be doing, and so I’m not really actually here, I’m not really experiencing it, so in the Zen tradition we talk about when you’re washing the
dishes, wash the dishes, don’t do all the 12 other things that you’re supposed to be doing because you miss the experience of actually washing the dishes, and this is true about our life in general is that we’re not actually here much, we’re somewhere else where we think, well, maybe I’ll get back
to here at some point but it’s actually, we spend
very little time actually here, and that’s part of my mindfulness
in the Buddhist tradition, which is to get us back to what
it is to be really here now. – It seems as though in a world like ours where we are so distracted just the psychological
benefit of focused attention is like a muscle to be
exercised like any other muscle, that that mental capability is something that will serve us well. – Absolutely, absolutely. – Now, meditation is common throughout all kinds of Buddhism, but
there are other differences especially in some of the belief systems of different forms of Buddhism. Let’s talk about that. Different kinds of Buddhism, give us the quick, the
magical mystery tour of types of Buddhism.
– Okay. The original Buddhism, as with the Christian tradition, it’s interesting that
one of the similarities is that there’s kind of an oral tradition, and then they were put
together into teachings, or more ordered, and
the same thing happened in the Buddhist tradition, and in fact, it’s actually
true with the Greek tradition with Socrates and Plato, there’s these three incredible figures, including Socrates, where
their teachings are oral and then they were written down and then there are issues about that, and all the churches arise, and the same thing is true
in the Buddhist tradition, and the earliest part of
the Buddhist tradition the early teachings, which we kinda have to
work our way through what are the actual earliest teachings, exactly the same thing that
people do in Christian theology, and it evolved. Buddhism evolved from a way of
thinking about enlightenment and awakening in the Buddhist tradition which was called the Theravada tradition, it’s the tradition that
is used in Sri Lanka and in other places in Southeast Asia, but the tradition evolved
a little bit over time and the thing what made it evolve was as I understand that you work on is to think about Jesus more
deeply and more interestingly, same thing was true with
the Buddhist tradition, is people stopped, they
didn’t stop, but they were less interested in the teachings as why is the Buddha doing
it, who is the Buddha, why did the Buddha not
go into enlightenment and keep coming back and teaching, what does it mean to be
a teacher, and so on, so in the later part of
the Buddhist tradition this became associated with the idea that, and as I said earlier, if there’s no permanent self
in the Buddhist tradition, in our tradition we don’t
believe in a permanent, fixed, invulnerable self that’s
protected from everything, that means that if that’s true and everything is interconnected
and interdependent because they flow into each other and can’t actually be protected from it, that means that there’s no way that I can be individually enlightened. ’cause if I’m interdependent, everybody has to come with me. Bruxy has to come with me,
you have to come with me if we’re all gonna be
enlightened together. In the Buddhist tradition
the understanding of that, the awakening to the interdependence of all things and all beings is associated with a
figure in the tradition called the bodhisattva. The bodhisattva is a figure
who could go into nirvana, which is part of the Buddhist notion about removing ourselves from this world, could do that, but not
only can’t, doesn’t do that and turns around and
comes back into the world, but actually really underneath it all can’t do it all by himself or herself because they understand that all things have to become enlightened together. – Let me just rephrase what you’re saying to make sure that I’m tracking, before we move on.
– I’m getting confusing. – No, no, it’s great. So if you achieve enlightenment but you’re heading into nirvana to have the blowing out experience, then that would seem to
be predicated on the idea that you are an individual who can go and do that
apart from the rest of us, so if Buddha’s understanding
is that there is no true self, then the idea of a single
self achieving enlightenment and achieving nirvana is something that the concept of the bodhisattva
pushes back against. – Absolutely.
– Says no, no one person experiences nirvana until we all do, because there’s no individual self. – That was evolution of
the Buddhist tradition, it evolved, and it was
there in the origin, you can see in the beginning,
you can see it there, it just took some time
for people to consider it. And so in the Buddhist tradition there is this idea of bodhisattvas, and bodhisattvas, your tradition
would probably be saints and other figures like that, and these are beings
that are here to help you become awakened and enlightened, and they are beings who
might be your best friend, they might be people who you know who are just wonderful people, they could be your dog or your cat that is helping you through your every day and is a secret bodhisattva. Bodhisattvas are not just human beings, and in fact, in the Buddha’s early lives he was all kinds of things,
he was tree spirits, and animals that gave themselves to other animals that were starving, and these are children’s tales in the general Buddhist
tradition called Jataka tales. So this idea of a bodhisattva figure, someone who is there struggling to help everyone towards enlightenment, is a central teaching of the Buddhist tradition
that I belong to, which is called the
Zen Buddhist tradition, and other traditions,
the Tibetan tradition, the Pure Land tradition, and others that are really in places
like China, Korea, Japan, and now North America,
and Europe, and so on. – I think my next dog
name is gonna be Bodhi. (everyone laughs) So, that especially is popular within Pure Land Buddhism.
– Yes. – The idea of the bodhisattva, Tibetan Buddhism associated
with the Dalai Lama, Zen, which is your background. Talk about the koan and
its role in meditation, how is Zen Buddhism
different in that regard? – Well, Zen Buddhism
is like Protestantism, if you know your tradition,
it’s an attempt to get back to the beginning of the tradition. The beginning of the Buddhist
tradition is very powerful awakening experiences that
don’t require monasticism and ritual and so on, we
have very good teachings from the very beginning
of the Buddhist tradition where people become awakened, as it were the universe rips open and they can see the fundamental
nature of things and so on, and so the Zen tradition, which was a kind of a hybrid of Daoism, which is a Chinese philosophy,
and the original Buddhism, is to try to go back to
those original teachings, and it’s a very spare, sparse tradition, and it had a real vogue in the west in the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s, and still has, and captured me. And now many people are Tibetan Buddhists or interested in Tibetan Buddhism, partly because of the story
of the Dalai Lama and so on. Tibetan Buddhism is a very
rich and flamboyant tradition, much richer and they have cooler costumes than the Zen Buddhists do, but the tradition is
still underlying that, it’s still the same underlying Buddhism, bodhisattva Buddhism, and in the Zen tradition we are very strongly committed to, again, this idea of
not muddying your mind, of not messing with your mind. And so in order for that to work, paradoxically they introduced
this thing called koans which are designed to freeze your mind, and the example that I used many years ago was about slides getting
struck on a slide projector, but no one has slide projectors anymore so I can’t use that, so then I updated it and I went, well, it’s like a CD in a CD player, then I went, oh my God,
I’m so old, you know, so yeah, so that’s a problem. But it is this idea of being frozen, and the koans are puzzles that
kind of stick in the mind, and in the Zen tradition
if you go to a Zen teacher, if you’re foolish enough to wanna do that, you go to a Zen teacher and you will sit down with a Zen teacher and the Zen teacher will
go, what is your koan? And they will give you a koan, they will look you up
and down and go, hmm, this guy is a narcissist
and he needs to deal with his narcissism, so we’ll give him a koan, and the koan would be, quick, without thinking good,
without thinking evil, what was your original face
before your parents were born? – I’m havin’ brain freeze. What was, without thinking
good, without thinking evil, what was your original face
before your parents were born? – [Peter] It’s called original face. – And that’s a koan that I
would then take away with me and begin to problem solve. – Yeah, and it could take you years, ’cause it may be your
fundamental question, the question that you
– So it would be the focus of my meditation, would
be to use that koan. – You would sit there with your koan, you’d go all right, original face, sit on your mat, and work
on it for the next while. And you’d do it for maybe a week or so, and then you go to the Zen teacher and go, and he’d say what’s your koan? And you’d go, it’s original face. It goes, what’s your answer, and you go– – [Bruxy] Come up with something I think is snappy and interesting – And the Zen master would
go, please go away, just, and then you’d have to go away for awhile, and then try again another week, and it’s a process and it can
take a long, long, long time, I speak from personal experience, to get past your attempt
to be a smart ass. – Hmm, hmm. (audience laughs) Well, I need to meditate
more. (both laugh) – Don’t we all. – Okay, so this is a
fascinating form of spirituality that, again, if you’ve
grown up within the church it’s like visiting a different culture, right, visiting a foreign land and saying, this is very
different in so many ways, and the approach and the
motivation behind it is different. – But.
– Yes? – Jesus is a master of koans, Jesus is one of the great
koan teachers of all time. Let he who is without sin
among you cast the first stone. – It freezes what they’re doing, arrests– – And they’re stuck.
– Right. – Like, they wanted to
get Jesus to say this or they wanted Him to say that, He goes (mimics explosion)
through the middle. – We might see some parables
within that category. – Absolutely, great Zen teachers. “Who do people say that I am?” Great koan. So, it’s a perfect original face koan. Who do people say that I am? It’s a koan.
– Neat, all right. More a part of our culture than I thought. All right, good. I’ve got a few more questions. Hm, for the sake of time let’s do a couple of rapid fire questions, we won’t be able to get to all of them. Some of these are questions, I put some of them in your program, they’re questions that people have sent in over the last couple of
weeks of this series. Let’s see, so here’s one. You and I have covered this
in conversation before. Have I mentioned that
there is a podcast of this in this third service? I haven’t mentioned this yet. There is an hour long,
we’ve already recorded an over hour long conversation about many of these things and beyond, and so if you wanna different deeper, if you feel like ah, this
just scratched the surface, it’s intended to scratch the surface and for those of you who wanna dig deeper look for the Meeting House Roundtable which is a podcast that gives us more time just to take about anything, so in the latest, the
Meeting House Roundtable which is posted this week it will have Peter and I
talking for over an hour about many of these things. So here’s one. How do you respond to the person who says, karma
– Karma. – Can end up re-victimizing the victim? So when a person goes through tragedy, a strict understanding of karma would say that has come upon you because
you have done something to bring it upon yourself. How does a Buddhist push
back against that accusation? – Well, I have to say a
little bit about karma, the history of karma. Karma is an idea that is an
early Hindu, proto-Hindu idea. The Buddha came into that tradition, and like parts of the Christian tradition have carried around things
from the previous tradition, and in the Buddhist tradition karma is not the same thing, it’s not a physical, mechanical process that it was in the early Hindu tradition, and in fact it has to
do with intentionality and various other things, and the whole idea behind original karma was that you had a public
event among a tribe, and this public event would be a ritual, and the ritual, it has
to be done properly, because its pattern is the same as the pattern of the universe, it’s like doing a lock on a key, and if you tripped coming up the stairs or you spat into the sacrament
or something like that, that’s karma, it’s a kind of a pollution that is added to you, and the pattern of the
universe is called the dharma. As this moved from being
a public tribal ritual into the urban areas, which is when the Buddha
and other teachers arrived, it moved into a personal realm, and this personal realm is personal karma, where your life has got troubles, and these troubles may
have some patterned, some connection to the
pattern of the universe that you’re not actually
working appropriately with, and then you have a dharma,
and your dharma is your way, called the svadharma in this tradition. So one of the things about
the Buddhist tradition is to try and wrestle
with this idea of karma, ’cause that was what it came from, so part of it has to
do with whether or not someone’s karma, immediate karma, the karma of today, karma of right now, is in the flow or against the flow of the pattern of the universe. But that’s different than saying in a previous lifetime
I was a bad cockroach, so in this lifetime I get to
be a professor, or vice versa, and that is a issue in
the Buddhist tradition about whether or not, question, for example, if
I have no permanent self, what gets reborn? And the Buddhist tradition talks about being reborn and so on. And the only answer that
I have as a Zen Buddhist, Zen Buddhism doesn’t care about karma, Zen Buddhism is more about
sitting on your damn mat and actually, you know,
achieving enlightenment. The Buddha was quite famous
for people coming to him and saying, how is the
universe, why is there, what happens after death, how did the universe begin, and so on, and the Buddha constantly says, this is not conducive to enlightenment. The reason why you’re
asking these questions is you’re not actually
focusing on your real problems, you wanna find out how the universe began instead of actually going
home and fixing your marriage, or whatever it might be, and the Buddha is very clear about that. The Buddha’s focus has always been on this is what suffering is, this is the origins of suffering, this is how it ceases, and this is where enlightenment would come if you stop operating in a world of selfish, egotistical grasping. And if you stop doing that, you will become closer and closer to enlightenment and awakening, and worrying about how the universe began is a waste of your time. – Hm, so within the Zen tradition there are many questions that may sound insightful
and wise and thoughtful that someone could come and
say, yes, but what about this? And the response would be to discern you’re using those questions
to distract yourself from what you need to be doing, go sit on your damn mat and meditate. – Yeah, absolutely.
– Yeah. – And the tradition is very clear, is that people pretended to be enlightened and were monks, like, oh I can
sit and meditate all the time and I can answer your great koans, and then the Buddha would go, just shut up and go away,
go back to your mat. – By the way, I’m gonna be using that for all of my answers during Q&Ehs from now on at a Sunday. But Bruxy, what about this? Just sit in your damn chair and be quiet. (audience laughs) – Pray.
– And pray, just pray. That’s right. Pray that we just said damn three times, now four times in a
Sunday morning service. Please, save your cards
and letters, thank you. (audience laughs)
I’m only in respect quoting my dear Buddhist friend. Hey, we’ve got time for one more question. So, core message of Buddhism summed up. We talk about the gospel,
the good news of Jesus, that He has come to reconcile us with God and put our broken
relationship back together, what is the gospel, in
a sense, of Buddhism, what’s the one core message of the Buddha? – The Buddha’s core message is that we are dreaming most of the time and we are dreaming all the time, and that the Buddha means to be awakened, to awaken to the world as it truly is, and the way of doing that
is to sit on your mat and, you know, learn how to meditate and
do all that, and wake up! (audience laughs) – It worked, it worked. Thank you Peter. (audience
cheers and applauds) You are now more awake
than you have ever been in a Sunday service at the
Meeting House, fantastic. So now, hopefully you won’t fall asleep while I walk through
a passage of scripture for a few minutes before we wrap up. If you have your Bibles,
open them to 2 Peter 1, 2 Peter 1, that’s where we’re headed, and we’re gonna spend just
about 10 minutes or so looking at this before we
draw the service to a close. We thought we would choose a
passage by the Apostle Peter as in honor of our guest
and his namesake today. Peter is one of the apostles, and we have a couple of
letters from him in our Bible. 2 Peter 1. As we head there, let me remind you of something that Jesus said. Jesus said this to the Apostle Paul. He said to him, and Paul records it in the book of 2 Corinthians, Jesus says, My grace
is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. A few observations before we
look at the Peter passage. First of all, grace is at
the center of everything. From our understanding,
from our worldview, a personal God doing for us
what we cannot do for ourselves through any religion, including and especially
the Christian religion, that there’s no system of salvation, there is only simple faith or trust in God giving us a gift of grace. And Jesus saying My grace
is sufficient for you, it’s enough for you, you don’t need to add
to it, this is enough, for My power is made perfect in weakness. There is a power that we can receive, a power of grace, grace is a
kind of empowerment as well, but it’s made perfect in weakness. Now, we live within a
culture, in a society where strength is seen as a value, and weakness is something
to be embarrassed or ashamed about, and this is just not so, for in the paradigm of Jesus
that gets turned on its head. Jesus became weak, the omnipotent, almighty became finite and weak by comparison, but that was not Him becoming
bad, it was a change. God created Adam and Eve in
His image, in His likeness, but we were certainly weaker
versions in the image of God, but that didn’t make us bad, He pronounced all of creation good. Think of what we’re saying when we assume that weakness is bad but power and strength is good, are we saying that men
are better than women ’cause they’re stronger than women? Are we saying that children
are inferior to adults because they are weaker than adults? No, in the Christian understanding,
in the way of Christ, weakness is not something to
be ashamed of or put aside, it is another valuable way of being human, and in fact it may be the greater strength because it opens us up to God’s strength. If you feel hollowed out, if you feel that something in life has just
left you with a hole inside, that weakness and that
hole can create space for God to pour in more of
His power, more of His grace, and it is then our hope that we gather together as
a community of weakness, as a community of the broken where we create safe spaces
for us to be real and authentic and not come to church having to pretend we’ve got it all together, but rather to say no, in my weakness I can experience more of the power of God, which is His grace, and
that’ll be sufficient for me. Jesus had said this to Paul, and Peter picks up on something
very similar to this, then, in this passage of 2 Peter 1. He’s writing to the church and he begins by saying,
this is Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. I both am a serving one and
I am a sent one, by Jesus. We serve and we are sent,
that’s his identity here. To those who through the
righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ
have received a faith as precious as ours. He’s saying you have a
precious faith as we do, and you’ve received that through the righteousness of our God. The righteousness of God can sound like a very religious,
almost intimidating concept. We equate it with judgment
in our minds sometimes. He is righteous and holy,
therefore He will judge us. But in the paradigm of Jesus the righteousness of God
speaks, again, of grace, that we do not have to achieve the righteousness of ourselves, it is not the righteousness
of Bruxy, for instance, that fits me for heaven and
for relationship with God, and when I am righteous enough, no, it is the righteousness
of God that He gives to me, it is His righteousness that
He gives to me as a gift that makes me right for heaven, that makes me right for
relationship with God now. It’s pure grace. And so he talks about
the righteousness of God, and then the very next verse, well what’s the first word he uses? Grace. Grace is, it’s all tied together
now in the mind of Peter. Grace and peace be yours in abundance, through the knowledge of
God and of Jesus our Lord. When we allow Jesus to
show us what God is like, we are introduced to a different God than we will experience any other way. As we’ve said before, we look at nature and we get mixed signals, is the God who created
this stuff really creative? Yes. Is He also mean spirited, ’cause there’s a lot
of suffering out there? Hmm, what about if we parachute in to different chunks of the Bible, or other religions, we get mixed signals, is God a good guy or a bad guy? Until we allow Jesus to show us the clear picture of what God looks like, until we know that, as Peter says here, through the knowledge of
God and of Jesus our Lord, that will be the way that
we have grace and peace which he has said here in verse 2. We will get to see, oh
that’s what God is like, He’s like Jesus. That is a much more
welcoming universe to live in where God looks like Jesus, and Jesus is in His
embrace of the outcasts and His non-retaliatory enemy love He shows us the great patience
and grace of God Himself. And then in verse 3, it says,
His divine power has given, notice the past tense, already done, His divine power has given
us everything we need for a godly life through
our knowledge of Him, who called us by His
own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises so that through them you may,
and here, I love this line, that you may participate
in the divine nature. That you may participate
in the divine nature. What does it mean for us to participate in the very nature of God? Our orthodox friends
in the orthodox church have a doctrine built around this phrase called the doctrine of theosis. Theosis is pointing forward to what we hope to experience one day, full engagement in, absorption into, participation with the triune
love-life of God Himself. We don’t become God, but we become fully embraced by the love-life of God. But we are also called
to live that life now, to lean into our own future, to begin to participate in
the love-life of God now. Theosis is the doctrine, and the Greek words are literally koinonos theos physis,
koinonos theos physis, from koinonia, which means a partnership or a rich and deep fellowship,
with God’s own nature. This is where we’re headed, but it’s how we can
begin to live right now in light of our own future. And then there’s the rest
of that verse of 2 Peter 1, and that’s all that we’ll
touch on before we close is the rest of that verse, you may participate in the divine nature having escaped the
corruption in the world, we’ve escaped the corruption in the world, caused by, some translations
will say just desire, and some will say evil desire,
and some will say lusts. There’s no word for evil
there, translators put that in, it’s just the Greek word for
an inappropriate strong desire and sometimes gets translated
lust depending on the context. Desire in itself is not wrong, it depends on what or who we desire, and often we, in this world of corruption, we desire and we attach
ourselves to things that, and here borrowing from the
language of our Buddhist friends things that are impermanent,
that are transient, and we try and attach ourselves to them so that our ego can be increased. If I just own this, I’ll feel better, not about that, really, I’ll be feeling better
about me, it’s about me expanding my own identity by looping my identity
around the stuff that I own. When I drive in this car, I’m just cooler and I feel better about myself. If I could have that house
or that relationship, then I will become something
more than I am now, and when our ego is
desperately reaching out for these things, in the
end we don’t even appreciate the things when we have them, because after the initial hit, the initial rush of
acquisition, of acquiring, the thrill begins to die down and we start to move on to the next hit. And so I’ve got this thing
and I will become better and I will have, and then I have it, and I don’t say, ah,
there, I’m set for life. It’s not long afterward
that we start to say, actually, I want that, and a new shiny toy starts to attract us. These desires catch us
into a world of corruption, says Peter here, and the
antidote to that is theosis, is finding our full satisfaction
in the love-life of God, in being in fellowship
with the divine nature with the God who is love, God is love. So I wanna invite us to, as
we move toward a conclusion, consider where we are in
our own spiritual journey, and are we in a place
where we find ourselves maybe grasping after other things, or other relationships for satisfaction, and then maybe dumping them and moving on to the next shiny toy because, really, it says
more about our ego issues and our lack of focus
on what’s most important rather than saying something
about that other person, that other relationship,
or that other possession. And I think as we think about doing this we can also build a mental bridge to that concept of the
bodhisattvas, who in staying, and again, it’s not a complete parallel, but they are staying in this life so that they can help others, help others achieve enlightenment. Within the Buddhist tradition, then, the bodhisattva is in
your life to help you, not just away by themselves
meditating so they can obtain, they’ve already obtained enlightenment and are now, instead of
being absorbed into nirvana are coming back to help us. And so what I think is a
great mental hook for us is that we are called to
that kind of mentality, not just saying what’s in it for me? How can I go to heaven when I die? But actually, how can I make the most of every opportunity now to help others move towards the truth? The Apostle Peter also
said in his first letter, in 1 Peter 4, each of you should use whatever gifts you have received, each of you should use
whatever gift you have received to serve others, as
faithful, and here’s the line that we love around here,
stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. We are actually managing, stewarding, helping apportion out the
very grace of God in our lives that we are receiving,
not to keep for ourselves, so that we can share
with others around us, which is what the
bodhisattva is called to do. And so I would love to
invite us to be a people who are recommitted to leaning
into suffering, not away, to being mindful of people
around us who are hurting, who need the grace of God, and to lean into their life
as those who will help, and who will encourage,
and who will bring that. And maybe for some of us
that’s just talking more about what we believe is the good news, the goodest news of all good news’s, that’s the gospel of Jesus, and talking about that
more freely with others. Maybe our starting point will be to have conversations
where we ask more questions and we listen and we learn, and we grow in showing grace to others even in how we listen to them. We have an epidemic of
just not being listened to within our culture, people
feeling like they don’t matter, and maybe one of the
ways you grace someone before you try and tell
them what you believe is simply to listen and learn about what they believe, or who they are, or what’s going on in their life. And another way that we can
apportion out God’s grace is just by being with, I
mean fully engaged with and being with, especially
those people who are hurting, and being authentically
there without the pretense. And then maybe there are some of you who are not Christians,
and are just considering, what do I believe, where am
I on the spiritual spectrum? And we also wanna pray that this becomes a safe place for you to
consider your own faith journey, and we would love to answer any questions you have about Jesus,
and invite you to walk in the Jesus word direction. So what I wanna pray is
that wherever we are, that we take the next step
in our spiritual life, whatever that may be. Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, I’m
grateful for Your grace poured out to us in a variety of ways through a variety of people. I thank You that I have
received Your grace so generously through people in my life, some that are close to me, and some who might just in a kind word on a day when I’m down have poured so much goodness and kindness into my experience, and I pray we would not only be mindful of the ways that You pour Your grace into our lives through others, but we would become open vessels, eager to carry that grace into the lives of others as well, that we would be stewards of Your grace. I thank You, how You
have also graced my life through those who are both Christians and who are not Christians, and who are people of other
faiths and other worldviews. I thank You for Peter and for his life, and we pray Your blessing
upon him and Elaine, and we pray that as time moves forward that You’ll give us the grace to really hear, and
listen, and understand, challenge and debate,
and embrace one another. Father, thank You for being
a part of Your family today, it’s been good to be together, in Your name I pray, amen.