Friday, October 19, 2012

Spiritual Amnesia

After the Jews were delivered from their slavery in Egypt, they were warned of the danger of forgetting God when they enter the Promised Land. We read in Deuteronomy 8:11-14, 17-18:

"But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt…..

He did all this so you would never say to yourself, "I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy." Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath."

The story of the exodus of the Jews from their slavery in Egypt is a graphic description of our own spiritual journey. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to set us free from slavery to greed, pride and the fear of death. But in our materialistic and successful world, we have forgotten God - we are suffering from spiritual amnesia. St Paul has described our human condition as follows in his letter to the Romans in Chapter 1 verses 21-24:

"Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired."

We have forgotten that we are but creatures endowed with the special ability to create and not the Creator of our amazing and wonderful world. We have lost the original simplicity of man.  We need to reflect on the five enemies of true life described by Chuang Tzu:

"Love of colors bewilders the eye
And it fails to see right.
Love of harmonies bewitches the ear
And it loses its true hearing.
Love of perfumes
Fills the head with dizziness.
Love of flavors
Ruins the taste.
Desires unsettle the heart
Until the original nature runs amok.

These five are the enemies of true life.
Yet these are what "men of discernment" claim to live for.
They are not what I live for:
If this if life, then pigeons in a cage
Have found happiness!"

We have been brainwashed and corrupted by our consumeristic society that success and happiness comes from satisfying our five senses. In fact it is only when our five senses are directed towards the appreciation and awe of God's creation that we will find love, joy and peace.

The cure for spiritual amnesia is to recall what Jesus has done for us on the cross – to restore our identity as the children of God so that we can pray, Our Father Who is in Heaven.  As we do so, we will return to our Heavenly Father just as the prodigal son did when he came to his senses (Luke 15:17).  Without repentance, we cannot receive the salvation that God has given us in Jesus Christ.  But when we receive God’s gift of salvation, we will rekindle the fire of Love in our hearts.

Without the love of God, our pursuit of sanctification will lead to arrogance. Without the love of God our acts of sacrifice will only give birth to bitterness. Without the love of God, our service to and for others will become burdensome chores. Without the love of God, we turn scripture into our god and we fail to seek and obey the God of the bible.

We  need to pay attention to the Presence of God around us so that we will enjoy the beauty of God’s creation and to our listening ears, “all nature sings and around me rings the music of the spheres.” As we learn to live by the Holy Spirit we will become more aware of His activity working through and amongst us. Let us cultivate the discipline of silence and solitude so that we will abide in Christ and reap the fruit of a life that is totally surrendered to His Lordship and a mind cured of spiritual amnesia.

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