It’s Your Decision

It’s Your Decision.

We see the world not as it is, but as we are. So, if the world seems troubled, what does that tell us about ourselves?
Although it isn’t in this Sunday’s scriptures, one of my favorite quotes from Jesus is “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.” (Matt 6:22-23)

Generally speaking, when Jesus preaches, he tends to dwell on practical ways to sustain a relationship with God and not on philosophy, but this little quote reveals something illusively important about Jesus’ philosophy. He isn’t talking literally about your eye or eyesight. Jesus is using a metaphor to teach us that our philosophical lens will determine how we see the world and consequently what the world will become. We see the world not as it is, but as we are…

A fact that I assume is lost on most of us is that before a priest is allowed to study theology, he must first study philosophy. He must work through the foggy dispositions in which we are raised and find clarity of thought. His viewpoint for thinking about things must be purified. Then and only then is he ready to study and preach on the Word of God. I have found that a minister’s success or failure (and all of us for that matter) is usually determined during his ability to ground himself in good patterns of thought and in particular the ability to move from “either/or thinking” to “both/and thinking” — Dualistic thinking vs. non-dualistic thinking.

The difference between the two modes of thinking is where we intersect with today’s scripture readings. In today’s Second Reading, the author of the Letter to the Ephesians provides an important insight that may go unnoticed if we don’t highlight it. He wrote “For [Christ] is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity.” (Eph 2:14) To be sure, not only does this statement reveal practical advice about our relationship to God, but it also emphasizes Jesus’ philosophical view of “non-dualistic thinking.”
In the passage from Ephesians, the author was writing about a debate that occurred in the year 50 AD amongst the Apostles as to whether Jesus came for the salvation of the Jews or the non-Jews. At first, their thinking wasn’t clear and they were imbued with divisiveness. To them there was a group of “insiders” and “outsiders” but in the end, they came to know that Jesus came to “make both one,” the opposite of the devil, the diabolical (which literally means “to split, to throw across.”).

The more we study Jesus, the values he presented and even the way he thought, he constantly dismantled dualistic modes of thought. Jesus didn’t think in “either/or terms.” He preached about unity, bringing all creation into one (Colossians 1:17). He said if you want to see the Father (Creator), look to him (Jesus) for he and the Father are one (John 10:30). These are a few of the numerous examples in scripture of Jesus opposing dualistic thinking.

To be honest, the typical reflection on this Sunday’s scripture is usually about leadership. The First Reading and Gospel Reading are all about finding good leaders and not following bad ones. That is good advice and something to which we are particularly sensitive in this day and age but I think it is important first to reflect upon the non-dualism of Jesus’ message because to Jesus, the world isn’t divided into “leaders” and “non-leaders.” You are the leader. Your decisions impact the world. The mystical eye that is the “lamp” to your body (or put another way “the way you metaphorically see”) is one that either fills your soul with light or encourages the darkness.

It is not God who proposed the idea of “blue states” and “red states,” it is us. We divide people into categories of “legal” and “not legal,” people “with rights” and people “without rights.” We project into the world ideas of inequalities between race and gender. It is our perceptions of the world that divides us. It isn’t God or Christ who creates these divisions. If we begin to clear our minds and let the light in, we’ll find ourselves thinking much more like Jesus did. We’ll be much less consumed about either/or propositions and believe more fully in Christ who… makes both one. (Eph 2:14)

-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

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