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Standing Between Egypt and the Promised Land

Why does Christianity seem progressively dead?

By that I mean: you first encounter the Bible, the new genres, the doctrine, the new reality of it, the truth of it, you read it complete, several times, you get your arms around on-the-mark doctrine, then... Then what? Then you pick up the same Bible and it seems like old ground that has been covered, with nothing left to offer. Been there, done that.

At the same time whereas before your life seemed to be somewhat alive with a sense of higher meaning, higher contact, perhaps even some events suggesting contact with higher beings, angels, then... God seems to go silent. No guidance. No communication. You pray, you plead, when in dire straights, and...nothing. Hello?

This all occurs over a many year period, but it arrives. At least for me it arrived.

So, again, why does Christianity seem progressively dead? I.e. why over time does the entire process of coming into the faith seem to lose energy, or a sense of something active and higher world about it?

The common response from the more shallow corners of Christian environments would be something like: Stop looking for a burning bosom experience, you enthusiast! Eat your crackers, drink your grape juice, you are nothing and Christianity is supposed to be ordinary!

I'll answer my own question (then, in an additional note below, I'll give a higher level answer)...

Perhaps that very feeling of being cast onto a deserted landscape, surrounded by silence, seeming silence, is the very feeling of real development going on inside a follower of Christ.

Notice that feeling of abandonment and silence in a desolate landscape is very much not the feeling one had when dead asleep (prior to regeneration) in the world where everything is a light show of illusion and empty temptation and a mindless chasing after the worthless.

It would follow that when a person wakes up to their real situation that it will seem depressing in all the common ways we think of depression. We wake up to the fact that we are in kind of a bad situation. A fallen nature within, living in a fallen world. We are seeing good and evil (mostly evil) clearly now. It's like waking up to realize you're in a prison surrounded by violent lunatics. You're now on the spiritual battlefield. Who wants to be on a battlefield, of any nature?

But you can't go back to sleep.

You're standing between Egypt and the Promised Land.

You can only go forward.

Here is the higher level answer: You can't pour new wine into old bottles. The metaphor in the Gospels is about a leather 'bottle' that holds wine and so on. But see it this way: your being (i.e. your level of being) is like a glass. It is of a certain size. Because it is of a fixed size you can only pour so much wine (knowledge/understanding) into the glass. To increase your level of understanding you have to increase the size, or capacity, of the glass. You have to increase your level of being.

So if you are taking in the Bible and doctrine over and over, non-stop, and it is getting old and seemingly less and less profitable (diminishing returns) it's because you are trying to pour new wine (understanding) into an old glass that can't take anymore new liquid. It's capacity is full.

This is why an ancient formula states: Knowledge + Being = Understanding.

It's not just knowledge, but it is knowledge plus increasing level of being that is required to increase level of understanding.

The Bible has more to give. Yet you can only hold so much until you increase the size of the glass that represents the current level of your being.

(Now I hear the shallow voice: "Oh, so you're saying that if you somehow increase your level of being - whatever that means - then you'll start seeing new things in the Bible nobody else in history has been able to see? Do you become psychic too? Ha, ha. I'm hearing New Age gnosticism!!! There's nothing new under the sun! You can't know more than the very righteous and reverend Michael Horton knows! Why would you think you could? Do you have a seminary degree??? I'm finished here!!!")

OK, getting that guy out of the way...

I think regarding the Bible and doctrine "seeing more" means seeing and understanding the BASICS at the experiential level. Because a more secular version of that ancient formula could be put: Knowledge + Experience = Understanding. But that's actually a totally different thing because experience won't necessarily raise level of being. But it doesn't hurt. One thing experience gives is new language. Any experience, say a trade, commercial fishing, bricklaying, starting a small business, gives a person a new language to use in all other areas of life. For instance. But that is getting off topic. The question here is, going back to the ancient formula as first worded above, what actually is involved in increasing level of being?

It is simply practicing the knowledge you've acquired in real time, everyday life.

If the knowledge is love your enemy you first learn what that means (and doesn't mean) and then you actually practice it in real life situations and events. It's difficult to do in real time. (It's difficult to remember to do it to begin with!) We can be assured, though, if we do make the effort to practice that teaching from the Bible in real time situations and events then it will increase our level of being. And with that increase of level of being we can then go back to the Bible and perhaps see more of the teaching that we were perhaps missing before because we simply didn't have the capacity to see it and understand it.

Love your enemy is just one thing the Bible commands us to practice. Be awake is another. It arguably comes before love your enemy. The very fact that you are practicing the knowledge of the Bible is 'seeing more' in the statement about pouring new wine into old bottles. You don't pass over that, you see more in it. At a practical, experiential level.

Using more doctrinal type language we can see that resentment is something a Christian never has any reason to indulge in (even so-called righteous anger). For a Christian gratitude for everything all the time is the great royal attitude to be cultivated. Gratitude is the opposite of resentment. Practicing this in real time will increase your level of being.

I'll stop now.


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