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Aug 12 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

August 11, 2019


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Intro: Now might be a good time for a quick review

We began with the word repent – a second thought, change of mind
– this means we change the organ of thought: the brain
• we change how brain cells connect with other brain cells
◦ we rewire neurons to form new thoughts, feelings, actions
• we are re-writing the brain’s owner’s manual

Daniel Siegel, “. . . experience for the brain means neural firing. When we have an ‘experience,’ clusters of neurons are activated to send electrical signals down their long lengths. The gene activation and protein production triggered by neural firing can create new synapses, strengthen existing ones, alter the packets of [neuro-chemicals] that are released or the receptors that receive their messages, and even stimulate the growth of new neurons. . . . Neurons that fire together, wire together.”

– think of Paul’s statement, put off the old self . . . and put on the new self
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Last week, to become a whole person requires integration

When we bring our awareness to God’s presence in prayer,
– we experience our wholeness in God
• and then what stands out? what seems out of place?
• the disconnected parts of the new self
◦ these are the neural connections we want to prune and replace
– my grandson frequently downloads games onto my iPhone
• one is a find-the-difference game, which shows two similar pictures
• I have a strategy for spotting the differences if the images are side-by-side
◦ crossing my eyes I create “one frame” between two blurred images
◦ the subtle differences immediately pop out
• something similar happens in contemplative prayer
◦ whatever is not part of our wholeness in Christ pops out

Daniel Siegel says that integration is crucial for optimum health
– he lists “eight domains of integration”
• we talked about the first six last week
◦ they have to do with integration within the brain and body
• the two other domains are interpersonal integration and temporal integration
– but towards the end of The Mindful Brain, Siegel adds a ninth
• “transpirational integration”
◦ an integration that breathes across the other eight domains

Daniel Siegel, “Transpiration opens our minds to another dimension of perception. The sacred suffuses each breath, our essence, each step through this journey of life. As we breathe life across the many domains of integration, we come to see ourselves as extending beyond the temporal-spatial dimensions that limit our view of the horizon. Transpiration gives us vision to see what is beyond our eyes.”
Neuroscientist, Jaak Panksepp identified seven primary motivational systems that drive human psychology and physiology
• but in doing therapy, he added another important system: Spirituality
“since that is so important for getting people over the hump of addictive disorders as well as, more widely, for finding the path to a life well lived.”

What Siegel and Panksepp address is the most important integration

The integration of our lives into the life of God
– Paul says something radical regarding our relationship with Jesus
• we are “joined” to him (1 Cor. 6:15-17)
◦ he uses the analogy of the most intimate physical union
• until we are united with God, I don’t think we realize how fragmented we are within ourselves
◦ a disconnected life is the norm in our culture
◦ God desires, and assists, and supports our integration
– there is a theological word for this integration: reconcile
• first time I read through the New Testament, it was in the Good News Bible
• for reconcile, it has “changed us from God’s enemies into his friends”
◦ that is what reconcile means and it is what reconciliation does
We were God’s enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son. Now that we are God’s friends, how much more will we be saved by Christ’s life! But that is not all; we rejoice because of what God has done through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has now made us God’s friends (Ro. 5:10-11, GNB; cf. Col. 1:21-22)

Every human relationship is fragile and easily bruised

Every relationship breaks down sometimes
– perhaps the most common breakdown is in communication
• we misunderstand, or feel we haven’t been heard,
◦ or communication is cut off for some reason
• the pattern of our enduring relationships is rupture and repair
◦ we can survive the ruptures, because they’re followed by repair
◦ frequently, communication is even better after the repair
– we do not handle our relationship with God any better than we do with each other

When humans first appear in scripture, their world is perfectly integrated
– the intimacy of man and woman is indicated by the fact that they
were both naked and were not ashamed (Gen. 2:25)
(neither was afraid to be seen by the other, nor embarrassed of their body)
• intimacy with God is indicated by their evening strolls (Gen. 3:8)
• intimacy with animals is indicated by the fact that Adam met and named each one (Gen. 2:19-20)
• intimacy with the natural world consisted of tending the garden and enjoying its produce (Gen. 2:15-17)
– but the moment their relationship with God was ruptured, everything reversed
• now, instead of intimacy, they lived in alienation
◦ the humans were alienated from their own selves and each other
(their nakedness now became an issue, and they covered it; Gen. 3:7)
◦ alienated from nature and the soil that had fed them (Gen. 3:19)
◦ alienated from God’s immediate presence (Gen. 3:24)
• the story is meant to tell us why the world is the way it is
◦ why we can’t eat everything that grows from the ground
◦ why we can’t pet lions or swim with killer whales
◦ why we have such a hard time living in peace with others

Adam and Eve are representative characters
– they are stand-ins for all humankind
• in other words, if it were you, you would have done the same

That was the rupture – the repair began with a family

God revealed himself to Abraham and pulled him into a relationship
– he continued to reveal himself to Abraham’s descendants
• and he pulled them into a relationship–a covenant relationship
I will be your God and you shall be my people (Le. 26:12)
• although that relationship was ruptured,
◦ God promised a permanent healing through Israel
◦ the promise was fulfilled and rupture healed in Jesus Christ
– in Jesus we are integrated into a union with God
• the rupture does not define us
◦ old thoughts and feelings we had about ourselves do not define us
◦ we know the rupture is fixable
• what we are asked to do is to acknowledge the rupture,
◦ and trust Jesus to take it from there
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:8-9)

We need to ground ourselves in two parts of this cure

The first part is God’s grace
– this is so vast and amazing that few Christians live in its fullness
• this is the essential factor in our spiritual integration
◦ and we cannot make it happen, have no control over it
• we cannot get to where we want to be in God,
◦ by any program, method, or technique

The second part is faith–or, more to the point of our experience, trust
– we trust God’s grace when we let go:
of trying to win his love
of guilt and shame
◦ that have been wired into our neural circuits
◦ we’ll keep sabotaging ourselves if we don’t get this straight
. . . whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything (1 Jn. 3:20)
of habitual, negative thoughts about ourselves
◦ we’re not made of steel or concrete
◦ we are fresh clay and we are being re-molded
– we practice trust when we calm our souls in God’s presence
Martin Laird says when this is habit, it “cultivates dynamic stillness”
• a striking expression, “dynamic stillness”
• a divine energy is present in our silent stillness

Conclusion: Here is the mystery of God’s grace, the miracle:

We are already where God wants us to be
– there’s a section of Isaiah 41 in which God tells Israel,
I am the one who helps you
• then he says, you shall do this and you shall do that:
◦ listing three powerful demonstrations of his help
• he follows this with a fourth you shall
And you shall rejoice in the LORD (Is. 41:14-16; a proper, natural response!)
◦ giving thanks for our future self is a way of trusting God
◦ this is the prayer of faith

Thomas Merton, “In prayer we discover what we already have. . . . We already have everything but we don’t know it and don’t experience it. Everything has been given to us in Christ.”
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Pe. 1:3)

– we need to grow in awareness of the grace already given us
• one of God’s promises to his exiled people was that they would return
◦ and once they were again in Zion, they would
possess their possessions (Ob. 1:17)

Our brains were created for connection
All that we need for re-connection is already ours
Calming ourselves in God’s presence is a return to Eden
It is God’s rest, where we enjoy his fullness (Heb. 4:6-10)
When we give God thanks today for what we will be tomorrow,
we are praying in faith
So stick with your practice of listening in silence
your practice of trust
and your practice of giving thanks

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