A man once bought a house in the middle of the winter because it had what looked like a well-established apple orchard in the back garden. When summer came along he was deeply disappointed to see pears growing on the trees. Out of desperation he picked off all the pears in the vague hope that somehow apples will replace them, to no avail.
Eventually the man, who had bragged to all his friends about his apple orchard, picked all the pears again and hung apples on the trees with string. He then threw a big party for all his curious friends to come and see his lovely apple orchard. The day of the party he locked all the doors leading to the back because he, like us, knew that you can make a pear tree look like an apple tree provided you do not allow anyone too close.
The biggest challenge the church faces today is the fallacy of change. Church history is littered with violence and destruction perpetrated against humanity and the planet we live on. Christians led the industrial revolution that saw untold misery released on the earth. Christians are leading wars in the name of freedom and equality as I am writing this. Why? Or, to use the analogy above, why is the church so sadly lacking in apples or life giving behaviour and so full of pears or destructive behaviour?
The simplistic answer is simply to say that they were/are not really Christians, this normally from the same people that would then go out and condemn people in mass marches for having had abortions or a same sex orientation. What is the cause of this destructive behaviour? Why this distinct lack of life altering consciousness?
When God brings us to salvation/consciousness, He literally connects the physical body to the spiritual “I am”, the roots of our apple tree. My body is freed from the control of the mind based self or egoic self, the root of the pear tree (if you happen to like pears feel free to change the type, but pears give me constipation hence the dislike). (Also, see “Understanding the Fall” on this blog if this “I am” stuff gets confusing.) That means that I am now empowered by my spiritual self that is permanently connected to God. I am now plugged directly into the source of all that is. Salvation/consciousness is primarily about changing roots and not fruits.
Very few of us will ever forget those exhilarating few weeks/months after becoming saved/conscious. Everything was clear, bright, amazing and nothing and no-one could faze you or rob you of this wonderful sense of connectedness and belonging. It was easy to love, forgive, be patient, be understanding, generous and you could embrace all of life, the good and the bad because your sense of self was rooted in something much greater than you circumstances.
This changed response to life was the result, the consequences of being transplanted. Your source, your roots so to speak, changed and with that the fruit of your life changed. You did not go out wanting, intending or thinking about wanting to grow apples, no, you simply could not help yourself.
People smiled at your exuberance and told you it will change. You heard comments such as, “people should be locked up for a month until they normalise”, and “real life will kick in soon enough”. You get involved in church and pretty soon find yourself in arguments about why something you said or did clashes with “THE WORD OF GOD”, THUNDER AND MASSIVE DRUMROLL ,TE-DUH (last part was a trumpet for those wondering).
You get instructed to join a member’s initiation class so that you can “understand” what you believe and why it is vital that you believe what happened to you in a certain way or else, so you get told, it did not really happen to you.
Understand this, know that, believe this and before you know it, the amazing sense of connectedness, of presence is nothing but a distant memory everyone tells you is not real life anyway. “Hello, Mr. Ego!”, as my wife likes to say when my kids throw a tantrum. The very ego you have been saved from has hijacked your consciousness at the mind/intellectual level and turned it into a set of rules, a theology of right and wrong that leaves no room for actually experiencing God, for a life of connectedness. Your mind has become your source again and the only thing that has changed from before your salvation is the rules. Church, with all the best intentions in the world, has restored your focus to your old roots, your mind, again. You have become a pear tree again.
Except for one tiny little soul destroying thing!
You are given clear instructions on what a Christian should and should not do. Apples, apples, apples my boy and some more apples. You know you must stop swearing, control your temper, not look at women twice, oh boy even just thinking it or wanting to and you’re damned. So you try but pretty soon you find yourself busy with all your old destructive behaviours again, instead of apples you’re covered in pears. Try as you might, pray as you might just pears everywhere.
People start looking at you funny and your counsellors start getting frustrated and talking about “wilful sinning”, christianese for saying you are the mother of all pear trees. You experience intense anger, frustration, and boredom. Church and life in general becomes monotonous and colourless. Your pastor tells you to memorise scripture and some tell you that we are all just “sinners saved by grace”, God save us!!! The unavoidable reality is, no matter how badly you try and grow apples on a pear tree, you will always, always, always (you get the point I hope) harvest pears!
So, defeated you start to fake it. In church God, life, your wife , your kids are all good and blessed, wonderful. Hallelujah, Brother! At home they turn into money grabbing, irritating, soul destroying demons you want to throttle in their sleep. You praise God in church and swear at Him at home. You tithe and tithe some more and still your car gets repossessed, or disposed of, as you tell the church, to bring your debt into line with “GOD’S WORD” (THUNDER DRUM TRUMPETY THING!). The church, demanding apples, insists that you grow them on pear tree roots, your mind, and then judges you when it finds that you are covered in pears up to your ears!
Our mind/brain was never intended to be the source of our life, it was never meant to energise or excite us. It is purely a tool to help us express our excitement and sense of connectedness. It merely directs the life that flows from deep within but in and of itself has no capacity to generate life. It is like cutting the trunk off from the roots, no matter how much water and nutrients you give it, it can only do one thing disconnected from its roots, it can only die.
Whenever we try and find life apart from God, the fruit is always the same, death and destruction. When we try and live by the mind, live according to who I think I am and who I “ought” to be, we live self-fishly (think sushi, raw and colourless). By its very definition this mind based life is self-centred because no matter how good it seems, how noble the motivation may appear its focus is always the survival of the false self. The net effect is always a negative as it always consumes more than it appears to give. To quote Echart Tolle, “the ego always destroys itself” and a pear tree will always bear pears!
The fact that this process, this mind based living, is now Christianised, glorified by sticking crosses all over the place, spiritualised by claiming divine approval with a big bible and photos of overripe apples everywhere does not change the fact that it is all ego, all just pears. As with trees, no matter how you change your thinking or information or expectations it is the root that determines the fruit and the ego/mind based self always, always destroys.
That is why the church has failed to bring life, it has been preoccupied with “changing” your mind, changing the fruit, changing your understanding and behaviour, all of this by using the same method, source and root that had caused all the trouble to begin with. You cannot change the fruit, only the roots
You may change your behaviour, your language, your appearance by using your mind, your will but you cannot bring about true, meaningful life in either yourself or others with your mind as your source. Pear trees will be pear trees, no matter what nice shape you trim them into or colour you paint it, it will ever, only give you pears and lots and lots of constipation.
Tired of harvesting pears in your life? Stop harvesting from a pear tree! Jesus said, “and this is eternal life, to know God” (John 17:3). Aha, I hear some of you say, to “know” God implies mind. No, this “know” that Jesus uses is the same “know” used in Genesis to convey the experiential intimacy between a man and woman when they are “knowing” each other, if you know what I mean. As any man can tell you, the mind has very little to do with it. And, as many woman will tell you, the mind more often than not gets in the way of it.
How do we become agents of life in this world? How does the church become what it is meant to be? How do we change our fruits? By not trying to, by silencing the continual noise generated by a mind frantic to stay in control. By listening, not to theology, but for that still, quite voice deep within, by seeking the source that cannot be found by the mind but is the result of just being. We change by changing, not our behaviour or understanding, but our roots, our source.
You will experience that place in your body long before you are aware of it with your mind, and when you do, when this place of connectedness with God and all that is becomes your source you will bring life to the world. Nothing will change and yet everything will be different.
As God said to the psalmist in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I Am God.”