Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Christ is the "Is"

Christ the Copula

My favorite chapter in all of scripture is D&C 88, and one of my favorite passages in that chapter is verse 6:

[Christ,] He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;
Christ is the light of truth; as an Institute teacher of mine once put it, He is the reality in all things that connects each thing to everything else. Like a golden thread, He ties together high and low, inside and outside, near and far into a grand whole. This is the famous atonement or at-one-ment: Christ makes Himself at-one with all things and all things at-one with everything else.

But you can put this more simply. In brief, Christ is the "is." "Is" is what you'd call a "copula": a word that connects the beginning and end of a sentence in a way where both sides are seen as one. When I say "he is a writer," the words "he" and "writer" refer to the same thing in that context. In that sentence Christ is what enables that person "to be" a writer or "to be" anything else. The world works in this way because Christ is the "glue" that lets one thing "be" another thing in the first place. Without Him, the world would fall apart.

God is Love

Put more traditionally, this idea just says that "God is love" (1 John 4:16). Love is also the "is," since love can only exist between two beings that, while connected, are also distinct. Just as I can only love someone other than myself, "is" exists to link two words, not just one. Love makes us "distinguishably one," in Swedenborg's language.

Moreover, if Christ is the "is" and the "is" is love, that means that Christ is there wherever there is love. Christ Himself said this in Matthew 18:20:

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Whenever I love someone, Christ comes to the earth as the love that exists between us. Christ is the link between any two who love each other: the relationship between me and you that allows me, in a sense, to become you and you to become me. So, whenever we love, Christ incarnates just a bit more.

But of course love is broader and deeper than love between people. If the world would fall apart without Christ's "is," then the love that is Christ binds even the non-human world together. There is love between ideas, love between cultures and groups of people, even love between things (as in any kind of physical art). If Christ is love, is "the is," He is also relationship.

Christ Coming in the iClouds of Heaven

So if Christ is love, the "is" and relationship, what does that mean for His second coming? It just means that He will come when relationship comes into its own, when it "wakes up" as a kind of being in itself. The Sufi Master Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee explains this point deftly in his book Spiritual Power (see my review here):

At first individual connections are made, from person to person, from soul to soul, and then these connections come alive and work with their own purpose. We think that a connection is a static line between two points, but a real connection brings a third function. It links the meanings of two individuals to create a new meaning, beyond that of the two individuals, a meaning that belongs to the moment of meeting. This third function has a life of its own beyond that of the two individuals and can relate directly to the whole. This is how something comes alive in a new way, through a meeting that takes us into a new dimension.
Christ appears whenever there is the "spark" of connection in relationship and love. He is the "third function [that] has a life of its own beyond that of the two individuals." So, it stands to reason that He will come to earth again when we on earth cease to focus on the members of a connection, those who love, and instead on the connection and the love itself. In other words, Christ will come to earth again when relationship and connection become the primary thing. And that is indeed what we're seeing today.

For example, the Internet is a manifestation of Christ in this way. Or rather, the Internet is a "vessel" for His coming, a "web" in the physical world that can contain His incarnation. Vaughan-Lee, whom I quoted above, alludes to this fact too:

One of the limitations of our present understanding of the internet is that we have not fully realized the new dynamic created by the many new connections that are being made. We do not recognize that it is the connections themselves that are most important, not the information or goods that are exchanged. When these connections come alive, then the internet will wake to its real potential.
In this way, the Internet is the new world, the world of Christ and of the copula, building its own foundation. With the Internet, Christ begins to come. It's the stage He'll step onto, His new "footstool."

Another tool to contain Christ's coming is the LDS Church itself. As I pointed out in my last post, the LDS Church is a "vessel" to help contain and protect the spiritual energies and realities coming to earth today. Those energies and realities are Christ Himself, the reality of connection and relationship. With the Church's doctrines and ordinances, the "is" of love can embody its relational nature in concrete ways. The sealing ceremony, for instance, is a way the reality of relationship can realize itself in the physical world. With these and similar ordinances, the Gathering of Israel becomes more and more real and Christ comes closer and closer to the earth.

What Can We Do?

Given this way of thinking about the world today, what can we set out to do to help Christ come? Well, we can embody the "is." Make relationship: look for places to show love and feel empathy; make friends; cross borders; be kind. Moreover, make connection: look for places where you can cross borders between things that seem to be mutually exclusive; elaborate the ideas of one tradition in the language of another tradition; read the best books; don't be afraid of being wrong; be intellectually brave.

By making these connections and relationships, by putting the "is" between all things and all things, we build a web of light to help the world receive the next phase of its growth, to help Christ come to earth. For when we've done this, we'll suddenly see the meaning of the mysterious words in D&C 38:7:

But behold, verily, verily, I say unto you that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and ye cannot see me.

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