Stepping Into God Presence—Leaving One’s Body

St. Ignace, Michigan
Aug. ‘80

The minister’s sermon began simply enough. He spoke of the time when
Jesus told his disciple, Peter, that the time would soon come when he would
have to leave his body. It was the meaning the minister attached to
“leaving one’s body” that, perhaps, the congregation had a difficult
time with. Forget about St. Peter and the pearly gates. According to
this guy, you didn’t go anywhere. On second thought, maybe that’s too
strong of a way to put it. It might be more accurate to say that
leaving one’s body was like “stepping into God’s house.” You still
didn’t go anywhere, but, in a manner of speaking, God came to you. The
Christian church preached that Jesus was sacrificed for the sake of
the rest of us, to save all the sinners, but this minister wasn’t
saying that. Rather, he was saying that Jesus was not a sacrificial
lamb, he was a messenger, and, as was common among sinners confronting
disturbing messages, they, the sinners, murdered the messenger. In
this case, the message, “love thy neighbor,” was just too threatening,
not to mention the horrifying idea of seriously considering the
possibility of unconditional love. “Messages promoting love are
grudgingly received and never, or hardly ever practiced,” said the

At that point in the sermon, it was as if the lady sitting next to me
had reached over and pinched me because in that instant I realized
that if I had been living at the time of Jesus, I probably would have
been one of his accusers. I probably would have called for his
execution. It was so easy to condemn, especially if one felt afraid or
threatened. It was next to impossible to love under those same
circumstances. Jesus knew that he would die for love. That’s why he
taught that death transcends the particular. The Christian church
teaches something similar—that the good go to heaven, go to Jesus.


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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2 Responses to Stepping Into God Presence—Leaving One’s Body

  1. bwinwnbwi says:

    The Jesus dialogue or how C.S. Lewis became a believer…taken from the following web pages:
    The Father and I are one. ( John 10:25-30)

    C. S. Lewis imagines the stunned reactions of all those who heard Jesus:

    ‘Then comes the real shock,’ wrote Lewis: ‘Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of god, or one with God…But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language meant the Being outside the world who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.’ [13]

    Jesus answered,

    “The proof is what I do in the name of my Father.” He compared his followers with sheep saying, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.” He then revealed to them that “the Father is greater than all,” and that his deeds were “at the Father’s direction.”
    Jesus’ humility must have been disarming. But then Jesus dropped a bombshell, telling them (John 10:25-30) “The Father and I are one.”

    If Jesus had meant that he was merely in agreement with God, there would have been no strong reaction. But, the Jews again picked up stones to kill him. Jesus then asked them, “At my Father’s direction I have done many things to help the people. For which one of these good deeds are you killing me?”

    They replied, “Not for any good work; but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, have made yourself God” (John 10:33).

    They were confused. Philip then speaks up, asking Jesus to “show us the Father.” Jesus’ answers Philip with these shocking words:

    “Philip, don’t you even yet know who I am, even after all the time I have been with you? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!”

    In effect Jesus was saying, “Philip if you want to see the Father, look at me!” In John 17 Jesus reveals that this oneness with his Father had existed in eternity past, “before the world began.” According to Jesus, there has never been a time when he did not share God’s very glory and essence.

  2. bwinwnbwi says:

    “When Peter approached Jesus and heard the words, “The time is coming when I must leave my body,” Jesus was not talking about “stepping out of life,” rather he was talking about “stepping into life,” into the whole birth-death process that sustains life and divinity. “Leaving,” for Jesus, meant that a door opened—a door into the body of Christ, into the body of all people caring for each other, into the body of all divinity that makes love possible. Jesus died so that a more vital
    love might be shared—a love for each other, for life, and for the divine.” Quote taken from next post

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