I continue to be in the "Luther mode", discovering more insights and ideas of his that move me forward as I go along. This is my most recent insight, another wonderful quote by Luther:
"Joy is the graduation cap of faith."
"Die Freude ist der Doktorhut des Glaubens."
In German there is an inbuilt pithy humor within this saying, but in English you get the idea as well. Those, who dedicate their lives to the matters of Spirit, and truly do so, grow out of a sense of burden, out of the stress and strain of daily life, and eventually graduate as joy permeates the heart. Joy is the signature of everyone truly spiritually-minded, it is the sign of an active group of people serving a higher purpose than their own, it is the key feature of unselfishness.
There is a list of qualities that define the result of Spirit in our experience. Paul writes in his epistle to various groups of Christians in Galatia (fun fact: Today a region in Turkey around Ankara, the capital):
"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!" (Gal. 5: 22, 23. NLT)
Right after love, the second on the list, comes joy. The state of being happy! I observe, that individuals who know something about God and have stepped into the world of unselfishness and spiritual observation, have a certain warmth and glow about them. It is not the joy the stems from well-being, success, or good fortune. It is more than an emotion or feeling. There is no room for doubt or fear left in a heart which feels the presence of Spirit.
There is little space for the story of desperation, which excludes the allness and onliness of Spirit. So if joy doesn't stem from well-being, success, or good fortune, we can now safely say that it stems from spiritual well-being, success, and good fortune - the good life which is the result of divine Love and filled with the yearning for the prospect of seeing more of Spirit in our and everyone's experience.
If the question of "graduation" comes up, we will get the question what subject we are graduating in. What is the content of faith? What is the doctrine? Here is an answer from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy:
"This is the doctrine of Christian Science: that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; that joy cannot be turned into
sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil; that matter can never produce mind nor life result in death." (p. 304)
Can you accept this doctrine? And graduate in the faith? And come up with your own test system, whether you understood it enough to graduate? Is there enough joy in your heart to throw it around like confetti? Joy is the standard, and once you have graduated, you will never unlearn it.
"Joy is the graduation cap of faith!" It is looking pretty good on you.
(You can find the previous posts on "What is joy?" by using the search box on my website. Simple.)
Imagine what aliens might hear if they listened to the earthlings from their space station on Alpha Centauri with their version of a giant radio telescope? Well, billions and billions of different sounds evaporating into time and space - inexplicable sounds, technical noise, explosions, machine guns, dogs barking, birds singing, flouting tea kettles, hundreds of washing machines spinning. Also billions and billions of cries, laughters, lots of technical noise - and an ever present human choir of murmur. Sung by murmurers. Thousands of years ago this choir enter the stage of the human condition, when the Israelites resisted their outlined path from slavery to freedom with complaining, questioning and murmurings - a Hebrew word meaning complaining and a "malicious whispering of slander", as a Dictionary has it. Murmuring is a kind of egoistic resistance to something good, it doesn't improve anything and keeps one pinned on the carousel of challenges. Talk about patience when remembering Moses (and read Exodus 16).
Humanity is a complaining species, one might think when one considers the resistance against the very good proposals for a different way of living as set forth by Jesus. What? Sharing? Humility and meekness? What? Walking a second mile? Giving your coat? Forgiving? The noise of complaint, an inner renitency against everything from accepting governments to doing the laundry to living peacefully with our neighbor to family members, who are different from us. Opposition, opposition, opposition.
Mary Baker Eddy is quoted in the diary of her secretary that whenever she felt tempted to murmur over her trials or burdens she would open her Bible to where the children of Israel murmured and found fault with God. I remembered this recently and have made it a point in leaving the choir of murmurers once and for all. And be willing to accept the abundant life, the freedom, lightheartedness, and joy that flows from the spirituality of being. Little complaints stem from the tale of desperation that material living brings - they make us stumble over small things or slow us down by fastening us with barbed hooks to material circumstances. It is said in the New Testament about Moses that he was chosen for the task to lead the children of Israel out of enslavement for one special quality: meekness. Meekness is the superb quality of being an empty slate before God, letting the supreme intelligence of the universe be expressed effortlessly and without any sense of questioning in our experience. That is the opposite of being a doormat - it means true unselfishness, true individuality.
What a relief to say "yes" to any demand. A life without sighing (not even when the doorbell rings and you have just sat down for a cup of tea and your favorite show), daily life as service. All the time needed to explain why this or that cannot be done: saved, by simply doing it. To refrain from murmurings puts humility into your heart and a joy into your day that supersedes everything else.
If you feel you cannot possibly do this, if you feel you have all the right in the world to feel the way you think you feel, give it a try for one week. Resist every attempt to resist good, eliminate feelings of competition and egotism, say yes to little requests from your surrounding, be generous. Just one week. And while you are up to the task, take a little break once in a while with a dance. This will help you to remember that you also have got that "sunshine in your pocket".
I feel that something of this is captured in the wonderfully gifted composer, performer, and musician Justin Timberlake's "Can't stop the feeling" - and I especially love the fact that it is about some sense of lightheartedness within the workforce. Working people! John, Paloma, Philip - is it a stretch to say, that the sunshine in your pocket is felt where labor is transformed into service and hardships accepted as a necessity to grow? The stand on the farmer's market where I get my groceries has this sense of joy and love day in, day out, spring, summer, fall, winter. Humbling.
My wonderful Christian Science teacher would say: Lets take the lemons and lets make lemonade from it. And how do lemons grow in the first place? With lots of sunshine.
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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