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Christian Spirituality: What is Christ? Part 1 - The Circle of Life, Love, & Incarnation

serene circular alpine lake, basking in sunlight - Bear / Deer Lake, Cascade Mountains, Washington, USA

When understanding what Christian Spirituality is, a good place to start is with what's in a name: what does this term Christ actually mean? It’s no accident it’s called Christianity rather than Jesus-ism, Lord-archy, or Church-ianity. This term Christ – which is inclusive of, but not synonymous with, Jesus, a Higher Power, or a Church – encapsulates a central, unique, radical innovation of the Christian tradition. And it's a big idea, so we'll continue exploring it in Part 2 and Part 3. Let's dive into Part 1!

Back in Jesus' time, the people he preached to already knew the beautiful message of Genesis: God created every thing, and all Creation is good. But the great teacher showed this message went even deeper: God is alive in, incarnate in, and loves every thing, every one, equally, and the whole circle of existence is alive in, incarnate in, and loved by God, equally.

This is the truth Jesus conveyed in his ministry, and it's what makes the Gospels' account of his death and Resurrection so compelling. The Creator's life, incarnation, and love of Creation is the foundation on which all reality exists – stronger, deeper, and more absolute than the one other thing all Creation has in common: the seeming inevitability of death.

peaceful lake resting in valley, as in God's love - Gap of Dunloe, Killarney National Park, Ireland

And Jesus makes clear that he isn't the only embodiment of this Christ truth. Everything Jesus said and did communicated, “As with me, so with you – God's being is not just in me, but in you and in all!” We are each and all part of Christ, in equal measure. This revolutionary perspective shatters any illusions about God’s supposed distance from or judgment of some or all of humanity. It dethrones any individuals and institutions who fancy themselves privileged in God's awareness. We are each and all forever inside the Creator, the Creator is forever inside us.

I was fortunate to learn of this Circle aspect of Christ from a young age. I grew up immersed in a variety of religious and spiritual communities, all of them encountering, while not trying to enclose, holiness. I also grew up immersed in Nature, art, and stories, where I got to participate in the magic of God's consciousness, permeating all Creation. Then at 13, I witnessed a sacred vision of the Universe as a single, interconnected whole, flowing and pulsing with harmony and love. Since then I've continued a regular practice of exploring and praying in Nature, feeling Spirit's imminent presence in the world, learning to listen to the Creator speaking through Creation. And all the while, I've been loved well by countless incredible people. Everywhere I’ve turned, God has been there, reminding me we are within Spirit, Spirit is within us.

If we can heed these reminders and internalize recognition of the Circle, we can learn to see and feel the Divine goodness, life, and love emanating from all, equally. We can help others do the same, and live with more compassion, gratitude, and respect for ourselves, each other, and all Creation. This is no easy task, and I and all of us have much to learn. I believe aspiring to and practicing these things is part of what it means to be a committed Christian and a true follower. And we desperately need more folks doing these things in our world.

Amazingly, the Circle of life, love, and incarnation isn't even the only dimension of Christ! What's next?

Stay tuned for Part 2 of these posts - the Cross!

In the meantime, I offer you some reflection questions:

  • How have you been experiencing yourself and all Creation as enfolded in Divine being and love?

  • How would you like to?

To learn more

Image credits: #2 - Devin Bard



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