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Spring Invincible

An Easter Meditation

 

Gary Curtis

Claremont, California 

 

“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).

The above passage from the Epistle to the Colossians may seem distinctly unworldly and impractical, but spirituality, or spiritual religion, is not just practical advice about how to adjust to the everyday, pragmatic world and how to survive and succeed in it on the world’s own terms. Toward the end of his letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote, “The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14). Likewise, this passage in Colossians proclaims to followers of Christ that they are, in some significant sense, already dead: “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” 

Though it would be wrong to ignore the world’s problems and their impact on our day-to-day practical lives, there are also great potential benefits to accepting a spiritual perspective that transcends or relativizes our worldly problems. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is quoted as saying to his followers, “My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (John 14:27). If we can see this promise as applying to ourselves in our search for meaning and purpose in life, and can embrace and trust it as a transcendent assurance of inner wealth and power, of a spiritual resource available to us, then we can have light in the darkness. In the midst of all the problems in the world and all our own personal challenges and shortcomings, we have access to a source of peace not “as the world gives.” This source of peace is a new, spiritual identity. 

If we can trust in an inner, powerful, spiritual reality greater than the problems of this visible outer world, then we become changed people. We have a changed perspective, changed priorities, different allegiances, and a new identity.  Our true spiritual home is no longer this conflicted world. We have moved and have a new address. We can receive the Epistle to the Ephesians as a missive sent to us assuring us that we are no longer strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world (Eph. 2:12), and that in terms of our true inner spiritual nature, we are seated with Christ “in the heavenly places” (Eph. 2:6). Though we must certainly still move about this planet and lead out our daily lives here on Earth, and though we will surely be assailed by serious problems and challenges to our newfound sense of identity, we now have new, powerful spiritual weapons for self-defense. We have the inner assurance that our permanent, transcendent spiritual address has changed, the abiding conviction that our true life is “hidden with Christ in God.” 

There is a new voice within us assuring us that we are in an amazing transformative relationship with a transcendent spiritual power, that we are in a transforming relationship with God. We can now see ourselves as belonging to Christ. We can identify with Christ as truly belonging to another realm, a transcendent reality of peace, and beauty, and goodness. We can see ourselves with Christ as children of God. We now, in our inmost being, no longer identify with the strife, ugliness, and evil of  this world. We recognize and regret life’s ills, and we do what we can in our individual situations to ameliorate conditions and to remove underlying causes, but we do so from a new, enlarged, radically transcendent perspective. 

We have a new life, a new identity. We are revealed—our true selves, our true spiritual nature—as Christ is revealed! Not just in the sweet bye-and-bye, sometime in some otherworldly future glory, but in every affirmation and enactment of God’s kingdom of light and love for all in this world here and now.  “As he is, so are we in this world,” the first epistle of John declares (1 John 4:17). In every truly good thing that happens on this planet, we are there, with Christ, in brief, bright glimpses of God’s heavenly reign.

Martin Luther once declared, “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” The spring, glorious as it greets our senses and cheers our hearts year after year, is an ever-recurring symbol of God’s purpose, of God’s triumph, of God’s reign—an invincible spring! Nothing need ever convince us—and in accordance with the truth of our new spiritual reality we must never allow it—that the waning winter light is the final word, that evil is unconquerable and final, that Christ is defeated  and dead. No! What is unconquerable is God’s eternal light and love—God’s purposes, God’s reign. 

Those of us who accept and believe this liberating spiritual truth, have a new, radiantly beautiful spiritual nature that is reflected in the beautiful things of this world, not in its squalor. The new nature, the New Being that God has given us in the Risen Christ, is revealed in images of the realm of light and love to which God has called us. The abiding spiritual reality to which God has graciously called his children, that which defines our true spiritual nature, does not reside in the moral failures, degradation, darkness or defeat of this world, but in every instance of the triumph of the good, in every shining forth of truth, in every expression of beauty, in every blooming flower of spring, and also in every blazing leaf of fall and every snowflake dazzling in every cold and winter sky. Our true spiritual nature is revealed in every flowering of moral beauty, in every shining act of virtue, in everything that is good and pure, even in the midst of the darkness of this world.

It is in these revelations of “spring invincible,” at all times and seasons, that we see reflected the truth of our souls. Goodness, truth, and beauty, in all their revelations, are the shining mirrors in which you and I can behold the bright image of our own true selves. Our old, outward selves have died, and now our lives are “hidden with Christ in God.” Let us seek and set our minds on the “things that are above.”


© 2005 American Unitarian Conference