Saul to Paul

by | Jul 12, 2020 | Pastor's Desk | 0 comments

It does seem as though we’re in a continual state of transition, doesn’t it? If the events of 2020 have emphasized any one thing, it’s that we are always moving from one state to another. This pandemic, the political climate, even the fact that we have an upcoming national election – these all amplify the fact that life is a journey of transitions.

I remember some 30 or so years ago I was introduced to metaphysical interpretations of the Bible. I didn’t know it as metaphysics at the time. All I knew was that a whole new world was being opened up to me, and I gladly stepped right into it.

I transitioned from one with seemingly unanswerable questions into a person very hungry to explore this new trove of understanding.

Before I was introduced to Emmet Fox – one of the very first writers to reveal to me the higher meanings of the Sermon on the Mount and the Lord’s Prayer – I was weighted by questions. Many questions. Questions that traditional Christianity was not answering at a level of clarity that satisfied my curiosity.

And those questions really boiled down into two primary questions: what is my purpose in this life, or the purpose OF my life? And if I’m the child of God, shouldn’t I be able to really know God?

I believe that for some, these questions don’t gnaw at their soul as they do for people like you and me. We’re on this journey we’re on because these questions – or ones like them – have risen to the top of our awareness such that their presence can no longer be ignored.

We are seeking the fountain of spiritually quenching source. We are seeking to transition from a seeker with questions to a seeker of Truth with a capital T.

Just like Saul, we are about to be transformed, and we might not even know it until it strikes us blind.

Metaphysics, to me, has seemed like a secret language. Whenever the literal words of the Bible were confusing or contradictory to what I believed a loving God to be, I knew I could turn to metaphysics and discover that there is an interpretation of scripture that reveals a Truth that is not contradictory and brings me to a greater understanding and appreciation of what the Bible represents.

I think many have turned to other religious teachings, such as Buddhism, Taoism, and the like because, in some ways, they teach in concepts that are more basically clear. They aren’t quite as multi-layered as the teachings of our way-shower, Jesus. And, yet, it is the brilliance of His teachings that make, for me, the study of His life so rich and powerful.

By studying the historical, literal, and metaphysical aspects of His life and teachings, I realize that our lives are also multi-dimensional. You and I are not as simple as a needlepoint slogan on the wall. We don’t live in just one dimension. We live in both the ego-led reality of this life AND the spiritual capital “R” Reality of the Divine Mind. In other words, we are metaphysical beings.

The term metaphysics was coined in the 16th century as a Latin term to describe the teachings of Greek masters such as Aristotle. Interpreted, metaphysics was meant as “the science of things transcending what is physical or natural.” Metaphysics is that which is beyond our physical realm.

As Rev. Paul Hasselbeck, one of Unity’s contemporary master teachers puts it, “In Unity, metaphysics is considered synonymous with theology; thus the study of Unity metaphysics is the study of Unity theology.”

Hasselbeck’s book, Heart-Centered Metaphysics, is the main textbook for the metaphysics courses I’ve completed at Unity Worldwide Spiritual Institute. It’s a very good overview of how the Fillmore’s interpreted many of the core concepts of Christianity. Blessedly, I’m enrolled to take a class by Rev. Hasselbeck in two weeks on the Unity Twelve Powers. I’m really excited about the course.

There are other great resources you may want to dive into. Perhaps the most important is the Revealing Word by Charles Fillmore. It’s a great reference, as is Fillmore’s Metaphysical Bible Dictionary

You see, the left-brain Bret loves reading scripture and then re-interpreting passages using these resources to build a new understanding. And the right-brain me gets chills when the newfound Truth and understanding sinks in.

Today’s reading from Acts is a great passage to interpret. Acts, chapter 9, tells the story of how basically a mob enforcer for the Pharisees, Saul, set out to round up the followers of Jesus to bring them to Jerusalem for prosecution. The movement back then was called “The Way.”

Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Acts 9:3-4

Metaphysically, light represents truth. Heaven means the Christ consciousness. Damascus, their destination, metaphysically signifies a state of awareness based on material reality; not spiritual truths. 

While we can see in our mind this enforcer and his entourage traveling down a dusty road to Damascus – a world of materialism – we now see that what happened to Saul was that he was suddenly aware of the capital “T” truth of the Divine Mind, the Christ consciousness.

This was the moment of Saul’s awakening. It was his transition from being of this ego-reality and realizing a higher truth exists for us all.

Saul of Tarsus, according to Charles Fillmore, represents the will. It is the divine seed of the Word of Truth which, quote, will spring up after many days, end quote.

Before his conversion, Saul was zealous in his search for God, but he was so filled with religious ideas from his Jewish upbringing. Saul was very well educated and came from an affluent family. He was deeply Jewish, yet he was, like you and me, a seeker of truth. He may not have really known it at the time of his conversion. I suspect, though, that his heart must have been unfulfilled spiritually. I believe for the Light of Truth to flash in our lives, we have to have some degree of desire for Truth.

Metaphysically, Saul represents those of us – like me – that were raised in traditional religions full or rules and tenets that eventually did not satisfy our own Saul nature: our zeal for Truth.

Like Saul, we have had that flash of light, the initial realization of our own Divinity. The light we have seen has shown us that we are One with God. That we are the Child of God. That we are being guided by Jesus toward a higher awareness of our true purpose. 

And, like Saul, we can become Paul. Paul, metaphysically, represents the word of the Divine Spirit. Saul’s will – his zeal for truth – was rewarded and thereafter, his life became a life of teaching, sharing, and, most importantly, loving. As Paul – in contrast to his previous life as Saul – Divine Truth came first before the materialism of this world.

Now, Paul is often a controversial person in Christianity, particularly among Unity students. In fact, I long ago decided to dismiss the Letters of Paul. There are so many passages in the letters that appear to support the subjugation of women to men, the persecution of non-believers, and the sinful nature of same-sex relationships.

I don’t have time to go into a full-throated discussion of Paul’s ministry and his part of our Christian history, but I will confess that in my most recent classes at UWSI, I have a newfound appreciation for Paul and his role in Christianity

And it has been metaphysics and scientific study – two seemingly contradictory disciplines – that have given me a greater understanding of how my life is like Paul’s.

In fact, I suspect your life is much like Paul’s as well.

Scholars have reasoned through their research that Paul can be solidly attributed as the author of only seven of the letters of Paul in the New Testament. Many more were included that were written by others in the nascent Christian movement. It is in those letters that we find the passages that are most offensive or, in the very least, contrary to what we believe is Divine love.

If we dive metaphysically into the letters that Paul is more likely the author, we find a rich, rich trove of understanding.

What saddens me, is that for an erudite person such as Paul, who traveled some 9,000 miles over the 40 or so years of his ministry, only 7 or so letters were included in the canonized scriptures. I suspect he wrote thousands of missives during that time. How many were lost, burned, or simply discarded by history and the Church can only be speculated.

Yet, what we have remaining is perhaps more than enough. If we take the teachings of Jesus into our hearts and fully absorb their Truth, we become Paul. Our Saul of this material world transitions to the Paul of Spiritual Truth.

This is not theoretical, religious-speak, either. How many of us are living as Saul? How many in our world are blindly consumed with enforcing the tenets and teachings of the oppressive, materialistic Pharisees of this world?

Among all those who we feel are championing hatred, anger, distrust, narcissism, and racism, many, like Saul, are zealously seeking a higher meaning in life. They might not even know it but their passion and vitriol may actually be masking a deeper unsettled soul.

When he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus.

Acts 9:26-27

We may have received the flash of light, as it were, but to keep that light shining for us and everyone else, we cannot look upon those who are still in their Saul existence with the distrust of the disciples. Like Barnabas — who metaphysically represents one who exhorts or enthusiastically speaks Truth — we must receive everyone as if they are simply a Saul waiting for the flash of light. We cannot let the Truth Light blind us. We must remove the scales from our eyes and be, quote, filled with the Holy Spirit, unquote.

If we meet the anger of others with anger; if we respond to hate with hate; if we reject those that reject others because of the color of their skin, we are not acting as Barnabas. We are not helping another person move into their Paul nature.

We need to be agents of transformation. It is our mission and our calling as students of Divine Truth. If we choose to recoil into our shells and claim the rest are the problem, we are not accepting our responsibility as one with the Child of God.

If we don’t help others see their own Paul – to receive and understand the flash of Divine light — we remain stuck as Saul. Like Saul, those who see the flash of truth may be blinded to what they have actually witnessed. We can be the ones to help remove the scales and give them Divine Sight.

Of course, we know that Paul’s life was not easy. His travels often put him into jeopardy and prison. And his life is believed to have ended in execution. Nevertheless, his life, metaphysically, is not unlike our own Spiritual journeys.

You and I will spiritually be traveling a lot. We will, at times, feel mentally imprisoned by world events and changes in our lives. And, when we do let go of our ego-mind — which I strive for with all my heart – the end may be painful but executing the ego-mind means we will, at last, be free to fully be our Divine self, completely, and with the full love and joy of God.

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Pastor Bret

Pastor Bret

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Our mission as a progressive Unity congregation is led by “Pastor Bret,” as he’s known in our community. A serial entrepreneur and life-long student of New Thought, Bret brings an energetic and evolutionary approach to the Spiritual Journey.

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