Old houses have far more walls that new houses. Walls separate space. It’s all about connection or isolation. In ancient Israel, the people set up a tabernacle that was all about connection and isolation. The tabernacle, and later the temple designed after it, was the dwelling place of God. It had three levels of separation; the courtyard, the holy place, and the holy of holies (Exodus 26).
The only piece of furniture in the holy of holies was the Arc of the Covenant (a box containing the ten commandments and Aaron’s staff). Its lid had two angels carved with wings spread out, creating the seat of God, called the Mercy seat (Exodus 25). There were four giant pillars to hold up an extremely thick and heavy veil, a partition so huge that it kept this isolated room pitch black inside. God dwells in thick darkness (1 Kings 8:12, Psalm 139:12)
The Christian story says that after Jesus died, an earthquake caused this immense veil to be torn top to bottom (Matt 27:51). A literal/historical interpretation of this event is not nearly as powerful as its mystical/symbolic experience. History and archaeology do not reveal the symbolism of this renovation project. Namely, a new theology, where God isn’t isolated from us.
- Religious infrastructure: Gone
- God / Sin separation: Gone
- Rituals and pathways to access God: Gone
- All the pomp, order, ego and ranking: Gone
Dogma, order, ritual, and process are now replaced with ambiguity, flux, flow and freedom.
External pet projects were scrapped for internal self criticism. Indirect access has been replaced with direct access. It is the very end of religion.
Of course we don’t like ambiguity and freedom and flow. Even though Jesus ended it all, the church has reconstructed it all again in his name. Structure is required to organize people, and organizing people allows some to gain power over others. Next thing we know God has limited access again. I believe this is exactly the trap the modern church has fallen into.
We’ve brought back the buildings which we see as sacred. We brought back rituals and people wielding power. Back also is separation and protocols to access God. The herd always wants a king to rule over them (1 Sam 8:6).
Scripture says our bodies are now the temple or the dwelling place of God’s spirit (1 Cor 6:19). The temple was gutted to create an open floor plan, each of us being the mercy seat of God. A gathering of all people without the dividing walls that create hostility (Eph 2:14). A God that dwells in all people is the precursor to peace, yet we watch religion incite war after war.
Look at our world right now. Nearly everyone has picked a team. Be it country, state, religion, or political party. This “divided room” floor plan is flawed. It sees different as “other” and other is always wrong, bad, deficient, and needing to be eradicated. The war starts in our hearts and we go through life anesthetized by our own hatred and ego.
Resistance seems like the right thing, but we gain nothing for resistance is just a counter war against another “other.” It’s really not the open floor plan it thinks itself to be. So what are we to do?
The dividing wall is no longer a heavy, four inch thick curtain. It’s an invisible, sleepy mindset, that vaporizes the moment we wake up the fact that two no longer exists, only one. That’s the goal of the open floor plan. One people. God uniquely dwelling in all. God and humanity bound perfectly together. Christ is the premier example, but not the only example. I’m an example. You are an example. We are all examples.
All religion hates this. It’s too easy they say. It just can’t be true.
The state hates this too. It’s too idillic they say. It’s just impossible.
This is why both church and state always kill the icons who find this freedom. That seemingly small voice within us, that guides us, warns us, inspires us, and awakens us IS ENOUGH. God is closer to us than we are to ourselves, it is no wonder his/her voice sounds so much like our own. If you are aware of this voice, then follow it, know it, and love it.
The result will be that “others” turn into sisters and brothers. We become the mercy seat.
May we care enough to find it so the promised new world may emerge (Rom 8:19).