We don’t have to go very far to see the suffering caused by broken or corrupt systems and institutions. Isn’t it obvious that our problems are bigger than either a Democratic or Republic solution? Do we really need another government solution? Do you think we need a military or religious solution? Economic solutions can only favor those in power and often create larger numbers of dependents upon the State. Big Pharma, Big Agriculture, Big Banking, Big Oil, and Big Tech each leave a wake of personal and ecological suffering that is ignored so long as shareholder value goes up.
What kind of campaign speech could possibly unite our world? Who can speak truth to power and survive it? World history has been witness to countless men and women who have shown us the way but whose voice has been muted. If we combined the voices of all these messengers into one, we’d discover there is only one message: Live free and authentically or die a thousand deaths in the captivity of your pseudonym.
Institutional power will not welcome a solution to a problem for which it is the cause. Not surprising, when Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount he too starts with a similar thought. Last week we saw how the beatitudes unveiled the wisdom within the paradox of suffering. Today we continue by examining the punchline of the sermon, namely: “Power will not like it if you become free.”
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12
Speaking truth to power is the very job description of a prophet. Seeing the truth while under the control of institutional power is our moment of awakening. Up until that moment, we are hooked up to it’s anesthesia. People today, just as the audience of this sermon were waking up, but were not sure what to do in order to be free of oppression.
Do you want to be free/healed?
Our default mode is to think that if we have economic independence then we will become free. Then we hook up to the I.V. and start competing for wealth. Money makes life convenient and entertaining but not free. Money gathered and squandered on the false self is the darkest prison. Jesus reveals the paradox of wisdom which is needed more now than ever. If we would be free then we must first be free within. It is this inner spaciousness, this inner awareness, the connection to Source that will give us the power to subvert the institutions that imprison us. This will become clearer as we work through the sermon.
Who is your government? Who is your board of directors? Who is your Sanhedrin or Elder board? Who are your commanding officers? Institutional power is the collective energy of individuals who organize around a given purpose. It can be your own family, your group of friends, a spouse, a team, a league, a religion, a church, or a state. At some point in all of our lives, we bump into the controlling forces of institutional power. If we follow the rules, these powers will give us an identity and some version of a life. But what happens if we question authority?
Are you waking up? As soon as you recognize the following process, your anesthesia is wearing off.
Now we can finally hear the keynote message of this powerful sermon. Our suffering world suffers by the corruption and oppression of institutional power or what Jesus calls the “Kingdoms of this world.” The Sermon on the Mount is an invitation to come out and be blessed, but know this, your blessing will begin with persecution and reviling. If you hold fast to freedom, if you continue for the sake of this word (Logos), then hold on, because paradox is going to renew the world. Jesus is going to show us how.
Those who question their “institution” do so for the sake of something deeply internal. This is the epicenter of spiritual reality-of BEING (ontology). To stray from the herd is to beat to a different drummer. We each hear our true name being called from outside our tomb–“Lazarus, come forth.” No matter where we begin, there is an institution that will try and reign us in. It needs us for its survival and we think we need it for ours. At first the institution beckons us nicely, then it will use doubt, then fear, then threat. Next, it begins to withdraw its resources from us-it’s trying to take back your identity. If it can’t, then it turns on you, it vilifies you, marginalizes you, and sends you into exile. If it can’t kill you physically, it will kill you financially, socially, politically, and emotionally.
If the voice inside calls you out into the clear, your existential crisis is only beginning. Where will you go? What will you do? Who will love you? Will you be alone, abandoned, hungry or homeless? Essentially yes, if you would be free. All true freedom starts with complete bankruptcy. Lunging into another institution is not freedom, its yet another captor. When you can accept being alone– When you can face poverty as a real possibility– When you can surrender the outcomes of your biggest hopes and dreams–When you can see your life for what it truly is and isn’t– Then you can hear your true name. It’s who you are without anything, without any supporting structures or facades. It’s you, naked, vulnerable, open, yet possessing a strange sense of strength, power and purpose.
You, without anything, is YOU–existing, observing, conscious, being. This is you transparently grounded in God, your Maker. You are no longer your thoughts, nor the thinker of them, but the observer of them–you are free from them. You are not your winnings and failings, that was all window dressing and performance art–you are free from doing. Your hand is now open, no longer clinging to a pseudonym, a particular outcome, an egoic pursuit, you can now turn loose and live free of everything that brings you pain.
Each step into this place of being, is another step into a kingdom without definition, without racial, political, economic, or social power plays, a kingdom of inner spaciousness. A kingdom that has come to you, called you into it. This is the Kingdom of Heaven and it’s not a destination, it’s the place from which you now live. Like a special lens, the Paradox of this kingdom reframes everything and allows you to see reality as it really is. It is the most free you can ever be.
With a place this amazing, you’d think everyone would want to get in, but as I’ve shown, the entry gate is narrow and constricted, everything false must be shed to enter. It’s so much easier to create a surrogate, or a place for all the so called winners. Then we can clamor and compete and climb over one another to be at the top, tearing one another apart along with ourselves.
This is the true cause of all suffering.
This is the Sermon on the Mount, and the powers within our world won’t like it much more than those who first heard it. Yet, this sermon’s power to liberate us is as strong today as it has ever been if we have ears to hear.