Excerpt from Reality of the Spiritual World

When our souls are utter­ly swept through and over­turned by God’s invad­ing love, we sud­den­ly find our­selves in the midst of a whol­ly new rela­tion­ship with some of our fel­low human beings. We find our­selves enmeshed with some peo­ple in amaz­ing bonds of love and near­ness and togeth­er­ness of soul, such as we nev­er knew before. In glad amaze­ment we ask our­selves: What is this star­tling new bond­ed­ness in love which I feel with those who are down in the same cen­ter of life? Can this amaz­ing expe­ri­ence of togeth­er­ness in love be what peo­ple have called fel­low­ship? Can this be the love which bound togeth­er the ear­ly church, and made their meals togeth­er into a sacra­ment of love?

Is this inter­nal impulse which I feel, to share life with those who are down in the same cen­ter of love, the rea­son that the Ear­ly Church mem­bers shared their out­ward goods as a sym­bol of the expe­ri­enced inter­nal shar­ing of the life and the love of Christ? Can this new bond­ed­ness in love be the mean­ing of being in the king­dom of God?

But not all our acquain­tances are caught with these new and spe­cial bonds of love. A rearrange­ment takes place. Some peo­ple whom we had only slight­ly known before sud­den­ly become elec­tri­cal­ly illu­mi­nat­ed. Now we know them, for lo, they have been down in the cen­ter a long time, and we nev­er knew their secret before. Now we are bound togeth­er with them in a spe­cial bond of near­ness, far exceed­ing the near­ness we feel toward many we have known for years. For we know where they live, and they know where we live, and we under­stand one anoth­er and are pow­er­ful­ly drawn to one anoth­er. We hunger for their fel­low­ship; their lives are knit­ted with our life in this amaz­ing bond­ed­ness of divine love.

Oth­ers of our acquain­tance recede in impor­tance. We may have known them for years; we may have thought we were close togeth­er. But now we know they are not down in the cen­ter in Christ, where our dear­est loves and hopes of life and death are focused. And we know we can nev­er share life at its depth until they, too, find their way down into this burn­ing cen­ter of shared love.

Espe­cial­ly does a new align­ment of our church rela­tion­ship take place. Now we know, from with­in, the secret of the per­se­ver­ance and fideli­ty of some, a secret we could not have guessed when we were out­side them. Now we see, sud­den­ly, that some of the active lead­ers are not so far down into the cen­ter of peace and love as we had sup­posed. We had always respect­ed and admired them for their ener­gy, but now we know they have nev­er been brought into the depths, nor do they know the secret of being root­ed and ground­ed with oth­ers in love. 

Now we sud­den­ly see that some qui­et, obscure per­sons, whose voic­es count for lit­tle in the coun­cils of the church, are princes and saints in Israel. Why had we not noticed them before? The whole grad­ed scale by which we had arranged the peo­ple in our church accord­ing to impor­tance is shak­en and revised. Some of the lead­ers are greater even than we had guessed; oth­ers are thin and anx­ious souls, not know­ing the peace at the cen­ter. Some that stood low are real­ly high in the new range of values.

Into this fel­low­ship of souls at the cen­ter we sim­ply emerge. No one is cho­sen to the fel­low­ship. When we dis­cov­er God we dis­cov­er the fel­low­ship. When we find our­selves in Christ we find we are also amaz­ing­ly unit­ed with those oth­ers who are also In Christ. When we were out­side of it we nev­er knew that it exist­ed or only dim­ly guessed the exis­tence of bonds of love among those who were ded­i­cat­ed slaves of Christ. There are many who are mem­bers of our church­es who do not know what I am speak­ing of. But there are oth­ers of you who will say, Sure­ly I know exact­ly what you are talk­ing about. I’m glad you’ve found your way in.”

From Real­i­ty of the Spir­i­tu­al World, copy­right © 1942 by Pen­dle Hill Pub­li­ca­tions, Walling­ford, PA.

Pho­to by Luca Bag­gio on Unsplash

· Last Featured on Renovare.org June 2022

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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