I came across the term “Christing” in my inbox the other day. It was coined, most recently, by Saniel Bonder. But the idea has been part of the tradition for a long time, especially in the mystic lineage. We are in the process of being Christed—that is, of incarnating, of realizing that we are enfleshed Spirit/Spirit enfleshed. Can’t be one without the other. At least, not if you are a human. I’m sure that there are other beings happily occupying different realms who are one or the other, but our divine nature is discovered precisely in this union of spirit and matter. Christing also involves the competency of manifesting our ideals and our vision.
The majority of Christians want to reserve this privilege for Jesus of Nazareth. “The” incarnation happened 2000 years ago. But early in the church’s life, the community hadn’t yet forgotten that Jesus taught something along the lines of: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do. . . .” ( John 14:12). The greater work is done by following the primordial curiosity and work of what it means to be in the process of becoming fully human. Which is another way of saying that we are being awakened to the nature of our incarnation.
For some time now my intuition has been telling me that all that was written about Jesus in the first century was the necessary externalization or objectification of the mystery of incarnation itself. But this mystery had to be projected on to Jesus (the doctrine of “the” Incarnation) so that we could see it, and it’s taken a couple thousand years to take back the projection and realize that every thing we said about him is actually about the future human—Human 2.0. He was what we are becoming. And what we are becoming potentially will be greater than what he was—at least if you believe the Jesus of John’s gospel. His metaphorical ascension to the right hand of G_d symbolizes the ascension of entire species. We are in the process with Jesus of being lifted “up” (or drawn) to realize the next stage of what it is to be Human.
Perhaps the archetype of the Child of Wisdom, or the “Son of the Human One” , popped in Jesus, and through him (and others) is now popping (being constellated and expressed) in an increasing number of humans—some of whom are actually in the church! 🙂 The challenge of being Spirit/flesh, flesh/Spirit is in holding, rather than resolving, the polarity of heaven and earth, spirit and matter.
One of the fundamental challenges of incarnation centers around the issue of control. Having emptied the human experience of spirit, secular modernism’s bottom line is that we are out of control in a rudderless universe. We are the product of a very long process of evolution biased toward mere survival in a milieu of hostility. The universe is essentially against us. This kind of modernism is
all ground, all flesh, all materiality, lacking in transcendence, deep purpose, or a “pattern that connects”. The intellect is too often brought to bear solely on the project of meaninglessness. The presence of tragedy merely confirms that the universe is going nowhere, at a pretty good rate. In the extreme form of this worldview, humans are little more than physical material arranged accidentally after 13.8 billion years in the form of humans valiantly making meaning in a universe that is itself void of it.
A lot of new age spirituality, on the other hand, lacks grounding (the fleshy, rooted part). All is spirit. The universe is, in every detail of our live, good or bad, for us. The shitty, chaotic, tragic aspects of reality are glossed over or re-framed within a cosmology in which “everything happens for a reason”. Synchronicity swallows all, and everything is a “sign” of Spirit’s guidance. Modernism compensates for the belief that we are out of control in a universe that it going nowhere with gestures of radical technological control—over the birth process through endless forms of intervention with drugs and technology; over the dying process through what Stephen Jenkinson calls the “death racket”; over food systems with GMO, fast foods, etc., essentially displaying a breathtaking distrust of natural processes. New Age spirituality deals with being out of control through what amounts to a hyper-anxious superstition of synchronicity. (This is not to say that all of our experience, especially crisis, is potentially a teacher depending upon how we choose to respond).
How to dwell in the polarity of spirit/flesh without resolving the mystery in favour of one or the other? How do we inhabit our lives knowing that our lives are comprised of this exquisite dance of chance and order? Out of control though we may be, we are nevertheless being danced to the “end of love” (Leonard Cohen). Holding this tension may just be the secret to the competency of incarnation. One of the keys may lie in giving up the need for certainty, predictability, and absolute forms of knowing, which some forms of modernity and some forms new age spirituality are grasping at in different ways.
My own hunch is that the process of evolution is a Christing process that is ultimately mysterious and beyond our control. And yet, in our best moments, even when we cannot make sense of it all, we know that we are the presence of this Spirit-enlivened, evolutionary current in the flesh, and that this process is Love realizing itself.
Jesus is one spiritual teacher who found a way to hold the tension and fashion a life that was grounded in engaging the domination system of his day, and yet who looked upon those he met with eyes that beheld and called forth the already present but yet-to-be-realized wholeness in each human being. His example is that it is possible to be firmly rooted in reality, and engage that reality as a new kind of human. Even though his spirit-enfleshed self could not avoid execution by the very powers he felt called to redeem, he trusted the Dance that was dancing him. This is what Paul was on to with his metaphor of the “second Adam”. That holy gaze with which Jesus beheld the world, still draws us 2000 years later to become the love out of which all emerged and continues to emerge. This is the Christing we are all undergoing.