I will now do a dangerous thing. I will explain it at the end, but in the beginning I must do it. Let us begin.
What is the essence of it?
If you squeeze it hard enough, what is its juice?
Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.”
What did he mean by “more abundantly?”
Please do not think that I am asking you these questions because I do not know the answers. I have introduced a subject – Life – and asked you to consider three questions:
1. What is the essence of it?
2: If you squeeze it hard enough, what is its juice?
3: What did Jesus mean by “more abundantly?”
Relax. I am not leading you into a discussion of religious faith. I am just kicking open the door to the wild and wonderful experience of what it means to feel alive.
Did you know that every actor, chef, journalist, musician, storyteller, painter, poet, dancer, sculptor, photographer, novelist and playwright share a common objective? These artists have tasted one of more of the nine juices of life and they want you to taste it, too.
The Nine Juices of Life…
What do you suppose would happen to you
if you drank of these more deeply?
1. Love heals pain and frees the ego. It is your appreciation of beauty – gratitude – that connects you to the source of love.
2. Joy is expressed in laughter, contentment and happiness. But if you pursue these things directly, they will evade you. They can only be experienced as a side-effect of love.
3. Wonder is the result of becoming fascinated with the idea of life. It is playfulness and curiosity and a journey into the complete appreciation of a mystery that ends in magical awe.
4. Courage is an energy that emerges when you call upon the Warrior within you. It manifests itself as bravery, confidence, and pride.
5. Sadness allows you to experience compassion, the emotion that allows us to relate more deeply to one another. Grief is an expression of sadness, an inescapable part of healing.
6. Anger is fire, heat and light. When anger is not acknowledged and respected, it becomes irritation, hatred, and violence. Feel your anger and let it move through you, but do not let it guide your actions. A single moment of anger can destroy a lifetime of good.
7. Fear is most commonly expressed as expressed as worry, doubt, and insecurity. When we hide beneath its shade, we shut down completely.
8. Disgust turned inward is self-pity and self-loathing. Disgust cannot be healed except through love.
9. Peace is not external, but within. It is the deep, relaxing calm that occurs when you become so full that you are empty. Five hundred and seven years ago, Giovanni Giocondo wrote about this kind of peace in a Christmas letter to a friend. “No peace lies in the future that is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!”
Every work of art is an attempt to express one or more of these nine juices of life. At least that was the belief of a religious teacher who lived 2,000 years ago. But the teacher wasn’t Jesus. This teacher lived 2300 miles away in India, and his thoughts were chronicled in the Natya Shastra of the Hindus.
And now I will confess the dangerous thing I have done: I have demonstrated that interesting perspectives and ancient wisdom can be found in religions that are not your own. In itself, this is a good thing because it helps us to better understand and appreciate our neighbors. But this is the stop where I always exit this train of thought to make new and interesting friends.
If you stay on the train, the next exit is called, “All religions teach basically the same thing.” And this is where the marvelous experience of faith is reduced to a moral code.
Faith is not a moral code. And the embrace of a moral code is not the same as having faith.
Having faith is the wild and wonderful feeling of being fully alive.
If a moral code is all you seek, then yes, most religions teach a similar moral code.
But I am hoping for something much better for you.
Roy H. Williams
Christianity is an entirely different thing than faith in Christ. Christianity is a moral code to which you can subscribe. Christ is a person you can know. We lost our way, I think, when we began spreading Christianity instead of Christ.