Eric Butterworth Speaks: Essays on Abundant Living #55
Delivered by Eric Butterworth on August 23, 1975
From time to time we devote an essay to a specific Bible story or concept. Many listeners have found it quite different and interesting that our approach to the Bible is not simply one of literal or historical study, but of “metaphysical interpretation.” By this we mean that the Bible has a message that runs deeper than particular codes or creeds, and it is this transcendent meaning that has been its lasting appeal throughout history.
The Bible, in a personally symbolic sense, is the story of you! Everything in it symbolizes stages of consciousness in you. It deals with what I call the “upward fall” of man—the progressive release of the “imprisoned splendor” which has been built into man from the beginning. The final stage of this symbolic “ascending urge” of man is characterized in the Gospels of Jesus Christ.
The word “gospel” comes from the Anglo-Saxon root which means “God-spell”. It has the connotation of good news or glad tidings. The good news which Jesus proclaimed was the Truth that man is a divine creature, created in and of the wholeness of life, with built-in possibilities of the fullness of God within him.
The word “godspell” has great relevance to your life and mine today, for it deals with that upward pull of the Infinite creative process—a force which explains Jesus and encourages us. Unfortunately this is not how the Gospels have been previously presented to us. The Good News has usually been explained as God’s seeing fit to forgive mankind for hopeless sins, to clothe Himself for awhile as Jesus, and to offer Himself as a living sacrifice for our misdeeds.
Practical Christianity shifts the emphasis unto you. The Gospels will have more meaning in your life if you catch the idea of the ascending urge in man as symbolized through the entire Bible—if you see Jesus not as God becoming man but as man becoming God. It is a great story of a man feeling the pull of the Divine within him, and through discipline and great overcoming, going all the way to ultimate perfection. That Jesus achieved this is the Good News, for it means that it is a reachable goal.
He did not come to proclaim Himself, but to proclaim the inherent God-potential in all persons. He was not preaching His own divinity (as the great exception to the creative process), but was telling us of our divinity and setting Himself forth as a good example of the I AM reaching its highest and most complete expression in man.
This is a pathway of growth and discipline. It is no bed of roses. Jesus called disciples and they let Him down. The twelve disciples represent the various foundation faculties of man that need to be lifted up and brought under control by the whole person. The word “disciple” means “to learn”.
Jesus went into the wilderness and was tempted by the Devil. This symbolizes the kind of struggle that we will all have when we make a commitment to a higher way of living. There is an inertial pull of human consciousness that holds us in a limited orbit...or tries to do so. The word “devil” means “adversary”. It symbolizes the adverse reactions and emotions of our consciousness that contend with our higher aspirations.
The central point in the Gospel story is not really Jesus, but the Christ Spirit that He expressed and the Universal Principles that He taught and demonstrated.
There is much confusion over this word “Christ”. Because of lifelong conditioning, most of us think of Christ and Jesus as being synonymous. But Christ is not so much a person as a principle. Christ is a level of the particularization of God into man—the focal point through which all the attributes of God are projected into livingness.
When Paul says, “Christ in you, your hope of glory,” he isn’t referring to Jesus. Jesus discovered the Christ principle within Himself. But He revealed it as a principle that involved all humanity by revealing a new dimension of Divinity.
This is the Good News. Not that Jesus was Divine, but that all men are inherently divine. Every person has the built-in capacity to become the perfect fulfillment of the Christ. We may take the long or the short road to achieve it; it may take us forty years in the wilderness like the Israelites; or it may take aeons of time; but it is foreordained that we manifest it simply because it is our nature.
There is something going for us that we can very well call Good News. It is a pull—it is a veritable Godspell on us. It is like the pull of the sun on a sunflower which causes the blossom to open up and face the sun. It is the pull of life upward and outward on all growing things, causing them to send their shoots and branches and trunks upward into space.
Man has misread this “up there” as being in the heavens, so he had prayed upwards; he has reached up with outstretched arms, pleading to the heavens for help and forgiveness. But the “up” is really “in”. The Godspell for all men which Jesus discovered and demonstrated is the Father within, the Presence of God living Himself out into expression as us.
Today, science is on the verge of establishing an entirely new foundation for understanding the universe; it is called the “field theory of life”. It is based on the assumption that just as the flower moves through its performance of growth, there is an electromagnetic pattern which surrounds the process and becomes the conductor for the symphony of life. Science may well be giving proof of the Kingdom of Heaven which Jesus describes as being located “within you”. It may well be that this force field is the Godspell, the divine pattern and the creative intention to fulfill it. This perfect pattern is what you can be. Actually, you can never be anything else. You may try to copy someone else or be conformed to the world; but this leads to failure and inharmony. It is the Godspell—the Christ of you—that you must become.
To catch the idea of the Godspell is to avoid the mistake of thinking that Divine Sonship is the projection onto us of something unlike us. God cannot project Himself out of Himself. God can only be God. There is no such thing as an individual who is separate and apart from the Universe. Man is not an individual in God; he is a unique individualization £f God. And He has the divine ferment, the heavenly desire, the Godspell, all inwrapped within him and inseparable from him.
When Jesus says, “Enter into the inner chamber and close the door and pray to the Father in secret,” He refers to the creative intention within you. As Emerson says, “There is guidance for each of us and by lowly listening, we shall hear the right word.”
This is an exciting concept. It is truly Good News for all men. It means that within yourself “You have it!” You can stop trying so hard looking for it and “getting it” (with all the pressures of competition and strife and worry) and let it.
“Light” has been one of the universal symbols of power and achievement. “Let there be light” was the first utterance in the creative process. Jesus turned this concept into a personal one for you...”Let your light shine.” He thus implies that the true Son of God is not in the heavens but in man, waiting to be expressed. When you let go and feel this Godspell in you, you are letting God be God in you.
© 1975, by Eric Butterworth