Jesus Manifesto – The Cosmic Christ, Mindfulness, and the Holy Spirit – Colossians 1 – Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

Thich Nhat Hanh

living buddha

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The Supremacy of Christ

15 He is the divine portrait, the true likeness of the invisible God, and the first-born heir of all creation. 16 For through the Son everything was created, both in the heavenly realm and on the earth, all that is seen and all that is unseen. Every seat of power, realm of government, principality, and authority—it was all created through him and for his purpose! 17 He existed before anything was made, and now everything finds completion in him.

18 He is the Head of his body, which is the church. And since he is the beginning and the firstborn heir in resurrection,[g] he is the most exalted One, holding first place[h] in everything. 19 For God is satisfied to have all his fullness[i] dwelling in Christ. 20 And by the blood of his cross, everything in heaven and earth is brought back to himself—back to its original intent, restored to innocence again![j]

Made Holy through Christ

21–22 Even though you were once distant from him, living in the shadows of your evil thoughts and actions, he reconnected you back to himself. He released his supernatural peace to you through the sacrifice of his own body as the sin-payment on your behalf so that you would dwell in his presence. And now there is nothing between you and Father God, for he sees you as holy, flawless, and restored,[k] 23 if indeed you continue to advance in faith, assured of a firm foundation to grow upon. Never be shaken from the hope of the gospel you have believed in. And this is the glorious news I preach all over the world. From <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=colossians+1&version=TPT&interface=print>

Introduction

My family and I went camping this past weekend. My wife loves the outdoors and has been tent camping over the past 25 years. I have only tent camped maybe a handful a times in the past 48 years. There is a huge discrepancy in our experience with tent camping. Yet, the weather was beautiful, the dogs loved it (swimming, playing, jumping, and running amok), and everything was so green. Both my wife and I love the outdoors. There is a serenity when we can get away from the city and concrete jungle.

Last night, we went to a friend’s sons graduation party. It seemed like a mini reunion from my time that I spent at Calvary Chapel Columbus. Calvary Chapel grew out of the Four Square Churches and was at its Zenith during the Jesus movement in the 1970’s. The Vineyard movement which I am most part of is also part of that. Our friend Dan is developing a meadary and is a Buddhist. We are very interested in his meadary and his views as a Japanese Buddhist. My wife and I go to a Buddhist-Christian church in Columbus, and Dan is part of a Japanese Zen Buddhist discussion group.

I have also been reading the Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. In the chapter entitled “The Bottom of the Ocean”, it is an exegesis of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. One of the main themes of Colossians chapter one is on The Cosmic Christ.

The Cosmic Christ

The authors write:

This Christ is not only before all things, but the entire universe is held together in Him. He is the cohesive force, the glue and gravitational pull that holds all created elements together. He is creation’s great adhesive, the hinge upon which the whole cosmos turns. Remove Christ, and the entire universe disintegrates (Sweet and Viola, Page 28)

According to Thich Nhat Hanh, the Holy Spirit is the energy sent by God” (Hanh, page 25). Dan discussed with us what the Buddha Heart is within all of us. He compared it to the Holy Spirit. Hanh discusses the practice of mindfulness – being in the present moment is very much like the Holy Spirit. Hanh in his book Living Buddha, Living Christ makes three claims about mindfulness:

  1. The Holy Spirit is the Energy of Love and Understanding;
  2. Both the Holy Spirit and Mindfulness are agents of healing;
  3. Mindfulness is full of love, compassion, and understanding;
  4. When the Energy of the Holy Spirit is present, God the father God and the Son are there (Hanh 33)

According the Sweet and Viola, Christ is the very meaning of Creation. Eliminate Him, and the universe has no purpose. Remove Him, and every living thing loses its meaning (Sweet and Viola page 29)

Dan spoke with us about being mindful and the spirituality of mindfulness and living in the “already and not yet”, and the present moment. Dan is an agnostic Buddhist, yet the spiritual practices of Zen (mindfulness, impermanence, interbeing, kenosis) all our similar to the spiritual practices that the Christian mystics have performed over the centuries. According to the Apostle Paul, all of creation has its meaning and completion is found in Christ. For Thich Nhat Hanh completeness is found in mindfulness. Just as he said the Holy Spirit is the doorway to the Trinity (Hanh page 32), mindfulness is the doorway to the Buddha. Hanh mentions that because God the Son is made of energy of Holy Spirit, He is the door for us to enter the Kingdom of God. The Buddha is also described as a door, a teacher who shows us the way in this life (Hanh page 50)

Dan and I talked about impermanence, and how hard it is live free in the present moment, and be thankful when the moment passes. Impermanence reveals my control issues and lack of serenity in my life. Yet at the same time, impermanence is brings a freedom as I let go of things in this life to experience more of God when I am being mindful.

Conclusion

God is so much bigger than our understanding of God. Our paradigms of systematic theology is limiting to who God is, his essence, and his relationship with creation. God has given us teachers like the Buddha and Jesus to reveal who he is to his creation. The energy of God which is love is manifested in the practice of mindfulness and through the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul in his letter to Colossians makes it evident that God in Christ is what holds together the universe.

It was good being part of God’s creation while camping last weekend and seeing our dogs run amok and be happy playing in the water. It was good hanging out with friends that I have not seen in over 20 years and introduce them to my family, and lastly have a spiritual discussion with those that are different than myself.