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Religion & Culture | The power behind the word 'Jesus'

Published:Sunday | July 24, 2016 | 12:00 AMDr Glenville Ashby
Interestingly, for all my spiritual pursuits and criticism on the Christian faith as practised today ... I could never contest that one word, Jesus.
Worshippers at the Pentecostal Tabernacle on Wildman Street in Kingston enjoys the service.
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"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," reads John 1:1.

Interestingly, all religions and mystical movements have ascribed power to particular words.

"All life is a vibration and the intention behind our words and understanding their meaning is crucial in creating a harmonious, peaceful co-creation with all life," we learn in vitallifefoundation.com.

The article went further: "When words are used unconsciously our life is then an unconscious creation; however, our power is in this moment, and all we have is now to change our current thought pattern or verbiage into a more harmonious vibration, if it is not already.

"All the masters and great teachers have demonstrated the 'Power of the Word' and expressed vital importance around this area of the creative process of life."

Understandably, many words of power revolve around the names of messiahs and saints.

 

Progressing spiritually

 

The Spiritual Science Research Foundation advocates that the most effective way to progress spiritually and guard against dangers in these perilous times is by chanting the name of God according to the religion of our birth.

It counsels the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Sikh, Jew and Zoroastrian on their many respective sacred words. For the purpose of this discourse, we will concentrate on the Christian word of power - Jesus.

Through the centuries, and beyond, certain words are said to be locked, imprinted in our ancestral mode, taking on particular power, if only we could access them.

For example, the soldier in a foxhole crying out for "mother" is an acknowledged cross-cultural reality. Even the atheist's instinctive yell for God in times of stress or sudden onslaught of anguish is not uncommon.

This is hardly an idiomatic response, as some believe. There are certain words that have been nurtured through our psycho-spiritual lineage whether or not we accept this fact. Curiously, they work magically when we utter them with naked passion. Such a word is Jesus.

Admittedly, I have yelled for divine intervention during moments of desperation and capitulation. Life tests the steeliest among us. Interestingly, for all my spiritual pursuits and criticism on the Christian faith as practised today, and for sound reason, I could never contest that one word - Jesus.

 

Reverberated through

 

It has sustained and rescued me although I may have identified with other faiths and movements. It has protected me even when I did not consciously pronounce the word revealing itself as it reverberated through every fibre.

Many vouch for its power. The power of Jesus, they say, transcends religious precepts and rituals. It is inherently magical but accessible only through faith or grace.

Now follows the $64,000 question: Can every Christian benefit from this power? The answer is no.

Matthew 7: 23 makes this clear: "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you'."

For sure, baptism or "accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour" are inconsequential without grace or faith.

Grace can be defined as being bestowed an alienable right to receive the blessings without requesting it.

Jerry Bridges describes grace as "God reaching downward to people who are in rebellion against him." Paul Zahl expressed similar sentiments defining grace as "unconditional love towards person who does not deserve it".

Why then are some people granted this wondrous gift? Why does the word Jesus become so efficacious when used by such individuals?

 

Spiritual lineage

 

The answer lies in their blessed spiritual lineage and ancestry. In the same way that many are 'cut off' because of generational sins (a doctrine that finds support in many religious traditions other than Christianity), those with grace inherit particular protection and power.

Faith is the other medium that unlocks the power of sacred words. Faith is more than belief and is far more complex than we realise. In the article 'Overwhelmed by Greatness: The Psychological significance of Awe in Christian experience and Formation', Andrew Tix (October 26, 2015) writes that faith is viewed as an emotional experience, awe for the divine.

He writes: "One aspect is a sensation of trembling, which comes from a perception of being in the presence of something uncanny, overpowering, and vibrantly alive. Second, there is mystery, which typically leads a person to fascination ... specifically to feelings of being astonished, thunderstruck, transfixed, or dumbfounded."

The absence of this sensation explains why so many of us fail to reap the benefit of sacred words, such as the Lord's name. We just do not understand the power of faith nor are we able to attune to its vibratory level.

But all is not lost. There is hope amid every crisis we are called to face. With patience and understanding we can manifest great things when we adopt and hold fast to the principles of acceptance of responsibility, forgiveness, atonement and gratitude.

Jesus' pronouncement in John 14:12-14 best encapsulates this truth: "Verily truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."

- Dr Glenville Ashby is an academic member of Religion Newswriters Association. Feedback: glenvilleashby@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter@glenvilleashby