“Beloved Soul, mark: if thou wilt be a Champion in thy Savior Christ against death and hell, and would have thy young graft grow and become a tree in the Kingdom of Christ, thou must go on, and stand fast in thy first earnest purpose. It is as much as thy paternal inheritance is worth, and thy body and soul too, whether thou becomest an angel in God or a devil in Hell. … Thy purpose must stand firm, thou must not prefer temporal honor and goods before it. When the spirit of the flesh says, stay a while, it is not convenient yet; then the soul must say, now is the time for me to go back again into my native country. …
“beloved Soul, there is earnestness required to do this, and not a bare recital of words only! No, the earnest resolved Will must drive on this work, else nothing will be effected.” Jacob Boehme
By curious coincidence, I have been hearing Queen’s “We are the Champions” on the radio a lot in the last few weeks. Curious because I only listen to the radio in my car, which means about thirty minutes a day on average. Then I find this quote by Boehm discussing spiritual champions.
There are many different kinds of champions in the world. We have sports champions, spelling bee champions, champion debaters, and so on. Boehme isn’t talking about those champions of “temporal honor”. He is more interested in the champions of spirit. As he puts it, “a champion in thy Savior Christ.”
There is more that just a different goal involved in being a spiritual champion rather than a temporal one. For starters, the temporal champion almost always want to be a champion. Wants it enough to train for it, often several hours a day, six or seven days a week. The spiritual champion is only seeking spiritual growth for himself and others. He seeks no trophy. She doesn’t want her photo in the local paper. They seek only to serve God and Christ.
Christ and Jesus
One thing needs to be clarified. To many Christians, especially the evangelical type, the names Christ and Jesus can be used interchangeably. When you say Christ, you mean Jesus and when you say Jesus you mean Christ.
In reality, they do not mean the same thing. Jesus was Christ. But Christ is not always Jesus. Christ is an eternal spirit that dwelled for a time in the man Jesus. The Christ spirit has been in other human bodies before and after Jesus. Most of the time, however, this eternal spirit lives without a physical body and without being connected to any particular person.
Tree in the Kingdom of Christ
Whether you call it the Kingdom of Christ or the Kingdom of God, it is the same place. The spiritual realms, particularly the highest levels called Heaven, is the Kingdom of God. The low plain of matter that we are on is not God’s kingdom, but is fallen from it. Yet, while the kingdom of matter id not God’s realm, it is permeated by the true Kingdom of Spirit because spirit is unbounded by time or space.
But why did Boehm say we should wish for our “young graft” to grow into a tree in the Kingdom of Christ? I thing he is using that description as a simple allegory that we can all understand. We start out as a seed which is the dormant spirit and soul. We become a graft , or a sprout, when the light of the spiritual sun awakens those spiritual faculties. Then, if we continue to practice our spiritual growth techniques, we can grow into a mighty tree of spirit. One that has truth and knowledge like the original Tree of Life.
The Firm Spiritual Champion
Boehm says the spiritual student must stand firm in his goal and not give in to desires for temporal goods or honors. This does not mean we must live in poverty and without honors. We can eat well and live in comfort. We can do good deeds on all levels and receive honors for them. But we must always value the spiritual far more than we value the temporal. If we don’t, the demons and forces of darkness will tempt us until we give up on our spiritual quest to join them in the temporal.
The important think the spiritual champion must remember is that “temporal” relates to temporary. The world of matter is temporary. Any honors it grants are temporary. Any riches it provides are temporary. Only the spiritual is permanent.
If someone told you he would give you $10,000 to keep forever, or a million dollars to keep for one minute, which would you choose? I hope you would take the $10,000. For the spiritual champion, the choice is even clearer. Eternal live in spirit is worth far more than a brief life of temporal wealth and honors. So choose to be a spiritual champion.