As pointed out on the previous page, the introduction of a new spiritual discipline to an existing mix adds new possibilities. Describing the possiblities will take proportionately more numerous passages and paragraphs, so merely add the interactions you as a believing Host/Symbiote can have with other Host/Symbiotes mutually performing the spiritual disciplines to get an idea of the added potential. Synergy steps in, and the group becomes greater than the sum of its individuals. I will briefly cover some high points, deferring a more detailed analysis and discussion to Stage 3.
Fellowship is when christian brothers and/or sisters come together to communicate, regardless of context. Happy is the church whose pastor recognizes that fellowship doesn't exclusively happen in Sunday School or Church, so promotes activities that are not necessarily related to spiritual matters, but are intended to build relationships between the members. The intent is to build phileo-based relationships on top of the firm foundation of the agape-based relationships that already exist. A further extension of this is the high-intensity fellowship that is called marriage: the best ones start off based on agape, proceed to phileo, then add eros to the mix on their wedding night. Contrast with secular marriages, where the more long-lived ones build eros on phileo, while the shortest lived ones are built solely on eros.
Exhortation is when one Christian communicates spiritual things and ideas to another, to encourage the hearer. This is usually done one-on-one. It is fellowship narrowed down to two, with the goal of one helping the other. (Preaching is a one-to-may proposition, and has limits that we will discuss.)
Witnessing is when one Christian communicates spiritual things and ideas to a non-Christian, to encourage the hearer to be saved. While people can be saved in evangelistic meetings, there is general agreement that the best conversions are done by Christians engaging one-on-one with the unbeliever.
To get across a key benefit of fellowship done symbiotically, consider the Stage 2 ability of the Symbiote within you to communicate a specific idea to you, His Host. The effectiveness of Him communicating that idea to you is limited by the pre-conceptions you hold about the subject of that idea. Those pre-conceptions act as filters in the Bitstream. If your pre-conceptions are in accord with the truth, or the idea does not conflict with them, the ideas slip past these filters in the Bitstream and you will receive the idea easily. (Believing it is from the Holy Spirit is a different matter altogether.) If the idea contradicts the pre-conceptions, then the idea is partly or completely filtered out of the Bitstream: you either "don't get it" or have difficulty "grasping it". Because a pre-conception is a learned idea, the only way to eliminate it is for you to "unlearn what you have learned."
There are many methods that God uses to get you to unlearn what you have learned, some much more unpleasant to experience than others. Some are so subtle they are easily overlooked, especially by the unwary and unwarned. The Symbiotic methodolgies to be outlined in Stage 2 are quicker, more efficient, and definitely less painful. However, one method has a unique Stage 3 aspect that I will outline here. It relies on the fact that, even though there are many Christians, and thus multiple hosts for the Holy Spirit symbiote, there is only one Symbiote. That is, the Holy Spirit that resides in you is the same Holy Spirit that resides in your brothers and sisters as well.
This aspect of the Homo/Deus symbiote is unique in nature and Science fiction: discussions of group minds distinguish between hive and non-hive variants, where the members lose or retain their individuality respectively. (A non-hive variant that has interesting implications for Christians is "A Miracle of Science".) What is common to both variants is the loss of mental privacy, and perhaps a good deal of autonomy: the works describing non-hive variants do not address the tendency of people joining mobs doing things they normally would not do as individuals. The pressure to conform could not possibly lessen in a group mind where there is no mental privacy. This is in contrast to Christian Symbiosis, where the design explicitly ensures both mental privacy, autonomy, and free will.
Another difference between Symbiosis and the group mind is the resources being made available to the individuals: regardless of how many people are in the group mind, the resources of the group are limited to the sum of all the ideas in the individuals. Certainly there are synergistic benefits where the ideas in one person's mind would be the missing pieces needed to complete an idea in another person's mind, but that is already happening, at a slower rate, because of writing, publishing, and the Internet. How can one contrast the knowledge of all human beings against the knowledge that God has by virtue of being everywhere at once and knowing all things? Human beings try to predict the future, but God knows the future. If you're Armenian, God knows all possible futures!
And that just has to do with knowledge. Some group minds are imagined (just imagined) to have collective IQs that are the sum of the individual parts. Still, it is finite when compared to God's wisdom. Goodness, God could take a rest from being God, act silly, and still be wiser than men!
On top of being more knowledgeable and wiser than any imagined group mind, Christian Symbiosis potentially makes available the power of God to the individual. Many group minds are imagined to be the product of technology, so the power of the advanced technology is (usually) made available to the individuals in the group mind, but what is that compared to the Creator God who fabricated the matter in the entire universe from stuff that does not appear? Consider the feeding of the 5000: past the first two meals, the matter in the remaining 4998 meals just for the men had to come from nothing! If each man had six ounces of fish and three of bread, the energy required to fabricate the matter for only one meal would have been over 23 million gigajoules. If you're a sci-fi movie buff, that's 1.9 million times more powerful than the imaginary "arc reactor" that powers the movie version of Iron Man's mark III suit. And that's the energy equivalent of just one meal.
But I must beg the forgiveness of my readers for this exercise in vanity, since I am comparing the emptiness of worldly imaginations against the promises of Divine Providence. One may as well compare the fantasies of riches spun by hobos cooking their meal of shoe sole under a trestle against the future benefits of a marriage proposal from the child of a billionaire monarch who rules a nuclear superpower. I speak to those who, having enjoyed the benefits of a symbiotically controlled thought life, have merely tasted of the powers of the age to come. My friends, naught but the lack of faith and patience separates us from that part of our inheritance that we can possess today.
If you have been in a good group discussion of Christians, you may have noticed the great variety of life histories and viewpoints represented by them. That variety is an indication of the variety of pre-conceptions preventing these Christians from getting the ideas that the Holy Spirit is trying to communicate to them. However, the situation is actually much better than it appears, for it is not necessary for the Holy Spirit to get the same idea to everyone at the same time. Rather, he only needs to get the idea through to at least one of the Christians present, who voices the idea. A Symbiotic Christian operating in stage 2 has the training to pick up the idea quickly if it doesn't conflict with his pre-conceptions. The moment it is verbalized, it has a better chance of sailing past the pre-conceptions in the intended recipient that was blocking the idea internally because it takes advantage of the priority of sensory thoughts noted in the previous page. At the same time, the Holy Spirit within the intended recipient can "rattle the bars with his tin cup". If the recipient is also operating in Stage 2, he will immediately realize the idea, no matter how crazy it sounds (conflicting with his pre-conceptions) is worth looking at more closely because he got a signal from the Symbiote within that just says "this idea is worth considering!" The thought "this idea is worth considering" is not the same as the idea itself, so the pre-conceptions don't filter it out.
Unfortunately, there is only one pre-conception that would foul all this up: the Christian who gets the idea doesn't say it because they have the pre-conception that "That's an idea that nobody is interested in!" If nobody is interested in it, he won't voice it out of concern for everyone else's time. If he doesn't voice it, the intended recipient doesn't get it.
And this is why the variant of fellowship called the Samson Society is so effective. It is an exclusively Christian program where Christian men come together in meetings patterned after those used by 12 step-based recovery programs such as AlAnon and NarcAnon. An accepting environment is created which allows anyone and everyone the time, freedom, and security to voice their concerns and their weaknesses. If the idea the Holy Spirit wants to get across is related to the voiced concern and weakness, then those who heard it have just been effectively told "If there is an idea that might address this brother's problem with our addiction, then tell it!" This is especially re-inforced by the 12 steps and the format of the recovery meeting. Stage 2 capabilities in some of the members would increase the effectiveness of this format.
Samson Society members can ask for the temporary guidance and mentoring of a "Silas" to help them in a particular area of concern or accountability, which is essentially a variant of exhortation. Although the chances of getting the same set of pre-conceptions are higher if there are only two Christians that the Holy Spirit can work with, He can increase the chance of success if the one needing aid is guided symbiotically by the Holy Spirit when choosing his Silas for a specific problem.
I classify fellowship and exhortation separately from preaching of the word, mainly because of the format and inherent problems in the communication path. Preaching is strictly one-way, while fellowship and exhortation allow for two-way communication to clear up miscommunications. Also, one must sympathize with the difficulty that the Holy Spirit and the preacher both have while coming up with a sermon: it cannot possibly reach everyone, so the preacher counts on the Holy Spirit to guide him on what to talk about. I have been invited to preach several times, thought I had a good subject to preach about on each one, and worked on the sermon, only to totally re-write it on Saturday. When I gave it that Sunday, there were people in the congregation who needed exactly the information added during the re-write. I recall remarking to the Holy Spirit that one Saturday re-write "was a youth sermon!" Bare minutes before I started preaching that Sunday, a group of young men from Paul Anderson Youth Home filed in and took up the first three pews to my right. At the end of the sermon, three young men made a decision to follow Jesus Christ. When it comes to these essays, the temptation to fuss is strong, but I always like the results when I succeed in suppressing the fussing and do some obeying instead.
The downside of hearing the word preached is that it may contain a message intended for someone else and not for you. I am still trying to develop the habit of asking, if I feel the sermon is unjustly or unfairly targeted to me, whether the Holy Spirit intended it for me or for someone else. As of the writing of this essay, I think I need to develop a Stage 2 protocol for this situation since the danger is that I may unjustly or unfairly dismiss a sermon that is intended for me. The general principle is "prove all things, hold fast to that which is good," which implies that some parts of "all things" aren't good for me.
In general, the smaller the group and the looser the format, the better the Holy Spirit can target specific people and circumstances, with exhortation having the most specific targeting of message to individual. I believe that the sermon was a Greek innovation brought into the Church to handle the education of the large number of people who joined Christianity when it became the state religion. The format of the early house churches, if the Corinthian church format is typical, was structured after the way Jewish synagogue services were done. The speakers were people sharing what the Holy Spirit had brought to their attention since the last meeting. An overseer was chosen to prevent confusion and preserve some sort of order. Some who had the scriptures shared those passages they read when the Spirit touched their hearts, signalling that that passage was important. Some who were inspired by a song, or who wrote a song under the influence of the Spirit's inspiration would sing them. Those with the spiritual gifts of prophecy spoke them. Those who spoke in tounges, and an interpreter was present, would speak. If anyone had a problem, they would voice it: those with the Word of Knowledge would supply some unknown facts, and those with the Word of Wisdom would use the pieces to stitch together a strategy under the guidance of the Spirit. At the same time, the Spirit moved in the hearers to understand which parts applied to them. The confusion in the Corinthian church was due to people who, being told by the Spirit what to say for the edification of a member, started speaking at the same time, one to one, another to another, with the consequence being that nobody got the message intended for them! The problems are simlar to those encountered in multi-party phone calls, and some of the protocols outlined by Paul addresses the same problems in both communication spaces. Another problem were people speaking in tounges with no one to interpret them: Paul told these pithily that the whole point of the service was to edify one another, so either pray to interpret the tounges, pray for an interpreter to come and interpret, or just pray silently so that someone else could "have the floor".
I mentioned that exhortation has the highest specificity of targeting. It is my belief that a Symbiotic Christian Counselor operating in Stage 2 has increased effectiveness with christians due to the Stage 3 effect of having the Holy Spirit aiding him in helping a brother or sister in Christ. I had the privilege of counseling a young Christian who was sensitive to the Spirit's moving: we were able to locate his specific problem very quickly and I hope he follows up his insight with a Christian counselor because I did not have practical clinical experience in dealing with the specific problem uncovered. I will develop the bare outline of Symbiotic Counseling in Stages 2 and 3, leaving to symbiotically active professionals in that field to develop the specifics and protocols.
I included witnessing as part of this spiritual discipline because of my belief that witnessing to someone on whom the Holy Spirit is not simultaneously working is a waste of time and a source of pointless aggravation. Prevenient Grace is the Wesleyan doctrine that the Holy Spirit temporarily inhabits the unbeliever and serves a proto-Stage 2 service by attempting to introduce new thoughts into their Bitstream, temporarily freeing their minds to fairly consider the message you are presenting to them. In modern societies, the delicacy with which one must witness approaches the skills that I think are required to be successful at Fly Fishing. My experience is that you need to be very skilled in Stage 2 and be highly responsive to even the most strange impulses to be truly effective. As one who formerly was very hesitant, if not downright terrified, of witnessing to anyone who wasn't a prisoner, there is a rush of confidence that comes with realizing that Stage 2 gives you an inside view of the unbeliever, almost perfect timing, and uncanny delivery. You come in at wierd angles, take the wildest "shots", and see, in their eyes, that you hit home. I have ceased to worry about witnessing, because I am confident that if a witnessing opportunity was present, I'd be alerted immediately and given the words and opening to get the ball rolling. Past success has already bred confidence of success, so I consider this positive evidence of a benefit made by Stage 2 Symbiotic capabilities in enhancing my exercise of this important discipline.
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