Faith as small as a singularity

What caused [the Big Bang]? One notion is that perhaps the singularity was the relic of an earlier, collapsed universe - that ours is just one of an eternal cycle of expanding and collapsing universes.
(Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything)
What is presented as a "notion" in the theory of the birth of a universe, is essential in the customised suggestion that what is needed is not "faith the size of a mustard seed", but rather faith the size of a singularity. Only when everything is allowed to collapse can there be any hope of a sudden experience of true faith - a spiritual rebirth.

Despite sounding extremely severe, the 'collapse of everything' simply means allowing ourselves to let go of things we take for granted. At Romans 12:2 Paul wrote, "Do not shape your lives to meet the fleeting fashions of this world; but be transformed from it by the renewal of your mind, until the very essence of your being is altered." In saying this he used two expressions, one meaning the outward appearance ("do not shape your lives"), and the other meaning the inner person ("but be transformed"). The word for "transformed" is metamorphousthai from which we get the word "metamorphosis". This conveys the idea of a complete change - a dissolving away of the old, and a reassembly as something new. It is to do with the mind, the way we think, the way we understand ourselves.

This is very similar to Jesus' words when he says, "whoever loses his life...will save it." It is a sort of death and a resurrection which can take place right now. To all intents and purposes we are dead already, we just don't know it. Paul talks about being "dead in our transgressions and sins", but really what he is referring to is what modern psychologists would call the "inauthentic self". Who we think we are is not who we could be - who we really are beneath the layers of untruth.

This is what Jesus meant when he said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains." Johann Wolfgang Von Gauthe made the same observation when he said, "None are more hopelessly ensnared than those who falsely believe that they are free."
But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when all men speak well of you,
for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets."
(Luke 6:24-26)
Power and prestige must be relinquished along with the old self. Jesus made reference to this when he told the rich young man, "Go sell all your belongings, and give to the poor." Riches come in various forms - fame, position, power - but unless we are willing to leave these behind we have little chance of our faith being enriched.

We must be willing to abandon every preconception about God, too. Jesus knew this to be true when he said "neither in this place, nor in Jerusalem will we worship." It wasn't a time to patch up the old way. It was new wine in new wine-skins. The new understanding was too powerful, too potent for the old religious system to bear. Paul talked extensively about the old law being done away with. Initially it is what sent him on the road to Damascus, this recognition that nothing could be the same. It was this fear that had the religious leaders gnashing their teeth.

We cannot make progress by clinging to what we once believed. It will be a hindrance. Jesus criticised the religious leaders of his day in two damning indictments when he said,
"Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to."
"Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are."
(Matthew 23:13-15)
Pharisaic religion - like much of religion today - made no provision for internal transformation. As far as they were concerned, a pure relationship with God was based on ritual and obedience, but in reality, this only serves to distance people from God.

Our relationship with God is entirely personal for it arises from our individual experiences. It is unique. Our feelings of shame, our regrets, our yearnings, are all unique. They have to be addressed personally.

Jesus talked about this collapse of faith when he said, "Every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it." We are all in this position. We must not be afraid to face the collapse of our faith.

We don't need to be afraid of entering the chaos of the flood-waters. Let them wash everything away. Surrender to the darkness of being blind. It is only when we have done this that we open ourselves up to a rebirth. We cannot manufacture it. It is something that must be embraced completely.

When we have surrendered to this complete collapse - getting rid of the old self, relinquishing power and prestige, and letting go of religious beliefs (or non-belief) - we put ourselves in a position to experience what Jesus spoke about to Nicodemus.
"Unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God...Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (John 3:2, 3)
We can understand the expression "the kingdom of God" to mean a confirmation of our faith. Jesus put it another way when he said, "I and the Father are one." Only when we let everything else go, and open ourselves up to a radical transformation can we have this hope made sure.