I don’t know why I think the way I do, I just do. Sometimes my mind gets me into a boatload of trouble, while at other times it’s the greatest friend I have.
Many years ago, when I was a brand new squeaky clean baby Christian just starting my journey of water walking, I started to see things about the Christian culture that, frankly, really bothered me. What bothered me the most, is that I couldn’t describe what I was seeing or feeling. My language hadn’t developed just yet? I don’t know, but I observed what looked like people going in circles. I was going in circles. I felt like I was stuck. I looked in the scriptures and saw stuff that wasn’t happening in my life or that of the church. I was seeing people in the biblical record who did some wild stuff.
Let’s face it, we talk about a relationship with God, but in reality, we have a relationship with a concept of God. It’s like we’re held captive by our concepts, experiences and perceptions. I think these things form a filter for us that skew or effect what we’re looking at. So, when we’re looking at other people, we’ve got a story going on in our mind that’s screaming at us with a version of what’s happening. It’s going on all the time. The already always listening voice going on in our mind is relentless in delivering to us a version of what we see, hear and read every day of our lives.
So, if this story is playing in our minds over the stuff of everyday life, what goes on in us over the God stuff? If our head is telling us a story over what is in our visible world, what goes on in our mind over spiritual things that live outside of our visible spectrum?
Let’s face it, relationships are so hard for us. In my opinion, relationships are formed with a built-in filter that isn’t required by the relationship. The filter? Hierarchy. Once hierarchy is in place you need rules to protect and administer it, then you need laws and the enforcement of the rules to maintain it. Virtually every relationship you’re in, is control by the ever present “who’s in charge syndrome” and what are my responsibilities in this relationship. The result is a chain of command or some system that destroys relationship rather than promoting it. You rarely see or experience relationship apart from the power generated inside hierarchy. The system imposes laws and rules resulting in a loss of true relationship and its glorious uncertainties. Institutional systems whether they are secular or religious impose a façade of truth foreign to the nature of God resulting in a loss of personal liberty to the individual. God is not about laws and rules, do this, don’t do that! Come to Me, and I will give you rest, not I’ll will put you to bed and sing you to sleep, but in effect, get you out of bed and imbue us with the Spirit of Life and sustain us with perfect vital activity.
The hold of religion on man with its ubiquitous hierarchy is enormous. The perceived threat is that man cannot live and thrive outside the ordered system. Its diabolical mechanisms are a mere display of man’s heart, not God’s. If we subscribe to it, we die! If we come to Jesus, we live! Religion is another form of sin management on a corporate level. Jesus is about setting me free from sin and bringing my real life into agreement with my real desires. I can go free if I choose. To those who choose Him, he gives them power to become the sons of God.
It takes real power to become sons of God. Not to be saved. Salvation is God’s work. But coming into sonship and walking in stride with Papa as His equal requires an unnatural strength. It requires the laying down of the old man and desiring the life of God. It’s in the relationship where we learn about the unfettered love and favor He gives us. It’s not about keeping rules and following doctrines, it’s about keeping the heart right with my Father and pressing into that relationship with all the strength I possess until my strength is gone and His life moves in. Then the Son of Man is raised from the dead in me, I am eclipsed by Him, there is a cessation of sin and the song of the Lord fills my life. Without His glory, our report is not believable. When our lives are fused with His, our testimony is irrefutable. The evidence seen in us is Christ in us, the hope of glory.
The system also imposes a subtle illusion of purporting to be a divine authority – Sola Ecclesia. I say illusion, because genuine authority is inside the property of genuine relationship between God and man. I will say more about this later. Without this relationship, the church has what looks like authority, but it is merely force coupled with manipulation. People inside this system are hungry for true relationship, but are on a religious diet sustaining a meager existence. The church does not embrace a relationship of equals vertically or horizontally, because people relate to each other through the hierarchical order. They have learned to repeat what God says while not really hearing Him for themselves and then responding to what He has said to them. They are living by bread alone. They’re not hearing the words that come from His mouth. Much of present church culture exhibits an attitude that suggests either adherence to the form credentialed by the group or your actions are seen as questionable, particularly if the individual is not cohesive within the church group to its own satisfaction.
Another popular attitude of the church is expressed in what sounds like humility. The system embraces a person that declares his imperfections while embracing a version of the truth, but incapable of becoming who God calls them to be – a saint, a living epistle, an oracle of God. In short, then, the church is employed with managing one another’s feeble condition while raising edifices that declare a gloriously different mirage. The social norm for the culture of any particular church becomes the standard.
Moodiness is a great distraction from the life of God in us and we cannot afford to be controlled by them. When we are in our best spiritual mood, we look like spiritually buff, well-toned examples of God’s likeness. But when we are not in that mood, we look like someone with measles – all spotted and sickly. The system accepts all the spotted and sickly – rightly so. So does our Father. But we are destined to leave our poor conditions behind in the past, and walk in the power of His mighty resurrection.
You’ve heard it, I’ve heard it, we’ve all heard it – Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven. This attitude betrays our ignorance about the impact on reality regarding the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I remember when this confused sentiment comforted me. Not anymore. This sense of imperfect forgiveness is embraced throughout the church. It’s a kingdom wide pandemic that has somehow broken through the gates and eats at the fabric of our altar cloths. And really, what are altar cloths for anyway?
What sounds like humility before men, is unconscious blasphemy before God. It’s as though the church has accepted the edict of a Pharaoh so many centuries ago when he said to Moses, “I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away”. Hey, after all, the city must be built, never mind your freedom!
Jesus was the human race hung on the cross, sentenced to hell and through His Resurrection, presented man back to God completely perfect. Jesus Christ became Man for one purpose, that He might put away sin and bring the whole human race back into the oneness of identification. Jesus Christ is not an individual iota of a man; He is the whole of the human race centered before God in one Person: He is God and Man in one. Man is lifted up to God in Christ, and God is brought down to man in Christ.
When you choose independence over relationship you become a danger to one another. –Matthew 12:30 “He that is not with me is against me.” Creation has been taken down a very different road than what God intended or desired. In our world, the value of the individual is constantly weighed against the survival of the system, whether it is political, economic, social or religious – any system, in fact. First one person, then a few, and finally many are easily sacrificed for the good and ongoing existence of the system. In one form or another, this lies behind every struggle for power, every prejudice, every war and every abuse of relationship. This “will to power and be independent” has become so ubiquitous that it is considered normal.