Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kissed on the Inside

We have all wondered about what the difference is between human love and God’s love. The scriptures tell us that God is love. It isn’t something He has. It is something He is. That simple fact transcends our understanding. What many of us try to do in order to understand God’s quality of love is that we attempt to explain it with human words and definitions. However, the Bible says that the world is deceived by the evil one so our ideas of love will be heavy influenced with his ideas of love, which really isn’t love.

The plain fact is that humans love from the outside. This is demonstrated by how we kiss the outside, and we all know what feelings and sensations that arouses. God, however, kisses the inside. We only know a person from the outside. The outside is what we see and perceive regarding a person. In addition we perhaps know something about a person from what she or he has told us. We have a very limited knowledge about what stirs a person and the inner processes that shape that person’s conduct and outlook.

God knows all those things. He knows the depths of our being. Our history is intimately known by Him. He knows perfectly well what stirs and motivates us. The patterns of behavior and thinking that make a person are all familiar to Him. We would easily be tempted to say that He loves us despite all His encompassing knowledge about us. It is so convenient to disparage our worth and our being when we marvel at His love. The truth is that we are created in His likeness. Thus we have the potential to understand His love. Moreover, we have the potential to love like He does.

Jesus was an example of us, that is, what is possible when flesh and Spirit is intertwined in a union where oneness with God is an established reality. To love like God is not a self improvement program, but life that flows from a person that is indwelled by God. If God is love so are we. Only faith can appropriate this amazing wonder.

To be kissed on the inside is such a new and unfortunately alien experience for us that it takes a huge job from the Spirit to convince us about what God is doing in our lives. He kisses our history, our thinking, our incentives, our inner person, yes, everything that we are. It is a perpetual love feast. His kisses find all those spots that hurt and confuse us. His kisses untangle those knots that make us cringe in fear and despair. Even when all those deceptions which have kept us in bondage all our lives are stamped out He continues to kiss us.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Naming the Animals and All Creation

The letter kills but the Spirit gives life, Paul wrote. The scripture is filled with words. Each word uniquely composed of letters and words arranged in such a way that we glean some meaning from the text we study. When we read the words we merely see a framework of something. The words aren’t the thing itself. They render us with a sensation of being on the outside peeking in. Words are simply a framework we attempt to climb. But, the framework isn’t meant for climbing, so we repeatedly fall down.

When we have hit the ground a sufficient number of times we begin to wonder whether perhaps there is something beyond, or within the framework, in other words; that we aren’t to climb to the top. On the inside Jesus is calling out: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” We begin to hear His voice, at first dimly but it becomes more and more exigent, and we sense that we are about to cross a threshold where no climbing is necessary.

One day the Spirit pushes us through and we are suddenly faced with another reality. We even find that Jesus wasn’t on the inside. He was on the outside. When we opened the door and let Him in the words we before perceived as outside us, are now us. They are an integral part of our being. We are the words. They are letters written on hearts of flesh. Before we let Him in the words pulled and pushed us. They tried to control and dictate our lives. Many a time when we failed to follow their commands we had that metallic taste of loss in our mouth, and it tasted like death.

Enchanted by the words, since we believed they were the final thing, we even exerted their powers on others. We tried to control our world with words. The letters didn’t just kill us, we used them to kill others as well. They are a lethal weapon in the wrong hands. In the right hands those letters kill that ingrained resolution which states that we can do it. The Spirit sometimes uses letters to purify, to turn metal into gold, to renew minds.

As Christ is formed in us we behold with increasingly clarity that we are the words. We are above and beyond the written words in a realm so utterly beautiful that words fail to describe it. The written words were just the door in. We are now the master of the words and they have to obey our commands, that is, they are expressed in a spontaneous living that is not defined by words because life is expressed by the Spirit within who is restrained by nothing except love.

Everything is reversed compared to Adam. Initially he defined the words when he named all the animals and all living creatures. Figuratively speaking we appreciate that he was the words, he lived the words, he gave them meaning beyond themselves. After the fall he was separated from the word, and the words defined his life and him. That is our starting point; always defined by words. Then we cross the river and we give the words meaning and definition by our being since they are us.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

Love your neighbor as yourself, has been one of those major stumbling blocks in my life. I knew what the commandment demanded from me, but I was utterly helpless in fulfilling it. One day I saw that it said that I couldn’t love my neighbor more than I could love myself. A life in condemnation and failure isn’t of much help if you are to love yourself. This whole scheme seemed more like an endless loop of misery than something that was possible to attain. I guess this was how the Israelites felt when they wandered in circles in the wilderness.

Love your neighbor as yourself is in fact a double commandment where love your neighbor hinges on love yourself. Self love and self acceptance is a prerequisite for the other. If we view this commandment from an outer perspective it soon becomes a burden to big for us to carry on our shoulders. The secret of fulfilling of Jesus’ seemingly impossible demand is found on a completely different level.

We read that Jesus was perfected through what He suffered. The ultimate goal of everything God does is to make sure that Christ is formed in us, so that we can be transformed to His image. This implies a process where we ultimately come to the end of ourselves and appreciate our nothingness, where we as Jesus say that we can do nothing of ourselves. We kick out, or more precisely; in a joint operation with the Spirit we kick out, any residues of self-reliance and any desires to make things happen of our own accord. We arrive at the spot where we become still and acknowledge that God is God. That illusion of independent self is once and for all shattered.

Abraham was also perfected through what he suffered. Of old age, when his loins were empty, when he had encountered his own nothingness God could plant the seed in Sara which brought forth Isaac, who was a fruit of the Spirit with eternal repercussions. From his line Jesus was born. However, the seed could not be planted before Abraham’s nothingness was amalgamated with faith. Through what he suffered Abraham was empowered to see beyond himself and see God only, as the one who would and could accomplish His will in and through Abraham.

When Abraham initially saw his nothingness and coupled it with what God had promised him he bordered on the verge of bitterness and cynicism. God, however, continued to remind Abraham about His promise and thus slowly but surely fuelled Abraham’s faith until Abraham recognized that in his nothingness was the seed to supernatural greatness in God. In his nothingness he found his true life, the abundant life of faith.

We all receive the same invitation as Abraham, to leave everything behind and find a place where we can set up our tent and be met by our God who through our nothingness can conceive the boy, that is, the righteous deeds that are everlasting in their effect. Like Abraham we are not guaranteed in our lifetime to see the multitude of seeds from the one seed.

As Lot we all ran when it began to rain sulfur and fire upon us. From the horizon we could behold the smoking ruins of our self righteous works or attempts thereof. Free from any obligations to perform, reliant on God only we have discovered our nothingness. In this nothingness we are wholly His responsibility and we say as Jesus: I only do what I see my Father is doing. We even say as Paul: By His grace I am what I am. The nothingness is our freedom. No need to pretend anymore. When it now dawns upon me that I am accepted and loved by God as His unique creation I can love myself without reservation and from the new heart flows love to my neighbor in the manner God see most fit for my neighbor’s eternal destiny.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

His Second Coming

This is how Lucas depicts Jesus’ ascension: “They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.”Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

In John chapter 16 Jesus tells the disciples, “in a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” When Jesus used the phrase “in a little while” He obviously meant a period of days. We know that is a fact regarding His ascension. Since He uses the same phrase about His return He meant that after a period of days they would see Him again.

In the last chapter of his Gospel John writes that Jesus showed Himself three times to the disciples after His resurrection. It wasn’t a ghost they saw but a real person in flesh and blood as witnessed in particular by Thomas when he was offered to put his hand into Jesus’ side.

When the two men in white said that Jesus would come back in the same way as the disciples had seen Him go into heaven they meant that Jesus would return in flesh. He had ascended in the flesh and He would return in the flesh. The Jews are still waiting for their Messiah. They missed His coming, and are thus still waiting. Large parts of Christianity are still waiting for Jesus’ second coming. As the Jews they have missed the event, because Jesus has indeed returned in the flesh after a little while as He promised.

The Jews missed Jesus because they couldn’t fathom that He would be born as a poor unnoticed child in a manger. They thought He would come with flashing lights, great pageantry and ethereal splendor. Christianity has missed Jesus second coming because they cannot fathom that He has returned as you and me who are quite ordinary persons in the flesh. We are that manger where Jesus is born again and again. Paul puts it like this: “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

In the book of revelation John writes: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him.” In the literature we find a myriad of imaginative attempts at explaining this verse. Notably that all will see Him has puzzled many a commentator. However, if Jesus has returned in a host of born again Christians this passage suddenly makes a lot of sense.

There are passages in the Bible which allude to that there will be an additional second coming beyond the one discussed in this brief article. However, this particular event is hidden from me, so all I can say is: time will show.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

We are Both - That is our Glory

Legalism is a system of living whereby we try to make spiritual progress or gain by following a system of rules or ordinances. The fundamental idea is to try to make ourselves presentable to God by doing right. We find this concept in all religions, Christianity is no exception. Paul said in one of his epistles that we no longer know Jesus after the flesh. This is the antidote to legalism. When we know a so called spiritual leader merely after the flesh we immediately begin to wish to emulate that person’s behavior, thinking and attitudes. This is the principal motivation behind legalism; man imitating man, or man attempting to please a distant God.

The other extreme is those spiritual systems which emphasize the spiritual dimension only. One of their favorite assertions is that the material world merely is an illusion, that the only reality is the spiritual. Today’s New Age movement in many ways belongs to this branch of the religious world. However, if we are to find the right balance we cannot exclude the flesh, that is, our soul and bodies. Jesus came in the flesh as a real person. We thus cannot ditch our own flesh. Fred Pruitt puts it like this: “He was flesh and blood real, which is why it is the real and actual sacrifice of His Body and His shed blood can be efficacious in our lives. We can know our humanity filled with God and doing His will by us, only because we have been shown another humanity which was/is just the same. We MUST keep the human side, and not toss it out in favor of a Spirit-side only.”

John writes in the first chapter of his gospel: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” It was spirit manifested in flesh that enabled the disciples to behold Jesus’ glory. As sons of the Most High we are also spirits manifested in flesh, and that is our glory. If we exclude any of those attributes we have left true Christianity and are an easy prey to aberrations. The Spirit was the basis of Jesus’ life, works, thoughts and attitudes. That was His rest and that is our rest. A Spirit led life isn’t about imitation, because “the wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” The Spirit-flesh dimension encourages us to acknowledge that life is about diversity, different gifts and personalities, different paths and uniqueness.

To know Jesus no longer after the flesh is to recognize that there was/is an additional dimension to His life which we also are partakers of. Fred Pruitt writes: “Jesus only walked out as a parable what was already true in the Spirit, from the way and manner in which He lived and walked, to the Cross which is a real space-time event on earth, but which cut across all divisions between time and eternity and bridged the gap. We must have them both, not one or the other. We live in time and eternity, and in Christ become “masters” of both. Boehme said we have in a sense two eyes, one which sees forward into eternity, and the other which sees backward into time. One who has overcome will understand this and live it.”

The resurrected Christ manifested Himself to the disciples and Thomas in particular. Jesus was so real in the flesh that he challenged Thomas to put his hand into His side. He showed Thomas His hands. Jesus said: “Stop doubting and believe!” Then Thomas exclaimed:”My Lord and my God!”

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Damascus Road

There on the road to Damascus Saul met the resurrected Christ. He had heard about Jesus and His earthly service. As most Pharisees He believed Jesus was an imposter. Vehemently Saul persecuted those following the way. Even though Saul most likely hadn’t met Jesus he knew him according to the flesh. How he perceived Jesus and His ministry was merely one-dimensional, and Saul hadn’t much regard for this in many ways ordinary person’s claims of being the savior of the world.

The only way to know the resurrected Christ is by becoming blind to knowing Jesus only after the flesh. Blind to the earthly realities Saul’s inner eyes were opened to grasp the enormity of the cross. In his blindness he could acquaint the invisible Christ. The Saul whose whole life had been engrossed in the outer things became Paul who led a life from inner realities. Fixed in the inner realities of the spiritual world he regained his vision so that he could influence the outer world.

The loss of sight also denotes our utter helplessness in our encounter with Christ. We have nothing to offer except our lives through which He can reach out to a world that believe it is seeing, but is truly blind. Until we have become blind to the outer world we have no proper vision. It is when we become blind that we become seers. As seers we recognize our nothingness and His superior abilities to live the life we all are created to be partakers of.

At the Damascus road we all get our new name. The name that has been a part of our self consciousness to this point is declared void and of no effect when we meet Christ. Our new name comes into effect when we are baptized into Christ. It severed our strings to the past and all those old lies which have kept us in bondage and without hope in this world. It denotes a completely new direction, and it accentuates our new standing as new creations with hope for the future.

When Saul encountered Jesus a light from heaven flashed around him. The Spirit opens our eyes so that we are enabled to see Jesus in a new light. Seeing Jesus merely after the flesh causes us to want to emulate His deeds and attitudes without acknowledging the Spirit dimension of His life. He is both flesh and spirit, and so are we; flesh made perfect by the Spirit. Flesh is spirit manifested and that is our glory.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Unconscious Activity of Breathing

There is a sound in our bodies. We seldom hear it. A multitude of operations take place in every corner of this amazing vessel, most of the time without any of us giving it much attention. Our hearts beat with a regular rhythm which changes automatically in accordance with our level of activity. Almost unconsciously we feed our bodies with its most important ingredient in order to stay alive. Oxygen passes our mouths and noses and finds its way to the lungs without any conscious effort on our part. It is when we become conscious of our breath and try to control it that trouble arises.

There is a profound and stunningly beautiful greeting from God encapsulated in our bodies’ effortless and quiet running. God’s main purpose is to conform a host of sons to the image of Jesus Christ. He has told us so through amongst others Paul. We are not quite sure how this rationale is attained within us. However, it is when we begin to control and tamper with the process that trouble arises.

One of our favorites in order to accelerate the process is making huge efforts at doing right. A process which runs smoothly when we are unconscious about it comes to an abrupt halt when we start tinkering with it. Try to control your breath every moment during the day and I guarantee you that a restful unconscious life upholding torrent becomes a living nightmare. The exact same outcome is guaranteed when we begin to control our growth.

Scientists have made huge efforts towards explaining our body. Despite their labors most of its processes are a mystery to mankind. We have gained some knowledge about what it needs in order to run properly. In Christian terms we know that faith is imperative for those God initiated supernatural processes within us to run smoothly. I have faith in my body. I believe it will perform all of its life-upholding process, and thus I do not give it much thought. Without my conscious knowing or interference my body executes all its tasks effortlessly.

Faith is the ingredient that keeps me alive. If I began tampering with my body’s processes I would soon be a dead man. Thus, on a different level faith says that I am filled with all the fullness of God. Faith says that I cannot sin. Faith states that I am conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Faith says that Christ is formed in me. I believe in God’s abilities to make all this happen and I therefore do not have to take thought to see His goals accomplished in me. I am at restful ease when it comes to my body, and the Spirit encourages me to be at restful ease when it comes to His processes in, through and as me.

The Christ life simply is. Many days I do my stuff almost in a state of oblivion. I run through the day not giving God much thought, to an even lesser degree I am conscious that I am Christ in my form. The union with God is so wonderfully expressed through this and my light shines so radiantly that the angels behold this mystery with amazed silence. The idyll is broken when I become self conscious and begin to scrutinize an incentive, a thought or an act. A temptation to lead me into an illusion of separation has entered the garden. God is faithful, however, and reminds me about those truths that boost my faith, and peace is again restored in the temple.

God has created us to be conformed to the image of Christ. Not copies, but images. Image in this context means uniqueness and individuality. And it is this uniqueness and individuality that God wants to have a intimate relationship with. So of course when I speak about a state of oblivion above that merely is a figure of speech to get a point across. I enjoy my Father so much that most of the time I am very aware of His existence, His love and His presence in my life. I enjoy Him and He enjoys me.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Walk on Waters

When Jesus walked on the water it was not only a demonstration that God is above and can operate outside the physical laws. It is a statement that God is far greater than any physical law. But, as with most stories in the Bible there is much more to this incident than what meets the eye. God is spirit and manifests Himself in the natural, and thus when the Spirit utilizes figures in the natural to prove a point there is irrevocably a spiritual dimension to this that only can be appreciated through revelation.

When Jesus annuls the physical laws by walking on the water He also states that He is above the moral laws as recorded in the commandments. In Him they are canceled and He is above and outside their domain. Thus He is a law in Himself, spontaneously expressing God, who is love, in His physical body. He is like the wind that blows wherever it pleases. It is constrained by nothing, and blows in every direction the Spirit instigates always confusing and confounding those who live by appearances like Peter when he couldn’t fathom and resisted that Jesus had to die at the cross.

Walking on the water Jesus beckons and calls every one of us to join Him. The power of the outer laws is indeed so authoritative that it is only when we are in Him that we are out of their insisting reach. In Him we are set free from any law that is operative in the natural realm. Immediately we fix the gaze at ourselves and our own abilities we begin to sink. As the water begins to envelope us and we can sense how it presses in from every direction we are again subject to the all the laws which threaten to drag us down into the black abyss of captivity and death.

We have now tasted both; captivity and liberty, and as Peter we prefer the sensation of being unlimited. Therefore in our distress we call out for Jesus. The Spirit has taken us through both these extremes to teach us the wonders of the heavenly life and that it is not in our powers to sustain this life. It is only attainable in our union with Christ where we rest from our own abilities after the Spirit has taught us the futility of trusting our own efforts.

Many of us have had those dreams where we are freed from the natural laws and fly through the air in amazed wonder. Deep down in every one of us there is a yearning to experience the supernatural, freed from every inhibiting circumstance. In Christ we begin to manifest our dream. When we recognize that we are in Him everything is now possible. We can do nothing of ourselves, but in Him we are far above the limitations of human law. In Him weakness is turned into strength. Span your wings and fly, says the Spirit.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Junction

One day we come to a junction in our lives. We are purposely led there by the Spirit. The issue we are confronted with is a faith issue. The Bible says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It asserts that there is a rest for God’s people where they rest from their own works. John even states that a person born of God cannot sin. However, we are daily perplexed by life in the sense that we experience condemnation, we struggle to please God and we try to avoid committing sins. It becomes quite clear to us that our experiences contradict the scriptures. When that is the case there obviously must be something missing in our understanding. We have reached the junction.

The Spirit has caught us in a dilemma, and He states that there is only one solution; we have to make a leap of faith into the mystery. Paul writes that there is a mystery which has been hidden from ages and generations, but now is revealed to the saints; Christ in you. He writes to the Galatians that it pleased God to reveal His Son in Paul. He continues to say that Christ lives in Him, and he even states that when the churches of Judea heard that he who once persecuted the church now preached the faith they glorified God in Paul. He says that the gospel he preaches is not man’s gospel. There obviously is a man’s gospel which is contrary to the gospel Paul preached. So before we make the leap and enter into the mystery we obviously have been under influence of man’s gospel. A gospel that causes confusion and is accursed since it keeps the saints in bondage.

It begins to dawn upon us that if all the above mentioned is the case then we must somehow be Christ in our form, that we are partakers of divine nature. This is the secret, the solution to our predicament. Completely taken over by God we are new creations, and we begin to see that our main problem has been those thought patterns that have insisted that there is a separation between us and God; He there and me over here. However, if we are one spirit with Him there is no separation and we are rightly gods. Our rest means that we have entered the seventh day; the day when the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. United with God and settled with Him on the seventh day we are complete and perfected once and for all, simply because all is finished. When we have a consciousness of sin our mindset is separation and we believe that we live in one of the other six days of work. If we believe so we obviously believe in an illusion, because He has finished the work. There is nothing we can add.

Remember that when you accepted Christ you were firmly placed on the seventh day with God, resting from all your works. Our main problem is that we haven’t discovered this actuality yet. So in reality we struggle in vain when we think we aren’t placed there. Remember, we cannot add a single thing to His work. All our efforts are therefore just wind.

At the junction the Spirit urges us to make that leap of faith which settles us on the seventh day in our consciousnesses, where we align faith with facts.