One Voice

One of the issues in our modern political system is the lack of dialogue between opposing sides. Those in the conservative, Fox News camp tend to be dismissive of anything from the liberal, CNN camp and vice versa. Lots of people are talking but very few are listening. Modern church life has developed the same issue.

As one who is an explorer seeking out truth in its many forms, my primary focus is on Jesus and this makes me a free agent of sorts. In other words, I’m not firmly tied to any denominational or theological camp. However, I was for many years. While living life in the “bubble” I was warned away from certain things while being firmly pushed toward others.

For example, when I was in traditional church I was told to avoid certain teachers like Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer or basically anything on TBN. When I ventured into the charismatic world they were less focused on who I shouldn’t listen to and more focused on who I should. So the same process was happening but in a less obvious way. My brief flirtation with Calvinism produced even stronger results as the Calvinists tend to demonize anyone who does not fit their theological framework.

So, generally speaking, what we find in the average church of any kind is an acceptance of certain viewpoints and dismissal of others. While we should help newcomers to Jesus find their way, the Word does not teach us to create clones it teaches us to create disciples. We cannot do this if our attitude toward other truth-carriers is dismissive and arrogant.

Our litmus test for acceptance should be based on Jesus Christ alone. If a teacher is submitted to Christ and demonstrates the fruit of a Christ centered life (i.e., love, joy, peace, patience, and so on) then we should not dismiss them outright. There should be room at the theological table for differing views and varying interpretations. To put it another way, only one person in human history walked in complete revelation of truth and that person isn’t me or you.

So why do so many walk around like they have the market cornered on theological accuracy? Because that’s what we’ve allowed to occur. Going back to the Reformation we find the beginning of this concept. Calvin was so convinced of his position that he formed a political system around his ideas and essentially took over Geneva even going so far as to burn “heretics” at the stake. French Huguenots were forced out of their homeland by opposing Christians. Puritans were forced out of England, and the list goes on.

These ideas of “rightness” are firmly entrenched in modern Christian thinking. People either float around until they find the “right” group or they stick with the group they grew up with. Either way, most folks will never consider an alternative view on anything because they won’t bother to listen to anything outside their own bubble. This should not be.

We need to stop attacking one another and dismissing revelation others have received. No one man or woman carries within them the complete revelation of Christ because we are incapable of carrying something of such magnitude. Indeed, Christ Himself does not desire this because He wants us to function as a body, united together to carry His truth forward. We require one another to expose revelation as we have received it, and to correct error within one another.

We are quick to point out the perceived errors in others but loathe to listen to potential truth. Even those who are not followers of Christ may carry some measure of truth within them because they have been, however unwittingly, exposed to God’s truth by simply existing in His creation. So we need to stop being so arrogant, pretending we have it all figured out because we do not. All of us have questions about things. All of us are missing pieces of the full revelation of Jesus Christ…and we always will be.

To carry the full revelation of Christ would make us equal to Christ Himself and this will never be. We will spend eternity continually growing in revelation and truth because God’s truth and revelation is unending. That should be our focus and goal even today. We should expect to walk daily in ever increasing revelation.

But here’s the thing, ever increasing revelation means some old things we believed will change to more closely match God’s truth. So it is not just about learning new things, it’s also about replacing the old or updating the old as new things are given to us. When we walk with an openness, ready to receive from Holy Spirit whatever He chooses to teach us, then we will learn from all creation as we follow Christ. This is how we should live.

As we walk we must learn to hear one voice, the voice of God. His voice may speak to us through believers, unbelievers, the Word, creation, art, books, music, etc. God is not limited in how He can communicate with us. Throughout the Bible He used multiple methods to communicate including dreams, visions, and even personal visitations through angels or in human form. He still speaks in many ways today.

We have the Word of God to verify truth claims and to clarify the revelations we receive, but we cannot be so tied to a single interpretation of the Word that we fail to recognize truth outside of our bubble. To put it another way, I fully expect to meet both John Macarthur and Bill Johnson in heaven. Those in either camp may shudder at that thought, but both men demonstrate a firm reliance on their view of Jesus Christ to help and disciple others. We are the ones who have judged them.

Let us learn to walk in ever increasing revelation of Christ as He carries us from glory to glory. Let us not be so closed off to truth that we fail to recognize it when it comes from alternative voices. Let us find Jesus in every place He wants to reveal Himself. We can only do this if we are actively seeking Him and His truth.

Meditate on this word today and ask Jesus where your thinking still needs to be shaped to be more like Him. Ask Him where you’ve been dismissive of other believers and where you can grow in truth.

 

Alignment with God

In the beginning God created mankind to dwell with Him on earth. We were made to live in daily relationship with God and His creation. Our free will was meant to align with God’s will so we would live in harmony with all things. This is alignment with God.

James 4:1–8 says:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Come near to God and he will come near to you. 

Alignment with God is submission to God. Being aligned with God means we have surrendered our free will to Him so we can reflect His attributes in our daily lives. When we are in proper alignment our desires will be righteous because they will come from God, and we can ask God for fulfillment because we are properly aligned.

WORLDLY DESIRES

James says that our desires battle within us and we reach out to get what we want. When we do, we enter into conflict with others because their desires are at cross purposes with our own. Selfish striving always leads to disharmony, anger, and chaos. When our desires are directed by our relationship with the world we cannot live in peace. This is why we must align ourselves with God.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Our desires are not necessarily evil. In fact, many of our desires were placed within us by God because they are tied to our purpose and destiny. The key is our relationship with Jesus. If we are in alignment with Christ, in relationship with Him, we will be given the desires of our heart because our heart will be shaped like His.

MOTIVATIONS

James continues and tells us we do not receive what we desire because we ask with wrong, selfish motives. When we are influenced primarily by the world, when we are “friends with the world” as James says, we will be driven by selfish motives. Proud people will live in disharmony and chaos because of their proud motives. God opposes the proud.

But He gives grace to the humble. Humility is required to be in alignment with God. We must understand that humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less as C.S. Lewis said. God lifts up the humble because they recognize their place in the universe and God’s ultimate authority. When we are properly aligned with God our motivations will be righteous because we will reflect His heart.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Submission is key, but we have responsibilities as believers. We submit to God but we must also resist the devil. We also must ask God for our desires. James says we do not have because we do not ask. It is not enough to simply accept God, we are responsible to walk in the new life we have been given.

As we come into alignment with God we will begin to change. Some changes will be more radical than others, but we will change. My former pastor was fond of saying, “Change is change until it’s change.” God will bring change to us as we align with Him, but we are responsible for carrying out that change and implementing it in our daily lives.

ALIGNMENT

How do we align ourselves with God? Verse eight provides the answer, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” Prayer, meditation, and study will bring us near to God and then God will come near to us. This process aligns us with Him and brings His thoughts into our minds and spirits so we can be like Him.

Spend time with God in prayer. Meditate on Him and His Word. Study the Bible and learn what it teaches us. Let Holy Spirit guide your life and you will come into alignment with Jesus. When you do, the desires of your heart with be His and you will discover peace and harmony.

Sex and the Christian

Sex is something that we haven’t really discussed in church. Indeed, very few topics have been more taboo in traditional church.  Perhaps there was the “special” meeting held by the youth minister where letters were sent home and parents were invited and everything was handled with kid gloves. Some pastors have boldly tackled the topic, with one even encouraging married congregants to have sex so many days in a row, but that is the exception. As a rule we simply do not discuss sex in church other than to talk about its sinful aspects.

Growing up I remember the “True Love Waits” campaign. We were encouraged to wait until marriage to have sex. Some did, some didn’t. Statistics show that Christianity has basically no effect on sexual habits of teenagers, and it hasn’t really affected adults either. In short, we are not talking about sex in the church and the consequences are powerful.

Trouble is, when we do talk about sex our characterization is ridiculous. Even as a teenager I remember thinking how stupid it was to pretend like something so amazing was so terrible. It’s akin to shaming people into dieting all while pretending that chocolate cake tastes like trash. Well anyone who has had chocolate cake knows it’s awesome. And anyone who’s had sex knows it’s amazing too. So we cannot classify sex as the taboo thing and then expect people to go along with it. It’s silly, and we need to stop it. We need to offer the world a Christian perspective that’s more realistic and convincing than our old “it’s a sin, so don’t do it” line.

ORIGINS

To understand the Christian perspective on sex we must go back to the beginning. God created Adam first and breathed life into him. In that moment, God breathed part of Himself into Adam. In a very real sense, God breathed His “godness” into Adam. This “godness” makes humans unique and allows us to create and rule over earth.

If you know Genesis, you know that God saw Adam desired a companion that was human like him. God caused Adam to sleep and took a rib from Adam and formed woman. It is important to note that God did not breathe into Eve. This does not mean that Eve is inferior in any way to Adam. Instead, it means that the “godness” within Adam that made him uniquely human was split in two with the creation of Eve.

What we call “masculine” rested within Adam, the man. When God removed the rib from Adam, He removed part of Adam’s “godness” and placed it within Eve. What we call “feminine” made up the part God removed. These two parts, masculine and feminine, are both within God and pieces of them are within all humans, but males are filled with masculine “godness” and females are filled with feminine “godness”.

This means that when a man and woman have sex, they are rejoining the original fullness of God that was placed within Adam. They are literally rejoining the divine and experiencing the complete joy of a unified human. This is why Christians, and the Bible, view homosexuality, pornography, adultery, and any other form of sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage as forbidden. It is not because Christians are prudes, but because sexuality is a sacred rejoining of the divine within us.

Now we understand why the scripture says, “A man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and the two shall become one flesh“.

GOD MAKES GOOD

I mentioned earlier the silly tactic used by the church to basically demonize sexuality. It’s confusing and it paints a picture that is completely inaccurate. Barring sexual experiences that are abusive in nature, sexual activity is physically pleasurable. When we place it within its God-given context of marriage, sex becomes spiritually pleasurable as well.

Sex, then, is not evil it is good. Like other good things it is often abused and misused, but that does not make it evil. It is a powerfully good thing that God designed for our pleasure and to demonstrate the spiritual connectivity we are capable of as His children. Because we are filled with “godness” we have spiritual desires that need fulfillment. Sex is one way we can fulfill those desires because sex is good.

PURPOSE OF SEX

One last thing needs to be said in this discussion. Many traditional Christians claim that sex needs to be between a man and a woman because sex is for procreation. I’ve heard people say that God make sex feel good so we would engage in sex and create children. There is simply no biblical basis for this position. The scripture teaches that sex is for joining two people. While children may or may not result from that joining, it is not the primary purpose of sex.

As mentioned above, the primary purpose of sex is the rejoining of the “godness” within a man and a woman. This requires people of opposite sex because males all carry the masculine “godness” and females all carry the feminine “godness”. Sex was designed to show us the beauty of love and connectedness between spiritual and physical beings.

As Christians we need to shift the conversation about sex. We need to teach our young people about the origin, goodness, and purpose of sex. We need to remind humanity that sex was designed to be sacred and holy. We need to demonstrate that sex is not evil or bad. We need to show that sex is good within God’s design. Maybe then we will see a shift in thinking and a return to the beauty and sacred design we were given at the beginning.

The Great Divorce

Several months ago I had a startling realization. As I was meditating on the Word, like a bolt of lightning, I was struck with the nature of sin and morality. Growing up in traditional church, I assumed that sin and morality were synonymous. If you were “sinning” you were doing “bad” stuff. Sin=evil. That’s what I was taught, but that does not really wash out in reality.

Essentially, the great divorce is the separation of these two ideas. When we divorce morality from the concept of sin we begin to see clearly God’s original design and Christ’s purpose. To understand this we need to understand the fall and salvation.

THE FALL

When examining foundational issues like sin it behooves us to return to our origins for answers. Genesis outlines what we refer to as “The Fall”. This earth shattering event occurred when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil at the behest of the Serpent. Traditional theology teaches us that the sin of our forebears was their disobedience of God’s law, the “Thou shalt not eat” command.

In reality, the issue was not so much their disobedience as it was their rejection of God’s relationship dynamic both legal and personal. God’s design in Eden was for mankind to live in symbiosis with Him. He would guide and mentor us and we would worship and love Him. Connection and relationship are central to God’s heart and He designed a place where humanity’s relationship with Him could flourish. The only key to success was in our hands: we had to submit to Him completely.

Adam and Eve’s choice to eat from the forbidden tree broke God’s heart and opened the gateway to rebellion. Before the Fall, humanity relied on God to judge morality. We turned to Him for the knowledge of good and evil. After the Fall, we internalized morality and pushed God off the throne so we could rule ourselves. While this act can be categorized as evil, evil is not necessarily at the heart of sin.

Sin flows from being disconnected from God. We can perform morally good acts and still be “in sin” because we are disconnected from God. It is the connection to Him, the symbiotic relationship we were intended to have from the beginning, that destroys sin forever. Christ’s work on the cross reopened that gateway allowing Holy Spirit to reconnect with humanity directly. Once again we are capable of symbiosis with God Himself through Jesus and Holy Spirit.

RECONNECTING TO GOD

Symbiosis, through the rebirth of our originally designed spirit, is the entire point of salvation. From that moment of rebirth flows righteousness and all good things. Therefore, it is not what we do that allows us to connect with God. He has already opened the gateway. We all have the potential to connect with God through Jesus Christ at this very moment, but to do so requires us to surrender our authority to Him. We must surrender.

Surrender leads to repentance and vice versa. In fact, our path of salvation is one of constant repentance and surrender. Which comes first depends on the person. For some of us we surrender and then repent after experiencing God. For others, we repent by changing our thinking and then surrender. Some of us do both simultaneously. The key is not some religious formula, it is that we accept and surrender to the reality of the universe.

What is the reality of the universe? God (Yahweh) is ruler over all things. His son (Jesus) has been given all authority in heaven and earth and placed Himself on the cross to reconnect the unseen realm to earth. We owe our allegiance and fealty to Jesus for He is our King and brother. Holy Spirit is God’s way of linking His home realm (Heaven) with our home realm (earth) in order to teach, encourage, empower, and so on. God in three persons connected to humanity on earth by our surrender and through His love. This is the reality of the universe.

WHAT ABOUT WORKS?

Most folks from a traditional background will be struggling with this concept because of works. Traditional systems of thinking are ultimately works based, or really “karma” based. Traditional systems teach that morality is our litmus test for life. We do good stuff and God likes us and we get good stuff back. We do bad stuff and God doesn’t like us and is “separated” from us and we get bad stuff. That’s karma, not Christianity.

Does what we do matter? Yes, absolutely it does. But not in regards to salvation! We teach in traditional systems that we are “saved by grace through faith and NOT of works”. Absolutely correct. So why do we immediately turn around and make works the indicator of the health of our relationship with God? It is because we have married morality and sin. Splitting these two is key.

Salvation, then, is the reconnecting to God in a symbiotic relationship made available through Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit, and attainable by any human who accepts and surrenders to the reality of the universe. Morality is a separate code of ethics and system of thinking that exists independently. Morality is from God and exists everywhere in the universe for all created beings.

We must change our minds (repent) to align ourselves with God’s moral code, but doing so does NOT lead to salvation. We can be totally in alignment with God’s moral code and still be out of alignment with God Himself. Remember the rich, young ruler that came to Jesus asking about eternal life. The young man told Jesus he had kept “all the commandments from my youth”. Now under the religious system of thinking Jesus should have responded, “No one keeps the commandments. Didn’t you hear my Sermon on the Mount, I’m sure you’ve thought things that disqualify you. So don’t lie to yourself and say you have no sin…write that down, John.”

Jesus didn’t say that. Instead, He told the rich man to go and sell everything had owned and come and follow Him. But the rich man refused to do so because “he owned much property”. So what stopped this rich, young ruler from attaining eternal life? Was it his ability to do good moral things and keep the commandments? It seems clear to me that he did exactly that or Jesus would have corrected his arrogance, but He did not. Instead, Jesus called the man into relationship through surrender.

The young ruler needed to surrender his false god (money) for the true God (Jesus). Surrendering oneself to Christ is the fullness and the end of salvation. It is the opening of a gateway in the heart and mind relinquishing our rights to authority and handing the keys of our kingdom back to their original owner, Yahweh God. Once we do that, once we surrender to Jesus, then the moral issues will flow from there.

So what we do matters, but anything we do is irrelevant if we are not submitted to Christ. From that place of submission, we will begin to change and we will do good moral things, but it is completely possible to be a good moral person our entire lives and miss Christ because we refused to surrender to Him.

Growing Fruit

As I write this, Houston is recovering from Hurricane Harvey. During the past few days one of the trending topics related to the disaster in Houston was Joel Osteen. Osteen is the pastor of the largest church in America, Lakewood, and folks have been trashing him because Lakewood Church was not immediately opened to receive refugees. Most disturbing to me were the many Christians lining up to gleefully attack Osteen because he is a “false prophet” or “heretic”.

For someone seeking God, there are many systems of belief to choose from. When those outside the Christian faith observe Christians openly and angrily attacking other Christians, what message does that send? While there is a time and appropriate place for lovingly correcting our fellow believers, we must consider the results of the system we are peddling to the world. Because we must not be deceived, whatever system of thinking we claim to believe we are selling it to others through its fruit.

In other words, if we claim to be Christians and further claim our faith is inspired and directed by love, then it is confusing to others when we act in unloving ways particularly towards those who are in our own camp. That is what has happened this week with Osteen. Christians have come out of the woodwork to blast him for his “un-Christian” response to the Houston flooding.

As ambassadors of Christ in the earth we represent Jesus to the world. We are His hands and feet. We carry His mind within us. We are the physical manifestation of Christ on the earth as His bride, the church. How we treat others is a clear indicator to the world of how Jesus will treat them. In other words, judge others the same way you want to be judged.

Here’s the question you need to ask yourself, my Christian friend: how does your belief system’s fruit taste? Your system of thinking, no matter how much it is based on some interpretation of the Bible, ultimately finds its expression in your actions. The fruit of your belief system is the proof of its intrinsic value. Or as my British friends might say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

This is what is most disturbing to me about the attacks on Osteen this past week. Not a theological issue or an interpretive one. Not an issue about Osteen’s finances or his response to the hurricane. What is most disturbing is the picture of Jesus painted by all those who lined up to throw stones at someone the world clearly sees as one of our own. After all, why would anyone who does not believe in Jesus make the assumption that Osteen, the pastor of the largest Christian church in America, is not a Christian?

So think about what you’re doing when you present the image of a church divided to the world. And consider the fruit of your belief system. If your system of belief is filled with vitriol and anger because other people just don’t “get it”, then perhaps you need to reexamine your foundations. Any system of thinking will bear fruit, and all we need do is examine the lives of its practitioners to see the end result.

Remember that Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” We are supposed to be the carriers of good news, of light, of life, and we are supposed to be the salt of the earth. When we angrily attack one another, when we are more concerned about our theological position and its “correctness” than we are about the lives of others, when our system of belief leads us to act like the world instead of like Jesus, then we should not sit back and click our tongues and wonder why everyone is so angry about the Nashville Statement, or why there’s no prayer in schools, or why gay marriage is legal, or why debauchery is on every television in our nation.

It’s a simple gospel. We must return to the roots of love. This does not mean we abandon theology or our biblical moorings, but it does mean we must reject the system of syncretistic thinking so prevalent in American churches today. Christianity is radical and it should be reflected in radical changes in thinking and action. Attacking someone we disagree with in an open forum and in a hateful way is not reflective of that change.

We can do better, Christians. We represent Jesus, let’s act like it.

 

The Consequences of Freedom

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Then He created mankind and He placed us upon this little blue ball spinning round the sun. His instructions to us were clear, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” It’s that word, subdue, that is key here. See, God gave mankind the earth to be our dominion. As beings made in God’s image we inherently have the desire and capacity to govern and rule, so God created a space where we would be free to do that under His auspices.

Most of us know the end result of that story. Our forebears were not content with God’s interference with their freedom and defied the one prohibition He gave. Breaking God’s law had devastating consequences as God closed off His earthly dwelling place, Eden, and left mankind out in the untamed wilderness to make our own way.

Our relationship with God was not broken, but it was strained. If you continue to read in Genesis we do not see that God has abandoned mankind, but rather that He continues to speak to us even though we have displaced Him with false gods and our own hubris. In order to fully reflect God’s image we had to be allowed full freedom of will and expression. Indeed, this is the only way for us to truly love as well, but let us save that for another post.

As “imagers” of God, a term I borrowed from Dr. Michael Heiser, our innate desire is to be like God because we inherently are like Him. However, we were designed to be fully free under the covering rule of God. Therein lies the rub. Just as Lucifer and other divine beings grasped at the throne of God in order to permanently usurp His throne, we have done the same thing and continue to do so even to this day.

Jesus, our perfect example of how to live as an imager of God on earth, shows us how to live in perfect freedom. Paul speaks to this in Ephesians 2:6 when he says that Jesus, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped.” Jesus, the one human being who could have upset the balance of the universe, did not seek to displace Yahweh, Father God from His throne, opting instead for a position of submission to His will and purposes and thereby uncovering His own destiny.

We cannot fulfill our purpose and destiny in life apart from submission to the Father and His Son. This is our great struggle. We desire total freedom but inherently realize that we cannot govern the cosmos for this is what total freedom would entail. As much as we would like to think we can subdue the universe, it is simply too much for our limited capabilities. We have been given an entire planet, teeming with amazing life, surely that is enough.

However, we are free to be free. God has put in place a cosmic moral code that exists independently and to which all beings are subject. God has put in place restrictions and limitations inherent to our nature. God has drawn boundary lines which we cannot cross. But within our purview, the earth, we have complete freedom. With great power comes great responsibility and this unthinkable freedom has consequences.

Consequence #1: Disorder

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God the first consequence was disorder. Following their sin we find them hiding from God in Eden. Until this moment the primordial couple existed within the divine order, protected by God’s sovereignty. Now that they sought to rule themselves and asserted their freedom beyond its limits, they were thrown into chaos and disorder.

God found them in hiding, having already realized the gravity of their choice. Since that day we have sought to restore the divine order through myriad governments and systems. In many ways the history of humanity is the story of our attempt to return to Eden. We know we need some kind of order that still allows freedom, but it has eluded us for centuries. The American form of government is, perhaps, the closest we have come to restoring a semblance of the original order of things, but we still find disorder within the American landscape.

Until Christ returns and establishes the Kingdom of God upon earth once again, we will continue to labor under systems of disorder.

Consequence #2: Death

In Romans 5:12 we see death make its entry on the earthly stage, “Just as sin entered the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” Exercising our full freedom of choice brought death into our existence. Prior to this time we had access to the Tree of Life in Eden which brought life from God. Now that we disobeyed God and sought to establish our race as preeminent on earth, our access to God’s provision was cut off.

Freedom allows us to do as we please, but there are always consequences to our actions. No consequence is more devastating that death because death is irrevocable. Or so we thought. Jesus came to earth as a forerunner of the coming Kingdom, and one of His primary tasks was the defeat of death. His actions here on earth, culminating with His resurrection, destroyed the power of death over our world and began a process of renewal that will end with His return and a complete remaking of our planet.

We still live with the effects of original sin because we still see death, sickness, disaster, disease, and so on upon the earth. Our freedom must be exercised within its proper limits to avoid the consequences of death today. There are even examples of death being overcome in the physical body through Christ’s resurrection power. But our responsibility as free will beings is to submit ourselves to Jesus so He may draw our proper boundary lines and we will be free within His will.

Consequence #3: Displacement

Freedom’s consequences can be terrible, but none has more dire results than the displacement of God. When we make choices contrary to God’s established moral code or His will, we are effectively displacing God and claiming His throne for ourselves. For the moment we have the capacity to do this because we are still living in the “in-between”, that period in history where Jesus has destroyed our spiritual barriers to completion but our physical barriers persist.

The Old Testament is a story of God’s unwavering love and commitment for His chosen people, Israel, in spite of Israel’s continued disloyalty to Yahweh. The New Testament is the story of God revealing Himself in human form through His Son Jesus Christ and restoring Edenic rule to earth through the individual. One day Christ will rule in the flesh and we will all be submitted to Him as His imagers on earth. Until that day we have the power to rule within our assigned sphere through Holy Spirit’s influence and guidance as revealed in the Word of God.

But when we make choices contrary to Yahweh’s established purposes and laws we are choosing to displace God as ruler and place ourselves on His throne. We must learn to understand and be content with our proper place in the universe, because our place is one of power and authority and peace and joy and love in Christ. It is a beautiful place where we can find completeness and fulfillment of being.

Final Thoughts

We have the power of free will on this earth because God established earth as our primary place of rulership and our domain. God did this so we could accurately reflect His image. God rules and governs and therefore we were meant to rule and govern. However, our freedom has consequences when misapplied as we have seen. Our role as Christians is to demonstrate a proper relationship to God so that others may see the beauty of that relationship and seek Him in their own lives.

Therefore, let us be imagers of God in all we do. Let us exercise our total freedom by choosing to live under the rule of Holy Spirit under the headship of Jesus and grace of the Father as revealed through His Word. Only then can we experience full freedom with no consequences because we will live as we were designed, in relationship with God.

The Trouble with Teaching

Teaching is the art of imparting knowledge utilizing effective methods to assist the student in embracing and assimilating that knowledge into their mental framework. If that sounds complicated it’s because it is complicated. The old saying, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” is one of the dumbest things anyone has ever uttered. Teaching is an incredibly challenging art form and it’s sorely missing in our churches today.

The trouble with teaching is in the nature of teaching itself. While there are a few things one can assimilate within a few hours by attending a seminar or conference, anything with depth or substance requires time to properly grasp. In other words, you can’t learn something like calculus in a day. Something that complex requires months or years of training.

For some reason the modern American church has the idea that God, the Bible, Jesus, and everything else associated with them can be assimilated by the average church attendee in a 30-45 minute sermon reflecting on, perhaps, one or two verses taken out of context. How we got here is the subject of another post, but here we are nonetheless. Modern preachers are delivering messages with the assumption that folks listening share their frame of reference. They do not. This is why teaching is required.

Teaching is the long, arduous task of helping someone discover Jesus and thereby reframing their entire worldview. When we have people “walk the aisle” and say the “sinner’s prayer” and then send them back to their seat with a pat on the back, we cannot assume their worldview has changed. Generally speaking it has not. Perhaps they had a spiritual encounter with God. Awesome! But that does not translate to changed thinking, and here we are back to teaching.

We must stop assuming that those who claim the name of Christ have shifted their thinking into alignment with Jesus. Most have not. We must return to clear, biblically based, de-cluttered teaching. Part of great teaching is inspiring the student to take matters into their own hands and study themselves, and Christian teaching carries the glorious beauty of God Himself helping us all along through Holy Spirit.

It’s easy to give people what they want to hear. It’s difficult to teach the whole counsel of the Word of God. Let us not be slack in our efforts to help others along. Let us not be lazy in our own studies. Let us find good teaching and learn and grow. Then we will see a true shift in the body of Christ.