Why God?

Yesterday, as of this writing, a lone gunman fired on a church in a little town near San Antonio, Texas killing twenty-seven people. It’s the worst shooting in Texas state history. When we read about horrible, tragic events like this we inevitably come back to one question: Why, God…why? When we examine the history of our universe and read about its origins, we will find our answer.

In the beginning God created everything, including humans. He gave us planet earth as our home and began instructing us on how to properly care for it. But one day humans decided that was not good enough. We decided we wanted to be God ourselves, to be the same as Him, so we defied His one restriction. In that moment the creation broke as evil flooded into our universe.

Today we are living with the consequences of that fateful decision. We live in a broken world with broken people, and broken people often commit unspeakable acts. This is the result of sin and evil in the world, and God is not to blame. We must accept our responsibility for what happened and blame ourselves for the death and destruction we see around us every day.

However, if we left the story there it would be pitiful and tragic. But that is not the end. God did not simply leave us to our own devices, allowing us to rot away in our disobedience and evil. Instead, He began a centuries long plan and one day brought forth His son into the earth to reconnect Heaven with earth. Now that Jesus has completed His work, all of humanity has access back to the Father and we can overcome evil and sin through Christ.

I have heard people say, “Why would you take a tragedy and turn it into an evangelistic push?” My response is simple: because Jesus is the only answer for our questions.

We look at this tragic shooting and we ask, “Why, God…why?” His response every time is to show us Jesus. Because in Jesus we have freedom from tragedy. In Jesus we have a pathway out of the darkness. In Jesus we have peace even in the midst of heartbreak. And in Jesus we have a solution, an answer, to present to the atheists of the world that can finally answer their questions and bring them peace.

Why do horrible tragic things happen on earth? Because humans broke it, and because humans are broken. What is God’s role in all of this? He has provided a solution, a fix, a way back to Him through Jesus Christ.

And that’s the pattern for all of eternity. There is no other. We misstep, we mess up, we sin, and God’s overwhelming love offers a way to redemption. All we need to is accept and walk in that way. That’s the answer to the question, “Why, God, why?”, and it always will be.

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.

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.

Where Your Heart Is…

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt. 6

Chances are you’ve heard or read this passage of scripture before. Sometimes we hear the same passages over and over and we miss details we should see. Read through the passage again. Do you see that Jesus says “where your treasure is…your heart will be”.

Often we tend to think of this backwards. We think where our heart is our treasure will be. Jesus said where our treasure is our heart will be. This means what we place value on, what we hold back for ourselves, what we treasure will determine the placement of our heart.

Using the definition of the word treasure, let’s consider the implications of the words of Christ.

KEEP CAREFULLY

The first definition of the verb treasure is to keep carefully. What we value we will protect. At night we lock the doors to our homes and our cars because we place value on them and their contents. If we leave our doors unlocked we are signalling to the world our feelings towards our home and all it contains. What we love, we protect.

Understanding this principle will help you understand people. When someone gets angry about something, consider what treasure of their heart is being threatened. In the same way, when you are irrationally angry, consider how and why you are feeling threatened. This will help you determine your true feelings toward people, God, and things, and it will help you correct areas where your thinking is out of alignment with Christ.

What you love, you will protect. Check the vaults of your life, both literal and mental and emotional. Are your vaults filled with earthly treasure or heavenly treasure?

CHERISH

Secondly, to treasure something is to cherish it. To cherish something is to care for it with gentleness. Anyone who has held a baby, especially their own child, can understand this concept. When you hold a baby you cherish it because you must. Babies are fragile and delicate and need to be cherished and held carefully. We do the same with our treasures.

In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, one of the characters (Cameron) describes how much his father loves his classic car. Cameron remarks, “He never drives it, he only rubs it with a diaper.” Sadly, Cameron makes this remark because his father in the film was cherishing the wrong thing. Instead of cherishing his son, he cherished a car. We often make the same mistake.

We should care for our treasures, but only when they are heavenly treasures. The treasures of this world are passing away. Let us place value on that which lasts: people, love, creation, expressions of joy, peace, Jesus Christ…and so on.

PUT AWAY FOR FUTURE USE

The final definition of the verb treasure is to put away for future use. Sometimes we put treasures away with no future purpose in mind. We store things in our attic and they sit and get old and serve no purpose. What we treasure should have value and purpose.

When we say treasure we generally think of money before anything else. Our treasure (our money) is in the bank. Well no one puts their money in the bank with the intention of never using it for its intended purpose. Our heavenly treasure should be no different.

What good is it to store up love in our heavenly bank if we never intend to use it to love God and others. As we store away eternal treasures, let us not consider them as objet d’art to look at and never use. If we make our heavenly treasures into the guest bathroom towels we are robbing them of their purpose and value.

HEART LOCATION

What you treasure you will protect, you will care for, and you will use for its intended purpose. Consider your life. Consider what you treasure. Determine what things in your life meet the criteria of treasure. As you open those vaults, both literal and figurative, you will discover within them your very heart.

From your heart flows your thinking, so if your heart is nestled among earthly, temporal things your thinking will reflect its placement. But if your heart rests with Christ in the eternal then your thinking will reflect His thinking.