Saturday, May 23, 2015

Grace: Just Give it Time

"The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. 
But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.." 
                                           (Romans 5:20 NIV)

I'm going to write my thoughts today after a long bout of silence.  Grammar and editing are just not high on my list.  Frankly, I'm not even sure where this will go, but like a river I'll simply let it flow out to you.

Read the epigraph above again.  As you read it, I'm hoping that enlightenment will come upon your heart and mind because of the realization of the invincible and inevitably victorious grace of God. I'm not talking about an abstract theological concept here.   We must see and replace the word "grace" with "Christ Jesus" because grace is indeed the person of Jesus and his name(meaning nature) is above any name in the earth or any realm that exists.  I'm saying there is no sin nature that Christ Jesus' nature does not trump, overcome or defeat with his love and forgiveness. Yes, love never fails because love is the invincible power we will all come face-to-face with.  And as we do, it will be revealed that we are in fact looking into the face of God and looking at our own reflection.

Are you a believer?  That Jesus is Lord, which literally means Jesus is the owner and operator of all things? Do you believe he possesses all authority? He is author of all this drama that is unfolding?  We read about this drama in the Script(ure), which should merely point us to the actual person known as The Word of God.  Can you believe to the lengths that the will of Jesus supersedes the illusion of our "free will", which we modern day egocentric humans like to go on and on about. We think because we can choose a career, decide between grocery stores and choose to be a Christian and not a Muslim, that we have free will?  I want to assure you that you are one phone call, one text message away, one life-event away from showing you just how powerless you are in this world and that your "free will" and your security, as (insert your name here) on the stage of this world is indeed being called into question. I Am calling it into question.    The truth is, as I have learned through too many experiences to list here, none of us is in control of what is called "our life."  It is unwise to promote such egoic misconceptions and the head-on realization of our true existence, after being conditioned into individualism and free will, is a painful collision of soul. 

In actuality, there is only One Life in this multiverse and you do not possess it as the person you think you are (insert your name here) with ownership or authority.  That One Life is the Life of God and he owns, authors and is the dispenser of his life towards ALL THINGS. Here is a most breathtaking idea from Paul.  All things, including Jesus Christ, Hitler and you,  it is based on the counsel of His own will, not man's notions of free will or apparent independence to do what we want.  No one's life is his/her own because Jesus is Lord.

  Do you believe Jesus has the power be the author(authority) of a plan that will demonstrate his love, power, forgiveness and grace(his nature). Unfortunately, contrast is essential for understanding and part of the plan was for man to enter into the darkness and ignorance of sin before experiencing the enlightenment and glory of the light that we truly are and will eventually realize.  We love to big theological words to describe God like omnipresence(he's everywhere) and omniscience(he knows everything) and omnipotent(he's all-powerful), but then we reduce him to none of these by saying that there will be some who will not be in the presence of God because they will be in an eternal hell, God didn't have the know-how or knowledge to overcome their "free will" in bondage and rejecting his love and union with them, and God just didn't have to power to get the job done and eliminate sin.  I hope you're starting to see numerous contradictions because I do and it's necessary to address them. If you really want the truth, it is essential that you address such questions I am addressing here today.

 Mainstream religion today insists that grace will lose to sin because the majority will end up in sin, out of union with the Father and punished in a geographic place called hell  But this is a preposterous notion when it was God who authored the plan to bring in the law so that sin might increase.  Yes, the commandments were brought in to show the Jews they were unable to be in union with God by following rules. If that is new to you, I have another idea that might be new as well. Most of you reading this are not Jews and therefore you were never under the law anyway, and so breaking the 10 commandments does not apply   Do you believe in grace of God, which is the person of Jesus Christ, or do you believe in sin and believe that sin will remain in the universe forever, God being unable to get rid of it from our universe, our hearts and minds.   Jesus became sin and we became the righteousness of God. 

Why am I picking on Hitler. I'm not, but most people do because they like to think their sin is not as great as Hitler's and they tend to elevate themselves over him.  Hitler has had a bullseye on his back and those who rail against my theological position of the salvation of all, they like to use Hitler because of his atrocities, not realizing that forgiving me for my hatred of the bully in 8th grade, who gave me wedgies, which seems to be a far less sinful action,  is no harder for God than forgiving Hitler for genocide because God is love, he has seen our alienation from him and ran to us in Christ. All of us. Even Hitler is in union with God and sin is no longer on God's mind, union is! Love wants union with us all and is willing to go to any lengths to give himself away, even becoming the scapegoat to our violence to display his love nature,

"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, 
so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 
(2 Co. 5:21)

See how easy it is for God to bring us into union with himself. He simply decided to become the scapegoat. We violently murdered Jesus, who knew no sin and God decided this would be the scene to display our violent alienation but also to display a strikingly contrasting love.  This love will affect any and every heart in due time. We will all realize God is not the Judge we thought he was, but he was just like Jesus said he was, a loving Father.  And we'll run to him and return to our home, our Father who celebrates our return from a faraway land of darkness and separation.  All of us. Just give it time.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Hidden Obvious

It's been said that God's greatest challenge is to give God away. I have to delve deeper into that thought before it can be under-stood.  Since God is already omnipresent and inhabiting human space, it has to be accepted that God is not separate from us, though seemingly indisputable notions would indicate otherwise. If we do not truly grasp this then we have already been overtaken by the farce field of illusion that (pretends) to have control of the collective Soul. So, when we think or speak of God, it is essential that there be a re-minding of Who we are part of and that it is impossible to be separated from the unfolding Christ-Construct:
  
"All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. " (Col. 1:17)

Can Paul be any clearer to his readers in regards to this unfolding construct of Christ that is hidden in God? Paul is the one who also told his readers that we are hidden in Christ.  Hidden. 
 
The false self would rather remain in the illusion of an on-going persona play than to surrender to the transcendent idea that God is playing us.  We would rather steer this ship into the rocks as the person we think we are than to accept that God is mysteriously steering the ship, despite the fact that we appear to be choosing, steering and running our own little drama.

This leads me to the issues of the trials and struggles we must embrace.  Churchianity and the ego would tell you to unload, escape, avoid or refuse anything or anyone that would cause trials, struggles or suffering in our lives.  Our lives?  Who is steering this ship?  Who is hidden from our sight?  Why is it that we don't want to struggle or sit in the tension of our trials? Why do others want to remove us from them?  It speaks volumes of us when we surrender to the hidden but the obvious sovereignty of God. Obvious to those who have been silent long enough, refined long enough in the flame to just surrender and  let it be.

Jesus told Peter "get behind me, satan" after Peter sought to interfere with God's unfolding (hidden) plan of suffering for the life of Jesus.  Interestingly enough, the rebuke follows Peter's exclamation that Jesus was the Christ, but hidden from Peter was what appears to be the necessary process of suffering that Peter's mind could not grasp because resident in Peter was a devil, who would rather just avoid the hard things than surrender to the flow of God's unfolding Christ in us.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Best Things in Life are Free. Really.

We have been taught well and profoundly imprinted by a "pay to play", transactional system, which almost always requires a price of admission.  There is, we are told, a price to pay in this world, even when it comes to union with God.    We have bought into religion's idea that there was a debt to be paid with our Father, the accountants of heaven were tabulating what humanity owed, and someone had to pay! Seems logical and reasonable. But these are our ideas about God, not his ideas and not the truth. 

Union with God is free and his greatest challenge has always been to give God away.  Humankind struggles with the idea of "free".  When is anything of apparent value free in our human systems?   The last time I checked nearly all earthly systems were based on transaction, merit and this defies grace and faith, which is given to us freely. God literally has to changed our minds about himself, the concept of "repentance" as we find in the scriptures.  So, the whole of history is to convince man that there is no longer a price of admission, no wall of separation and definitely a non-transactional relationship between the Father, the Son and humanity.  This is a slow-go for most and when this process is one that is immediate, there is usually pain for the mind experiencing because it is an extraction from the illusion and the conditioning we are so accustomed to.

History shows us that when God has sought to give himself away freely, the mind of man can not process this and has rejected this free expression and gift.  The corporate alienation and illusion mentality is simply not able to accept the infinite measures of grace of God, and we therefore reduce the infinite into our own terms and understanding. This means we tend to still put a price on that which has no price at all.  But this is where we are at and God is not condemning us, even our or dark ideations.    The price paid in our minds is connected to sacrifice, blood, violence and involves a Legal Mentality that tends to twist what justice actually is. Again, no condemnation from our Father, but definitely tragic consequences from those not operating in the mind of Christ.
 
Twisted atonement theories about blood and debts, eternal punishment in hell, holiness, purity codes and moral contests, have abounded in our human history. All of them seek to sew up the veil, put it back in place in our Clay Tabernacle and get man back in business with God, but only on our terms.  But with God there is no veil and certainly no business to be done. Jesus overturned the moneychangers tables and that apparent vengeance was not towards individuals whom he treasured, but the hierarchal systems and the mind-set that sought to put put a price on redemption, and put space and separation between God and his entire creation, an alienation and space we have created. I want you to consider the Genesis account of separation of Adam and Eve. Did not God ask a question in their favor when he said "who told you that you were naked?"   Our Father is always pushing us back into a mind-set of thinking he is for us because the default setting of alienation is a virus we've downloaded deep into our emotional DNA. We need to know we are loved unconditionally, we will be held, but not held accountable like men hold us accountable and punish us.  Yes, you read that right because His ways are not our ways.  The whole of creation has been subjected to futility against it's will.

Mankind has sought to somehow pay God with deeply disturbing results. We have given our first-born,  our possessions and our very lives to God to somehow convince God that we can pay the price of admission into union with God.  God is left scratching his head when we show up with human currency we feel will somehow pay Divine mind that IS LOVE. It displays our nightmarish ideations and our (false) self-loathing. We tend not to like ourselves. So, we naturally are inclined to think "how could God like us?"

Of course, our sacrifices have always been viewed by God as unwanted and beyond unnecessary. When we've tried to kill our children in sacrifice, God says "No, don't sacrifice your children in detestable sacrifice"  (Jer. 32:35)  When we couldn't sacrifice our children, and instead moved to sacrificing our animals, God's response?  "I want you to show mercy for your fellow man as I do, I don't want sacrifice of blood." (Matt. 9:13)
How we've struggled to see ourselves as God sees us. The darker psychopathy is that because we believed God could never love us as we are, blood would need to be shed, usually someone or something perceived as innocent. 

The blood poured out of the temple when Jesus arrived and it was disgusting display of mankind's dark nightmare of disunion with our Father.  This is what we wanted and God met us where we were. At our worst, we still love "an eye for an eye" and we still want blood to be shed, though most of us can't see the mimetic violence we are culpable to when we refuse to unconditionally love our enemies.  But that is another issue.

Consider this from Rohr. "By the time of Jesus 90 percent of the economy of Jerusalem was tied up in the hauling, penning, feeding and killing of holocaust victims(animals), and the hauling of the dead carcasses back out of the temple.  On the great feast days, tens of thousands of goats and bullocks and heifers were killed in the temple(see, for example 1 Kings 8:63).   We never showed this in any detail in our anesthetized Bible-history books because it was too unbelievable. But to be a priest or Levite was also to be butcher. A demanding or distant God always needs to be placated with blood, it seems, which unfortunately led to our very limited understanding of what we later called "atonement theories. "
 
Suffice it to say here that we probably could not even imagine or picture God loving us without the spilling of blood on God's part. We made the Crucifixion a tit-for-tat thing instead of a revelation of the eternal nature of the  heart of God flowing toward us as water and blood.

When Jesus comes into the temple and throws out all those tables he, in effect is undercutting the whole system of sacrificial religion(see Heb. 10). Jesus is "once and for all" saying blood sacrifice is over."

I would say that Jesus, because he destabilized the local religion and economy, which happened to be a union that was seamless, would have been called, not only a rebel and a threat, but a loser.  After all, who would not want to participate in the local economic system and get ahead? I think Jesus' plan was actually to get behind. Disciples know this, they know the cost is reputation, worldly possessions, the abundant life as interpreted by Western religion and prosperity thinking and being pushed to the margins of society where misunderstanding will be our breath.  Jesus refused to continue promoting any system that required transactions, shed blood, exploited the weak and the poor and so misrepresented his father as an unstable psychopath who needed to see blood to know we were serious about our sins.  These ideas about Jesus then,  say alot about our present economy and our participation in it and the cost of being a disciple.  Like Jesus, I have no intentions of getting ahead in this system and it's clear I'm already behind.  I don't really care what people think about socio-economic standing, whether I am "blessed", if I am respected for my ideas or doctrinal positions or whether or not I am winning any moral contests.  This said, violence and overthrow is not the answer, but flowing in the sovereignty of God and His unfolding of Christ, this is the answer. Sometimes this can seem ambiguous and there are no tangible answers of "how" to live, but sitting in the tension of Mystery and abandoning certitudes are part of all this.

Rohr continues. "As we go back in history of religion we find that most every continent, until the time of Abraham, had human sacrifice. On every continent people felt God could not possible love us unless we gave God our best and our brightest, our eldest son or our virgin daughters. Somebody had to be given to God because God basically was not see as being on our side. Unless we know this, we will not see how Jesus turned around the entire history of religion. The symbol, of course, is God spilling his blood to get to us, after millenia of humanity spilling it's blood to get to God! Jesus reversed the whole scary process."  Rohr - Things Hidden

What do the scriptures say.

When Adam and Eve fell out of union with God because the serpent planted suspicion, did God plant a doubt in their favor saying "who told you that you were naked."

When Cain killed Abel and Cain cried out to God that anyone who found him, the first murderer, would certainly kill him, God protected him.  Yes, God protected a murderer and went far beyond "an eye for eye" mindset that mankind requires. Few alive at that time were able to understand God's mercy or grace.  There was still a long ways to go.

When Jonah refused to preach to Ninevah and begged God to kill him because he knew God would save them all (Jonah 4) and told God he would rather die than live in a world where God actually loved all and would save all , did not God say "Jonah, do you expect me to not be concerned for the 120,000 people and animals there."  God was saying "Jonah, your ways are NOT my ways."

When Jesus' disciples watched a region reject Jesus the Savior of the world and they said to Jesus "can we call fire down on them for rejecting you as Elijah did," Jesus rebuked them and told them they had no clue what "spirit they were of, " which was basically telling the disciples "we don't hurt our enemies but love them until they become our friends."

It'll be costly to change your mind about God because our default setting is retribution and pay-back.   And God's vengeance? It's not what you think. It's love of his enemies.  God heaps burning coals of love upon them which drives them crazy.  Martyrs tell their murderers "we love you" and "do what you gotta do."  I think Jesus told this to Judas, who I'm sure thought Jesus would fight back when the soldiers came and overthrow the empire, but Jesus the Lamb of God, just surrendered to the flow of God's sovereignty and let the power of the empire show itself as inferior.

(I really do believe this stuff works btw but it'll cost a lot to believe it and it may not "work" in my lifetime)

 And what about Peter?  Peter cut-off the soldiers ear to start the overthrow of the empire, the perceived enemy, and displayed our violence, but Jesus healed the enemy by restoring it. Jesus showed us the way and told Peter to put his sword away.

When are we going to realize he best things in life are free.  There is no transaction with God, no cost, no pay to play and nothing we have to do to gain union with the Father.

God is here. Now. We will all eventually realize this and Christ Jesus will wake up in us and "every knee will bow, every tongue confess."  Not by force, but by love.  The family will be back together again. All of us. And we'll finally realize the best things were free, especially God's love and union with us. Really.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Christendom: "Crumble and Fail"

Quote sent from a friend:

"We seem to become pretty fixated on some false correlation between our faithfulness and the lifespan of our churches and denominations. We know we're doing God's work if our churches are full, budgets are met and we can hand off a healthy institutional legacy to those who come after us. But Jesus preached the destruction of the temple not just to freak people out; he was warning them not to cling to tightly to all the trappings of religion around them that would inevitably crumble and fail."  - Sojourners Magazine

My email response:

"Brilliant and yet poignant quote. This quote becomes obvious when you're living life outside the walls of religion.  At first it seems to be a radical lifestyle and stance because of how deeply entrenched our minds have been in the religious system.  I believe Revelation reveals Armageddon to be this battle in the mind when Christ reveals himself NOT as the Jesus of religion.  Linda says Armageddon is "the six inch battlefield of the mind."

We also gain confirmation of the Inner Witness. Paul talks about this to the Romans and says we are given witness that we are children of God. In my pastoring stints inside the walls, and in my own "Christian experience" prior to coming to Christ outside the camp, there is, in retrospect, a perceived and tangible doubt and uncertainty that exists in the hearts and minds of most "believers."  It's a double-mindedness that is becomes quite evident once you leave. 

I have found that Father connects you with only a few of these radicals who have left, but the connection is profoundly intimate and sincere.  It goes far deeper than the "fellowship" of your former life in the church, which usually does not extend beyond the church doors on Sunday AM, PM and Wednesday services. You begin to realize what it means to come to Christ outside the camp of religion, as the Hebrews writer states.  It's still hard to grasp sometimes that the masses are trapped in there. They believe they are doing service to God by persecuting or thinking badly of those who have left, not knowing they are Saul of Tarsus of their day.   

Rohr has probably identified this departure the best of anyone in his "first and second-half of life" description, which he details in Falling Upward His is a mystics revelation and unearthing in our time that was buried for centuries beneath the gigantic religious machine, which is now apostate, broken and beyond repair, and is being disassembled and taken to the scrapheap.  This can't come fast enough as the corporate consciousness is so heavily influenced by religious thinking. We are literally battling with a farce field of the Adamic mind.

Was watching a mainstream interview with someone, just the other night. The interviewer talked to a religious leader about "going to hell" as if it were a fact and a literal geographical place.  Such thinking on hell, and the tired rewards and punishment narrative,  is the substratum of Western collective consciousness , along with fear of Abba as the "Punisher God," though out of the other side of their mouths God is proclaimed to be unconditional love.

I know of no other way to counteract this than for the entire system, and it's leaders to be displayed as ridiculous and counterfeit representatives of the Father of Jesus.  I can't see any other way for mankind to go forward.  And so, we'll continue to see popular religious men and movements exposed ans self-entitled dominators,  and their movements humiliated. It is the embodiment of the ego after all.

I close with what one of the Proverbs tells us about leaders,  "least among us will lead us."   And,  the high place is "slippery." 

I think I'll just avoid leadership in this realm and stay down, too.

Desacralizing Christianity

"the entirety of the Gospel narrative is invested in desacralizing our religio-cultural viewpoint regarding the sacred, by helping us see our propensity for sacred violence: the invocation of deity in our human acts of destruction, immolation, sacrifice and war."

One of the things that I stressed in The Jesus Driven Life was that Jesus deconstructed the three pillars of second Temple Judaism: Land, Temple and Torah. Jesus did not share in the views of his contemporaries that certain tracts of land were ‘holy’ (see John 4), nor were certain religious establishments ‘holy’ (see his criticism of the Temple in Mark 13 and his prophetic action in the Temple in Mark 11) and like the prophets before him (Jeremiah, Amos etc) Jesus also critiqued the Torah, arguing against it, modifying it, using it against itself etc.
Jesus desacralized everything he came into contact for in Jesus’ view only One was Holy and that was God. Holiness had little to do, in Jesus’ teaching, with codes of ritual purity or social separation. In the JDL I took a cue from Marcus Borg that Jesus replaced his contemporaries’ emphasis on ‘holiness’ with ‘mercy.’
I bring this up because Christianity, in the minds of many, is a sacred religion. Some forms of Christianity have sacralized space (altars with the bones of ‘holy’ persons buried beneath them) or entire cities (the Vatican). Some forms of Christianity have sacralized the Bible, the ‘holy book’ complete with doctrines of inerrancy and inspiration.
It seems to me that one of the greatest things Christians can do is to follow Jesus in the desacralization of space, time, place and texts. In other words, nothing is sacred, everything is profane. Some may balk at this and say “No. Everything is sacred” but they are then using a different definition of the word than I am giving it. Until someone is able to demonstrate otherwise, it seems to me the most appropriate working definition of the term ‘sacred’ is that it stems from violence, so much so that the terms ‘sacred’ and violence can be conjoined (as in Violence and the Sacred) or are even synonyms. Girard’s theory of religion, namely that all that humans call sacred, the gods, sacred places, sacred texts, sacred rituals, etc, all stem from the process of ritual sacrificial practices against random scapegoats. In other words, the sacred is bloody.
Now it seems to me that  If Girard is correct (and I believe he is), then any theory of religion must take into account this critical juxtaposition of Violence and the Sacred. To fail to do so is to begin to ‘mythologize’ the Gospel, the very story whose entire project and point is to desacralize our humanly constructed religious worldviews.
In this light if we are going to be proper Christians this means we will examine our own tradition and begin to desacralize it just as Jesus did to the religion in which he was born. Modern Christianity has not replaced ancient Judaism, it is just another form of archaic religion, the kind of archaic religion into Jesus found himself and from which he would extricate all of us by once for all divesting the sacred of violence, taking all violence upon himself and constructively deconstructing the ideologies produced by sacred violence by a) being vindicated by God in the resurrection, b) proffering forgiveness instead of vengeance and c) by showing us, in his life and in his death, how we may model his desacralization process (otherwise known as ‘discipleship’).
In this sense any form of Christianity which ‘sacralizes’ something, that is, devotes it to God, has committed the very sin which the Gospel forgives. Holiness is not the solution but the problem. We have turned the problem into the solution and thus, as a religion, have a long history of making victims and claiming divine authority or justification for so doing.
Adherents of sacred violence will always decry those who follow ‘the slippery slope’ of desacralization for they are correct: once the church or the Bible becomes desacralized, it becomes profane, or part of the common world or the common public. And this is exactly what has happened in Protestantism for the past 350 years or more. This is why Fundamentalists and Evangelicals are so terrified at losing their ‘Holy Book’ for they know once that happens they will no longer be able to call upon their ‘Holy God’ in order to justify their ‘Holy Mythology’ of violence. They somehow intuit that the desacralization of the Book leads to the profanation of the planet where all life would be considered precious. They somehow sense that without their ‘Holy Book’ the marks of differentiation which allow them to parade their ‘rightness’ and also allow them to justify theologies that differentiate (Christian/Pagan, Heaven/Hell, saint/sinner) also fall by the wayside. Well, Hallelujah, it is the Gospel that is breaking down these humanly constructed sacred walls (Eph 2, Gal 3:28ff).
It is not the desire to live ‘unholy’ lives that is bringing about the desacralization of the Christian faith; nor is it some alleged desire for people to run amok in moral chaos. No. It is the cross of Christ which is doing all this damage to Christianity as a religion, for the Gospel was never meant to form a religion. It is the one message that destructures, invalidates and critiques all religion and it begins first and foremost with that religion which claims the Gospel for itself, Christianity.
If you are looking for someone to blame for the desacralization of Christianity, don’t blame the gays or the academics or the liberals or the commies or the Muslims or the atheists. Blame God. For it was God who was in Christ reconciling the world to God’s self, it was Jesus who was crucified outside the city in the profane space. It is by the Spirit of God that we are finally able to get past all of our religious superstition and come to terms with the reality that all life is profane before the Cross; and thus if we are going to reinvest space, time , place and history with ‘sacredness’ it will be a sacredness of nonviolence, of peacemaking, of love. This alone is the ‘true’ sacred.

- Michael Hardin