Hi, i came across your site tonight and was intrigued by your simple approach to life in Christ. I have married a man who is quite the studious one and has written a book [you can download]. I thought he could bring a better understanding to me and my walk as I believed much of what he was saying. I married and now am more confused than when I started my walk with the Lord in the very beginning 30 years ago. I'm falling apart and I need some real help. I'm a mess and I can't seem to find the mercy and grace of the Lord....ever. [He tells me] everything has to be viewed thru the Kingdom. ....which I totally agree, but it seems that I'm always looking at everything backwards...according to him. I'm beat up and then I beat him up. "Take care if you bite and devour one another that you are not consumed by one another." I do feel that we battle all the time. I quit talking back for awhile and we had peace. That was short lived. I really want to walk in peace, but this Gospel of the Kingdom and the "word of the Kingdom' confuses me in an overwhelming way. I've walked closely with the Lord at one point in my life, but now..I'm so far away, I can't imagine what it would be like to obey. Every time I get a few steps forward I'm falling backwards into a pile of crap....I mean everytime. I understand the concept of Christ in you the Hope of Glory, but my husband has made it sound like I can't have christ and his spirit until I die to all that I am and the things of the systems of this world....I see I can't die until I have Christ...I'm confused! I do agree, but I find that the more I push forward....I end up taking 10 steps in the opposite direction. I feel like I'm under a legalistic viewpoint and can't get free. I love your approach as you spoke about the bible study that you were suppose to be teaching, but instead you let things to and God showed up....rather Christ....because you let HIM have the floor. I can't seem to do that in every day life. I'm really desperate. Thanks, Liberty
Hello, my dear liberty!
I have downloaded the book and have read a few pages. I see that he has already had to reevaluate his stance as being lopsided, and I appreciate his revealing that. Perhaps he will recognize more in the coming years. I will continue reading the rest of it later. In the meantime, I truly understand your confusion and conflict. I am familiar with what some others have taught about a Kingdom aspect, and most of it comes from reading our own insecurities, fears and strivings into the words of Jesus and the apostles.
I was just talking to my daughter yesterday morning about guilt. This is by no means the first time we have discussed this, but it is the first in a while now. She is still convinced that a little guilt is a good thing, motivationally speaking. However, she once again admitted that guilt plays the major factor in her life. She is indeed a conflicted individual.
What came to me as I responded to her had to do with the whole box-mentality people live in. It's part of the M.O. (mode of operation) of human reasoning. Guilt is everywhere ... you don't have to know anything about Christianity or any other religion to be overwhelmed by it. People mostly blame religion as the source of guilt because religious doctrine has capitalized upon guilt and magnified its effects.
But guilt drives mankind. All you have to do is ignore the way it's worded and pay attention to the effects. I don't know what you think about sci-fi, but we had both just seen the new Star Trek movie and she had started out the morning talking about how wonderful it was. I have to admit that it is an excellent movie. One of the best Star Treks to date. Two of the usual concepts deployed in the movie are Time-Travel and Alternate-Realities (more than one reality going on at the same time stemming from either/or junctures in life). She spoke of her doubts about alternate realities, but had to admit the possibility because of a sense within her of living different lives. Such concepts form a playground for the human imagination, but the truth of the matter is that they are based upon an intellectual view of the conflict within mankind. Boxes.
The concept of Time-Travel is nothing less than the expression of things like guilt and regret by which people imagine the possibilities of going back in time to correct an error or misjudgment in history ... usually revolving around one's own decisions and resultant actions and reactions. How many times have you wished you could go back and change one thing in your own life? Multiply that by the number of times you have desired such a thing and then multiply that by the number of people who have ever existed ... and then you get the idea of time travel. Guilt is the construct upon with time-travel is built. It's not about the intellectual discussion as to whether it is possible or not, it's all about man's internal conflicts. Another box.
The concept of Alternate Realities is pretty much the same. It is another way to tell the same old story about the feeling of living different lives and the guilt that stems from hypocrisy. These are the questions we wonder: Why am I one way at work, another at play, another with my friends, another with my enemies, another with my church friends? Which me is the real me? What if all are the real me? The little judge in our heads between right and wrong constantly evaluates and reevaluates. Mankind attempts to escape the prison of condemning itself for what it approves. People may not always call it guilt, but it is. Yet another box.
People manipulate with guilt for a "good" cause. Christians huddle around the box known as 1 John 1:9 because it fills the basic human conflict revolving around the oppression of guilt. I call it a box because it embodies the fears, guilt and insecurities we learned in this world. The fact is that the verse used for this box is built around a very small context. If it were not for the fleshly wisdom clung to by the Christian religion as a whole it would be seen that the verse itself does not fit into the box called by its name. In this, we are no different from the rest of the world with its boxes. When most people read the passage surrounding the verse - like most verses lifted from context - they can only see the box and will ignore all evidence to the contrary.
While still discussing these things with my daughter as we were leaving the public beach, she nudged me and pointed to the long, long line waiting to get into our quite famous beach-front breakfast restaurant, John G's (type that in Google and you'll see the beach area I live in). As I apparently didn't catch her meaning, she then said, "Mother's Day! I forgot!" I looked at her and said, "Guilt!" To which she replied, "Oh yeah!" We both laughed. As I later related this to my wife, it hit me how much of a God-thing the timing was. My wife enjoys having her children express their love for her, she'll even accept it on Mother's Day. But she doesn't want guilt to motivate them to do it on that particular day. I reminded my daughter of this, and reinforced it - once again - by emphasizing to her that when her mother has told her not to worry about gifts that she really means it.
You see, love cannot be enforced by a day manufactured by man. I'm not necessarily against a day set aside, but the truth is that Mother's Day represents one of the biggest sales holidays in America. Children try to prove their love for their mothers by buying expensive presents (often in competition with other siblings or other expectations) or taking mom out to dinner (one of the worst days of the year to go out to eat because of the incredibly difficult job of reserving a table, parking, waiting in line, etc). But we'll do things that can easily end up making a good day into a miserable one because of the guilt associated with not seeming to love our mothers.
She and I spoke of guilt numerous times after that. I noticed a real sense of relief in her as she could once again step back and recognize a bit of hope in the midst. :) On the way back to my house, my daughter impulsively pulled over the curb, got out and picked two beautiful red hibiscus to take to her mother. It was such a simple thing. It cost nothing, but she knew her mother would love it. And she did. That was cool.
So what does all this talk about boxes have to do with your situation? Simple. The "kingdom" is another such box. As I read more of your husband's book I will see if it follows what I have heard from others as "Kingdom" teaching. So far I don't hear any sense of the Spirit's working in our lives apart from the concept of the need to have our understanding increased in an intellectually factual way. That's just my initial impression. I could be wrong on that.
The simplicity you see in my writings merely reflects the always very-present reality of God's spirit within us ... that is, the life of Christ being our very source. This is the freedom of Christ, and it leads not to sin but to righteousness ... though it very well may be judged as sin just as Jesus was condemned as such. This is the life and the freedom to which all in Christ are called to stand in. This is the life in which you are now found, for your life is hidden in Christ.
I'll write more later.
Love, Jim :)