11 May 2009

Kingdom living has me confused

Submitted by theshovel
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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 :)

Comments

Well today IS Mothers Day as we call it. It is true that most of us would rather play around with illusions than to have to see things for what they actually are. Take for instance the motivation to do what we do for occasions like this. 99.99 percent is so often like you say, a way of escaping wrath or else appeasing some sort of guilty obligatory sense we have within. I am not against giving to those we love but, we must remember that it is the world that NEEDS a day set aside, something that DEMANDS that they do something ‘good’ or acknowledge another. We are not of this world. We are from a different cloth.

“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.”

 

 I can relate to this wholeheartedly. There was a time I determined to be honest. The intensity of the sense of condemnation following my determination only caused me to end up contemplating suicide and being on the brink of attempting it in light of the meaninglessness that consumed me. Then it dawned upon me that it is impossible to be honest under the law, for being bound to live up to expectations is the foundation of hypocrisy. In the midst of this I saw the reality that defines sincerity.

The life of Christ doesn't take us out of the world, it actually frees us for the first time to relate honestly to the world, to our mortal nature, to our jobs, to our families, to our possessions, to our minds and perceptions. It allows us to embrace the weaknesses of others and our own sufferings, rather than strive to change the behavior of others and our own appearance or perceptions. It frees us to share openly and to cease hiding our supposed deficiencies, to hope in the midst of the hopelessness of the things subject to decay. For God is not concerned with the right words and appearances but with power, and the power of God is made evident in that death cannot overcome his life in us.

I don't think Jim allowed Christ to do anything in him. I am convinced, however, that in the midst of his attempts to supposedly let God do it he was only caused to understand that God already fulfills the law in him, thus freeing Jim to relate to anything without becoming conscious of the expectation of having to die because of having transgressed. For in Christ transgression and the knowledge of sin are not possible, but the law is the foundation for the knowledge of transgressions.

In the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was perhaps just a normal tree. But when God identified it as a point of transgression for them by the law to not eat of it this object became a door to the knowledge of death in the mind of those who heard the law. And being forbidden it stood out as a potential fulfillment, so that those who were tempted by suggestion only ended up eating from it. Having then become conscious of transgression the expectation of death consumed them and they knew evil and lack. From then on systems of behavior have been erected upon that realm of death. Men became blind and always groping for this and that in search of the right way, not knowing in what they stumble perpetually. For the law implies the possibility of dying, thus rejecting the impossibility of dying. For by forbidding things it identifies a point of transgression that results in the punishment of death.

So death entered the world through the law. Are we then to attempt to overcome death by the same? For in the beginning God spoke of the knowledge of death as if He had that knowledge, for he did, since He is  fully able to relate to death without being overcome by it. But that Adam was given the law only implies that he was yet susceptible to the power of death, and evidently he was, just as God told him. Only when Christ brought forth the life of God to us we ceased to be under this power and were enabled to walk freely in the midst of it without becoming overcome by it. So that Christ became to us the end of the law.
For having life results in the impossibility of breaking the law and therefore the impossibility of transgressing and becoming conscious of having to die. Those that cannot die anymore are therefore in no need of law, for by virtue of the life in them that overcomes death they are the fulfillment of the law. For it is unreasonable to forbid things to those who cannot die anymore, because on what grounds are you forbidding them? The only reasonable ground is if they are subject to the possibility of dying, but where that possibility is absent neither is there grounds for restraint anymore. How, then, can you forbid anything to those who are by nature unable to transgress?

So relating to all things on the basis of the power of that new life that allows for us to embrace anything and anyone without dying is 'kingdom living'. All things are allowed, therefore - whether porn, murder or suicide, -  but there is no profit in pleasing the flesh. For the spirit is making it plain to us that real wealth is in giving and caring, bearing burdens through the power of God and not laying heavy expectations for others to live up to.

Weaknesses, deficiencies and necessities are avoided in the world because these bring to remembrance the expectation of the death that reveals the nakedness of the world, their absence of life. For in the way the world relates to death they are seen to be without hope or power. Therefore they are bound to perpetual strive after gain, always seeking for acceptance and praise, for boasting, for fleshly knowledge, for profit, for justification, for the appearance of might and significance. But we, having died, cannot die anymore. And the spirit of the life that lives in us is teaching us that whether deceit or weakness, necessity or death, nothing is able to stain us and separate us from the life of God. For we have been made to have power and dominion over death, for by whatever something is overcome to that it is enslaved.

Georgi, This is written so clearly. I really appreciate your honesty and adding tidbits about your struggles. Finally hearing from someone that can speak of Christ to a wretch like me that have been forgiven for so much. There are too many preachers and christian bloggers that show themselves as if they “have arrived at some spiritual pinnacle” and then simply say “just trust in Christ”. They don’t sound like Paul in the NT. He was a wreck (thinking about those “credentials” in Corinthians). Thank you again, Brother.

Also I think it would be good if Adam, Georgi, and Jim did an audio.

I think the most important failure to realize in the Christ life is that believers try to improve the old man and they don’t reckon the old man dead. The new believers continue to try to improve their old man. (The instituional church makes a critical mistake of preaching in this self-improvement direction.) A revelation of this is critical. Paul saw it as he was coming out of his deep religious background (a pharisee of pharisee, etc.)and as he summarizes portion of his life in Galatians 1. Jim explains this so well in many ways in his comments and newsletters. (Thank you, Jim for bringing this to light.) We are IN CHRIST, folks, get over the dead man. The dead man is toast. Don’t listen to the weak voice that resides in the dead man.

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Random Shovelquote: Isolating Words of Jesus (view all shovelquotes)

The habit of isolating Jesus' words and stories from one another is the main reason our twisted versions seem plausible in the first place. source