Well folks, we’re back after having taken a couple weeks off for … Jim, why don’t you catch everybody up?
Sure, I’ve been involved in an intensive home improvement project. I took a week off from my job to get a decent start on a room renovation, which included a lot of clean-up and prep. Yeah, it’s the room that’s been used for … well … you know … stuff. I’m far from done, but we might be randomly inserting an audio that’s off-topic from our ongoing Hebrews series until I can catch up. So Adam, why don’t you tell everybody about this week’s topic.
Well this week we are turning our attention to a different topic that has had some major persuasion within the “christian’ churches throughout America and abroad. This weeks audio title is called “Poltergeist of the World”. It’s based on a wonderful series written by Jim Minker from the year 2003 in what he calls the “Shovel Letter Series”. These can be found in abundance simply by going to the site theShovel.net”.
Jim you may remember writing this series as the question came along asking: How are we to view our lives when bad things start happening? What are we to do with the ideas coming from the pulpit that demand that we are being chastened by God whenever something falls apart in our lives or those we love? Is God trying to get our attention? Are we resisting His will if we have things fall apart around us and start to try to rebuild it in order to survive? Is God after us? Do we need to be like Paul were we would have essentially no sleep, no home, no family and no money? Does this make us more in tune with God? Should we be looking over our shoulder[ie: praying] for God every time we see things crumbling around us?
Regarding things falling apart and crumbling we have been pulled into the same self-centered perspectives that have plagued humanity from the beginning. Now, I have no doubts about God’s control over the smallest matters of life, but I reject that age-old religious mindset of man that consistently manages to superimpose its own confused network of explanations upon what it thinks it sees. Our Christianized version of that mindset uses the Bible as a handbook of legal precedents reinforcing man’s long-standing fear and uncertainty of God’s whim and/or perverse pleasure in inflicting troubles upon us in this world.
Now you mention this control “over even the smallest details of our life”. Someone might be asking something like: “Well if He is in control of it all then He must be causing it all too, and if that’s the case then, why can’t He do what He does without the props of the material world to lean on?
You know, these are the same questions that used to intrigue and draw me in on theological discussions that seemed so spiritual in nature. Doesn’t this sound like the deep things of God? It makes us think, it forces us to study the Bible and reflect upon the absolute truthfulness of its claims, doesn’t it? I used to think it was important to figure all this kind of stuff out. I mean, if God is really in control then we should be able to follow the trail of his workings so as to understand how our circumstances are being manipulated by Him, right? After all, we’ve been given many insights through the Scriptures that describe God’s direct involvement in the workings of this world … so it seems to suggest that we should be able to see the hand of God working in the affairs of our world today, right?
Adam … regarding the question I sent you about the second part that I’m not sure of?
The truth is that things fall apart and crumble on a daily basis all around the world, even among those who seem to have it altogether. Why do we think God has to make our little worlds fall apart when they do so all by themselves? Some things may hold together longer than others, or maybe they just APPEAR so, but the world is falling apart simply because it is in a state of constant flux - there is no permanent substance to it. There is no doubt that many of us have been shaken out of our ill-placed reliance upon temporary things when those things crumbled before our eyes, but they have been crumbling long before we were even born and will continue to do so till the world finally collapses. Like I said, I’m not suggesting that God is not ultimately in control of everything, I just suspect that the rational mind of man motivates more of our theological contemplations than we know.
Jim you mention this clear aspect of a world that is ALREADY crumbling. Do you think the statement made by Peter here might also play into this slow destruction of the natural world you refer to?
“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption [destruction?] in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:4
Jim-maybe go into this a bit and then move on into this:
Sure, for the corruption that is in the world well-describes the ongoing process of breakdown in this world. I mean, while we might be trying to figure out how God might be doing what He is doing in the world, we seem to gloss over the basic reality that the world moves along on …. automatic pilot. Now, I’m sure some will project my words as teaching the philosophy known as Deism — that is, that God created the world and then left it on its own — but I would have to ask if our theological demands haven’t created such an either/or proposition to begin with. In other words, because the Bible states that God is in control, then anything that seems to suggest He isn’t must be assumed as denying His sovereignty. Who has established this kind of reasoning? If we’re going to force assumptions based upon ideas that seem to connect, we might have to rethink our own. For we need to realize that a basic premise of sovereignty hangs behind stuff like fortune-telling and the horoscope. I suggest that we stop listening to the demands of human reasoning and philosophizing.
Anyhow, the basic idea that the world runs on its own pre-defined course isn’t confined to a verse in Peter, it’s all over the Bible. Jesus, James, and John often referring to how this world is passing away. In Romans chapter 3, Paul quoted a host of OT references that all conclude the whole world has been running on its rejection of God as well as its own self-destructive course of sin and condemnation. Such statements as to how the world runs on its own predefined course don’t deny the truth that God is in control, but they sure could if we wanted them to.
You see, we have received permanence in Christ, but because we have been left in this world as aliens we merely bang our heads against the wall when try to make ourselves believe we can establish permanence in something we instinctively KNOW is passing away. We have ALREADY received the witness within ourselves that teaches us there is nothing to rely on in this world. But because we have been listening to a law-based Christianity built upon the principles of this world we buy into the lie that suggests God makes the temporary into something permanent … except when He wants to teach us a lesson. We are taught in Christ that nothing in the world is dependable, and in this sense the whole world is a continual lesson to us as its glory keeps being revealed to us as a vapor.
Jim do you think that this counter ‘wisdom’ we have received from the legal mind has actually served to keep us AWAY from embracing this internal recognition that there is no permanence in this world?
Sure it has. After all, this counter wisdom is nothing but the rationale of the fleshly mind, and this rationale comes from and exists within the temporal world. As it can’t escape the confines of its own existence, it can’t serve to offer anything of true permanence … even when it refers to such permanence. The legal mind is bound to the very same elemental wisdom from which it is derived. It makes no difference that its premises, teachings, and conclusions may come from the Bible, for many fleshly religions do the same.
We have not been left in ignorance for Christ has become our wisdom! The world struggles and gropes in search of some permanence in this world, but we know there is none to be had. Why appeal to the world’s wisdom by making God out to be the poltergeist of the universe? Ignorance - not Christ - taught us to think like this. If we are being fooled by the unfolding of circumstances it is only because we have been listening to the preaching of ignorance.
When troubles come upon us we don’t have to try to make up reasons to justify why. Actually, the religious habit of doing so only establishes a superstitious perspective of trying to figure out why GOD is doing this (or allowing it to happen). As long as the superstition of religion determines our outlook we will use everything, including the Bible, to support this insanity of blindness. I mean, in this mindset, we can’t even recognize our own self-defeating habits without turning it into a guilt-trip of Old Testament proportion, complete with support groups, formulas, rituals and/or principles. No wonder we’re confused, we’ve been given wisdom in Christ and yet we keep looking to the wisdom of this world to help us figure it out.
But still Jim, some are asking what about this idea that God might be out to destroy my plans? I mean after all, He SEEMS to be very much involved in casting down all of them as far as I can recognize with my natural eyes?
In the wisdom God has given, our plans are not secured but are simply pursued knowing that they may happen or they may not. It is only the ignorance of the world that gives the illusion that our plans are guaranteed. We can ignore the religious demands upon both our successes and our failures. A success in this world does not mean success with God, so that if we fail it does not mean that God was against us, nor does a success mean that God was for us. A failure doesn’t imply that God was teaching us a lesson, it just means that it didn’t work out. If our office had been located in the World Trade Center we would have lost everything along with everyone else there, but to suggest that God was trying to teach us a lesson reeks of the same superstition that keeps fortune tellers in business. Maybe we will discover that we have good business sense and maybe we will find we trip ourselves up, and maybe we will learn from our own mistakes or by following some good business practices, but God is FOR us one way or the other
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. -James 1:3
* Key questions: This ‘testing”, according to the natural mind seems to be all about YOU, your efforts or spirituality. As in “my faith”[by my will] is being “tested”. Is GOD doing the ‘testing”? IF SO, IN WHAT RESPECT? HOW does He do this? We are so used to the sense of the natural meaning of the word ‘test”. We take a test in a classroom and all eyes are on us to perform. Wouldn’t Christ be revealing more of Him and HIs riteousness rather than OUR faithfulness and great faith?
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 1Peter 4:12
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; Romans 5:3
Do you also suppose that we have backed ourselves up a bit into a corner with this idea that God is “doing” the damage to us? I mean on the one hand we see His hand VISIBLY and at least feel ‘cared for’ in some sick way since we can SEE with our eyes the destruction he is ‘causing’ in our lives. On the other hand if THAT’S what He is doing then we can only put up with it so long until we just run away and hide from a God that is out to get us for His weird purposes.
The Bible verse … Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting! Daniel 5:27
…covers over the overwhelming demand of the testing mentioned by Peter (and others). What if the testing of our faith has nothing to do with revealing OUR righteousness but HIS? What if it really does result in “praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”? What if our faith really is “more precious than gold”? You see, if we were really connecting with Peter’s train of thought regarding this testing we would realize there was no good vs. bad outcome … only a validation of God’s life within!
We grow through EVERYTHING simply because we have been planted in the living one. The truth is that we’ll easily turn into a scared wreck viewing God as that religiously-produced poltergeist. Do I ever worry over these things? Sure, every time I slip back into that dead mentality!! If you have been raised with Christ then HE is your reality. Count on this … especially every time someone or something demands an alternative reality. Do not give in to the lie that tells you something else, but stand in the reality of Christ.
I think our whole concept of God causing our world to crumble comes from:
1} The story of Job
2] The story of Jonah in the belly of the whale
3] Our seeming ‘confirmation’ in Paul’s statements to the Corinthians of his “thorn in the flesh”
These are the things we line up in order -in order to view what God must be like in our world today. I think we get the idea of of Gods whimsical decision to harm a man for His[Gods] own immature thought processes or to ‘prove’ to the heavenly mob[as if in a poker game] that his Cadillac has more horse power than their Buick-has some sort of parallel meaning to our troubles today. With Job, we find God seemingly ‘allowing’ him be put through the ringer but, it was some how all “okay’ because He gave him MORE in the end. I have heard countless teachings on this to crowds whom the Pastor KNEW were going through really tough times. Meanwhile he had[the Pastor] ‘Gods protection’ and had a nice home, an obedient family and plenty of our money! He slanted his teachings up on the pulpit in a way that made it seem natural that the Lord was viciously into the exposing of sin in our lives that God was tired of being there. AND SO ‘hE’ SYSTEMATICALLY STRIPs us of our ‘wordly’ needs until we essentially beg Him for mercy. Then out of His ‘mercy’ He finally relents once your whole life is compltetly torn apart and He finally stops playing with our lives. Umm do I need to point out that there are a few obviously sick things about this analogy?
1} HE caused the harm
2] Don’t call it ‘mercy’ when HE is the One who KNOWS all things and then descides to randomly harm us-call that immaturity.[and of course serial killing]
3]Call it weak. Weak? Yes. He apparently NEEDS the world to crumble to show you anything of value through His spirit.
This theme seems to run about the same in EVERY one of the stories above. We get our HUMAN points out of them and we then of course by nature, wrestle with them until we die not knowing exactly just how God deals with us here. It stands in the way of our hearts embrasing Him with a sense of trust and ease.