18 Nov 2001

Free to be Real

Submitted by theshovel
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Cheers rippled through the crowd as the MC announced the concert’s opening with a holler: “WE’RE HERE BECAUSE WE LOVE JESUS!”. Really? I was under the impression this massive gathering was the result of a well-planned, heavily-promoted, mega-Christian music event. Silly me! Somehow I couldn’t recall the promo stating, “Come out because you love Jesus”. Hey, I admit it, I came for the music. But I guess that’s not a very spiritual thing to say. Do you want to know why this really ticks me off? Because it engenders insincerity. Apparently, it’s NOT okay to come to hear a favorite Christian band, but it IS okay to “love Jesus”. I guess that makes it unspiritual to be honest, but spiritual to be fake. After all, how many would willingly stand up and dispute the claim so that their unspirituality might be made known to thousands? No, keeping your real intentions hidden has its benefits. But then, how does one resolve the obvious conflict that is sure to surface again and again? Oh, this is religion at its finest! Do you suppose my beef is actually with Christian bands, concerts, and promo? Nay, nay, not so. In this, we’re only mimicking what has been passed down to us. My real concern has to do with our everyday living. We have been taught how to live as Christians after the same patterns we learned growing up in the world. Before Christ, we had sufficient cause to hide our true selves and true motivations, but then, why does our Christian teaching give us even MORE reason to fear, instead of setting us free to be real? What if it’s because we keep regarding Christ as a religious figure instead of as being life itself, and his freedom as a destination change instead of as being a new life, and the Bible as Christian principles to live by instead of as being a testimony to the miracle of Christ’s life within? Maybe we’ve been intimidated by a bogus Christianity for far too long and have been using its magic wand to try to change the real us into a Christian us. Maybe we are afraid to be real because we are afraid the real us is inferior so we will grasp whatever gives us a boosted sense of spirituality. What if we knew this was all part of the bondage Christ came to deliver us from? And what if it turned out that the real us is NOT the old us because the old us was put to death in Christ? And what if it turned out that the real us is the life that was raised in Christ? Do you think maybe then it would be safe to be real?
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Yes I enjoyed this too. It is something we share in this freedom we are standing in, in Christ. This realness is something that consumes us as we see past the fleshly traps of our brothers AND sisters in Christ. While they may be trapped in some intricate web of legal thinking, and judgments, wrath and every other evil thing that comes along with that, we are called to a freedom and confidence that whatEVER comes out is not a TRUE threat, for the being real is part of this Life we live...

Sometimes it can get pretty ugly..but that is the nature of the dead thing we are tricked into hanging on to. God is in the biz of releasing us from our BS, if it takes being real..well..it is a good thing then![especially because the TRUE reality shines out in it all!]

theshovel's picture

These comments were all transferred over from the original website

I doubt if there is anyone who has spent any time at all in the Christian walk who has not sensed and experienced struggles in his life. If we are honest with ourselves we must admit that one common aspect of Christianity is that it involves struggles. In reality, struggle at one level of intensity or another is a near constant companion of the Christian. The Christian life is not an idyllic, carefree romp through this world.
Though many Christians try to project this carefree and trouble-free image it is really only a facade.
Many Christians feel the need to put forth such a facade because of a mistaken view of the nature of the Christian life. We are taught in much of organized religion that accepting Christ is supposed to open a door to trouble-free living. Given this misconception it is understandable that many Christians feel the need to project the image of a perfect life. It is incorrectly felt by many that the admission of struggles is an admission of failure as a Christian.
The fact that we struggle in the Christian life is not an indication of our failure. We struggle as Christians because of the nature of our situation. Christians are, to some extent, out of place in this world. We are called to be aliens and strangers in this world (1Peter 2:11). In this we share in Abraham's calling to follow God and live as strangers in a strange land. Ours is a fallen world ruled by our Father's enemy Satan. This rule by Satan occurs for a reason by the Father's design and consent. It should be no surprise to any of us that we have struggles in this life.

The above is an excerpt from my good friend Bill Landon. I thought it appropriate here.
Richard


Jim,

I once read a quote from a very popular book, by a very popular author, that said this: "Don't however, focus on your talents, abilities, and interests in determining God's will. That kind of response is self-centered. We need to become God-centered instead." At first glance one may say "That is so very true". But I disagree. For me to just deny everything I am, everything I am good at, everything I enjoy, and to forget to be the person I desire to be, would really mean that I am to deny everything I am. It seems the author is expressing an opinion that I think many Christians hold. I think there are so many people who are scared to just to step out and be the person they desire to be.

Many think that "doing what they want" is just selfish. But is it? I mean if we are obedient to what the scriptures say, is it so wrong to follow our desires? For if we truly believe that we died with Christ, then why are we so scared to be the person we desire to be? I am so tired of people telling me what the Christian life looks like or even feels like. The most liberating words anyone has ever told me were "Be the person you desire to be." What a simple statement. For in us all I think we desire to be the person God created us to be. But how do you be that? I think by being the person you desire to be. I wish my words could express my deepest desires.
Ryan


Dear Jim

Love the Shovelletter. I am convinced that we are more in love with the idea of Jesus, grace, etc., than in the "real" thing. Reminds me of the line in "Amistad" when the black abolitionist says to the white abolitionist, "the only thing you people dislike more than slavery is slaves." They were in love with the idea of abolition, but not because they loved the ones they were attempting to free.

Hope you are on the mend soon buddy. You are in our prayers!

Grace
Mike Nagle


Great Shoveletter today, despite your difficulties. Jesus Christ living his life through us, as opposed to our trying to live our own life to some way, somehow please a perfect God, is so much better. Let the ones who want to do so stay with that old covenant. I like the new one a whole lot better.
Neil


Since you would LOVE to hear from me, I thought I would respond to your dig. I get excited about how God times things sometimes. I was just thinking about my Christmas letter this year. I feel an urgent need to share the gospel with friends who don't know him yet. It made me think of the verses: "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us." (1 Thess. 2:7-9).

I send out a card and letter to around 100 people. I try to keep it real and intimate, but sometimes find it hard to do. Authenticity is extremely important to me, and yet it is also important to me to not scare people away.

Anyway, as I have been pondering this, your dig of the week reminds me to be the real person Jesus has made me. You call me a friend even though we don't know each other. You share your life intimately with people that you don't know. It encourages me. It does not scare me away.

Thank you for your almost weekly words of encouragement.

Your friend, PKW


Hi Shovel Jim,

I am in whole hearted agreement with what you said in your current letter!

The issue of music had been one of importance in my life for as long as I can remember. (even before Christ) Then as a Christian, I learned to exalt music i.e. praise and worship to an exalted status.(on par with the Lord Himself) Once I left the "institution" behind, I was surprised to find my attitudes about music changed also. The Lord has shown me what an idol I made of it all. Now I find the "taste" for it has left. If He wants to use me in this area (playing and singing) then He will. If He doesn't, He won't. So what? Since the idolatry of it has been cast out by His grace, I find that music is just music. And I don't want to spiritualize it and make it something it isn't! Like you pointed out, "spirituality" forces us to make it all spiritual and say it's all about Jesus, when it really isn't! It's about music. And there's nothing wrong with it, only in lying about it! :) Glory to God for the light! And the eyes to see with!

Keep Shoveling!

In Him, Connie


Hello Connie, my dear friend,

It's amazing how this whole "spiritual" music thing has flourished since the Jesus Movement days. I agree with you about how much of a bondage it is. I always get raised eyebrows or rebukes if I mention that I love "New Age" music - which, of course, has merely become a "genre" to describe many flavors of instrumental music.

Oh, I remember how I used to be a heavy-duty legalist on the "evils" of rock music during the 70's. The fact is that I dearly LOVED it, and I found myself saturated in guilt at the realization that some of my own songs had a "rock-edge". I wrote one of the RealAudio songs on my site during the early 70's (the one called "Haven't You Seen Him?") and though I hadn't actually played an electric lead to it I heard it in my head. I had the opening instrumental part of the song running in my head for hours on end, and I kept telling myself that it was "wrong, wrong, wrong" because it was Rock and therefore "evil". It remains one of my own favorite tunes that I've written over 3 decades. :) It was wonderful to realize that it was only music and that I was free to enjoy it!!!

I haven't played much in the past couple years but other than that there has always been music happening in my life. In my family we all love music - and many forms of it. My oldest daughter is so eclectic with her tastes that my former writing and performing companion was impressed to see her collection of CDs and tapes. We just love music! And we don't have to put a label of "evil" because of style. :)

Love, Jim


Hello Jim,

I was excited about your insights (about music) because they are exactly what I have been seeing for about a week now. One day, just a clear as can be, I just thought "there's no such thing as 'christian' music, there's just music" and I knew it was truth. It turns out that I, like you, have in my newly discovered freedom in Christ, started to admit and just enjoy any music. God gives us all things to enjoy!
God Bless, Connie


Thanks for your newsletter! :0) I'm always am moved and full of joy when I read it. I'm sorry to hear about your neck and I hope and pray for a healing or at least for the pain to subside.

Have a blessed day.
Your friend in Christ,
Laura


It's funny that you talk about this. For the longest time, I've struggled within to be the "right" person for everybody else to like me. I resent that now. I don't know how to be real because I'm scared of what people will think. I'm scared they'll see someone who struggles in their relationship with God and others. I'm scared they'll think I'm less of a christian. I'm even more scared of living a lie and not being my true self. I've had to ask God to show me how to be real and be myself.

I've been so fake that it's hard to be the real deal. Becoming a Christian did not allow me to be real at it's beginning stages. The church I was in was too religious. It still a lot of "fun" in my youth. I learned how to be a better hider and learned how to fool people. In the process, I didn't find out who I was.

I thank God that He opened my eyes and helped me to see that He loves me unconditionally, that His grace is sufficient. There is so much peace in that. Thanks for keepin it on the "Real Tip" (that's Youth Talk)!
Roy


Hi Jim,

Sorry to hear about the bad disc in your neck. Must be painful. Hopefully it will heal rapidly.

Funny how you write what I have at times thought to myself. Your example about the mc at the Christian concert whooping up the crowd that all came there because 'they love Jesus' was oh so true. Being a Christian, it seems you have to conform to a certain speech, a certain methodology, a certain way of saying things, etc etc. If people were honest, they would say 'I came because I really like this band', but instead you get the politically Christian correct response about 'we are here to praise God' or some other statement because to say otherwise you may fear someone might think you are not all that committed a Christian. If a person does say something other than 'here because I love Jesus', does that mean they don't love Jesus? Of course not (note: when I say I love Jesus I feel totally inadequate as my love is so shallow compared to His for me). It is tiring to hear people just say the right things because they know that is what people expect to hear, instead of being honest. I am really tired of this 'false Christianity' that is reliant upon doing, saying, speaking, dressing, conforming, grooming, etc etc to some predetermined set of guidelines established by the status quo. How lifeless.

Your shovel letter always seems to strike a chord with me! I am glad to have come across websites such as yours because I realized that I am not the only one who ponders the reality of Christianity versus what is perceived to be Christianity wrapped up in it's dos and don'ts, slogans for the flock to live by, and a corporate philosophy one must adhere to in order for one to be 'accepted'.
Scott


Hello my dear friend,

What you wrote is some POWERFUL stuff!!! Wow! What a sense of freedom there is in sharing the stuff you're afraid of!! The power of Christ shows through as we testify of our weaknesses and fears!
theShovel


I have myself stuggled with such a shallow christian experience.
If we are too shallow to be real, how can the glory of God be made manifest. For we are growing from glory to glory, victory to victory. It seems as if one just overcomes an obstacle in ones life, and along comes another! To some christians this would protray a lack of Victory, but the truth is that we are all growing in Christ! None of us is perfect or without sin, but through Christ we are made righteous, and through the grace of God we can overcome, one victory at a time. I'm starting to except myself, and starting to see that I am a child of God, and God is for me, and he has given me the power to conquor - for I am more than a conquor through Jesus Christ! Thank you Jesus that you have given me the Victory!

Let's not be afraid to be real, then people can see that the Lord is good. If we look as if we are perfect, no one will actually see the things that God is taking us out of. How shallow we are. I will not boast of myself, but in Christ Jesus my Lord and Savior!
HumblyHis2


Hi Jim awesome letter I am so tired of hidding behind christianty.I just want to worship the Lord just like He made me .I just want to thank and Praise Him with all the saints . I thank the Father for you all write in to your website it is truly refreshing to share in the truth.Love, Dan


Ryan,
I wish my words could express my deepest desires.

Even a blind, deaf dumb person couldn't miss the truth in what you shared!
Just be yourself! Go figure.
Richard


Connie,
And I don't want to spiritualize it and make it something it isn't! Like you pointed out, "spirituality" forces us to make it all spiritual and say it's all about Jesus, when it really isn't! It's about music. And there's nothing wrong with it, only in lying about it! :) Glory to God for the light! And the eyes to see with!>>

only in lying about it! What truth you've spoken!

Oswald Chambers once said he had so regretted the fact that he had not persued his love of literature as it was not considered "sacred/spiritual' the wonderful price we pay for drinking this deadly brew.
Richard


Right on.
oceanwaves


You said that right and asked thought provoking questions. It allowed me to examine myself. Yes I have one of those ones caught up some traditional stuff but I am starting to see myself in a whole new light. I am free so why should I hide go with the Christian flow because I have the life of Jesus flowing through I am free to be me and not conform to anyone or anything other than HIS GRACE.

Thanks for the eye opener!!
Mark Barbour


Hey Richard,

Isn't this website the best?! (Thank you Shovel Jim for being real to all of us)
Free to be real, that's what we are learning! Cause, if Jesus is the truth, and truth is reality, then the only way we'll enter into His full reality is to admit the truth, where we "are", at this moment. Christ is experienced in this, this admitting, this truthful exclamation of ourselves in His light. This necessary honesty, I believe, is what is implied and inherent in the command we're given to "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Hey, let's all admit where we are! Let's not be afraid! Here is where we will discover our Lord. If the thing admitted by us is to be cleared away, then that is what our Lord is so graciously ready to do. He's wanting our willing participation and cooperation. We're being trained to reign as priests and kings and it behooves us to BE REAL. The sooner we do this, the sooner His kingdom reign will be fully experienced.

Let's all get real together and discover the amazing glory of our King who is ruling and reigning right now in the midst of our hearts! I know the only 'real' friends I have are the ones I choose to be real with, and they are the ones that are the most blessed to me and the ones I discover Christ in!

Being Real in Jesus, Connie


Hello Connie and Richard!! Thanks for your participation!! :)

Yes, yes, being real is so full of life, but it surely is not the "easy" way. Going in the flow of Christ runs so contrary to very fiber of this world, and especially the religious world ... but it is the only reality that will truly sit well with us in the inner man. Many will judge our freedom to be "licentiousness", but there is no true life outside this freedom of Christ.

Love, Jim


Yes, yes, being real is so full of life, but it surely is not the "easy" way. Going in the flow of Christ runs so contrary to very fiber of this world, and especially the religious world ... but it is the only reality that will truly sit well with us in the inner man. Many will judge our freedom to be "licentiousness", but there is no true life outside this freedom of Christ.

I wouldn't have it any other way. Really!!!
Richard


These responses are so freeing! I am experiencing that growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ is God introducing me to myself! I am getting to know who I really am in the Beloved, and I'm not who I thought I was! Thankfully, Gregg


Gregg,

I am thoroughly excited by the life that is so obviously exploding within you!! You describe so well the witnessing of his spirit with our spirits as you find the responses of others to be the testimonials of Christ as our life!!
theShovel


Hey Gregg,

This is a thanksgiving day that will be remembered, huh?

Praise God is all I can say!

Seeing ourselves as we see Him,
Connie


I agree about the post that it is hard to be real. I have found that being myself; being real; tends to cause rejection. And that isn't fun to deal with. Lately I found myself saying to the Lord "I just want to be me and enjoy my life".

I also agree with the post (might be in a different section) that I am tired of hearing other people tell me what life in Christ "should" be like with a bunch of rules and how tos that supposedly will get me there, wherever there is. Also, God works individually and uniquely in each person's life so what "worked" for one will not necessarily "work" for someone else. Why spend all that money for tapes and music when I can talk to my Heavenly Father and sing, myself? Ha ha
oceanwaves

My perception of Christ before was this concept of what is expected of me as embedded in the figure of the appearance of a man in my mind. Christ then was that absolute concern in my mind which was shaped in my understanding in accordance to my fleshly world-view in which expectations and regulations constituted the foundation and where sin and death thrived through the transgressions my fleshly lusts, stirred up in response to the laws, caused me to enter in. Whatever is created by the flesh justifies the flesh's existence. I could justify myself in view of the condemnation through an understanding of grace that was shaped according to the same legal mind, so that through rituals I would ease my conscience of sin.

Now, however, my understanding of Christ is the experience of the abolition of death and with it the removal of expectations and regulations in accordance to which my life was shaped.

theshovel's picture

Georgi, I so relate with that old perception of Jesus Christ according to the flesh, and you so well describe it. And this is the very reason the world is filled with such figures that are supposed to represent the divine. But we recognize Christ no longer according to the reasoning of the fleshly mind, for we have been made new in him, a new creation. The old cannot explain God in any true way, it can only be fashioned into some religious expression that has become nothing to us. It is the delusion of the fleshly mind.

Now, however, my understanding of Christ is the experience of the abolition of death and with it the removal of expectations and regulations in accordance to which my life was shaped.Georgi

At one time, I would have viewed such a statement as not being Christian at all because it doesn't seem to speak of the person of Jesus Christ. But that would only miss the very reality of the life of Christ as we experience it in this world. He didn't come to give us a formula, or an image by which to recognize him ... he came to bring us life from out of the deadness of our old existence in this world. You express that life so well, my friend.
Jim

Yeh, I realised that it is impossible to be honest under the law without destroying yourself, for it is impossible to come face to face with the fullness of the condemnation that swallows you through the transgressions, so justifications of wickedness must be constructed in order to preserve the illusion of death. Attempting to be honest under the law brought me to suicide many times, for my struggle was particularly with hypocrisy. In the midst of that death I found that someone else upholds me and that shattered the illusion forever.

how BEAUTIFUL  (BIG toes and all  ;))  the feet of you who bring good tidings of great joy!  and brother!  the following is such WONDERFUL and BEAUTIFUL and truly GOOD tidings of GREAT joy about Christ in us!!:

“What if it's because we keep regarding Christ as a religious figure instead of as being life itself, and his freedom as a destination change instead of as being a new life, and the Bible as Christian principles to live by instead of as being a testimony to the miracle of Christ's life within? Maybe we've been intimidated by a bogus Christianity for far too long and have been using its magic wand to try to change the real us into a Christian us. Maybe we are afraid to be real because we are afraid the real us is inferior so we will grasp whatever gives us a boosted sense of spirituality.

What if we knew this was all part of the bondage Christ came to deliver us from? And what if it turned out that the real us is NOT the old us because the old us was put to death in Christ? And what if it turned out that the real us is the life that was raised in Christ? Do you think maybe then it would be safe to be real?” <~~Jim

thank you thank you thank you!!!!  :)

“It's funny that you talk about this. For the longest time, I've struggled within to be the “right” person for everybody else to like me. I resent that now. I don't know how to be real because I'm scared of what people will think. I'm scared they'll see someone who struggles in their relationship with God and others. I'm scared they'll think I'm less of a christian. I'm even more scared of living a lie and not being my true self. I've had to ask God to show me how to be real and be myself.

I've been so fake that it's hard to be the real deal. Becoming a Christian did not allow me to be real at it's beginning stages. The church I was in was too religious. It still a lot of “fun” in my youth. I learned how to be a better hider and learned how to fool people. In the process, I didn't find out who I was.

I thank God that He opened my eyes and helped me to see that He loves me unconditionally, that His grace is sufficient. There is so much peace in that. Thanks for keepin it on the “Real Tip” (that's Youth Talk)!”  <~Roy

Boy oh boy, I could sure relate with this one, Roy!  To sum it all up … fear, fear, fear!  sighhhh … and that breeds more and more insecurity and discouragement.  It still can and does when I find myself ensnared by that same old mentality that rears its ugly head from time to time.  Different circumstances and situations in our lives can regurgitate some old habitual, learned, conditioned mentalities that can immediately begin to eat at us and rob us of our hope, confidence and strength that we know is only found in the New Creation of Christ in us, and not in the hauntings of the old that He has done away with.  I praise Him together with you in the work of His Spirit in us reminding us of the truth about us in Him and how He loves us and nothing can ever separate us from Him!  :)  That He has made us a New Creation.  OUT WITH THE OLD, NOW THERE IS NEW

:)

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Random Shovelquote: The Advice of God? (view all shovelquotes)

there is no advice in this world – even if it comes from a Bible verse or a preacher’s sermon – that can produce God’s work within you. Oh, it might make you appear more spiritually productive, but the working of God doesn’t come from the practical side of the grave … but from the living side that has risen past it. When I tell you that Christ is your life, I’m telling you about the one and only present-tense reality that causes you to live as one who is truly alive in this world. source