Getting Ready

All that the world could endure of their Redeemer was the few years He was with them upon the earth, and they wanted to get rid of Him almost as soon as His mission commenced. . . . The question that every one of us has to settle is: Am I prepared for the coming of the Son of man? If you have accepted your Saviour by living faith, if you have repented of your sins, then you are in a position of acceptance with God so that if Christ should come you would meet Him in peace. . . . {CTr 216}

I read these words in a devotional book I am following this year and it really got my attention in a number of ways. First, it addresses one of the deepest fears and frustrations that has plagued me for nearly all of my life – how to find assurance of eternal life and acceptance with God. Secondly, although it necessarily uses some religious words and phrases that have been seriously hijacked by cultural religion, it addresses some of the lies about God and the contrast between what we have assumed about Him and the real truth about what He feels about us.

It also brought immediately to my attention some other verses that have also been a source of similar confusion and fear much of my life.

Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)

To everyone, then, who gives witness to me before men, I will give witness before my Father in heaven. But if anyone says before men that he has no knowledge of me, I will say that I have no knowledge of him before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33 BBE)

One of the greatest sources of liberation from fear that I have experienced is my long pursuit to find the real meaning of most of the religious terms that we use. I have discovered over and over that the real meanings as intended by the Bible writers for the words they used have been either mistranslated rather badly as they have changed languages or have simply taken on quite different meanings that fit more into our system of counterfeit religion instead of the real spirituality that was demonstrated in the life and spirit of Jesus.

The peace spoken of in the first quotation is the peace that my own heart has longed for and craved since I was quite young. It has been very elusive for me because of the pervasive presence of legalism in my life and surroundings that drove me to think there was always something more I had to do or comply with or perform before God would accept and really love me. I know most of the answers to this problem, but just knowing the answers and being able to spit them out does very little to convince my heart of their validity. As I am fully convinced now, God is primarily concerned with the condition of my heart and its deep, subconscious beliefs far more than the information and facts and doctrines that my head contains as important as those may be.

I have been learning that peace, the kind of peace that is so needed to allow the heart to rest and respond positively and accept love freely is very much a product of being synchronized with the sources from which it needs to receive. That means that when my heart believes lies about someone it becomes very difficult if not impossible to cultivate trust in that person's intentions toward me. It is more likely that my mind will view them with suspicion and will imply motives about them that are likely to be untrue at best. Likewise, it will also be impossible to develop very much of a level of intimacy and love with them because I never know when they may turn on me and hurt me. And that situation simply cannot be construed as being at peace.

So to enjoy peace with someone I have to get to know their heart, to learn the real truth about how they feel about me. And even then it must be found that what I learn about them is seen to be consistently good, that there are no hidden agendas, no deceptive activities or messages designed to confuse me or mislead me. But this is very difficult to determine since we tend to interpret other people's intentions through our own filters and life experiences. And so it is with God.

This is where the problem of faith comes in. Faith requires at least some evidence that there is reason to trust someone, especially at the heart level. But faith also is required to go far beyond evidence and stretch itself to trust at times when it seems that all the evidence is pointing in the opposite direction. So the question always comes up at this point, how much evidence is needed in order to have a solid foundation for healthy faith and how much is counterproductive or is from a lack of faith? This is not so easy to resolve as some might like to think, but it is very crucial to having a growing, living, active faith especially when it comes to cultivating synchronization with the heart of God.

This statement quoted makes it very clear that the revelation of the real truth about God was so radically different than the beliefs and assumptions about God held by the world, including religious zealots who were supposed to be God's chosen people on earth, that the clash almost immediately produced tension and hostility to the point of religion wanting to exterminate God Himself in human form. Because He did not conform to the expectations and assumptions held by religious people they found that they would rather kill God than to admit that their lifelong beliefs and system of religion was inadequate to save them or that their beliefs about God were inaccurate.

Nothing has changed, and if we think we are any different than they, then we too are full of self-deception and counterfeit ideas of religion. I have come to the place where I am convinced that the real issue that every one of us has to grapple with if we truly desire to escape from the sin in this world is the issue of how God feels about us and what He is really like inside. The suspicions that we secretly cherish about God and how He treats people are the deepest and most dangerous source that will undermine all of our attempts to try to get right with God and somehow be saved for eternity. If we hold to false ideas about how God treats people then they will continue to eat away at the foundations of our faith and create fatal weaknesses in our heart that will suddenly sabotage us when we least expect it.

Another issue addressed in this quotation is the prevalent fear that I grew up with of being ready for Jesus to come again. This fear was always considered a useful tool to be used to frighten everyone into working harder to get sin out of their lives so that Jesus would be impressed enough to save them when He returned. I know we never said it that way, but that was the unspoken message that came through loud and clear. The motivation for getting right with God was consistently more rooted in fear than in genuine love even though love was talked about extensively. Love and joy and peace and all those other positive things always seemed just a little out of reach but almost attainable if I could just get my act together a little better.

So from that perspective, whenever I read the words of Jesus about confessing me before His Father, these verses tended to always produce more dread than hope in my heart. Since I wasn't very sure in the first place what this business of confession really meant, I couldn't determine what was really being said here. But it sure sounded scary and it was clearly more of a threat than a promise from my perspective. In fact, it sounded like if I didn't spend enough time running around imposing my ideas about Jesus on others in overt acts of “witnessing for Jesus”, then Jesus was threatening to use that as an excuse to disown me and remove me from all hope of eternal life in heaven.

I cannot believe that I am the only one that has entertained such fears and misconceptions about God and these words of Jesus. So when they again came to my attention this morning I decided to face these old skeletons head-on and expose the fallacies embedded in them directly. Because what I have been learning, both about God and about many of the religious terms involved in these quotations, has greatly relieved my fears and has introduced me to a God who really can bring me peace, hope and healing love. And as my picture of God has radically changed over the past few years my ability to face disturbing verses like these has improved and what before was only a source of terror for me can now become a surprising source of life and hope and even joy.

What I see in common between these two quotations is the concept that God's ability to synchronize with me is very dependent on my willingness to synchronize with His heart and the real truth about Him. Jesus is stating here that the typical way the world views God is so warped and filled with misconceptions and partial truths that naturally we find God very disturbing and even offensive.

But as my heart begins to discover that my deep-seated beliefs were founded on many lies about Him, and as I allow Him to replace lie after lie with real truth through new knowledge of Him both from His Word and from personal experience with Him, then I become fitted to be able to meet Him on a more actual basis and will find myself synchronized with Him to the point where I will not be afraid of Him or offended by His ways. For the world and all of its religions, Christianity included, are so filled with false ideas and feelings toward God that it is impossible for those immersed in that thinking to feel comfortable when the real presence and Spirit of Jesus is more fully revealed.

So Jesus is simply stating the obvious here, not making some sort of threat. It is the same principle that Paul wrote about when he said, can two walk together except they be agreed? Jesus does not get mad when people turn away from trusting Him because of the lies they continue to hold onto. He does not get offended and stomp off to retaliate by disowning them before His Father because they failed to witness enough for His satisfaction. He is simply stating that if we realistically want to be prepared to survive the glory of His coming it is imperative that we let go of the lies about Him that produce terror instead of joy when His real presence is exposed more fully. It is not Jesus that is making the determination about our destiny here but it is simply that He is acknowledging and respecting our choices about whether we will synchronize with the real truth about His heart or whether we cling to our comfortable lies that are so familiar to us but that disqualify us to live at peace in His presence.

It is not just people who are overtly evil and reject God outright that will find themselves at odds with Him at His coming. Many of the people who will find themselves in terror at His appearing will be those who now are very confident that they are well on their way to heaven. They are people who are trusting in religion itself to recommend them into paradise. But because they cling to ideas about God getting angry with people who cross Him and believe that He is two-faced when it comes to how He treats the righteous and the wicked, they will end up perceiving the passion of love in His face as being a passion of wrath instead. They may be the loudest in screaming for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them to hide them from the face of the Lamb of God that they perceive as being full of wrath.

The very same problem that the world had with God the first time He appeared in human form will happen again when He shows up the second time. Many people believe that when He comes the second time that He will treat people differently and have different attitudes and intentions toward us. But that is part of the system of lies that will cause us to be unprepared for His coming. For the real way to get ready for Jesus to come is not to work harder at becoming perfect as we usually think of perfection. The only effective way to prepare for the coming of Jesus is to allow His Spirit to synchronize our hearts with the heart of God, to teach and train us at the heart level in particular to perceive and feel and relate the way that God relates to us.

As I let go of lies about God that His Spirit exposes in me and allow Him to reveal His heart of love to me personally, I find myself in the transformation process of preparation for His coming. It is God's job to transform me into His image but it is my responsibility to cooperate with His work in me. I cannot change my heart but I can choose to submit to His discipline and spend more and more time getting to know His heart for myself.

As I choose to surrender everything I am and have to His will instead of my own will, Jesus will reflect that choice of mine by confessing my loyalty to Him before the Father and ultimately the whole universe. What He will confess is that we have a mutual trust with each other, an intimate relationship of love and understanding that has developed over time and that He will exercise His sovereign power to protect all who have allowed His love to infiltrate their hearts and have responded to His directions.

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