Government 101

(initial thoughts jotted here at first that I want to unpack) Direction of flow of the spirit. Direction of progression – increasing revelation toward agape or reverting into darkness of selfishness. What version do we embrace about what the cross really revealed about God? How does our beliefs about what God is like impact how we relate to others under extreme pressure? Jesus was the ultimate revelation of selfless, agape love. But when true love meets the counterfeit love, the incompatibility creates enormous friction. This is the essence of what constitutes hell. Because the religious people clung to beliefs in a God of power, force, fear and control rather than accepting the version of God that Jesus revealed, they had to act on their beliefs by killing the Enemy who threatened to annihilate the foundations of the God they believed in themselves. They had to defend their own god, the god created from their determined interpretations of the Scriptures given to them by God. Otherwise the understanding of God that Jesus was revealing would undermine, weaken and finally destroy the very religious, social and political systems they relied on for their identity and purpose and control in life. The only way we can move away from relying on counterfeit gods for our value and identity into relying on the God of heaven, the agape God from which comes only all life, value and worth, is to die to reliance on false gods and humble ourselves enough to embrace the truth about reality as revealed by the true God. Jesus called this being born again. Becoming a baby means becoming completely vulnerable, dependent and helpless; coming into a state of total trust for all our needs on a power outside and apart from ourselves. It means starting over in the process of growing up which entails relearning in new paradigms all the skills that each level of maturity requires, such as receiving with joy, learning what truly satisfies and forming healthy bonds with those we are dependent on. Being born into God's kingdom means having the direction of our spirit flow totally reversed from what we are used to doing. Instead of seeking to get life for ourselves by exploiting others and diminishing them, we learn to receive life without resistance from the Father of life joyfully, trustfully, readily under all circumstances for the primary purpose of passing it along to others. This is the core principle that motivates all the free universe. Without this core principle of receiving joyfully to give freely firmly in place, the human heart will always revert to living selfishly which is the very opposite of the principle of life. And whenever the principle of death is active in the heart it also endangers life and spreads pain, suffering and death to others around us. We are either channels of death through our attempts to extract value and life from others or we are channels of life choosing to see others as more important than ourselves. This is the essence of Government of Heaven 101. How far are we willing to take the New Testament instructions to love others? To start with, it is very easy to love those who are easy to love, who react quickly by making us feel good when we are around them. But God's love goes infinitely farther than loving only those who make us feel good. Secondly, we usually sense that we are supposed to love those whom we consider to be part of the body of Christ. Yet that begins to get a little messy already, for either we determine who is in the body based on how they get along with us, or by denominational lines or some other such artificial boundaries. But in doing so there are usually going to be people within that group that will irritate us, rub us the wrong way and create friction in our lives. To apply the instructions to love one another to only the body of Christ – however we define that – we are going to find ourselves even there challenged to love people who are less than lovable which in turn stretches our definition of what love really is. This is where we begin to find problems with love. As I have observed for years, it is all too easy when meeting internal resistance to some convicting truth to simply begin to redefine the terms involved. Because of this nearly every religious word has now been seriously altered and religion largely functions using a false system of definitions which more or less complement each other but also terribly distort the true gospel. We redefine love to what fits what we are willing to do rather than allowing God's Spirit to convict us of the intensity that is present in the fire of God's pure agape love. But beyond loving those in the body of Christ as most Christians would admit we should do, Jesus extends the range much, much farther than even that. In fact, I cannot think of a single exception to the requirement that love must be the attitude we are to have toward everyone. Jesus clearly spells out that we are to love our enemies just as much as our friends. By the time we get to this level of challenge most of us are ready to begin grasping for compromising rationalizations as to why His words must not mean what they seem to on the surface. We are so resistant to believing that no one is exempt from our need to love them that we spend enormous emotional and mental resources seeking to rationalize why we shouldn't have to go that far while wanting to appear to still be obedient to Christ. One of the main reasons employed for excusing ourselves from Jesus' clear commands is the stories from the Old Testament. Most Christians are confident that relying on the many illustrations of violence in the name of God that can readily be found in Old Testament stories excuses us from taking the words of the Son of God too seriously. But what effect does such an approach have on our own character? On the picture of God we present to the world today? On how we end up treating those who hate us and make life hell for us now? Is it safe to rely on Old Testament demonstrations of a God who appears to lash out at the enemies of His people as a safe haven for excusing us to do the same thing in our day? Or is there something we are missing here that might strongly affect our own accountability and relationship to God? Because selfishness is the starting point from which all of us originate and is the default motive that is impossible to escape as it infects everything we think and do, we must be extremely vigilant to be aware that our reasoning will always be vulnerable to being perverted by our ever-present fallen nature. It is impossible for us to have completely pure, selfless motives for anything we do, no matter how close to God we have yet come. That is why the Bible is clear that no one is righteous but God alone, for everyone has become infected with the virus of selfishness which is the very essence of sin. Only Jesus Christ is the human who was completely free of this virus and only as He abides in us and we in Him can we even begin to experience pure motives. But those motives cannot originate with us; they must originate from the divine nature that is implanted in us from God alone. Until we are completely cleansed of all selfishness, which is at least no sooner than the Second Coming of Jesus if not much later, we will remain vulnerable to the presence of this virus of self-preservation within our motives. And the presence of this selfishness is what is behind our resistance to living in the pure agape type of love that is necessary to dwell safely in harmony with the rest of the universe under God's authority. In the meantime we need to be keenly aware that loving others the way God loves is radically different and far more extreme than the assumptions we have always had about what it means to love. This is where I believe most of us have missed the fact that there is a love that is infected with some level of selfish motives and a completely different love that is 100% pure and comes only from outside ourselves but is vitally necessary in order to enter into the eternal life that God wants in us. The only demonstration of true love as it is found in God is in the life and death of Jesus, the only preeminent Son of God. When we resort to relying on stories and inferences and statements about God that have been clouded by the misunderstandings and incomplete knowledge of the Old Testament writers, we short-circuit our perceptions of the very reason that Jesus came to this earth. Until we take seriously the claim that Jesus is the only reliable revelation of the God of agape love who governs all the universe, we will be infected by false assumptions about Him that led even prophets and law-givers in previous eras to record mistaken ideas about Him in how they perceived what He did in their times. I know this sounds like heresy, but in reality it is our insistence that God was less loving in the Old Testament times than the Jesus who revealed Him in the New Testament that is the real heresy. God has never changed, so if we meet with discrepancies in records about what He is like, we have to decide who has the most authority to speak to the issue before we take what they say as the truth about Him. What is starting to emerge into my understanding at this point is the direction of movement in the realm of the spirit in a person's life. Love has to do primarily with the state of a person's spirit that then is exhibited in every other aspect of their life. The spirit is a very fluid part of our being, albeit a most misunderstood part by many of us. I did not even know I had a spirit until a few years ago when someone explained from the Bible quite convincingly that every person indeed has one and we need to much more aware of that fact. Then when I finally become aware of my spirit I knew I must pay close attention to the condition of my spirit and listen to the convictions that God sends to me through the channel of my spirit by His Spirit. But what is beginning to emerge now in my understanding is that the spirit is something that is constantly in motion. Jesus referred to this when He told Nicodemus that the Spirit is like the ever-moving wind that is invisible, is impossible to predict but that has definite external effects that betray its existence. Likewise, our spirit is in constant motion and that seems to be inherent in the nature of what a spirit is all about. Because our spirit apparently is in motion by its very nature, it then becomes important to grasp the importance of what direction our spirit is moving. This is where love and selfishness factor in. God's Spirit is pure, agape love that is ever and always outward flowing, constantly blessing and giving life to others. It is never inward focused, seeking to suck life away from others for itself. God's agape love is also extreme in that it never compromises with this principle of outward focus. When we attempt to compromise the concept of agape love with anything inferior to it, it literally ceases to exist as agape and must be understood to be something completely different at that point. This truth is relatively new to me and the implications of it is have deep repercussions for many other things I consider. I am just starting to become aware of the enormous distance there is between what we have long assumed is God's love and the reality of agape love that is severely circumscribed by this principle which I have seldom considered before. On the other hand, the way we have viewed God's love typically has been to see it as more of an amalgamation of the love and desires and motives that we are familiar with integrated into what we have called agape love. But this may prove to be a fatal mistake to continue to make if we are not willing to move past our dim and distorted ideas about who God really is and what He is like. The dilution of our perceptions of the purity of God's love has largely been due to our insistence on mingling clouded views of His character we derive from the Old Testament stories about Him with apparently contradictory teachings and the example of Jesus that challenge those assumptions. When any amount of selfishness is present in our spirit, it means that our spirit is flowing inward rather than outward. Love is outward focused while selfishness is inward focused. Our natural tendency is to seek life, pleasure and value for ourselves from whatever sources appear promising. But our motive for this is self-survival and pleasure more than anything else. Oh, we may engage in all sorts of activities that seem to appear to be outward focused and even selfless, but at the subconscious level we have hidden motives behind our actions, hoping for increased value and recognition for ourselves rather than the pure motive that compels God. As I said previously, selfishness unavoidably taints everything we do and every relationship we have. But selfishness is also the element that will prove fatal to us if we were to encounter the intensity of the pure presence of agape love in God's presence. As I have pondered the truths that John in particular has tried to relay to us in his writings, I am just starting to see these principles emerging more clearly. Perceiving these principles is helping me to more readily perceive what is going on in my own life as I take these filters and apply them to my own motives at any given time. I can ask myself the simple question inside, even in the middle of a conversation with someone else, “Is my gut desire here to make myself look good, or am I really willing to lay aside completely my own agenda and allow God to use me as an unresistant channel to selflessly pour life and blessing and value into this person's heart without any craving for recognition or praise? Can I listen and care for them without my own agenda interfering with accepting them for who they are?” The honest answers to these questions can be very revealing. And I can apply them again and again to my own motives to help me see what level of willingness I currently have to allowing God to access me to share His agape love to bring life and a sense of worth to someone else. The wonderful thing about this is that the more I allow God to use me and align my spirit in an outward direction rather than seeking only for myself, I am brought into closer alignment with the direction of flow that His Spirit always has. Is this just a subtle form of selfishness whereby I am masking my desires to be blessed myself? It can be, but not necessarily. Because we are not originators of life and blessing and value, we have to first receive before we can give. I am incapable of imparting value and love and selfless service to others if my own heart is not in the process of being healed and learning to receive life from God myself. But if my focus becomes more on getting my own healing and restoring my own sense of value and identity while I fail to focus on making others even more important by passing along what is blessing and healing me, then I can fall into the trap of trying to selfishly extract life from God while remaining in the trap of my own spirit seeking things for myself more than for others. I am slowly learning the truth that we can only be really healed more completely as we turn outward to heal others. We can only fit more deeply into the circuit of love that fuels the universe as we allow ourselves and push ourselves to pass along all the love that comes to us. It is a principle that when we receive to give, the process itself becomes the salvation that lifts us out of the darkness and death where we have been trapped for so long. Some Christians believe that truth is progressive. I fully embrace that belief, but am baffled that so many that give it lip service are so resistant to considering anything outside their own narrow views. As I look back over the history of the world I see a progressive unfolding of truth about God. In the beginning it appears that there was originally a much clearer understanding of what God's ways were like but that the longer people lived in sin the darker and more obscure His character became to their perceptions. Increasingly God had to relate to people sunken into deeper and deeper levels of ignorance and perverted beliefs about Him which required that He meet them where they were in their thinking and forms of communication. But this also required that He use language and interactions with them that could later be easily misinterpreted and construed to vindicate false assumptions about His true character. The Old Testament is a long and sordid history of the effects of the many lies about God that Satan has successfully saturated into humanity. Even the prophets and people chosen by God did not grasp very well the true nature of their God of agape love. As a result, in their recording and repeating of what they perceived in His communications with them we still see much confusion and contradiction. Not until Jesus personally came to this earth as a human did it actually become clear that God was radically different and better than what even the best humans had assumed He was like. But after the gospel, the amazing good news about what God was really like, infused for a few years the early believers with His passion and power as never seen in the history of the world, slowly more lies about God and the life of Jesus began to again obscure the real truth about agape love. This time the deceptions were even more subtle as religion plastered over the record of Jesus' life and His teachings with traditions and dark interpretations invented by the father of lies, plunging the world into even deeper darkness than before. We have not yet escaped the effects of this darkness even though many believe that they are full of light. Our denominations are still permeated with many false assumptions and practices that block us from seeing the true glory of God as revealed in the face of Jesus Christ. Truth is progressive, and before this world's history is over it will become more and more clear. But only those who are willing to move along with progressive revelations of God's true character of agape love will be transformed by the internal renewing of their mind which involves the removal of myriads of lies about God that have infected humanity for millennia. God is seeking to expose and expel these false traditions and assumptions from our hearts with ever-increasing light in these last days. But much of this light has to do more with heart-truths even more than factual discoveries. The truth that we must come to know personally is the truth as it is in Jesus. Central to this is that one of the greatest revolutions that must take place in our thinking and religious perception is our interpretations about what the real purpose of what the cross of Jesus was all about. Satan has so filled Christianity with false doctrines (doctrines of demons no less) about what really happened at the cross that the so-called gospel we now preach too often simply reinforces many of the insinuations about our God who supposedly operates using the principles of both good and evil rather than being a God that is only life-giving. These two opposing systems of governing were represented in the very beginning by the two trees in the Garden of Eden. And since we are still under the influence of partaking of the wrong tree, our ideas about God are still saturated with many of the false assumptions of what God is like that infected out thinking from that tree. Not until we come to see God is only Life-giving as represented by the Tree of Life can we begin to experience the amazing power that the early Christian church experienced after Pentecost. And vital to tapping into that reservoir of power is a clear understanding of the truth about why Jesus came and died. We must begin to grasp the truth about the nature of the agape love of God in its purity as graphically demonstrated by how Jesus responded to abuse by sinners while here on earth. We must also reject every doctrine and notion that implies that God was somehow complicit in the death of His Son or that somehow it was done to placate an angry God. It was the true character of God that Jesus came to reveal by showing us clearly the unconditional love and forgiveness that could not be stifled or suppressed in the slightest, not some act of appeasement to ward off the wrath of an offended Father. If anything, it was sinners that Jesus came to appease if anyone, not an offended God. God was demonstrating in Jesus that He has never held any offense in His heart toward sinners and that the breakdown of trust and fellowship with Him is completely a problem inside of us and not inside of Him. God has done everything possible to expose the incredible truth that He has never held our sins against us but that it has always been us who have clung to lies about Him that prevents us from living safely in His presence and power. When this truth finally begins to sink into our hearts as well as our heads, we are in a position to begin to experience the same power inherent in agape love that was briefly seen in history in the lives of the early believers. And happen it must, for the prophecy in Revelation 18:1 must be fulfilled before the end of sin can finally be accomplished. The true glory of God must fill the whole earth with the light of the real truth about Him. We must finally begin to perceive and pass along the real truth about God's pure agape love to a world filled with religious deceptions and insinuations about God so that every person can be exposed to that love, the only love that can bring real satisfaction, peace and true life. I want to be drawn deeper into this love, to know this love, to be healed and transformed in this love and to become a non-resisting channel of this love to pass along the same for others. I long to be changed from the selfish person that I see inside of me to the totally selfless, unconditionally loving and compassionate reflector of God that I see in the story of Jesus Christ. I want to be cleansed of all my persistent resistance to His love, to live in this atmosphere of grace in all my relationships with others. I want to see the effects of this love begin to produce real love for my enemies in my own heart rather than the fear, resentment or desires for revenge that so readily spring up from my fallen nature. I am praying for a miracle in my own life so that I can become a successful experiment of the power of grace that can change even a hardened religious hypocrite into a humble, loving servant eager to bless others at any expense to myself. So help me God, as Martin Luther put it so well. Let this mind be in me as it was in Christ Jesus....

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