Vulnerability

Is it wrong to be vulnerable? Your reaction to that will reveal some basic assumptions about which system of society you embrace.

True love requires openness, transparency, vulnerability at a very deep and intimate level. To put up barriers to protect your own vulnerability is to pull back from allowing love into your heart.

Any system that discourages vulnerability is a system or society based on the wrong DNA.

To be vulnerable is not the problem from heaven's viewpoint. The problem is with those who exploit vulnerability. The Bible speaks of this as taking advantage of nakedness. You see, in the Bible being naked or vulnerable is not the problem so much as those who take advantage of other's nakedness and vulnerability. One who is vulnerable may not be physically naked at all, and most often is not. But in heaven's eyes the great sin is exploiting anyone's vulnerability; for to exploit someone, to take advantage of another's weakness and vulnerability lies at the very root of selfishness and sin.

Why is taking advantage of others for our own benefit such a horrific sin in the eyes of God? Because the very essence of the atmosphere of joy and happiness anywhere is agape love. But for this kind of love to exist at all means that it must be completely safe to be totally vulnerable without any fear of being exploited or hurt. Full vulnerability makes one fully open to embracing the passionate love that can ravish the heart and soul without any fear of that love. Perfect love casts out all fear.

Vulnerability is an essential part of the formula of heaven's society and therefore is never considered a problem. The sin comes in where exploitation is introduced and fear is produced. Adam and Eve were totally naked but were not at all ashamed. If vulnerability was the problem then there was a problem in Eden before the fall. But that is simply not the case. The problem came in when the enemy took advantage of their vulnerabilities, their nakedness, their implicit trust and innocence. God had created them completely vulnerable for a reason. And that reason was so that they would be wide open to enjoy life to the full capacity of love which requires complete openness and vulnerability in order to thrive and multiply as love is designed to do.

Sin, fear, pain, exploitation and all that the fall has brought into our world has produced a completely foreign mindset from what Adam and Eve enjoyed in Eden. But does that make it right to adopt this new set of parameters for our lives now? Does the fall alter how we are to relate to God and to each other? Does the threat of pain, the presence of fear, the potential of being exploited by selfish people or evil forces change the basic principles that govern reality? Is this new perception of reality as defined by the counterfeit government of Satan displace the fundamental principles of reality that God created? Or possibly have we missed some very important truths about being restored to the wholeness of our original design and purpose?

I want to point out something that become more evident to me yesterday that I need to explore much deeper. To discern between what belongs in which system – the true or the counterfeit – we must learn to identify its DNA and compare that to the two trees in the garden that display the original characteristics of the two competing kingdoms. The Tree of Life represents the kingdom of love that is free of all fear and where all live to bless others with passionate service. The other tree represents a kingdom of dual factors that relies primarily on fear as it core motivation for making decisions. Given that understanding of the DNA of the two trees, where does vulnerability fit in? Is being vulnerable something we perceive as being linked to fear or do we view becoming vulnerable a doorway into the vast richness of loving and being loved?

It is impossible to enter into a real relationship of love with another being without choosing to become vulnerable. To imagine that we can love and be loved while maintain barriers to protect ourselves is to remain under the influence of strong delusions of the enemy. You might be able to experience pleasure or lust or any number of other things that claim the label of love, but you cannot experience true love without true vulnerability – it simply cannot exist.

I believe that it is time for all who are serious about entering into the kind of life that Jesus came to restore to us, to come to grips with this issue of a proper appreciation of vulnerability. We have to change our fundamental thinking about where the real problem lies what it will take to drastically alter our perceptions about those around us in the process. We have come to have very confused and distorted feelings and opinions about victims today. Some tend to blame victims for inviting the abuse that they receive from others. I am not suggesting that this is never the case or is not an active factor. However, I have come to realize that all of us are victims, both abusers or otherwise.

We have all been duped and seduced and exploited by the enemy of our souls along with many who are infected with his spirit, for that spirit of exploitation resides in every human heart infected with sin. Exploitation is the natural result of selfishness and will always occur wherever selfishness is present. Yet abusers most often learn to abuse through being victimized in some way themselves. We must rethink the way we view people and begin to see things through heaven's eyes instead of with our own twisted emotions infected by anger, bitterness and resentment.

Jesus never indulged in any attitude or emotion that would distort His feelings or lessen His concern for any human being. He never viewed any person as the problem to be eliminated or abused by punishment. Jesus saw every person as the victim that they were, even the worst abusers who exploited others for their own advantage. This is nearly impossible for us to wrap our mind around until be begin to see things through His eyes and feel His love for sinners stirring in our own heart. Only as we are ourselves transformed by His love for us can we begin to see the value in vulnerabilities.

I am becoming convinced that when Jesus announced that the kingdom of heaven had arrived, He was also saying that a new kingdom was now available for all who were willing to become completely vulnerable. “Unless you become as this little child...” I believe that vulnerability is one of the foundational principles of the kingdom Jesus brought to this world. And although it sounds like a foreign and even dangerous idea from our perspective with our minds and experience rooted in the false systems of this world, this new kingdom is fantastically good news to all who long to get real, to experience healing, to know the kind of love that our hearts were designed to feel and to share.

Am I suggesting that we should just open up ourselves totally and become completely vulnerable in all times and all places and risk being taken advantage of by anyone or everyone? That is the immediate reaction that some would throw up to discredit what I am saying. For some, everything has to be in the extreme. They are adamant that every idea has to be black or white, right or wrong and there is no room for reason or as they put it, 'gray areas.' But that in itself is simply an excuse to cover up their own fears and their own unwillingness to be open to change.

An unwillingness to be open to love is to resist love itself, and resistance is the most dangerous element we can cherish in the heart. But that is another topic. The human heart was designed for love; few people take issue with that fact. But how we understand love is determined by what we think about God and how He treats His children, for God is love.

Sin has filled us with false notions of God and has painted Him out to be an abuser Himself. We tend to agree with Satan that it is God's plan for our lives to be in tension between fear and 'love.' But this is not God's design but is rather an invention of the enemy of God's government in heaven. The Tree of Life is not a dualistic system like the other tree. God's family system is based on both complete vulnerability and complete love where all are safe to be open to receive and give love at all times.

We are keenly aware that we do not yet live in such a world. But does that give us an excuse to not live by the principles of God's kingdom until we feel it is completely safe for us to be vulnerable? Does God intend that we keep barriers around our hearts and live with fear as the controlling factor in our thinking until all reasons for fear have been taken away? I believe the only way to answer all of our questions is to go to the only reliable source of answers ever provided. The only true demonstration of how to live in the middle of sin while living fully by the principles of heaven is seen in the life and death of Jesus Christ, our perfect example.

So the question should be, how did Jesus relate to vulnerabilities and did He make Himself vulnerable to others? That is an important question but is also not as simplistic as many want to think at first. I believe a close study of the life of Jesus reveals that in some respects Jesus did not become vulnerable to anyone around Him. Yet in other respects He made Himself completely vulnerable far beyond anything we are generally ready to admit. I have observed that sin has so warped our thinking that most of the time we gravitate toward doing things exactly backwards to what is good for us.

We tend to open us our hearts and trust others sometimes even while they are complete strangers, yet we can still fail to love anyone the way that Jesus loved. When we look carefully at Jesus' example though, we find that Jesus never trusted anyone but never failed to treat with love every person that came into His sphere of influence. One of the major problems we have in understanding and grasping this truth is in our very confused perceptions about the true meaning and purpose of both love and trust.

The Bible actually teaches that we should never trust anyone but God. At the same time it also teaches that we are to love everyone unconditionally, or indiscriminately as someone recently said it. Yet this is exactly backwards to what we generally feel like doing. We want to trust others because we crave having a relationship of trust, yet we resist loving until we think someone has earned the right to our love. But in God's kingdom we must learn to love without reservation but to only trust those who have earned the right to our trust by demonstrating the presence of God in their hearts. And even then we are not really trusting them but are really trusting the God who dwells within them.

I don't have all the answers for how vulnerable we should be with those around us. I can see that being vulnerable and trusting are pretty much the same thing, so it is clear that God does not ask us to simply make ourselves vulnerable to people who do not have the Spirit of God in control of their lives. But at the same time that does not release us from the reality that to be a real Christian involves at some level becoming totally open and vulnerable. The question is not whether or not we should be vulnerable but with whom and how. If we refuse to become vulnerable then we may find ourselves refusing to participate in the kingdom that Jesus came to introduce. Only those who are willing to be as vulnerable as a newborn baby can enter into the kingdom of heaven according to Jesus.

I believe that on of our greatest fears is that if we allow ourselves to become vulnerable that we will become a victim of injustice. How are we to relate to that fear?

If we start to understand justice as the Bible defines it, we can start to find the answer. True justice can encourage us to be vulnerable so that we can begin to experience the love we are designed to know. But we have to discard false notions about justice, for true justice is not about punishing the guilty or inflicting pain and suffering on abusers. Justice rather, is about salvaging what has been damaged, righting what has been wronged, healing what has been wounded, restoring what has been stolen. Justice is standing up for the weak, the vulnerable, the unprotected. Justice is interfering with the plots of exploiters. Justice aligns itself to defend victims without indulging in a spirit of animosity towards those who are seeking to hurt or exploit others. It stands for the right without attacking those in the wrong.

I just read the devotional reading for today in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. It is a stunning wakeup call about what he calls God's greatest gift to us – our imagination. It is in the power of imagination given to each of us where faith can thrive to do its best work. We need our imagination to be trained and fed on the things of God. It also needs to dwell on God's book of nature so that faith in the God who created it can begin to flourish in our hearts. As we focus more on God and draw away our attention from the many things meant to distract and hijack our imagination, faith can flourish, our love will deepen and our willingness to be more open and vulnerable will increase our capacity to know true love.

As I think about this I see more clearly the pervasive schemes of Satan designed to control our imagination nearly every waking moment. The kingdom of darkness is all about making us afraid and believing that being vulnerable is a bad thing. Our imagination is filled with messages of deception while our emotions are manipulated by the entertainment screen and the ever-present music that surrounds us. The counterfeit principles of the kingdom of darkness so saturate our lives and society that our imaginations become crippled and conditioned to believe the lies about both God and ourselves that keep us in darkness and fear.

Yet far too often, instead of pushing back against these false assumptions that bombard us from every direction, we often cooperate in actually enabling them. We spend obscene amounts of money to purchase large screen TVs to facilitate the hijacking of our imagination so the brainwashing of the world can have even more power over us. We sink large amounts of money into technology so that we can fill every waking moment with incoming messages from the world through all sorts of mediums such as music players, computers and cell phones. Yet with all of these advanced methods of communication we are only becoming more and more isolated at the heart level. And one of the reasons for this is that the content of so many of the messages we make available to our imaginations are designed to make us afraid, to make us more defensive, to build ever higher and thicker walls around our hearts to avoid pain so that no one will be allowed to exploit our vulnerabilities. In short, we believe it is up to us to protect ourselves.

Everything in this world's system is designed to promote the lies about God invented by the enemy of our souls. All of the messages permeating the communications of this world are meant to distort our perceptions about reality and to keep us afraid of God or ignoring Him. Yet God is the only source of life and love, and to turn to any other source is to choose ways that end in death and despair. Not only are we vulnerable to the exploitation of others who mistakenly believe they can get life by extracting it from us, but we ourselves are complicit in enabling the enemy of our souls to keep us locked in synchronization with the lies of this world that prevent us from seeing the truth that could set us free.

I am fully convinced that one of the secrets to the stunning 'success' of the early believers after Pentecost was the enormous attraction they presented in the total vulnerability they enjoyed with each other in their fellowship. The Holy Spirit had introduced an atmosphere of pure love that allowed anyone joining that group of believers to feel safe to be completely transparent, vulnerable and honest no matter how messed up their lives had become. To join that group of disciples meant to radically alter your thinking about maintaining the walls around your heart. What compelled so many to join those early believers was not some new doctrine but rather was an invitation to open their hearts to a love that had been uncorked by the presence of Jesus in this world. All those longing to get real, to find a place where it was safe to be transparent without feeling condemned, yet where there was accountability for the purpose of healing and restoration, were attracted to join themselves to others who were living this new kind of fellowship with each other.

...and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us – what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. (1 John 1:2-4)

The early group of Christian believers knew what it was like to live in the rare atmosphere of love where it is safe to become vulnerable and real. Why was it safe there with each other? Because they found that when living among like-minded followers of the One who had come to reestablish the kingdom of love on this earth, the only way to experience that love was to become completely vulnerable and open to it. They also realized that to live in that kind of love required the indwelling presence of the Spirit of Jesus that would make them safe around the vulnerabilities of others. There could be no exploitation in that body of fellowship, no looking for advantage, no thinking of how to manipulate or deceive others for personal gain or selfish pleasure. All were immersed in a spirit of joy as their lives were consumed with a quest to bless others the same way Jesus had come to bless them.

What emerges from a study of those early believers is the fact that a sharp line of distinction was created between those who believed in Jesus and His way of life and those who remained distant from them. I don't believe at all that this line of demarcation was artificially created by the disciples themselves. What emerged was the simple truth that only those who are willing to disconnect from the assumptions of this world and turn away from the influences contaminating the imagination to focus intently on the truth about God and His love for them, were able to safely join those already living in intimate fellowship with each other in God's presence.

We cannot afford to mingle lies of the enemy that permeates all of society around us with the truth. The entertainment industry, the music and the many suggestions inherent in all the media that permeates our society is incompatible with the truth about God and the kind of life that has been revealed in Jesus. If we attempt to cling to even some of this world while believing we can take advantage of the benefits we see in the kingdom of heaven, the outcome can prove to be deadly. Jesus put it very plainly when He warned that it is impossible to serve two masters; we will hate one or the other, and which one will be determined by which we choose to love and focus on the most.

It is only with this appreciation of what was going on among this early group of believers that we can begin to understand better what happened with Ananias and Sapphira. What they had connived to do was to introduce a spirit exploitation back into the lives of vulnerable people who were enjoying the atmosphere of complete trust, love and transparency. The reason these two deceivers died when confronted with their plot was not because God lashed out at them in anger as many suppose; rather it was because the super-charged atmosphere of pure love is so dissonant with the spirit of selfishness that when the two come into close proximity to each other the resistance to love cherished in the selfish heart produces such intense fear and shame that it causes the death of the one holding to that spirit.

The reason it is so unpopular today to see being vulnerable with each other as something positive in the church is because of the dearth of true love in our own hearts. As long as we refuse to embrace the truth as it is in Jesus and continue to present truth mingled with dark views about our heavenly Father, we will never be able to experience the kind of pure joy, love, power and yes, vulnerability that marked the fellowship of those early believers. We have institutionalized the whole concept of church and have set up a counterfeit kingdom of God on earth, all the while believing we are still following the footsteps of Jesus. But the very fact that it is not safe to be transparent or vulnerable around each other proves that we do not understand the true nature of the kingdom of heaven.

While Jesus at times had to speak out against those who exploited others, we must not overlook the way in which He did so. Jesus was just as intent on saving those who were exploiting as He was to save those who were being exploited. We cannot afford to entertain the notion of a two-tiered system of religion where we condemn people who exploit while pandering people whom we view as victims, encouraging them to remain in a victim mentality. Some of the counterfeit systems of this world encourage a mentality of entitlement that plays on this false system rooted in treating exploiters with less compassion than victims. The way we often treat victims too often victimizes them further and keeps them in weakness and vulnerability to be exploited even more. And the way we condemn and judge abusers overlooks the truth that they are often acting out of false perceptions themselves.

God's kingdom eliminates all distinctions between both victims and abusers. In God's kingdom – and that kingdom must be understood to be on earth here and now as well as in heaven – there are to be no labels, neither exploiters or victims. Everyone must be seen through heaven's eyes, not labeled by what has happened to them or how they have acted in the past.

And such were some of you; but you have been washed, you have been made holy, you have been given righteousness in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11 BBE)

In God's kingdom former abusers and former victims come to fully trust and appreciate each other and live in a love that eliminates all distinctions and labels. There is no longer any masters or slaves, pimps or prostitutes, male or female. All are in Christ and all are equal children that come to be trusted because the Spirit of Christ dwells in them.

It is true that we cannot view the present church as synonymous to what is described as the church of the New Testament. I see many popular movements trying to emulate the symptoms of that early experience, but what I observe as common among most of them is that they are trying to mimic the effects described in the early church but fail to address the deep issues that produce those effects. Anytime you try to impose symptoms to create appearances you are seeking to run reality backwards. That should be no surprise though, for sin in all of its aspects seeks to operate the principles of God's kingdom in reverse. If you carefully analyze all the principles that govern the kingdoms of darkness, I think it might be found that they are always backwards from how God designed for us to live.

I long for the day when once again we will have the courage to fellowship with each other in the rare atmosphere of that super-charged love that marked the lives of those early believers. They were so safe with each other and open towards God that to even get close to them was dangerous to outsiders unless they too were willing to get completely real. Yet this is the only way we will ever begin to experience the original intent for which we were created in the beginning. God created our first parents completely vulnerable and He meant them to live that way. The problem was not in their vulnerabilities but was in the sinful, selfish heart of the diabolical deceiver who exploited their vulnerability and took advantage of both them and God.

The answer for our restoration is partly to not embrace the counterfeit principles of the enemy, seeking to escape his cruel tyranny by withdrawing into isolation. The only way of escape is to follow the footsteps of Jesus who came right into our prison house of sin and then revealed to us the way out to freedom. As we begin to grasp the truth about our need to be vulnerable in order to be healed by love, we will reorient ourselves to both God and with all those who are also seeking Him with us. Then and only can be begin to experience the earth-changing power that was experienced by all those who were filled with the Holy Ghost to reveal the true character of God to the world nearly two thousand years ago.

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