The End of Hierarchy
I will hold back nothing in order to earn your love for Me.
But I will never even hint that you must earn My love for you.
This was the quiet whisper that I felt God saying to me recently. And it brought to mind vividly one of the biggest obstacles that has remained stuck in my own heart for many years preventing it from believing and embracing the unconditional, unrelenting, persistent love that God wants so much for me to experience. It is the subtle notion that in some way, either small or large, I must to some degree earn or do something to deserve whatever I receive, and that includes love and affirmation and even value.
This attitude of needing to earn everything saturates nearly everything we do in societies on this planet. Philosophers have labeled it various ways but the underlying principle is rooted in the idea of a necessary balance between good and evil, yin and yang, light and darkness. It also includes very strong belief in the whole system of rewards and punishments insisting that every good deed must be rewarded and every wrong committed must be duly punished or justice has not been served. Hence the popular visible symbol of justice as a pair of scales to measure out this balance.
Yet this whole earning/deserving mentality was actually an invention of an enemy of truth and began to create trouble from the first time it was introduced into the universe. This thinking is at the root of the hierarchy system that has stratified, segregated and devastated the perfect unity that used to exist in the universal family before sin came in. But God has provided a way to restore all things back to the basis of love where there will no longer be any notion of superiority, where everyone not only sees each other as equally loved and important but where those issues are no longer even thought about.
Hierarchy itself has decimated the harmony of the universe and especially on this broken planet. It has imposed an artificial system of value that has displaced from our hearts the original awareness that each one of us is infinitely valuable simply because God created us. Now we have substituted His love as the basis of why we exist for any number of cheap substitutes for love that leave us hungry, empty and craving for something better than fleeting pleasure that only leaves us dissatisfied.
God sent His Son to put on display what a real human was originally designed to be. Then He allowed Him to be fully exposed to the whole false system based on power in order to expose the fallacy of all the claims and accusations that have kept that system in place through the power of fear. God then set us free from our slavery to the empty gods that offer all sorts of rewards and/or threaten all sorts of recriminations and punishments if we do not tow the line and keep them appeased.
When Jesus' perfect example of love clashed with the arrayed forces of evil, the showdown resulted in exposing the bankruptcy of every counterfeit system and revealed the truth that love really can win over fear, force, shame and deception. He overcame by loving everyone no matter how badly they treated Him, shamed Him, tortured Him or slandered Him. By showing that true love cannot be suppressed even in the slightest degree and that the entire system based on deserving, earning, rewards and punishments is entirely artificial and invalid, He showed us the path back to living once again in the perfect harmony, joy and peace of heaven.
For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)
But in the meantime God has been forced to meet us where we are, steeped in our mentality of earning and deserving, fear and hope, artificial law and the notion of a need for balance between good and evil. He has never endorsed that system but often He appears to in order to get us to listen to Him so that He could lead us out of darkness into the much greater light of the real truth about His kingdom based purely on love and love alone.
This counterfeit system keeps leading us to exchange liberty for supposed security and superiority. But it is always a lie, a trick and we fall for it. Instantly we are again subjugated even deeper into the slavery of fear – fear of death, fear of punishment, fear of loss, fear of shame, fear of abandonment, and worst of all, fear that we now have to in some way earn God's love before we can be accepted by Him.
Because every generation since Adam has been enslaved by the fear produced by the lies about Him that got into our very DNA, He has been working to uncover those lies and to reveal the truth about Him and how He operates and especially how He really feels about all of His children whether they give a hoot about Him or not. As long as we allow the lies of His enemy to infect our thinking about His thinking about us, it is unsafe to be exposed very much to the intensity of His presence of love lest it so overwhelm us with its potency that our resistance to it causes fatal short-circuits in our very being.
So God dramatically dimmed down His intensity by veiling it through becoming a human so that we could relate to Him. He funneled His intense love through that human so potently that it still seemed completely foreign to us. But after a while a few people caught wind of what He was trying to show them and opened themselves up to allow God to pour His passionate love through them which started a chain reaction of people falling in love with the most passionate Lover in the universe.
Sadly it was not too many years later that the enemy was able to dilute the pure testimony of His witnesses and began to infect His loyal children with notions, practices and traditions of the counterfeit system until the entire rescue operation His Son had launched on this planet became pretty much hijacked. The enemy subtly took over control of His group of believers by distorting everything Jesus had done and taught turning them into superficial forms and traditions that once again conveyed false messages about God's heart to the world now even worse than what had happened before.
But love is always stronger than lies and God will prove that before the watching universe. God is now moving in the hearts of millions of people who are being softened by the increasing light of the real truth about His gentleness, kindness, unconditional forgiveness and passionate love as He prepares them to be effective conduits for Him similar to the way He used His Son while He was on earth. As more people once again reflect the true glory of who God really is, the effects will be polarizing and will propel the world toward the end of the reign of darkness. Events will culminate once again producing another showdown of the forces of darkness, superstition and lies about God contrasted with God's ambassadors of light who are set ablaze with God's pure holy passion and irrepressible love.
As this showdown approaches and God's Spirit gathers those who are willing to be led together in unity, the most surprising aspect of this unity will be the discovery that there will be no need for hierarchal structure to maintain order, no authoritarian system relying on fear of punishment or enticements for reward to maintain cohesiveness in the body. What will be demonstrated is what the enemy has insisted is impossible – a tight-knit family unity of believers individually accountable directly to Christ as their only head while relating with each other in complete humility and deference.
This highly unusual arrangement will decimate the arguments of God's opponents who have long insisted that you must operate a government relying on the age-old system of stratified hierarchy. The distortions that have prevented the world from seeing how love can really be the only bond holding a family together will be exposed by God's faithful, passionate children as they rely continuously on only His Spirit and allow His Spirit alone to coordinate everything without human intervention.
Contrary to what many assume, this is the same as what occurred in the days after Pentecost long ago when God's Spirit assumed full control of His body of believers. The effect of the intense atmosphere of love that saturated each one of them was so powerful that within a few years their enemies declared they had turned the whole world upside down. That was an accurate analysis, for the methods and relationships of God's people who embrace His ways are upside down and backwards to how we naturally think things must be organized.
The reality is that sin originally turned our world upside when our first parents lost dominion and gave authority over to the sneaky snake. Sin turned God's original design for this earth upside down to begin with, so the early believers were only reverting what had been inverted previously. Jesus came to recapture both the lost authority our first parents had relinquished as well as to capture the hearts of all who would be willing to let Him love and restore them. He came to set up a kingdom completely unlike any other kingdom of this world. Yet we still struggle to comprehend just how radically different that kingdom really is from all the others we have known.
Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:24-26 NIV)
Destroyed in my opinion is not the best choice for the translation from the original word in Greek. I believe after examining that word that the term neutralized would be more more expressive of the intent of God for what needs to take place as being described in this passage. What I believe can be found in this passage is a window into what God intends to do about the entire counterfeit system of darkness – He intends to neutralize it using only truth and love, not to attack it using any of the methods promoted within that false system. To resort to using any of Satan's methods to overcome that kingdom would only produce the opposite effect; it would strengthen the dark side because doing so would validate Satan's claim that his weapons are indispensable and that sooner or later even God will be forced to resort to admitting that and resort to using them.
But God is not going to give Satan the upper hand at any point by switching to Satan's methods to overcome evil. Jesus made this abundantly clear at the cross when He was tempted to the extreme to tap into His ability to access infinite power to save Himself or others from harm. Jesus came to display the core truth that God is not at all like Satan or like anything His other enemies have made Him out to be. He operates strictly within His principles of love, truth and grace and refuses to use any other means to accomplish His purposes. Furthermore, God will prove in the end, as Paul points out here, that His methods and principles are superior to any of the assertions or methods of His enemy and that love can win over every system based on hierarchy, counter every method of coercion, defeat all reliance on deception of any sort and win over everything that relies on fear to prop it up. This includes ultimately defeating the greatest enemy of all – death itself, the power behind all fear.
Jesus Christ is God's appointed front man to accomplish all of this by relying on love and love alone to neutralize all of these other forces. It does so by simply exposing them in contrast to the real truth that was obscured by these false methods and ideas in the first place. God will never resort to relying on force to neutralize force, for that would only vindicate Satan's assertion that force is required to counter force – part of the philosophy of every fallen system of darkness. Jesus made explicitly clear during the last hours of his earthly life that He will not change this stance at any cost. And He will stick with the methods He used while on this earth and will consistently demonstrate them every time He shows up again without variance. He will keep doing so until the methods unveiled while He lived among us as a human fully expose and neutralize all of the accusations of His enemy and He wins the respect of the entire universe.
God is love.
Perfect love casts out all fear.
Fear has to do with punishment, so clearly God is not in the punishing business for He is perfect love.
God does not resort to force to overwhelm our freedom to choose whether or not to respond favorably to His love for us. If He were ever to do that even in the slightest, the freedom essential for true love to even exist would be contaminated and our ability to love Him freely would be instantly morphed into something other than agape love. This is why it is so vital for us to appreciate the pure nature of God's agape love and stop inserting our false ideas into how we think God relates to those who oppose Him.
Through the consistent demonstration of the principle of love alone in the person Jesus Christ, all false systems, ideas, assertions, accusations and methods will be exposed for the frauds that they are and every being in the entire universe will come to the place where they freely acknowledge that God's ways are true and fair (just). They will acknowledge that because of His consistency throughout the entire struggle to rely on love alone as His only method of overcoming evil, He is worthy of all worship, honor, praise and respect. This is the message unveiled in the book of Revelation that has been largely lost because we read it still with dark views about God that still infects our thinking.
Paul is telling us here that there is coming an end to not just the hierarchy of Satan's dominion over this earth but an end to the use of hierarchy entirely anywhere in the universe. Hierarchy is itself a counterfeit of God's order of things designed into creation. The original concepts imitated by the counterfeit of hierarchy are the stages of maturity that all growing things pass through as they increase in size and capacity. Hierarchy also imitates God's arrangement for variation of function in His family system where everyone receives to give but also adds a flair of uniqueness and personality that creates variety, sparkle and joy to everything.
Hierarchy, false concepts of authority, distorted notions about dominion – all of these counterfeit practices that we now take for granted in this world saturated by false ideas about God will all at last be exposed as the counterfeits they are as the truth about how God does things shines clearly in the brilliant light of His glory that will cover the whole earth. This is God's plan of how evil will be overcome, not through fighting fire with fire, violence with greater violence, but through love alone.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19-21 NRSV)
In case you may have missed it, God's kind of wrath or vengeance is described within this passage itself. God does not return evil for evil like we have long assumed He will do; rather Jesus made it clear that God's vengeance is accomplished through the revealing of His kindness, graciousness and unconditional forgiveness toward His enemies. This kind of treatment actually turns out to be the most painful experience His enemies could ever encounter, for heaping forgiveness, kindness and love on those who hate you and abuse you exposes them to a light that reveals their own vileness to themselves and everyone around them.
An analogy that comes to me is that this is something like using a mirror to intercept a laser beam intended to kill someone causing that deadly laser to be reflected back to its source resulting in its own destruction. Yet such a mirror does not originate the deadly laser but simply exposes it and defeats its intended purpose.
As we become transformed into clear mirrors of the truth about the God we are coming to know, the God who is only righteousness, merciful, fair, kind and purely loving all the time, our mirrors will act to expose the weapons lurking in the darkness and they will be seen as false, dangerous and deadly. Yet we do not reflect evil for evil using our mirrors but rather we are to reflect to our enemies the light of the true glory of God, His true character as revealed through our lives.
As God's light shines through us it exposes what is lurking in the darkness and it also reacts within those holding to the principles of darkness causing them to experience enormous discomfort. This places them in a position where they feel compelled to choose whether to switch sides and move over to the kingdom of light or whether they will make permanent their resistance to love and fight against the light. Those who choose to switch to the family of light will be transformed by it to also become conduits and reflectors of light while those who choose to sear their conscience through choices to reject the truth in the light amass within themselves permanent resistors that will prove fatal when the full current of love is unleashed in the day of revelation and judgment.
This is the day Paul is referring to in this passage. It is the final culmination point when the full extent of every counterfeit system becomes fully exposed as being false and untenable before the clear vision of every being everywhere. This finale and conclusion of the great war requires that every person who has ever lived must be brought to life and all be alive at the same time. Because each one must see the issues clearly and with no duress each must come to the point where they willingly agree that God's methods have always been fair and every excuse for anything deviating from love is fully neutralized.
Only in this way can every lingering doubt and question be forever eliminated from the minds of every creature throughout the universe. In this way God's kingdom will be established on complete freedom, not because anyone fears retaliation from crossing His will but because it finally has been fully seen that the natural consequences of violating the principles upon which all of reality is built can only end in misery and death. And all of this must take place within the atmosphere of the total freedom of each one to choose with no threat of retaliation on the part of the One who designed it all.
When death is seen as only resulting from rebellion against Life and is a natural consequence of sin, not imposed by God, then death itself will be finally neutralized and the entire universe will forever be completely free of any residual element of fear. Perfect love will eliminate all trace of fear for fear can have no part in securing God's kingdom. Only love and love alone will be the motive of all who will thrive in the presence of the Lamb who Himself demonstrated that love is enough to overcome every other force and can neutralize the power of every dominion, authority and power, even death itself.