Drive the Tesla
Let me share a parable with you that just came to me this morning. Remember, it is a parable, which means it is limited in scope but contains important analogies that may apply to spiritual realities to help us connect our head with our heart a little better.
I have a few vehicles sitting around my place right now. This is not the parable part but is actually real. I have several that are dead, undriveable, pretty much unfixable. And if it were not for very low prices on scrap metal at leas some of them would be gone by now. Others are being used for storage space which is cheaper than buying storage sheds. But that is beside the point.
We have other vehicles also sitting around taking up space for other reasons. Some belong to someone else, one is waiting to be licensed, but that gets complicated. And several more are in various stages of useableness. That means that if possible we drive them but it seems they spend a lot of time being fixed, so much so that recently we purchased yet another car because nearly every 'running' vehicle we had was in need of serious attention, so we got another one that hopefully will relieve some of the pressure of our need to get places.
So, now to the parable part. What if someone who really cared a lot about me and who was extremely wealthy came to my place driving a brand new Tesla. This new car was not one of the cheaper versions recently produced but was a top of the line model complete with all the bells and whistles and options. This car not only has capability to monitor driving conditions but can also avoid accidents using very high tech sensors and extensive computer power. In addition, as used to be the case with Teslas, having this car meant free fuel for life meaning I would never have to have any money at all in order to drive it. Even more amazing was that this car came with free maintenance and upkeep for life. In other words, all I had to do with use the car any time I wanted to go somewhere and everything would be taken care of by the owner including license and insurance.
Now, that may sound like a ridiculous dream world, but hold on a bit longer, for this analogy is not nearly so far-fetched as it may sound at first. In fact, I would challenge you right now to begin examining your own motives for your skepticism and why such a thing sounds too good to be true instead of challenging my sanity for suggesting it. Would not your skepticism include objections along the lines of commercial considerations? Things like, “No one gets something for nothing,” or “It is silly to imagine you wouldn't be expected to pay anything for unlimited access to something so extravagant.”
Let me continue. Given such an opportunity, what might you think about my sanity if I didn't drive the Tesla all the time? What if I insisted that I like my old clunkers and wanted to use them instead, leaving the Tesla safely parked in the way at home? After all, I wouldn't want to get into an accident with it and mess up the shimmering paint job. Or maybe I would be afraid of what my friends might think if they saw me tooling around town in such an outrageously expensive car. They might begin to think I was snooty and too good to hang out with them anymore. If I only used the Tesla for taking trips away from home where nobody knew me, that would make more sense right? After all, I wouldn't want pride to tarnish my reputation and ruin my friendships.
But let's suppose that I did treat my Tesla that way. I built a nice garage for it so it wouldn't be rained on or be exposed to the elements. I could go in there and admire it, maybe even sit in it and listen to the stereo system that could make me feel like I was already in heaven. But most of the time I would only drive my old vehicles even though they increasingly were costing me exorbitant repair expenses. Never mind that I might find myself stranded with flat tires, broken down suspension, faulty brakes or rusting out bodies. I wanted to remain 'humble' and not appear arrogant or snooty, so I reserved the Tesla for special occasions only.
Do you remember that having a Tesla means never having to pay for fuel or any other expenses for life? So, does it make sense to continue to rack up increasing costs for repairs and spiraling costs for gas when I have the ultimate driving machine sitting at home with no expenses liable? Why indeed, for in my spiritual journey I am coming to realize that there is a reality that is not fictional at all that is very similar to what I have just described, only far better. Yet because of our skepticism and unbelief, most of us refuse to believe we can enjoy the best wheels in town because it sounds too good to be true. And the result is that we find ourselves increasingly drained of resources and energy and frustrated with mounting debts compelling us to work ever longer hours to try to keep up. Yet all the while we refuse to utilize the most incredible gift imaginable because we cannot bring ourselves to believe it is actually true for us. Maybe others might drive their Tesla and enjoy all the benefits of such a wonderful, expensive machine, but that is just too much to expect and besides, people might think we are too good to be around them if we started acting too different than them.
What am I referring to here? Well, if you haven't figured it out by now, it is the almost unbelieveable reality that every one of us already has such an amazing gift already parked securely inside us, fully equipped, insured, and with unlimited fuel supply, simply waiting for us to get into it and live it without any cost to us for its use. Now if that defies all the principles of economics, there is a reason for that. You see, economics and commerce were never part of God's design for creation and will never be part of God's plan for us. In God's kingdom everything is free. Jesus told His disciples when He sent them out to spread the good news of His kingdom that they were to give what they had freely because they had received freely. That is a core principle of His kingdom, but if we refuse to believe it, receive it, embrace the truth of it, we will be unable to understand how to live in it and participate in all that God intends for us to enjoy.
What is it that provides us with unlimited access to everything we need without cost except to humble ourselves and believe things we imagine are impossible according to how we are used to thinking? It is the stunning truth about our real identity in Christ, and that God is generous beyond what we are willing to believe or even imagine. Why do we struggle so hard to believe that God's kingdom does not operate with commercial requirements or restrictions like what we are so used to living under all our lives? Because we are brainwashed into thinking that God must relate to us the way we do with other people, so we refuse to believe the truth as it is in Jesus. We refuse to believe that salvation and eternal life is free, for to admit this would introduce all sorts of complications into our lives that we simply find untenable, or maybe it might be more accurate to say, our pride finds untenable. That is precisely where the hidden cost of discipleship emerges, for unless we are willing to give up our way of thinking about reality, life, love and truth, it will be impossible to embrace and participate in the family that God longs for us to enjoy. We will continue to cling to our standards of conduct, our expectations of what is required in healthy relationships, our demands for justice. But in doing so we are rejecting the greatest gift ever offered to anyone, a completely equipped vehicle in a fully accepted identity that can take us safely to heaven and back without any cost to ourselves, if only we will quit driving our old, expensive clunkers that threaten increasingly to kill us because they are so dangerous.
I must admit, I struggle with the very same issues that many others have about this. Only recently was I even able to begin to grasp the reality of this amazing truth, yet even though I am increasingly fascinated with understanding it and experimenting with it more and more, I still find my resistance and unbelief surfacing about this incredibly generous gift. Part of that resistance I am starting to realize, comes from a lifetime of feeling like I am expected to earn everything I get and that it is somehow wrong to take advantage of such an offer if I don't contribute something of value from my own resources.
I am not suggesting that just because I have been in Christ all my life along with everyone else, means that I can be saved without any effort or participation of my own mind or using my own will. Neither am I am implying that everyone will be saved and we are all headed for eternal bliss in paradise, for it is clear in Scripture that many will be lost. But what I am coming to realize is that the reason many will be lost is not because they did bad things, failed to be forgiven and thus deserve punishment from the great Judge. Rather it is because they refused to drive the 'Tesla' parked in their driveway and chose instead to rely on their own expensive clunkers until they were so immersed in debt to the world's system that their debt-collectors could wait no longer and foreclosed on everything they owned.
You see, the problem goes far deeper than we have previously supposed. We have too long imagined that God's kingdom uses similar methods and principles that we rely on in dealing with others in this world. That means that here everyone is expected to contribute in some way to earn what they get in life. Those who refuse are called lazy or dishonest, and often rightly so. But the standard of measure that we use to arrive at such conclusions are actually rooted in different assumptions than why God says similar things about such individuals. The rules and regulations of this world are actually counterfeits of original principles that govern all of creation. The difference is that God's principles are based on a single underlying principle empowering every other principle, that being cause and effect. This means that all of God's principles (we usually call them laws) operate naturally with no need of outside intervention to enforce them, while counterfeit principles have no such inherent power so there has to be an elaborate system of enforcement involved in order to maintain law and order as we put it.
What does this have to do with driving a free Tesla all the way to heaven? It has everything to do with it, for the underlying presumption that we must earn everything of value in our lives is the very thinking that steels us in unbelief when we hear of what Jesus has already given us. We might take offense that God will not accept payment for His blessings, because we may insist that anything worth having demands some sacrifice on our part to contribute something of value in return. Otherwise, we consider it fraud or even theft to enjoy something of great value without being willing to work for it in some way. So religion all teaches us how we are supposed to do something in order to receive something we desperately need from God – namely life, happiness or avoidance of pain and punishment. But what if all that is based on misguided, even dangerous underlying premises?
What I am starting to realize is that the reason we are so resistant to embracing the kingdom Jesus came to set up is because we are resist questioning the validity of our way of thinking involving commerce. Commercial thinking extends far beyond things having to do with money, for commerce involves the core concepts of earning and deserving, rewards and due punishments. Wherever I find these kinds of words I am instantly alerted to noting whether there is a commercial spirit involved or not. Why? Because belief that God operates with commerce is one of the biggest lies the enemy uses to keep us in his kingdom and resist embracing the free gift of life that Jesus brought to us at such great cost.
Of course those last few words arouse skeptical analysis by those vested in the religion of commerce, the way our entire world reasons. If Jesus had to pay a high price – His very life – in order to save us, that must prove that God really does operate in commerce, right? But hold on, don't be so quick to judge, for such logic is usually a defensive reaction spawned by fear of losing some sort of power. Anything that denies the principles of God's kingdom or twists them to excuse using principles foreign to what Jesus taught are attempts to keep us from seeing the light of God's love clearly.
This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn't come to the light, lest his works would be exposed. (John 3:19-20)
The kingdom of darkness is rooted in trading and commerce, not just with physical goods and services but involving every aspect of life including spiritual realities. The light that Jesus brought to our world included the reality that God is not in the trading business but in the gifting business. But because freedom is one of God's highest priorities that He fiercely protects for all, He will never force us to use His gifts but simply offers them freely. If we refuse such great salvation (Heb. 2:1-4), it is never His fault but only our own for refusing to accept a love of the truth offered to us by Jesus.
...with all deception of wickedness for those who are being lost, because they didn't receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
I came to realize many years ago that one of the common expressions we use and assume is true because it seems to be proven time and again, is actually an expression that can prevent us from embracing the truth brought to us by Jesus. The familiar expression I am sure you have heard is this, “If it sounds too good to be true, then most likely it is,” meaning if something sounds unreasonably good, then it most likely is a scam and you better avoid it because if you don't you will likely be exploited and regret ever getting close to it.
In our world this adage does prove true ever more frequently. Yet while it may have saved us a lot of grief and loss financially or relationally in a world embracing the principles of commerce in every area of life, this saying is actually one of the biggest hurdles we have to overcome to believe that God is so good. For the goodness, kindness and generosity of God is so much better than anything we dare to imagine, at least according to His Son Jesus, that most of us consider it scandalous, even reckless.
Consider the many parables of Jesus that challenged the paradigms of His day as well as ours.
Paying workers all the same generously instead of paying them according to the time and effort put out. Scandalous!
Embracing a returning recalcitrant boy who has ruined the family reputation and squandered resources recklessly, only to give him unconditional acceptance with no hint of punishment for all the blatant evil he had done. Shameful! Outrageous!
And the list goes on.
When we begin to consider carefully the stories of Jesus, it becomes obvious that He believed in principles different from the rules of commerce which made His teachings suspect, especially to those who were guardians of 'the truth' and were increasingly frustrated at His refusal to accept any of their beliefs about how God supposedly treats people, especially sinners. Yet if we think about it honestly and thoughtfully, it starts to become clear that our logic is usually predicated on underlying notions of commerce such as relative value, trading, exchanging, rewards and punishment, earning and deserving. No wonder Jesus got Himself into so much trouble they finally had to kill Him. He was undermining the very foundations of law and order and justice in societies everywhere, so much so that the rulers of this world could no longer tolerate such a dangerous threat.
The very first trade that brought the fatal infection of sin into this world was the exchanging of the truth about God, about our own identity and about how reality works, for the lies of the serpent that led to our losing dominion over this planet.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and traded the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:22-25)
Back to my parable. Do you know some of what would begin to transpire should such a situation actually exist and you decided to drive your expensive Tesla everywhere you went? Do you realize that if the owner of that Tesla was not contributing to the taxes the state relies on to maintain the highways, it would not be long before there would be serious repercussions. And what about the license? What if the owner considered himself above the governments of earth and thus was exempt from all such petty requirements? What if instead of legal license plates there was simply a notice of exemption? How long might it be before you were challenged by police looking to investigate the rights of that vehicle to drive on their highways?
We have not even mentioned the likelihood of trouble from big oil companies feark g a drop in their revenues as more and more people quit buying their products. That does not go unnoticed you may realize. Many people have disappeared mysteriously after discovering ways to run their cars with greatly reduced reliance on petrol. And the list could go on. The issue then might become, are you willing to risk incensed authorities questioning your rights to travel? Would you be willing to drive a car provided so generously to you when you realize that many, even of your good friends, might become jealous or even deeply offended that you no longer contribute your share to helping the economy they rely on to provide income for themselves?
Do you see where this is headed? Economics and commerce are so deeply enmeshed into every aspect of how we live that to challenge it in one place means to challenge the entire way we perceive life must operate. This raises questions about what is fair, what is right, what is just or moral and the questions just keep multiplying. In short, the two opposing kingdoms are incompatible with each other, which is why Jesus warns us there is a cost to embracing His kingdom of freedom and joy. For there are many dead set against freedom and have little interest in allowing others to enjoy it, particularly if it means losing some of their control over others.
Embracing the truth about our fully equipped, fueled and accepted by heaven identity in Christ means many around us will likely take offense and challenge our new way of living. Why? Partly because doing so means exposing by contrast the fraud of the ways of this world based on commerce. As soon as we embrace a salvation that is totally free and our lives begin to transform in ways others insist is not possible, resistance and anger are aroused among those with vested interests in keeping power over others through economics or religion or culture. It is not unlike driving down the highway with gas station owners shooting at your car or revenue officers demanding you pay them taxes before you will be allowed a right to use the roads.
Does this sound a bit unreal? Unfair? Untenable? Well, I again challenge you to consider just how deep your own interest is vested in economic logic. To the extent that we feel resistance to accepting the gift of God, embracing that we everyone is already in Christ without anyone ever having to do anything to earn that privilege, to that extent we are infected with the spirit of commerce. And that spirit of commerce will always elicit the spirit of fear anytime it is crossed, and fear always displaces love.
Behold, how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! For this cause the world doesn't know us, because it didn't know him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it is not yet revealed what we will be. But we know that, when he is revealed, we will be like him; for we will see him just as he is. (1 John 3:1-2)
When Jesus came to this earth, He drove His Father's 'Tesla' all His life. When people began to notice that He acted like He was exempt from all their petty rules and dark notions about how rules must be obeyed in order to be accepted by God, the irritation this aroused increased almost daily until it broke out in persecution and finally execution. So when Jesus invites us to take up our cross and follow Him if we want to be His followers, He was not suggesting we would find a pain-free life of ease. He was keenly aware of the results of living differently from the ways the kingdoms of this world govern including those of religion. Yet He never backed down in the slightest, because His mission was to reveal that God is not at all like we have made Him out to be based on our paradigms here on earth. Jesus came to teach us the true ways of heaven and to reveal to us the Father's heart. He did this perfectly, and He revealed God's true glory in such a way that is still scandalous to many people. This is why religion has worked so hard to rewrite history to reframe it back to the darker ways of seeing God that the Jews had when they felt compelled to kill the Son of God.
So why would we want to drive God's Tesla if it got Jesus into so much trouble? Well, there is a lot that can be said in favor of preferring the Tesla to all the other rattle traps we drive. One being that so long as we embrace the economic thinking and artificial law system that governs our world, we are inducing debts that can never be completely paid off no matter how long we may try to do so. Like the parable Jesus told of a debtor in Matthew 18 who owned over 150,000 years of wages, it is insane to imagine as he did, that anyone could ever earn enough to pay off such a massive debt.
Yet the real problem is not whether we think we might have capacity to pay our debts or not, but rather our problem is believing in the legitimacy of the entire system of debts and credits in the first place. God does not play our petty games of creditors versus debtors in spite of all our assumptions to the contrary. God is only a giver, and a scandalous generous one at that. Jesus made this very clear. Yet when we refuse to accept His free gifts to us, we are also refusing to enter His kingdom and come under the protection of His authority and are thus left to the fierce, merciless justice system of the kingdom of darkness where no prisoners are ever allowed to escape.
Something we need to understand about the enemy's system is that he does not believe in mercy and grace the way God does. The enemy's kingdom may at times give lip service to mercy, but in reality the end of all who live under his authority is hopeless enslavement and finally death as the ultimate punishment for not paying off all their debts. The wages of sin is death is the mantra of Satan's kingdom, not God's. God's kingdom is all about giving life freely, while Satan is the prince of darkness who relies on manipulating our fear of death to keep us trapped in slavery to his ways as he exploits us.
Since then the children have shared in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same, that through death he might bring to nothing him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might deliver all of them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14-15)
Isaiah, after describing the enormous pride of Lucifer makes this poignant statement about the disposition of Lucifer turned Satan towards all over whom he rules.
Those who see you will stare at you. They will ponder you, saying, "Is this the man who made the earth to tremble, who shook kingdoms; who made the world like a wilderness, and overthrew its cities; who didn't release his prisoners to their home?" (Isaiah 14:16-17)
Satan and all who operate by his principles of so-called justice, demands that the 'just' penalty for every offense and debt must be paid in full with no mercy to be shown. Since it is impossible for anyone to ever pay their way out of this debt trap, every human being has been held hostage in his prison without mercy until the ultimate penalty of death wipes out their debts. Jesus came to accept that penalty of Satan's kingdom on behalf of all humanity, thus redeeming humanity from the demands of Satan's laws and earning the right to redefine what reality should look like for humans everywhere. As our new Adam, Jesus now defines what it means to be human and has implanted His image back into the soul of every one where it is available to access directly by all who allow His Spirit to come in and activate it.
Do you see better where the idea of debt payments comes from? It is not heaven or God or even some mystical force in the universe called The Law that is demanding payment or else. Rather is it the invented system of commerce represented by the symbol of that system, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That title summarizes the principles of that kingdom of darkness, based on the practice of debts and credits, rewards and punishments by which all who suffer under its authority are controlled. It is the power of government relying on law rather than in love as God's government operates. And because law is supreme in Satan's government, yet no one can perfectly keep all the laws, sooner or later everyone is demanded to pay up or suffer the ultimate consequences.
This legal system of commerce, where everyone earns and deserves everything, is the dark system God seeks to rescue His children out of into the freedom and joy of the family of God. The family of God model is not just a nice idea but an entirely different and opposite way of thinking, living and relating to others, and this is God's design for all the universe. To embrace participating in God's family we must put off the ways of darkness, of debt-collecting and fear, and embrace the reality of the redemption purchased by the ransom paid by Jesus for us in His death on the cross. If it is not yet clear who demanded that ransom by now, it should be starting to be sink in. The demand for payment for every sin committed by every human who has or ever will exist is the demands of the kingdom of darkness, of counterfeit justice and by all who embrace those false principles.
Someone asked me shortly after I presented this today the question, “Where is the key?” I responded by asking them, “What is the key?” As we discussed it further we agreed that faith must be involved somehow. As I thought more about it I remembered being taught while growing up that prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven’s storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence. I suspect that key just might also fit heaven's Tesla provided, my true identity as being in Christ which liberates me from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-4).
So what is the conclusion of the matter? Don't neglect such an expensive gift and don't spurn the giver. Its time to get out and drive your Tesla. Get into it with your heart so that your joy may be full.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that you may live, you and your seed; to love Yahweh your God, to obey his voice, and to cleave to him; for he is your life, and the length of your days.... (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)