Honor my Father
I just finished a dream about my dad giving a sermon in my church that mentioned briefly principles of love in child training. A news magazine heard about it and wanted us to give them recordings so they could report on it. I was a bit puzzled since he had only referenced in a small way concepts I have been sharing for years. They kept asking dad if he was the elder of our church, but he kept evading the question, which made me wonder a bit, for he no office while I was the head elder. I did not mention anything, but wondered why all of this was happening. I secretly felt that if they had heard me speak on the same principles that they could learn much more than the small notice my dad had mentioned, yet again I said nothing but simply cooperated by trying to figure out how to find a tape recording of his presentation. Yes, its all a bit strange, but that is how dreams are many times.
This went on for some time during the night with other scenarios playing into the dream, yet it kept coming back around like unfinished business looking for resolution until I finally woke up enough to try to sort it out by discussing it with the Spirit. When I questioned God as to what might be the purpose of this dream (that seemed so out of character to what I thought about my dad), the answer I received was surprising, sobering yet even exciting at the same time.
“Honor your father and your mother,” was the answer that came almost immediately. By this time my conscious mind had already been confused as I now realized that the dream was ridiculous because dad has been dead for many years, so the dream could not really be resolved because it could not even happen. Yet what kept coming to my awareness in my spirit transcended the normal parameters of what we define as reality or possibility in ways that feel far more real and possible and that even resonate with Scripture. Something came to me I had just written yesterday about being able to perceive new dimensions of reality during my waking hours of the morning when I soak in God's presence and receive what He brings to me for that day. I realized this was exactly what was happening even now, and in humble gratitude I accepted this revelation of beauty and grace and chose to believe it with my heart, even while my mind continued to marvel at a reality beyond the narrow limitations of rational thinking. Of course that is no problem for heaven.
It is difficult to translate such insights into human language as it is designed to only express what we think is possible within our narrow parameters of reality. I am beginning to feel the tension between these two worlds and see why others in the past have struggled as to how to express things received from outside our usual dimension in ways difficult to grasp by those bound in the narrow confines and expectations of what is real or not. Truly the spiritual domain is far greater and expansive, yet it conforms with the principles of creation designed by God while operating far beyond the limited restrictions we have invented to define reality and truth.
These are things of the heart which is designed to encompass eternity, while the mind has very limited capacity to process concepts with logic and struggles to figure out what to do with things from beyond its small perceptions of truth. Yet I know it is with my heart that I need to connect to the reality of heaven and to synchronize with the heart of the infinite God. This is where salvation accomplishes its work of transforming me into His image and likeness. So as these things are coming to me, even now while I am struggling to write all this down before it fades from my awareness, I can only keep consenting for the Spirit to guide and remind and assist me as I attempt to capture in human words what my heart felt so powerfully only a few minutes ago. What words might I use that might resonate with others open to hearing and receiving signals from the spiritual dimension?
When I heard the reason for this dream I just had this morning, I asked what that meant. A picture began to emerge that coalesced into something surprisingly beautiful, like a tapestry or piece of art made from broken threads or pieces of left-overs from a series of accidents, yet rearranged in such a way as to make them all strangely attractive. As I pondered this my emotions were awakened in gratitude and wonder as I realized that on judgment day, what will be discovered is not merely the tragedies of our lives, the terrible choices and the damage caused in ourselves and others around us, but shockingly what will be seen clearly for the first time, will be works of art emerging out of the history of the lives of all everyone who has allowed Christ access to take ownership of their mess. The result will be a stunning display of gorgeous artwork that will take our breath away. This artwork does not hide our mistakes or the mess we have made of our lives, but will rearrange it all into a new context in the backdrop of the graciousness of Jesus often unnoticed throughout our history. It will appear spectacular in all the glistening glory and multi-dimensional beauty suddenly seen in a life that is itself only a composite part of an even larger mosaic of all history, knit together by the Master Artisan that silences every critic and reframes every question we have ever had about God's fairness and love.
What is God saying to me when He tells me to honor my father and my mother that my days may be long on the land He gives me? He reminded me of the strange way in which father Abraham is portrayed by Paul in Romans 4 as being unwavering in his faith. We struggle to reconcile that with the stories that clearly tell of Abraham's attempts to save himself by betraying his wife into the hands of a heathen monarch, or trying to fulfill God's promises by sleeping with his wife's handmaid to get a son. How can this be called unwavering faith? Our minds recoil from seeing these things as congruent, yet Paul seems to blatantly glue them together without regard for the facts – or so it seems. This is why faith sometimes gets a bad rap as fiction, yet true faith can seem stranger than fiction until we catch a glimpse of reality beyond the narrow confines of our limited capacity to perceive it.
What I glimpsed this morning was how God can take all the history of my dad (and mine as well) and piece all the broken pieces together into a living, vivid piece of art of such stunning quality that everyone will gasp in amazement and wonder over how grace can accomplish such a feat without violating truth. I was reminded that some of my most valuable personality traits have been received from my dad, and even though I have struggled with how to live out beauty and peace and in harmony with others because of so much damage caused in me emotionally by my dad, yet in Christ all of these things can easily be rearranged within the power of God's graciousness when I simply allow Jesus to be the authority over my story and permit Him to weave my story into His-story, which in turn becomes a composite of everyone's story who gave Him consent to author their story.
This is all about heart work, not about identity measured by performance. This is a crucial piece that unlocks my capacity to begin to grasp this amazing power of grace and truth in Christ. I tend to measure people's worth and even their salvation based on what they did or how they made me feel, but God looks directly into the heart and knows their intent despite all the dysfunction that flowed out of the damage they suffered in their lives that makes them appear hopeless or worse. In my case I can see how my dad's heart was never turned against God, even though he had limited capacity to appreciate the tenderness and kindness of God. He believed in God to the extent of his capacity rooted in his own damaged history. Since every human being is in Christ without exception, and their history is available for Christ to define if they do not reject His authority to represent them, I can now begin to see how Christ is authorized to re-present my dad's story in ways that include all the facts of his life, yet that redeems and transforms it because grace has the power to do just that.
My dad sought to trust and obey God to the extent he could figure out with his limited perceptions of truth. While it was factual that he had little experience of the unconditional love of God in his life, that was not his choice any more than it was mine living under his sometimes severe parenting technics. Our identity is not tied to such parameters but is secured by Christ, and I am confident from the evidence that my dad never removed himself from Christ, and thus Christ has full authority to define the truth about his life. The same applies to me, for there are many things I regret in the way I parented my own children not unlike the way I was parented Yet I continue to trust that God can redeem all the damage I have caused and continue to cause all too often. But what is amazing is how thoroughly Jesus can re-present our histories in such a compelling way that they are nearly unrecognizable, yet distinctly familiar so as to remain authentic, just like Paul presents the faith of Abraham in contrast to his history of dysfunction and the tragic outcomes that were a result throughout history.
I was reminded of how God related to Job who likewise appeared to waver as he struggled to make sense of horrific tragedies in his life that seemed to be coming from God. Understandably he resisted the notion that these were punishments for some sin, yet he could not find plausible explanations as to why all these things were happening. From our perspective we see an important backstory that helps to explain what was going on, but without awareness of this, Job and those around him were left grasping for explanations based on their presuppositions about what God is like. This test not only exposed some of Job's weaknesses and misperceptions about God, but far worse notions from the three theologians whose opinions of God reflected more the sinister slander of His archenemy.
At the end of the story, despite obvious railing against God on the part of Job due to his misapprehensions about God and false presumptions about why all this was happening, God honored Job as loyal to Him while He reprimanded the theologians for dishonoring Him. I puzzled over this for many years until I began to realize that God was referring to Job's tenacious clinging to his relationship with God, even while saying things very hurtful and untrue about Him. God was not bothered or offended by Job's outbursts as He understood they were simply authentic expressions of frustration caused by the dissonance Job was feeling between what he believed God was like in contrast to what God appeared to be doing Him. The main difference it appears, between Job and the false-hearted theologians, was that Job had an active and even tenacious relationship with God, while the other three only had a mystical construct of Him that had no real heart connection. This is why God affirmed Job while warning the other three of their need to repent.
Did Job need a clearer view of God that would impact the way he lived and related to others? Absolutely. Did my dad need a far better appreciation of what God is like that could have entirely altered my perceptions of God and placed me on a better footing spiritually? Absolutely. The same can be said about me and pretty much everyone around me. Abraham also had immature views of God that needed serious upgrading and that led him to take things into his own hands in ways that affected the history of the world ever since. Yet that is the superficial level, and as impactful as that may be to the surface history of our lives, the real place where salvation operates is at the heart level where God is most interested in redeeming us. The outward evidences consume our attention, but the condition of the heart is far more serious and is where most of our influence on others originates. This is where the real transformation needs to happen rather than obsessing over the outward symptoms we call sins. An immature heart will often make mistakes that can cause havoc in the lives of others involved. But if Jesus is allowed, He can take full responsibility for all of that and can redeem it in surprising ways.
For the promise to Abraham and to his seed that he should be heir of the world wasn't through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void, and the promise is made of no effect. For the law works wrath, for where there is no law, neither is there disobedience. For this cause it is of faith, that it may be according to grace, to the end that the promise may be sure to all the seed, not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all. As it is written, "I have made you a father of many nations."
This is in the presence of him whom he believed: God, who gives life to the dead, and calls the things that are not, as though they were. Who in hope believed against hope, to the end that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, "So will your seed be."
Without being weakened in faith, he didn't consider his own body, already having been worn out, (he being about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb. Yet, looking to the promise of God, he didn't waver through unbelief, but grew strong through faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. Therefore it also was "reckoned to him for righteousness." (Romans 4:13-22)
What does God have in mind by reminding me to honor my father? One thing He pointed out was how Paul honored his father Abraham in the way he recounted his story of relationship to God. Yes, this rehearsal has left us shaking our heads for 2,000 years as to how Paul could make such radical assertions about Abraham's unwavering faith in contrast to what we find in Genesis. But Paul was not attempting to ignore the facts of Abraham's history but rather was re-presenting it from God's perspective which often defies our narrow ways of measuring and assessing truth, identity and faith.
To align my perspective with Jesus' perspective of what is true, I need to embrace the perspective of Christ as I recall at my dad's history. That does not mean ignoring the hurtful things that happened to me and my siblings, but rather to honestly see him as a man who is in Christ and is thus to be seen according to what Jesus declares about his identity and value rather than measured by judgmental standards of performance-based value. This is a huge paradigm shift for me, yet it is vital to take this seriously, for Jesus says that the standard of measure I embrace will be the standard I select that will be used to measure me as well. This is a principle, not a threat.
This issue of how to define and measure worth, identity, value and even destiny lies at the very heart of our fear of judgment as well as our penchant to judge each other and even ourselves. It has not been that long since God has revealed to me how He judges people, and even less time since He clarified for me the striking distinction between my identity and my condition with the huge implications that has on how I view others. Now He is pressing this closer so I can be liberated from many lingering painful memories that continue to act as triggers that are still rooted in lies about myself, my dad and even my mom. God is now telling me it is time to honor them by choosing to view them through heaven's perspective and leave off entirely all judging of them by the world's system of measure that will only reciprocate back to trigger me to live in discord and frustration. As I allow the Spirit of truth and love to rewire the way I perceive my parents and see them the way God sees, them while not repressing awareness of what they did, I will be set free from the power of the lies that at times still jerk me around, and I can move fully into the liberty of knowing God as my Father directly.
This reminds me of something someone brought to my attention in the past few days.
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham divided a tenth part of all (being first, by interpretation, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace; without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God), remains a priest continually. (Hebrews 7:1-3)
Rather than getting caught up in the never-ending debate about who Melchizedek might really have been, it was pointed out to me that the emphasis here might be about something very different from what we usually consider. As it comes to identity – and that is the most important part of us that is being fought over in this super-war we are all involved in – I am learning the vital importance of embracing my true identity in Christ as the 'magic bullet' so to speak, that liberates from the power of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2). This involves necessarily letting go of my old perception of identity acquired from my parents to embrace fully my identity in Christ – made like the Son of God.
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)
Even as I reread the passage above from Hebrews about Melchizedek, I notice this key there. Not only was he perceived as without father or mother, but he was made like the Son of God. This means that he is a symbol of what God calls all of us to embrace as our real identity. It means that we are to let go of the identity we inherited from our genealogy that ties us back to Adam's fall, and to identify fully and exclusively with God as our true Father and Jesus as our brother who redefines us in His image. This does not mean we disown our parents, rather we honor them by seeing them as sons and daughters of God along with us. In Christ we see ourselves as all siblings to each other and with Him, rather than viewing our identity according to physical genealogy or hierarchy the way the world defines value. This means that Melchizedek is a symbol of what we are all to believe – made like the Son of God.
By inducting all humanity into Himself, Christ declares us to be direct children of God along with Him.
But one has somewhere testified, saying, "What is man, that you think of him? Or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels. You crowned him with glory and honor. You have put all things in subjection under his feet." For in that he subjected all things to him, he left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we don't see all things subjected to him, yet. But we see him who has been made a little lower than the angels, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God he should taste of death for everyone. For it became him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many children to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one, for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, "I will declare your name to my brothers. In the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise." Again, "I will put my trust in him." Again, "Behold, here I am with the children whom God has given me." 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 2:6-15)
To honor my parents means I define them based on their true identity and see how God worked in and through them with His faith defining them. With this perspective I can start to see how much I am blessed with character traits from my dad that God has used throughout my life to draw me closer to Him and prevent me from following the path of so many of my friends who walked away from Him. That is not to infer that they are not in Christ, but rather how they made life choices out of harmony with their true identity that brought much grief and trouble into their lives that I did not experience. This is part of the legacy of strength passed on to me by my dad and my mom in various ways.
From both my earthly parents I received an extremely strong sense of honesty in speech, though in my early years of rebellion I found it frustrating to my desires. Yet its strong grip in my heart blocked me from being able to tell an outright lie without a strong physical reaction. I sometimes attempted to circumvent this by construing facts in such as way as to mislead or distract people to conclude something else, yet I always felt blocked from being able to deliberately and blatantly tell a lie.
From my mom I received a beautiful legacy of searching for a better way. Her persistent hunger to find better ways to raise her children with the love of God instead of the severe methods used by my dad paid off. She was advanced in her discernment compared to many around her in that she sensed that reliance on rules and enforcement simply was not effective when it came to matters of the heart. I now see that the heart is what really matters most, and she knew this instinctively and deeply desired to awaken a heart awareness in my life. Because of this others viewed her as careless, weak or even negligent because her attempted ideas and methods did not conform to the standard traditions of rule enforcement for effective behavior control. Yet her example of seeking love as a higher priority than simply behavior control planted seeds in my heart that, despite finding little positive response due to a reaction of rebellion on my part to the methods of force and coercion from my dad, eventually began to produce fruit and became the groundwork for the Spirit to be able to work in my life more openly.
What I am being led to see now is that just as God has brought me over the past year to be more aware of the gospel more clarity than ever before through revelations of the truth about my secured identity in Christ, it is now time for me to see that same truth equally applied to my parents and to view them through the eyes of heaven just as I have been coming to see myself from that perspective. After experiencing significant growth in my experience upon learning that my condition was in no way the basis of my value and identity when God made this clear to me a number of years ago, now that same liberating truth can empower me to see my own parents in that same light and perceive how their failures and the wounds they caused in my heart through their mistakes does not in any way affect their identity in Christ. This was something I was somewhat aware of previously, but now I am seeing more clearly how this directly applies to my thinking and feelings about my parents, enabling me to authentically honor them without being in denial of the harm their actions caused in me.
This makes even more sense to me now, for this became more clear when God led me in the process of reconciling with my dad a couple years before his death. I had just been introduced to the true definition of forgiveness, and it was strange and new for me. But when I was strongly urged by the Spirit to immediately apply what I was learning to my strained relationship with my dad, it finally became more evident that I needed to make a distinction in my mind between the long-held pain caused in me from the emotional damage of my dad's severe methods of rule enforcement, from who I believed was to blame and how that pain inside of me could be relieved.
What had to take place in my thinking before my heart could really begin to heal was a divorce from the false logic of the kind of justice that demands punishment before forgiveness can be experienced. That entire system is a false flag operation that is all rooted in subtle lies that lay at the very foundation of the kingdom of darkness and leads away from true life and effective reconciliation. God does not rely on the reward punishment system the world uses to maintain control through enforcement of the debt/credit social system so familiar to us. Along with this breakthrough in my awareness of God's design was a second revelation that broke through my understanding years later and is still unfolding even more clearly today, and that is that my identity is absolutely defined and secured by Jesus Christ alone, because He alone has all authority in heaven and on earth to define the real ID of every human being. This is by right of His taking back the position of Father of the human race given away by Adam at the fall and usurped by Satan for 4,000 years before the cross.
The implications of this far transcend what religion proposes as to what happened at the cross. Jesus was not sent to pay off a mountainous debt of offenses held in God's heart because of the sins of humanity as popular versions of the gospel assert. God is love and light and nothing less, and Jesus is the true Son of God who was sent to reveal God's heart to the universe, not to appease God's feelings of anger and offense accumulated during centuries of sinning that exhausts His patience and mercy, demanding that someone must pay the punishment before He would relent and grant forgiveness to repentant sinners. This view of salvation is nothing less than systematic doctrines of demons masquerading as theology that blasphemes God's name, and this is why Jesus was compelled to die at the hands of sinners who embraced those same lies as defining spiritual truth. It was these same dark religious notions that led my own dad to treat me as harshly as he did, for he honestly believed that these methods reflected the ways of God and it was his duty to use severe punishment as incentive to obey the law, and to do anything less would invite severe punishment from God against him.
What is emerging in my awareness now is something analogous to a double layer in the way humans live in relation to spiritual realities. The more visible layer is not merely what we witness happening in actions and words, but also involves our distorted ideas about truth that affects the way we treat others that can result in harm. Yet this is all part of a mix of confusion, truth and ignorance that all gets mixed together and disrupts our ability to assess any person's character accurately. This is how we evaluate character because this is all we can see with our limited capacities, so we imagine we even can figure out who will be saved or lost based on measuring people based on how good or evil they act according to our presumptions about their motives.
God looks at the heart more than the outward appearance. We know this cognitively, yet we fail to appreciate how inadequate we are in our ability to do the same. We imagine we can discern a person's motives and spirit, and to some extent we might have some clue. Yet there is a far deeper layer of motivation deeply buried that is shaped by many factors of which we are completely ignorant. Yet this is what composes the true character and motives of a person hidden deep in the heart where only God can see clearly. It is this core inner being, this hidden reality that even we are not aware of ourselves, that God relates to in ways impossible for us to know about. It is in this subterranean level of being and choosing and living that determines the ultimate outcome of our life, yet many times has little evidence in outward appearances. This is hard for us to accept, for we generally have deep cravings to think we can judge the motives of others when in fact we know almost nothing about what went into shaping them on the inside by myriads of influences in their past. But we can believe their identity in Christ.
God alone has the ability and discernment to accurately diagnose each person's true heart condition, for He is the original designer of all and knows all things with nothing hidden from His awareness at all times. More importantly, God does not harbor any of our dark motives in His heart, and for this reason our knowledge of God and His ways are far less than we might like to imagine. In judging others we are in fact judging God as being like us. This is normal, for as God-mirrors by design, we will always reflect what we believe God to be like and our opinions of how He does things. The problem with this is that because the fall predisposes us to reflect lies of God's archenemy rather than the truth about Him, our judgments are always predicated on not only incomplete knowledge and awareness of the truth about a person's motives, but are rooted in an entirely false system of measuring that is foreign to the nature of love, the very essence of who God is and how He operates.
This is not a bunch of abstract philosophy irrelevant to practical life or religion. Rather this gets to the very heart of the problem we have understanding how to relate to both God and to those around us, especially our parents and those who had a role in parenting us and thus instilling in our psyche our notions about how God relates to us. Because most of us were conditioned by influences to view God as operating in the reward punishment system for behavior control, we remain largely unaware that the sin problem is not about offenses and debts demanding satisfaction, but is entirely of a different nature altogether. Yet because we remain trapped in the mentality of assessing everything using our scales of relative value and are so invested in the debt/credit design of judging worth, we miss seeing that the core issues involve trust and truth how we relate to love, not about behavior control through fear.
This deeper level of the soul that is hidden from understanding is like the jet streams that exert so much influence over the weather patterns of our planet. We have little awareness of these steering forces far above the surface, yet they have a huge impact on what happens below. God sees clearly how the jet streams of our hearts exert directional influence on what transpires at the surface of our lives that often appears contradictory and confusing and even misleading. Yet it is in this invisible realm of decisions made far deeper and are hidden almost entirely from even ourselves, where the direction of our character development and our eternal destiny is influenced most. While external choices play a factor in affecting the direction of these guiding internal spiritual forces, most of the time it these spiritual jet streams remain hidden from view though they exert the greater influence on the external expressions rather than the other way around. These spiritual trade winds are where God deals with us more effectively than merely at the surface level where others can observe and make conclusions about us.
What I sense God asking me to do is to allow the Spirit to inform me of God's perspective rather than judging people based on my criteria which is always not only faulty but biased by my own internal jet streams that skews my opinions about the motives of others. This is the heart level where only God can see clearly, and I am warned to not violate that sacred area that is meant for enjoying deepest intimacy. When I judge others I set myself up as a god, imagining that I am capable of assessing the heart of others when I cannot even correctly discern my own condition. This means that in judging others I think I know better than God how things should be solved, not realizing that my standards of measure were acquired from the wrong source and will always produce wrong outcomes.
I am coming to sense that the truth about our identity in Christ is the constant around which each of us must rely on as the pivot point of all truth. In every system of measurement there has to be a static standard from which all other measuring derives credibility. Without this nothing can be certain.
When it comes to character and relationships and moral worth, the standard of measure that defines what is true is the definition of worth declared by the one who designed and made us originally. Many insist this is the Law of God, and in part that plays into it. But the Law is an extremely brief outline, not a human being. We are human beings, so to use a description reduced into a series of words to judge a complex person with multidimensional invisible attributes is to diminish the truth about our design and purpose. We are not created to blindly obey a set of rules perfectly; we are created to enter into deep, intimate social relational bonds with hearts and together to experience ecstasy, joy, and intimacy in an atmosphere of vulnerability, trust and peace. These things simply cannot be defined or reduced to rules and regulations, for language itself cannot even come close to explaining or controlling how to live as a human reflector of the infinite God who is love.
The standard of measure for what it means to be human, which itself is defined as reflecting what the divine Godhead is like in the multidimensional complexity of mutual love, is our true identity. The identity of being fully human and what that looks like has only one reliable example, that is the human Son of God who became the Son of Man simultaneously to exhibit for us both the Father's heart and how the Triune Godhead expresses love among and between themselves. He alone show us what human reflectors of Their love will look like as we come to see and experience Their love as part of the family that that is the fruit of Their love. All of this is embodied in the God-Man Christ Jesus who has been fully authorized to alone define the true identity of every other human being. This is what it means to be in Christ. This is the gold standard by which every human being is evaluated, not to check if they kept rules perfectly but to see what it looks like to live and thrive in love as children of God.
This completed human identity that was matured and perfected by Jesus living among us on earth and enduring all the abuse and resistance, violence and temptations that we experience, is the identity implanted as a template inside every human heart. This is not merely the standard of measure but is the reference anchor that each person may use to grow their own character around as they allow the Spirit of God to shape them into His image by their consent. This is involves the issue of judgment, not about assessing damages and assigning sentences as the counterfeit system insists, but evaluating how each person chose to relate to this internal template implanted deep in their soul by the true Father of the human race. This is our secured identity, and as we choose to learn the truth about love and what it looks like to express what it means to be truly human based on this internal identity, the steering winds of the soul then affect the surface weather that is seen by others and the life begins to look more and more like the life of the One who gave us this template. This is how we learn how to act like ourself, through learning about our true self by learning more about Jesus the origin (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).
How does this happen without slipping into the trap of obsessing over rules and instructions and measuring ourselves by external standards instead of relating to the real issues of the heart? It happens by reversing our obsession with conformity to focusing on believing the truth about our identity that is static and secured by its Author and can never be altered in the slightest by anyone. Our true identity involves our value and worth, yet we will not appreciate this worth unless we use our will to choose to believe it is true. This is what is called faith, for it is by believing the truth (rather than our feelings or other people's opinions) about our real ID in Christ that provides the secure anchor for our spirit to begin to shape all our reactions and decisions as the direction of our internal jet stream aligns with the truth about who we are and what it looks like to act like ourselves. This is the core of the gospel and is where the power of God is released that transforms the life on the inside from darkness into light.
As I learn to keep my attention on the truth about my identity by soaking my imagination with the truth about the Author and Source of my identity, and I mediate on how He acted and related and exhibited what it looks like to be a normal human amidst all sorts of triggers and chaos, I become more aware of and empowered to react similarly, because my sanctified imagination now provides new alternatives for responding in circumstances different from how I used to react. This is all predicated on and empowered by the principle of reflection and the principle of cause and effect. As I focus my soul mirror on the glory of God's goodness as seen explicitly in the human mirror of Jesus, my own internal mirror can reflect that same glory as seen in His mirror, and my life will shape my character around that same image until His likeness becomes my permanent condition. ...made like the Son of God.
It all starts by coming to see and embrace the truth that my identity and value is never predicated on what I do but is the other way around; what I do is symptomatic of what I have been believing about who I am. My condition never defines my identity, but what I believe about my identity will influence and steer the direction of my condition, and over time my condition can become so set and permanent that it results in an unchangeable character that determines my eternal destiny.
This understanding has brought about a massive change in the way I see reality and understand salvation and the real truth about the meaning of the word gospel. Now God is calling me to move even further in the same direction and to allow God to show me that these same principles apply to how I view others, starting with my parents. To honor my parents is not a call for me to honor everything they did or to excuse their faults or abuse, any more than learning about my perfect righteous identity in Christ excuses my malfunction or my sins against others. Rather I am coming to see that to honor my father and my mother is to begin viewing them according to their true identity implanted in them by Christ in the same way it is implanted in me, and then discerning how they were learning to relate to that template inside of them even if they had no consciousness of all this.
The Spirit of God works in the heart and mind of every single human being, seeking to guide them toward a realization, consciously or in more subtle ways, toward the truth about their real worth and identity that is already a reality in them, whether or not they know anything about God. This may seem very strange as it is so foreign to the way most religions paint things, yet this is the truth as it is in Jesus and is the very heart of the gospel. This means that as I review what I saw happening in the lives of my parents, and the Spirit reveals to me how they were dealing with similar things that I struggle with as their offspring, I may also perceive how they too were responding to the work of the Spirit of truth seeking to align them with their true identity, and how they were slowly moving toward the light from a past even darker than from where I started. As I focus on honoring their true identity and celebrating how they too were responding to the drawing of God's Spirit making them aware of His love in ways they could relate to, their example of responding to the light of His love can inspire me to move even more quickly toward the same light myself without being inhibited by lies that lead me to judge them or blame them for my faults and dysfunction.
To honor my parents then is to really honor the God who created my parents, who implanted His perfect identity inside of them and who was at work in them all their lives to draw them toward a better understanding and appreciation of the true nature of love as they could respond. I can honestly say that the motives of both my dad and my mom at the heart level were God-centered, despite all the confusion of their past that hampered their efforts to express His image effectively. This is my legacy from them.