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The Suffering Servant

Sometimes, I will send a text to myself when I have a thought I don’t want to forget.  The following quote is an expanded version of one such text I sent myself while thinking about the nature of love:

Love is “unfair,”  in favor of the beloved.  Love looks like a suffering servant – it’s the strong bearing with the weak, it’s putting others above oneself, it’s choosing mercy instead of judgment, it’s speaking grace and life in the face of death.  Because love doesn’t “know after the flesh,”1 it cannot and does not react or respond; certainly not with evil.  Love, being founded in the nature of God Himself, CANNOT be changed or overcome.2   Love isn’t painful in and of itself, but until the world is matured and perfected, love must and will take the form of suffering servanthood.  We must know this: if the Kingdom/Reign of God (the expression of the nature and will of the Spirit) is ever to be manifested on earth, it must do so through the body of Christ on earth!  As such, those who are Christ’s cannot repay evil with evil – not even a slight evil with an even slighter evil.  As should be obvious, repaying evil with evil, violence with violence, anger with anger, selfishness with selfishness, insult with insult, etc. simply perpetuates evil.  To end this cycle, someone has to absorb blows and insults, without returning them.  Someone has to walk in a higher plane than reasonings and reactions based on ego and fear; demonstrating the nature of God by showing KINDNESS to those who are undeserving, by speaking truth and life in spite of persecution, by both proclaiming and demonstrating God’s nature and mind.  This, by the way, does not mean pointing out “sin” any time you see it.  Doing that is actually administering DEATH.  It means showing and offering Life.

As I’ve said many times before, I am optimistic for the future.  I am confident that death will be swallowed up by life, light will banish darkness, truth will prevail over lies, Christ will replace Adam, and love will overcome fear.  In fact, I am certain of these things, because I am certain that in Christ, from the foundation of the world, they have already been accomplished!  Time and space place inescapable constraints on flesh and blood, but they have no such constraint on Spirit, where the end is known from the beginning and both past and future are merely parts of one whole.  In the Spirit, death IS swallowed up by life, and love IS the foundation of all things.  Just how and when these things will manifest in time and space, I don’t know. But I am confident they will.  Now, I am very aware that there is much I don’t know!  I am just increasingly confident that Christ has fully prevailed, so therefore NOTHING can stop the manifestation of love and truth and Life!

It bears repeating: true love often involves suffering.  Love suffers because it absorbs the various abuses that stem from fear, ignorance, and unbelief, but never returns them.  Paul wrote that Christ’s body is to “overcome evil with good.”  Love overcomes evil in the same way that light overcomes darkness, and truth overcomes lies.  Love suffers yet overcomes, because it doesn’t change or cease when things are difficult or when opposition is strong.  Jesus, the greatest man to ever live, allowed himself to be abused, beaten to shreds and crucified by prideful religious fanatics and a callous military and political system – in order to save them all!

I’ll end with this: what if the “salvation” Paul wrote of has more to do with aligning ourselves with and then bringing the “Kingdom of God/Heaven” to earth than it does with going to “heaven” when we die!?  What if, as the body of Christ, WE are the only ministers of salvation this world has – a world that still remains in darkness and needs it!  What if love is the necessary foundation, without which any preaching is useless?  What if the way we minister this salvation is no longer primarily by “preaching,” but by sacrificial LOVING, even if that means physical death!  Are we willing, or willing to be willing?  Our Spirit is.

Be blessed my friends, thanks for reading.

 

 

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:16
  2. 1 John 4:7, 1 Corinthians 13:8
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Posted by on August 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Steer Clear of the Law, Son

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This post is a little long, though I think it’s enlightening, thought-provoking and well worth reading.  However, for those who don’t have the desire or time to read it all, I’ve made a “TLDR” summary.  If you want to know more, you’ll have to read on. 

(TL;DR) Summary

  • Jesus’ primary purpose was to reclaim the Father’s Kingdom on earth, not to get us to heaven.
  • Living by law will prevent one from following Jesus in sonship and should be avoided just as we should avoid following the flesh.
  • Jesus didn’t just free us from Moses’ law, but from any and all forms of a law-based relationship to God, because…
  • …a relationship of law creates servants, while love-empowered faith creates sons.  God delights in sons and earth needs them.  
  • Sonship is the higher calling.  Like on earth, sons are intimately involved with their Father in running His Kingdom, while servants just thanklessly tend to it.
  • Love empowers faith and enables grace, which are elements of sonship.  Law prevents them.

 

Ok.  Here’s a big question, which someone I really respect posed recently:  Which scenario honestly makes more sense and is more God-honoring?

  1. The son of God came to earth, lived a life of suffering, and died in agony in order to get us to heaven.
  2. The son of God came to earth to reclaim his Father’s Kingdom, which Adam lost.

Although almost all of Christianity is focused on scenario 1, I am convinced the answer is scenario 2, and scripture proves it.  The thing is, the tendency toward self-focus in the heart of man is so strong that unless it’s displaced, all scripture or other testimony of God’s will which don’t involve self in some way will be pushed aside.  The Father’s purpose in sending Christ was not for you or I personally, it was for His Kingdom.  Everything else, including our salvation, is secondary and merely a part of that bigger purpose.  Our primary value and honor lie in participating in the Kingdom of God as a son (or daughter – sonship in this sense is gender-neutral).  For us to truly follow Christ (which is all he asked) as a son, inheriting and participating in their Father’s Kingdom, some radical changes must take place, transitioning the church from servanthood into sonship and darkness into light (one could also say Adam into Christ).  One of these changes is coming to avoid law as much as or even more than avoiding the corrupt, sinful flesh.  Maybe that sounds strange or flat wrong, but bear with me and it might be more convincing.

The issue of “law” is really interesting.  Jesus mentioned it more than once and Paul wrote about it extensively, but I still don’t think we really understand it.  Many times in scripture when “the law” is being discussed, the original text simply says “law.”  This is actually a big point, because it demonstrates that we’re not just freed from THE law, as in the law of Moses which all of Israel was familiar with around Jesus’ time, but from law entirely – free from a law-based relationship with God – and freed to a relationship of sonship!  

If you or I follow our flesh, we will be cut off from the Kingdom of God (though this doesn’t mean we burn for eternity).  Likewise, if we embrace and follow law, we will be cut off from Christ and separated from grace.  This essentially means believers who persist in a relationship of law, though their sins are atoned for, will never rise from the status of servants to sons and will thus never be able to intimately co-operate with God.  I don’t know about you, but I want to avoid both of those outcomes. Law produces servants, not sons, because it only deals with flesh and external behavior.  Faith and love deal with the spirit, affecting the heart and producing a relationship of sonship.  Law and faith are forever opposed, just as flesh and spirit are opposed.  I could probably give a dozen or more relevant scriptures supporting these statements, but don’t have room.  Here are just a few:

  • (Gal 5:19-21 MLV): “Now the works of the flesh are apparent, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, carnal indulgences, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, selfish ambitions, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revelings and things similar to these; which I told to you beforehand, also just-as I did say to you beforehand, that those who practice similar things– they will not inherit the kingdom of God!”
  •  (Gal 3:10-12a MLV): “For as many as are out of works of law (“out of” is the literal Greek translation, meaning works of law are the basis of relationship) are under a curse; for it has been written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not remain in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ (If you break one commandment one time, you are irreversibly guilty as a law-breaker.  See James 2:10).  Now it is evident that no one is justified by law (not only “the” law, but law generally) before God; because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’  And the law is not from faith…”  There is no right relationship/standing with God from law, only from ongoing faith. Law is “do this, don’t do that, or else.”  Faith is a moment-by-moment walk in the spirit by divine revelation.
  • (Gal 5:2-6 WEB (R)): “Behold, I, Paul, tell you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing. Yes, I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law (a relationship of law is all or nothing). You are alienated from Christ, you who desire to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace. For we, through the Spirit, by faith wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision amounts to anything, nor uncircumcision, but (all that really matters or has importance in the spiritual realm is what comes from) faith working through love (literally: “faith which is energized by love”).
  • (Php 3:9 WEB (R)):  “…and be found in him (Christ), not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith…”
  • (Rom 10:3-8 ESV):  For, (Israel) being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness (righteousness in God’s eyes isn’t connected to law). For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). (In this sense, Christ as the word of God, isn’t “up there” or “down there.”  The word is a spiritual reality within you.  “Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory,” Paul wrote).1  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim)…”

Law is very familiar to our thinking, and it’s influence can be very subtle.  The minute our walk with God becomes based on do’s and dont’s, we are relating by law and cut off from Christ.  It’s not that doing bad or following the corrupt desires of the flesh is acceptable – I already mentioned that doing so will get you shut out of the Kingdom of God (which is as terrible as a burning hell for someone who loves Him).  It’s that do’s and dont’s are the basis of law, and faith and love never enter the equation, thus grace is prevented and sonship is thwarted.  For us to walk as a son, love, faith, and grace aren’t optional, they’re essential.  Grace is God’s influence on our heart, and faith is a divinely-given sight and conviction, given to the spirit.  Love empowers faith and enables grace, so above all, seek to love one-another with love that is generated from the divine presence within you and around you.  Amen.  

 

1.  Colossians 1:27

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Love’s Boundary

wheat818web

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God.”1

Lately I can’t get away from the statement: “love is of God.”  Other translations say love is “from” God. This literally means that all genuine love has it’s origin with God’s Spirit!  If “God is love” and all love is from God, it makes sense that: “everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”  The implications are amazing, one of which is God is present where love is present, and God is absent where love is absent.

As with all spiritual things, the best that words can do is describe love, but they cannot convey what it is.  Love is a characteristic of God, a spiritual dynamic which, to really be understood in any real way, must be revealed, encountered, and experienced within.  I think genuine love is far more radical and shocking than most of us realize.  Let’s look at some scriptures:

  • …When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end  “…You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:1, 13-16 ESV)   Love is servanthood, honoring others above yourself. 
  • “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  (John 13:34-35 ESV)  Loving others as Jesus loved us is obedience to him; therefore love is the hallmark of his disciples.  Jesus’ love included self-humiliation, servanthood, and willingly suffering to speak the Father’s heart.
  • “Brothers, even if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself so that you also aren’t tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:1-2 ESV)  The law of Christ is love, which includes bearing the burdens of others.  These burdens could be guilt, weakness, flaws of all sorts.  HOW we do this is an interesting question; I think it has to do with putting up with others patiently and speaking Truth to them, pointing their awareness to God’s presence, the life of Christ within them.
  • “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.” (Ephesians 5:1-2 KJV)  A “walk” is a lifestyle, a constant pursuit.  To “walk in love” is a crucial part of following God as His son.  The best example of love is Jesus Christ laying down his life as a sacrifice to God for others in life, death, and resurrection. 
  • Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 KJV)  The greatest love is great self-abandonment for the sake of another.  This can take many forms.
  • “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love; being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-2 WEB)  Love puts up with others, valuing peace and unity over being correct or having your own way.
  • “And above all things be earnest in your love among yourselves, for love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)  Similar to this, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 that love “keeps no record of wrongs.”  Love which is of God doesn’t relate to others based on the faults and flawed behavior of their corrupt flesh, but based on the purity and newness of the seed from God within.  That’s what God sees and deals with, so that’s what love sees and speaks to.

The sign of a disciple of Christ is love.  The sign of a disciple of the law is supervision, judgment, and condemnation.  Law is unchangeable, it is and always will be “do this, don’t do that, or be punished.”  It cannot touch the heart, connect with truth, or give LIFE.  Law will always remain outside of the new covenant and new creation which came in Jesus Christ.  I do believe there will be suffering and “wrath” toward those who refuse to follow Christ’s example of love and honor the Father, but I don’t believe in the “eternal conscious torment” idea of hell like many Christians do.

Love is so different than law.  Love’s boundary is the finished work of Christ; it always sees and relates to others based not on their flesh, but the seed of God within them, because in Christ’s one offering for all men, all men died, old things passed away and all things became new.2  (Edit: A few days after publishing this post, I noticed Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:14, which very much corroborate my statement that love is bound by the all-encompassing finished work of Christ.  Here’s what he wrote: “For the love of Christ constrains (literally: “compresses, binds”) us; because we judge thus, that one died for all, therefore all died.”We don’t see the manifestation of that yet, but it’s true!  Speaking law is not speaking Christ, and will only make men be aware of separation from God, which prevents them from coming to him.  Correction is simply pointing people back to God’s spirit/presence/seed within them; even treating them as a new creation, in love, regardless of how they treat you.  Be so so careful then in what you share and speak toward others.  Our words hold great power in the consciousness of others (I may write about that next).

God bless you, until next time.

  1. 1John 4:7 WEB
  2. 2 Corinthians 5:14, 17
 
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Posted by on April 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Servanthood vs. Sonship

 

prodigal son modern

I wrote part of the following on my facebook page recently and it brought about some good discussion and insights.  I’ve mentioned these ideas before, but I think they came out particularly clearly and concisely in this instance.

–   

I believe there are two ways of relating to God: as servants or as sons. The relationship of a servant is one of keeping laws and fearing punishment, but not of receiving reward for obedience.  Law doesn’t give any rewards – it simply waits to punish those who step out of line.

Sons, on the other hand, while they may need to grow and mature, are still considered equals and partners with their Father, being members of His household. They are not under the laws of the servant, so they do not fear punishment or rejection. They love their Father, honor Him, and as they mature they increasingly learn and conform to His heart and ways.  Servants are kept out of the “inner circle” of the family, but sons actually help run their Father’s Kingdom by fulfilling the tasks He gives them, and simply because their nature is as His (in other words, they don’t have to “act” a certain way, they ARE that way)!  Sons cooperate with the Father and inherit all that He has. The relationship of a son is one of freedom, honor, cooperation, peace, and joy.

Although they deeply want to please their Father and further His purposes (Kingdom), sons aren’t even aware of laws – they know they’re accepted and loved members of the family, so with freedom and without fear they live and go about their Father’s business and tasks, enjoying the benefits of being in His household.  Servants, however, are (rightly) very worried about breaking the laws and rules, because strictly obeying them is their entire life and purpose.

LAW CREATES SERVANTS, AND SERVANTHOOD IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE  IMMATURE AND INFERIOR WHEN COMPARED WITH SONSHIP.

Jesus, the firstborn Son, made himself a servant in order to elevate us to sons.  

Now, in saying sons aren’t under the law, which is true, I’m not saying that following the flesh is “ok.” Trying to find the limits of what is ok or not is a servant mentality to begin with.  But it’s true – if you’re following the flesh, you’re not following the spirit.  But remember, “flesh” can be very good, religious and devout.  If you’re walking in the spirit, you’ll naturally be aware of love and freedom, not the self-examination that comes with law-keeping as a means of righteousness.

I know many will ask: “so what about sin?”  I think it’s important to understand that “sin” literally means to “miss the mark,” or to “miss the goal.” For servants, the goal is to keep the law, and therefore sin is a violation of the law’s regulations.  In a very real sense, sin is only able to exist in the presence of law.  Scripture actually says this plainly in multiple ways and places, one of which is in Romans 7: 

Romans 7:8-9 WEB (R): “But sin, finding occasion through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of coveting. For apart from the law, sin is dead. (9) I was alive apart from the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”

I will probably write more about that another time, but for now, I simply want to point out that for sons (male and female), who aren’t under these commandments and laws, there is no “sin” in the usual sense. For a son, the “goal” is conformity to the Father’s nature of love and His corresponding heart/will at the present time. Therefore, whether he realizes it or not, a son can keep law perfectly, can refrain from all outward forms of sin, but still very much “miss the mark” (sin).  Have you known someone who outwardly seems very righteous, but who can be harsh, critical, unloving, and self-focused?  That person is not walking as a son, though they may be seeming to “keep the law.”  Sonship is actually a higher call, harder and more costly in many ways, but also much, much more glorious.

This topic is easily big enough for a book.  While I can’t make anyone “see” these things, I pray these words can be used to open some eyes to a deeper revelation of God and the gospel, and to feed some hungry hearts. Many scriptures testify to these things and highlight the distinction between servants and sons.  But others, it’s true, seem to be directed toward those with a servant mentality.  Perhaps it’s true that scripture speaks to both servants and sons.  I suppose both have a place, but I’d rather be a son, even if it’s harder.

By the way, I am convinced that the scripture which mentions “sinning willfully after receiving a knowledge of the truth” in Hebrews 10 is referring to one who rejects the sacrifice of Christ and the sonship it brings, and instead continues to try to relate to God by what scripture calls the “old” and “obsolete” way of law and self-righteousness. It’s exactly like Paul wrote in Galatians 5:4: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by (literally: “in”) the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

The difference between servanthood and sonship is truly radical.  Galatians 4:4-7 KJV says this:

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

Likewise, Hebrews 10:12-22 KJV says this:

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience (no awareness/consciousness of sin, see Hebrews 10:2), and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Amen…

 

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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