It’s not a coincidence that some of the larger and more hideous orcs in The Lord of the Rings movie are depicted with ugly tumours on their bodies. As sons and daughters of God our life is found in the fellowship of God. One with Him we are who we are in spirit and life. Our fullness as humans is real to the extent that Jesus is our life. This is not difficult or the result of striving. But it is the result of agreeing with God that He has incarnated Himself in our being by the Spirit of Sonship.
‘You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified’ Gal 3.1 NIV.
It disturbs me that there are evangelists and their helpers who promote another gospel consisting of regressive teaching that draws people away from where God has placed them in Himself. In teaching this non-gospel they think they are doing the work of God and the people a favour. Really they are binding them in the captivity from which Jesus has already set them free. Smug in their presumed monopoly on truth and not impeded by humility they present their non-gospel as if it is a treasure in a field. In reality it is the body of death.
These harbingers of death vitiate the cross, leech away the reality of the atonement, reduce holy spirit to a concept and make themselves incompetent as ministers of the new covenant by reverting to the law, to Moses and inadvertently to Adam and his position in the knowledge of good and evil. They promote a gospel of non-life as though it is the life of God. The tragedy of these folks is that they believe it is the truth. They teach divine rest for human restlessness in the Sabbath when this rest and peace can only be found in the person of Jesus.
‘See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ’ Col 2.8 NIV.
In this hour there are delusions taught as the gospel of the Kingdom. Separated from Him or misinformed about Him we live in distortion ourselves. Cancer is a physical distortion of the parts and organs of the body. Distortions in our knowledge of God and what He has done in Jesus debilitate and distort our humanity in the same way as a cancer distorts our body. Bad doctrine distorts the body of Christ and brings spiritual deformity on those for whom He lives to make whole.
TREE OF LIFE
I was looking at a tree with a pleasant trunk today. Our street is lined with beautiful trees. The lawns, gardens and nature strips beside the road make our location almost park like. Our Lord really did place us in favour by leading us here. We've been here for over 20 years. We walk around the block a lot. For exercise. It's a one kilometer stroll which we try to do at a brisk pace to enhance our circulation, muscle tone and peace of mind. We pray at times as we circumnavigate and intercede for those who come to mind. But the tree..
Its trunk had a pleasantly textured, rounded look inviting a hug if you are so minded. Tree huggers. I cant remember ever hugging one myself. Huggers can evoke empathy, amusement or scorn. Depending maybe on whether our heart is flesh or wood. There's something life-harboring, life-giving about a good tree. Kids naturally like to sit in them and lovers picnic under them. Then there's the tree of life and the tree that became the cross - the latter being the tree of the knowledge of good and evil with its disguise ripped off. But Jesus turned its stark barbarity into a tree of life.
There are those who have a great sensitivity to nature and its many expressions of life. Often not religious in the formal sense, they sense the Spirit of God in the natural creation even while denying His existence. Don't dismiss those who may be more sensitive to the spirit of life than we are. Could it be that due to our acculturation in an industrial/technological society we are far less sensitive, less human, more barbaric in our normal outlook than we imagine. Might it be that because of our immersion in the world of things, we see ourselves as a thing and have lost sensitivity to both our own humanity and the glory of individual organisms like trees? Ok. You get my drift.
John Powell wrote a book entitled, 'Fully Human, Fully Alive.' It's not difficult to take pride in our view of ourselves as a practical, no nonsense person who envisions an economy rather than a society. The idea that people are happy because they consume is a myth. People may satisfied when they have enough to eat but we were born to do more than forage like a sheep. If surviving is focus of your life, I'm sorry for you. You were created to flourish and you are more than an intelligent animal.
FAITH IN EGYPT
Where is our faith? Is our realist no-nonsense attitude to the economic system in which we have come to place our security a faith in a projection of ourselves, a faith in the status quo as a quasi-deity? Such a faith can have more to do with ignorance, personal selfishness, a clinging to what we have and a resistance to vision than it does to a love of humanity or genuine Godliness. Are we aware of the extent to which our real humanity has been extracted from us; that we have accommodated ourselves to the husk-life that remains and call this our life?
Any genuinely Godly person will love the creation. Why? Because God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. If His Son is in you, you will love others and the creation. You will not rob the creation of life and call it investment. You will not pollute the earth. You will steward the creation and multiply life.
Jesus is in the game of transforming that which is wooden, broken and dead to that which is alive. He gives fearful and self-absorbed people vision. He gives life to all freely. It's His new and living way; a way that contrasts with the world and the flesh because it is the Spirit. This is the Spirit of God, also known as the Spirit of Sonship. It is both the Spirit of the Son of Man and the Spirit of our Father, the Spirit of Life in you. When it is flowing from you it is called the new creation.
NEW AND LIVING WAY
Coming back to our starting point. Ideas can be stultifying or liberating. If we are tied to the law there is no way we can be fully human, fully alive or spiritual. Law-mongering is religious, never spiritual. It immunizes the spirit against light and truth, dulls the soul and makes us less human than we would have been had we just plain and simple asked Jesus to be our life.
THE WAY IS JESUS FROM FIRST TO LAST
There is nothing more life-giving and liberating that right ideas about God. Knowing God as He is and who you are in relation to Him in an accurate way determines if we will delay the new creation or speed it on its way. Jeff Turner writes of a way that appears to be right that ends in death.
‘This "way" that "appears to be right" does not necessarily refer to sin, immorality or general godlessness, but to any natural inclination of man towards God that is inaccurate and therefore leads to death.
On our own we tend to perceive Him in the context of our own sense of shame, fear and anxiety, and always in light of our religious upbringing. No one is ever - no, not even those who fancy themselves theological giants - simply beholding an untouched, factory fresh portrait of God. Though done in ignorance, we are almost always following the crooked trails blazed by those who preceded us. As this process continues over time, we eventually end up believing in and serving a "God" who looks nothing like the true and living God who is the Father of all.’
Some of the most limiting, stultifying, stagnating, life robbing, Christ-diminishing, life- denying ideas in the Body of Christ are:
Living in the old covenant. Diluting the new covenant with the old. Denying the new covenant. Legalism. Treating the Sabbath as a Messiah. Living in the law instead of the Spirit. Clinging to one aspect of the law that places us under the curse of all of the law. Ignoring Spirit baptism and anointing. Ignoring Christ's command not to leave our Jerusalem’s until we have received the Holy Spirit. Settling for a gospel of talk rather than power. Living from Jesus' stuff rather than living from Him. Consuming religion instead of eating Christ. Pirating the treasures of His kingdom to build a ministry. Gathering around the idol of the church. Attempting to gain life from human mediators. Attempting to find life by reconfiguring the church instead of making Jesus our life.
To live from the world system and tout is reasonableness is to be an orphan. To live in the Father through Jesus His Son is to live in God. It is to be a son. To see life and be sensitive to life we must live in life. Thankfully 'life' is a person. The words son of man refer to the fact that the Son of God is a human being; that the human face of God is Jesus; that this Jesus lives in you to fill you with the spirit of God and the spirit of humanity - the latter meaning that we are more human, more sensitive to each other and to all life when we are sons of God.
There is a tree of life. It's Jesus who died on the tree of good and evil. He transformed it into the tree of life. You can eat the fruit of this vine and live forever. By believing you become a branch of this tree and bear its fruit. You start emitting life right away. No one has to be ignorant, boorish, self-congratulatory and entitled. Outside of Jesus we are all entitled to die. With Him as our life we are entitled to be fully human and fully alive.