Heaven Bound or Earth-bound?

Jun 15, 2020

Human beings “are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.”[1] Franklin Delano Roosevelt is speaking of the unfree condition of our minds and ourselves if we do not change the way we think about ourselves and others. I am afraid it is true that we treat others just like we treat ourselves. Until we are able to separate ourselves from the values of our family and culture, for the limitations imposed by so many religious beliefs and attach ourselves to God Himself through Jesus Christ, we are prisoners of our own self-image, of what our culture says are our norms and what our church or religion wants of us, as opposed to what God is asking of us. Only in God is there the freedom to be ourselves, exactly as He created us to be.

 

Recently I am so aware of the limitations I put on myself, especially the feeling that someone is always judging me, watching me for anything I do that is wrong, noting all the things I don’t do well or like everyone else. Somewhere, deep in my childhood I adopted these judgments about myself and I am still controlled by them. I am still trying to make up for my own great faults—as I see them. I am lifting this all up to God, because I can see how unfree I am, how beholden I am to my opinion of what others think about me–whether they do negatively or not, I don’t know. I only know about the pressure inside me to be like everyone else.

 

And yet, am I not made in the image of God as every other human being is? Am I not a child of God who listens for God’s word in me and does my best to follow what He suggests? And haven’t I let go of so much of what I was taught was the right way to be in my family, in my schools, in society in general? So why is it so hard to give up all these unnecessary constraints and to live the life God designed for me, for us?

 

If we are followers of Jesus Christ, we live in two realities—1)His teachings that lead us to the kingdom of God here on earth and 2)our very human condition shaped by our families and the culture we live in. Like the cross there is a vertical axis that leads to the kingdom and the horizontal axis that would keep us earth-bound. That means in everything we have a choice of which axis we will choose to live on. And, in my experience, only Christ can prepare you to live on the vertical one, to live in the kingdom. We don’t know how to challenge ourselves away from all the earthly cares. We don’t know how to negotiate these troubled waters in order to follow Jesus. He, alone, can calm the troubled seas within. He, alone, can stop the storms in our lives and keep us in His peace.

 

I think it is the isolation brought on by the Coronavirus that is stimulating all this thinking and turmoil. We are finally quiet enough to confront these tendencies to go along with the crowd. Finally, we have the time and the space to see what our choices bring us. We can see so much more clearly than when we were racing around, thoughtlessly, to the rhythm of modern 21st century life. And so there is Christ, God and the Holy Spirit highlighting our own internal condition when we finally are quiet enough to hear what He is saying to us: ”You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”[2] “Do not be anxious about anything…present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”[3]”Do not judge or you too will be judged.”[4]

 

If we are followers of Christ, seeking to live in His mind, then we will follow His teachings, not just the ones we like, but all the teachings, because, in the sum total of them, there is a prescription for how we are to live as His followers.

 

We should feel confronted, too, by what He says, “Turn the other cheek.”[Matthew 5:38] “Go the extra mile.”[Matthew 5:41] “No one can serve two masters.”{Matthew 6:24] It is no easy thing for us to be His followers and to continually grow in our faith and experience of the Living Christ. It takes a giving up, a willingness to surrender all the things we learned about ourselves and others in our culture, in order to live on the vertical axis where we live in the mind of Christ.

 

In order to become His disciples, we must most of all listen to the Indwelling Spirit of God who would lead us in everything we do and in how we think of ourselves and others. Are we listening to the Spirit of God? at home? At work? in our leisure time? with family and friends? In every aspect of our lives? For that is what putting ourselves wholly in His hands means.
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Questions to ponder over the week:  Am I kingdom bound or earth-bound? In which direction do my energies, my thoughts, my emotions go? Which issue keeps bringing me back to earth? Is God first in my life? Do I live in gratitude for the life I have? Or do I keeping trying to direct my life as I want? What is my greatest priority?

 

Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who are no long earth-bound. May we follow Jesus into the kingdom of God here on earth. May we put God first in everything.

 

If you’d like to receive my blog five days a week in your email, go to patsaidadams.com/by-the-waters-blog/. There is a gift waiting for you.

 

Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts 2x a month. 5.11.20s is entitled, “God in my mind.”

 

I do want to apologize to those who are seeking to befriend me, I just don’t have time to answer your comments. I am so sorry.

 

[1] https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/franklin_d_roosevelt_130048

 

[2] John 8:32

[3] Philippians 4:7

[4] Matthew 7:1-6

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