My purpose in life came to me in two dreams. In the first I am talking to a favorite pastor and saying that his job is to inspire the congregation, mine is to connect the dots. As I pondered this dream over a few weeks, I saw that I am to connect 21st century life with the Gospel teachings. The second part came in the middle of the night, something I wrote down and then read the next morning: to make the kingdom real. So, as much as I am able to hear what Jesus is leading me to say and to report it accurately, I am echoing Jesus’ call to follow Him as far as He would take us. How I would put that is this: He would lead us to living in His kingdom here on earth.
The purpose of what I write is not to make you feel bad about yourselves, because you and I are not perfect and not living in the kingdom yet. We’ve already felt that way long enough. The goal for each of us of His teachings is not perfection in following every little dot and tittle of the law. The goal is for us to be so nestled in the arms of God that everything in us that was of the world is healed and transformed and we are so at one with Him that we can’t tell the difference between our will and His. Then everything that we do will align with His will. My whole purpose in writing these blog posts is to echo Jesus’ teachings about how the deep journey into God can be traveled by each of us by following His “still, small voice,” His Indwelling Holy Spirit, wherever He leads us. We are to follow Him, not just believe in Him.
Paul in Acts 17:28 put it this way: “For in Him we live and move and have our existence.” And in Genesis 1:27 it is stated “So God created mankind in His image.” This is the truth—that we already live in God and we are created in His image, but we can’t see it because the truth is buried in us beneath all the world’s rules and aims and our own egos and conditioning. The journey into God’s arms is about shedding all that stands between us and Him until there is nothing left in us but Him.
We are already His, we just don’t know it. We have to give up all our attachments to this world. We already have all that we need to have to be in His arms, but we have to find it within ourselves, in our own souls, in order to bring the Spirit of God forward in our lives until He is leading us in everything we say and do. God is not just “out there,” some huge deity in the sky. He is a part of every part of creation. He is the glue that holds creation together, the infusion of Spirit which keeps it going. The connectedness between all peoples, all life. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and end of all things, including us human beings.
Religion is very helpful in getting us started down this road through beliefs and worship, but it will never take the place of a real, dependent relationship on and with God who is leading us in all we do. Christianity through mankind’s eyes tends to be a watered-down version of the Gospels, a picking and choosing of what we like to follow because that is easier than actually following Jesus into God’s arms.
Jesus’ teachings are ignored to a large extent. Take the example of how we are to be with other people: Jesus hung out with the marginalized of His day; although He was nice to people, He also challenged them, He healed them, He criticized them, but most of all He was with them. How did these teachings get so watered down: “Turn the other cheek?” “go the extra mile?” “give up your cloak as well as your cloak?” Today they seem to apply to only those we like or who are like us. We still sit in judgment; we still don’t treat many different kinds of people like they belong to the one human race made in the image of God.
A few years back I overheard one woman in my church say this proudly, “I love everyone, but I don’t have to like them!” I was shocked, because how can we say we love anyone when we won’t even take the time to get to know them, walk with them a bit in their shoes, treat them like they belong to God, too? Even like them? It’s a great way to stay uninvolved. Or this: Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 5:3] How do we treat the poor and needy? Are they blessed to us? Do we include them in our lives? Do we help them by giving our whole selves or by just handing out a plate of food?
Or “those that mourn, for they will be comforted.” [v.4] Do we bless them with our comfort, our presence, our listening ear? Or do we tell them they should be over the grief by now or just drift away from them because we are uncomfortable with their strong emotion? Yes, God is with them, but where are we? Aren’t we to bring our whole selves to God in love and to love our neighbor as ourselves? [Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28]
Jesus is always talking about loving another, yes, feeding them and giving them drink, clothing them, visiting them when they are sick or in prison, especially in Matthew 25. Do we see Jesus in the other person we are helping? Do we see the Indwelling Spirit in him or her, no matter what they have done with their lives?
Again, I am not talking about our guilt or shame. I am just repeating God’s invitation to us in Jesus’ teachings which go way further than our human minds can imagine into the kingdom of God, the rule of God, the life in God. We can live in the kingdom of God, in full partnership with Him here, if we will give ourselves over to Him 100% in love as Jesus commanded. [e.g. in Luke 10:25-28] Or we can just believe in Him and keep all our attachments to the world’s ways.
As long as we just believe in God and Jesus Christ we can keep Him at arm’s length. As long as we refuse to let Him transform us from the inside out by His leadership in our lives, we will not ever be servants of God. We cannot, because we will not really put ourselves under His authority. We will retain control of our lives.
Here is the formula that I believe works for us as we put more and more of ourselves into God’s hands:
Faith, to me, is
1)Believing in God, Jesus the Christ and the Holy Spirit +
2)Completely trusting in God +
3)Obeying His will, the Spirit of the Law as given us by the “still, small voice” and through his Scriptures +
4)Giving up our own free will in all things.
With our commitment to live this kind of faith, God will make the kingdom happen in our lives.
Questions to ponder over the week: Have I surrendered my whole life to Christ? Am I truly “born again?” Do I hold anything back—that I am aware of—from Jesus’s healing and transformation? Am I on my way to the kingdom of God or just stuck in belief in Him?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who have surrendered all parts of our lives to God—our families and friends, our work, our hobbies, our free time. May we feel the healing and transforming within of our pain and suffering as we follow the Lord. May we be able to love as Jesus loves us.