So much of our “theology” (and we all have “theology”!) is forged these days by hurts.
The Bible has been used as a club to beat us into conformity, so we reject its plenary authority.
Our need for mercy has been abused, so we latch onto a concept of grace that excludes the Lord’s occasional rebuke and discipline.
We have suffered from authoritarian leadership or a controlling church, so we become autonomous and discount the need for healthy, accountable community.
We realize that some pet doctrines were wrong, so we seek a purely existential Jesus and cringe at objective truth.
In doing so, we are reacting to hurts, wrongs and mistakes – rather than embracing life.
In our fellowships, we have found that wholeness and freedom comes from a two step process: We must fully expose our hurts to the Lord, and then explicitly offer to turn them – and the associated beliefs our hurts have caused us to hold about ourselves, the Lord and others – over to Him.
This involves confession, and often even forgiveness (both giving and receiving).
Only when we take possession of our hurts – by fully and transparently owning up to them as we expose them to the Lord – can we then release them to Jesus.
Sometimes, those hurts are rooted in wrongs committed against us, or in wrongs we have committed, and turning releasing those hurts to Him means also forgiving our offenders before God, or seeking and experiencing His forgiveness towards us.
When we are do this, we truly repent – because He then changes the way we think, believe and perceive by giving something wonderful in return – wholeness and freedom!
In that wholeness and freedom, we finally start to know His fulness and can embrace all that He’s provided for us to find authentic life in Him.
The choice is always ours.
Bondage or freedom?
Hurt or life?
Us and our “stuff”, or Christ and His magnificence?
Thanks Jim. Some time ago I became convicted of this very issue. It was a painful and humbling experience to see how much of my dearly held theology was the product of deep emotional pain. What better way to insulate ourselves against further torture than to use God’s Word (selectively) as an armor of sorts? The problem with this is that it reduces the majestic Christ of the Scriptures to a type of personal apologist, and so quite naturally into an image of our own making. I suspect the serpent always makes us feel cheated in some or other way before introducing us to another Jesus.
The experience prompted me to revisited a field that I had been mildly interested in years ago: The psychology of defense and survival, and in particular the phenomenon of combat neurosis. I was amazed to discover what happens in a threatened brain, and how existing perceptions and even bodily functions make way for a concentrated focus that demands total subservience of all else for the sake of constructing defense mechanisms. Obviously, when the threat persists (such as in war) the brain may adopt this state of hyper-alertedness as its default setting, and that is where the neurosis comes in. That’s when we leave the war, but the war stubbornly refuses to leave us.
These insights helped me to understand why certain theological responses were quite legitimate during times of threat but wholly inappropriate as a basis for doctrine, discipleship and especially for the healthy functioning of the Ekklesia. I realised that what psychologists call “reaction formation” is what we (oftentimes) call “church planting”. And I found an answer to a question that had haunted me for years: Why do denominations “get it” in one area and are so totally oblivious in others? (I have elaborated on the above in a blog post called The Illusion of Assault, if you or anyone else is interested. I’d be glad to forward the link.)
Thanks again, Jim. Your post has prophetic significance.
It is all about surrender to Him and to His will.
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