I’m not sure why some folks make it so complicated.
Take your pick: weird doctrines, “deeper life”, distorted grace, spiritual eroticism, contemplative prayer, existentialism, Christocentricity, higher revelation, mysticism, bizarre “worship”, gold dust, strange “churches”, narcissistic “leaders”, controlling “apostles”, “prophetic” peddlers, and on and on.
Really, what’s the point?
It’s … just … not … that … complicated.
Seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.
Well sure Jim, being transformed from a totally depraved, self centered person dominated by worldly beliefs and values habituated over a lifetime to a person whose every belief, motive, thought, word and deed is brought joyfully into conformity with the perfect Son of God. Nothing to it. 🙂
We make it so complicated, though, and often seek the other stuff as a crutch.
The issue is not being perfect, but how we deal with our imperfections.
Seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
I can handle that.
Maybe not perfectly, but still, I can handle that.
The other stuff, not so much.
Jim, to be clear, I think highly of you as revealed in your writings and salute your efforts to promote our Lord and edify the body of Christ. It is that from within my ministry, life is not so simple.
I do appreciate the idea of simplicity for God’s plan and will is simple. It is the corruption in us and around us that makes life complex. For a relatively healthy person, the idea of simplicity can be helpful. But to the young girl with a dangerous eating disorder I am counseling and her parents who are beside themselves with fear and self blame, or the married man who was molested by his grandfather and is now addicted to porn, or his wife who has stood aghast as all of this has come to light and many more, that kind of simplicity just sounds like judgment and more religion. Their hearts and lives are not simple, at least from the view inside their heads. The corruption inherited from Adam and the chaotic, hurtful environment they have endured has pushed them to internalize chaotic beliefs about self, God and life itself. I know that you understand that there are many, myriads, a plethora of born again babies who have brought tremendous baggage into their Christian life.
I believe the interactive experience of the organic church is a wonderful approach that can help many of these believers overcome their anguish, if the group is for real and if the people could ever have the courage to be truly honest about themselves or if the ones who ministered to them were mature enough to love them through it. So I allow them to interact with me, to tell their story, to express their pain, self doubt and anger with God for allowing them to suffer. When the moment is right, when they have opened up enough to hear it, I remind them over and over that He does love them and wants to heal their hearts. His love is not complex but getting to the place where they can believe that He loves them instead of the lies they have already believed and told themselves 10,000 times, can be a little more of a complex journey.
So, I ask forgiveness if I have missed the spirit of your post and made this discussion something not intended, and especially if I have expressed myself in a critical way, which you truly don’t deserve.
I “simply” believe that the dissolution of the family has complicated the hearts of so many that even after they trust in Christ that their journey to escape the complexity of their lies requires more than trying to walk humbly. And it requires more than attending the weekly Christian concert with a 20 minute positive thinking message (the show) tacked on the end, with everyone smiling, hugging and pretending that they have it all together.
I believe the mandate to become like Christ, to bring every thought into captivity to Christ, to love those who have hurt us, a high calling that I take literally. For those who have trapped themselves in a web of self deceit (all of us to a degree), the journey to maturity can be complex.
Thanks, Al. I DO hear you.
We have devoted significant time and effort to develop the kind of counseling skills that allow us to deal with the very kinds of issues you mentioned. We have learned how to get to those core reality and identity lies very quickly and efficiently, often in just a few counseling sessions (sometimes even less), in ways that allow the Lord to tell them the things they need to hear.
When we tell them, it won’t change their internal reality and beliefs about themselves, the Lord and life. However, when we walk with them to that place of belief, and the associated hurts and pains, and then invite them to hear what the Lord wants to say, He always shows up and supernaturally intervenes.
I’m not saying it’s easy. In fact, it took me years to learn how to do this effectively, and then teach others. But it works! And they then have the freedom to walk humbly with the Lord.
Unfortunately, I can only describe the general idea in a blog or online (see https://crossroadjunction.com/2009/02/13/god-shows-up/). I can’t teach someone online, however, how to walk with folks to their core reality, and then how to let the Lord intervene.
But even in this, after literally hundreds of counseling sessions with literally hundreds of sex abuse survivors, addicts, those struggling with gender confusion, and other people caught up in life controlling issues, we have seen freedom come nearly 100% of the time.
If anyone wants to talk to me about our approach, feel free to email or call me (see our Contacts page). However, please don’t expect us to counsel anyone over the phone! We have found that just doesn’t work. But I do love to talk with others seeking to minister in these areas, and compare notes.
Excellent article about how God transforms our hearts from believing lies, replacing the lies with truth. I also have been given the work of helping Christians enter into God’s cleansing of their hearts. The process you describe is very familiar to me and was given to us by the Spirit. Thanks!
Jim, the problem is the ego. This is why the greatest of Biblical truths ends up as isms. It’s not the content that’s corrupt, but the messenger.
I explain it to students as follows, and I quote from some material I use in my lectures (if you have time to plough through this):
According to the New Testament authors the curse of disunity was broken through the cross of Christ. However, if we limit the problem of disunity (and Christ’s victory over it) to the sphere of relationships, and here I refer not just to relationships of the variety I-Thou and I-You but also of I-It (as Buber famously termed them), then we shall find ourselves severely shortsighted. The curse of disunity and fragmentation is not only a relational one, but also a cognitive one.
Furthermore, both relational and cognitive fragmentation are inseparably linked as they spring from the same root: The knowledge of good and evil as a divine force of ORIGINality and autonomy, legitimately possessed by God and God alone, but stolen by humans, creating the illusion of independence and divinity.
As a force of independence operating in a human being the knowledge of good and evil is biased. Ideas and principles that do not reinforce the independence of the human and serve as extensions of the autonomous ego are resisted. Once the humans became “like God” the main characterising trait of a monotheistic god applied to them, namely the non-tolerance of other gods. This principle is embedded in the first of the Ten Commandments and perfectly legitimate when applied to one, true God. However, as a stolen law for the sake of ego-preservation it becomes a corrupt principle.
In this way the same law, that is, the same knowledge of good and evil, becomes legitimate or corrupt depending on whether man or God applies it. The corruption is evident in humanity in the fact that the resistance of other gods represents the resistance of other systems of knowledge of good and evil. In this way the knowledge of good and evil is a closed and inflexible system. It serves the self and is vehemently and religiously opposed to any notion that threatens to undermine its sovereignty.
Biased cognition is incomplete cognition. It does not recognise the validity of opposing systems of knowledge and exists independently from them. As such it is predisposed to accepting certain facts whilst rejecting others. The obvious result is that information becomes fragmented. Facts may be accepted into the cognitive system but oftentimes apart from other facts or from a broader interpretive context that, when taken into account, would change the meaning of such facts significantly. In this way the unity of the cognitive system is disturbed. Vital connections between facts cannot be made and so the Gestalt becomes obscured. Facts can no longer be interpreted in the light of other facts if the latter is not allowed into the cognitive system as a result of some or other bias.
The disunity and disjointedness that characterise and undermine this type of cognition is nothing but a striking representation of the Biblical maxim that “he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” The ultimate interpretive Gestalt that provides meaning and sense to all the bits and pieces of information confronting humanity on planet earth is therefore to be found in the revelation that came to the world through Jesus Christ. He is the eternal logos who became flesh and the light of the world. Without him things do not hold together.
The knowledge of good and evil, therefore, functions like a cognitive filter that resists any picture bigger than that allowed by the ego. Imagine trying to read a novel of which all the pages not containing the main character’s name has been torn out. Whilst clearly serving as some sort of tribute to the hero in the story, the fragmented book will no longer convey the message intended by the author. Such is the fragmented way in which we view the world if we do so from an egotistical perspective.
A striking illustration in this regard comes from the pen of G.K. Chesterton. Our experience in this world can be likened to that of a sailor awakening from a deep sleep on a desert island, he says. Around him the sailor finds treasure strewn about, remnants from a time and place he can barely remember. One by one he studies them and tries to discern their meaning: Gold coins, fine clothing, a compass and so on. But to no avail. Whilst the good things on earth still bear traces of their original purpose, they are subject to misinterpretation because of fallen, amnesiac, human nature. The Big Picture is missing.
Whilst the following statement sounds dangerously close to what you have been arguing against recently, it is not intended like that at all: We were never intended to know (or discern between) good and evil. We were intended to know Christ, and that knowledge cannot be gained without losing your life AND its mind. He is the fullness and wholeness, and that fullness is objectively preserved in Scripture, so it has no mystical, existentialist or relativistic undertones. If we do not first know him, then all efforts at spiritual or theological knowledge will be self serving, fragmented and ego-biased, and it will manifest as the type of thing you have passionately argued against time and again in this blog. Then you impose your sensibilities on the gathering of the saints as the measure and standard by which to do “ekklesia”, then you make waves of doctrine, get caught up in “weird stuff” etc, etc.
If you got this far, congratulations. Hope I didn’t bore you. And thanks for your consistent prophetic voice.
Toby, I’ll need to read this a couple of times AFTER I get a cup or two of coffee in me! So hold that thought, and I’ll be back…
Might need to sleep on all that amazing information that was far from boring for this non- academic person 😉 My brain is still boggling and it’s almost 1am here in Aussieland. Been there and seen the gold-dust lady here – in person – funny – I couldn’t really see the gold dust. My theory was that she may have had some fine glitter in her notes
Right on! The whole verse says a bit more with a focus on what God requires:
Micah 6:8(NET) He has told you, O man, what is good, and what the LORD really wants from you: He wants you to promote justice, to be faithful, and to live obediently before your God.
What he REALLY wants…the answer to the legalism and works mentality that pervades many churches.
I am awed by your list of complications! “weird doctrines, “deeper life”, distorted grace, spiritual eroticism, contemplative prayer, existentialism, Christocentricity, higher revelation, mysticism, bizarre “worship”, gold dust, strange “churches”, narcissistic “leaders”, controlling “apostles”, “prophetic” peddlers”.
I get the general idea but some are new to me…especially I’d like someone to explain mysticism…not too sure what that actually is and thus why it is bad…and gold dust…I can’t recall any scripture reference for it…is that left around by pixies?
Incidentally, I find your focus lines up with my own love of Scripture. I hope to release my next Revisiting Scripture E-book within a day or two…on the nature of God, Sin, and Salvation.
Tom, I love the fact that you have not been exposed to all this crazy stuff. That’s to your credit! I look forward to your second book.
Since you noticed the reference, the second book, “Revisiting Scripture: God, Sin & Salvation” is now up on Kindle. Also if any of your readers are interested, the first part, “Revisiting Scripture: Assumptions” is going to be FREE on Kindle for 5 days beginning Wednesday Jan. 23rd. My marketing sites all say getting (good) reviews is critical to gaining exposure, and so far I have none…good, bad, or ugly! So someone tell me what you think!
Hi Jim, yes I think it is true that God is very simple and we people make things complicated mostly because we want to hang on to the darkness in us not welcoming the truth. I think we also over rate ‘being intelligent’ to the effect that if something is simple we reject it because it doesn’t sound’ intelligent’ (=complicated)
Matthew 5:37 New International Version 1984 Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Many like politicians who have a second hidden agenda we often can not give a straight answer because of sin or darkness or ignorance in our lives.