The more I study the Law of Moses, the more I see how eerily similar this system is to jolly old Saint Nick with his bag full of toys and coal.
Both systems have one striking similarity.
In order to qualify for the goodies, you have to be obedient to a moral standard.
I grew up with a very dark and twisted view of God. I knew Jesus died for my sins and loved me, but I felt like God was constantly disappointed with me since I never seemed to avoid sin for more than a week. To me, God was like Santa Claus. If I prayed enough, fasted enough, and lived holy enough, I could expect God to be jolly and give me goodies in my spiritual stocking. If I was bad, and neglected those things, I expected God to give me spiritual coal.
Eventually, I grew quite disgusted with my perception of God who appeared to be a moral monster that was only satisfied with me when I was operating in perfect behavior and absolute obedience.
Is this really who God is?
I found out later that our view of God will be greatly or even completely determined by which covenant we choose to identify with most. Either the New Covenant, or the Old Covenant.
The Old Covenant, or “The Law Of Moses” was known as a “Kinship Covenant.”
Kinship Covenant -A covenant when two equal parties came together, as in a marriage. Each party took on a small list of obligations in the covenant. This type of covenant had a small set of obligations and was very evenly divided between the two parties. A kinship covenant was also referred to as a parity covenant. 1
In the Law Of Moses, the terms where the 10 commandments.
If the Israelites perfectly obeyed the 10 commandments, they would receive blessings such as blessed produce, storehouses, livestock, land, offspring of their flocks, defeated enemies etc. (See Deuteronomy 28:1-14)
If they disobeyed the 10 commandments, look out! Their produce, storehouses, livestock, land, offspring, and flocks would be cursed, and their enemies would defeat them.
In addition, God would send confusion and rebuke until they were destroyed. God would make a plague cling to them and until they were consumed. God would strike them with fever, inflammation, sever burning fever, and with sword and scorching.
It sounds like those horrible side effects we hear on prescription drug commercials.
Wait, it gets worse.
God would change the rain of their land to powder and dust until they were destroyed. Their carcasses would be food for the birds of the air that nobody could frighten away. God would strike them with boils of Egypt, tumors, scabs, itchiness which cannot be healed, and with blindness and confusion of heart.
The list of curses is much larger than the blessings, and I only quoted a small portion of them. See Deuteronomy 28:15-68.
I would take a whole bag, no, 100 bags full of coal from Kris Kringle any day of the week over those awful curses!
But what about the New Covenant?
Has anything changed? Is God still blessing us for obedience and cursing us for disobedience?
The short answer is, no.
The New Covenant is known as a “Grant Covenant.”
Grant Covenant – A covenant when a greater and lesser person came into covenant, and the greater one took on all of the obligations. The lesser one only needed to receive the covenant. 1
The Old Covenant was all about what we did for God, the New Covenant is all about what God did for us.
The Old Covenant did not reflect God’s heart. God did not want to bless man based upon his good or bad works, which is why He called for a new and better covenant where the blessing is not based upon our obedience, so we can’t mess it up, and God can continually bless us through simply believing in His Son Jesus Christ.
When Jesus announced the New Covenant at the last supper, He did not include an “unless you mess up” clause.
“In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” Luke 22:20
Hebrews 8:6 describes the New Covenant as a “Better” covenant established on “Better promises.”
Here are a few of those better promises of the New Covenant, and the way the Scriptures say we receive them. If you get time, go read the scriptures I quote, and you tell me if the emphasis is on faith, or works, to obtain these promises.
Promise: The Holy Spirit
Receive by: Faith
Received by: Faith
Promise: Eternal Life
Received by: Faith
Promise: Forgiveness of Sins
Received by: Faith
Received by: Faith
Received by: Faith
I can already hear those who object to the New Covenant saying “But what about good works, holiness, and obedience? Are you saying it’s ok to sin all you want, not do good works, and be disobedient to God because we are under a New Covenant?”
The good news is I don’t have to answer that question, because the Apostle Paul and James already settled this common misconception.
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer in it?” Romans 6:1-2
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17
The New Covenant reality is that we deserved coal in our stockings, but Jesus chose to fill them with incredible gifts and New Covenant blessings instead, despite our bad behavior, just because He loves us.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Now we should simply say thank you, receive the New Covenant promises by faith, and enjoy them!
Remember, in a Grant Covenant, which is what the New Covenant is, we are to simply receive the covenant blessings with no obligation to keep the blessings through obeying a set of terms, that’s Old Covenant thinking.
Of course we avoid sin, we do good works, we love people, but those things don’t qualify us for righteousness, sonship, forgiveness of sin, eternal life, and the Holy Spirit, believing in Jesus Christ does. They are gifts to be received by childlike faith, not toys to be earned through being a good little boy or girl all year.
I spent many years filtering God through the lens of the Old Covenant, and it greatly distorted my view of God and hindered my relationship with Him. Once I understood that God relates to man by covenant, and God now relates to man through the New and Better Covenant, my relationship with God was restored.
What would our lives, our families, and the church as a whole look like, if we could all relate to God through the lens of the New and Better Covenant, and abandon our Old Covenant filter that misrepresents the true character of God that was finally expressed through the shed blood of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the New Covenant based on simple faith?
Written by: Jordan Hardgrave
1 “Understanding The Whole Bible”. Page 164;165. -Jonathan Welton
For more information on Kinship Covenants please read “Kinship By Covenant” by Scott W. Hahn (Link Below)
Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with some dear friends who really needed some encouragement. Many years ago they went through a tragedy in the family, and ever since, they’ve been up and down – mostly down – and their focus has been mainly on the second coming of Jesus. I know, you might be wondering how that can become a focus for some Christians as a method of grieving, but to them, the second coming is the hope they hold onto as they wait for the day they can finally be reunited with their passed, loved one. They look forward to the moment when Jesus will appear in the clouds and take them to heaven, but while they wait, their hope in Christ – that’s supposed to bring freedom to their souls – only brings periodic torment and moments of confusion.
Now, I can understand why they might look forward to the second coming of the Lord as their source of hope, because it means all of the weight of grief they’re experiencing will be lifted and they will finally see the kingdom of God. But you see, even though I may understand why they think this future event of Jesus coming back with His kingdom is good and right to believe in, to be frank, I just don’t believe it myself. I can’t believe something in a way that brings confusion and torment to my heart. Yes, I believe Jesus is coming back, but if He’s returning because what He did the first time around wasn’t enough to set me free, and now I need Him to come back before I can live in freedom, then I must not understand what His first coming was all about – I must be missing something that happened in the past.
So, as I’m chatting with my friends about general stuff, I find an opportunity to share with them the freedom I’ve come to experience that simply came from understanding more about what Christ came to do during His first coming. You see, Jesus didn’t just come to be a lamb slaughtered during Easter in order to forgive us of our sins, and then rise again so He can leave us with just enough grace to last 2000 years until He returns with His whole kingdom in tow – no, He actually came as the King, born with parents whose lineage is royal, had His birth announced by the angelic servants of the kingdom He rules over, and He was given royal gifts by distinguished foreigners who were astrologers in the order of Daniel the prophet – the same prophet who interpreted a dream hundreds of years earlier, predicting the coming of Jesus the King and His kingdom.
What I wanted my friends to understand is that the kingdom came to earth when Jesus came the first time around – that they could experience the righteousness, the peace and the joy of the kingdom in the Holy Spirit of God now, even in the middle of their grief. We need to understand that the fullness of the kingdom and all of the glory of heaven has arrived on earth already and is totally accessible by anyone who choses to engage with its reality by faith. With people like my friends – who have been taught stuff about the second coming that undermine the achievements of Jesus during His first coming – when I bring up the dream of the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar that the prophet Daniel interpreted – you know, the one about the statue with a gold head and legs of iron – they will immediately recall the misguided teaching that says it prophesies of the future kingdom; the kingdom of God that’s yet to descend from heaven, and this is where we get confused and tormented about the hope we’re supposed to have in Christ.
As this is the last blog of the year this website will post before Christmas day, I want to share with you how that dream that King Neb had was not only a vision of the coming kingdom of God, but that it predicted its arrival to happen on Christmas day. To give a little historical context, approximately 595 years before before Christ, Babylon invaded Judah – the tribe of Israel who are known as the Jews – and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem, taking captive many of the Jewish people. Of these Jews was a man named Daniel. During his time in Babylonian captivity, Daniel had the opportunity to minister as a prophet of God and in one instance, he interpreted the king’s dream of a huge statue that had a gold head, arms and chest of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron and ten-toed feet made partly of iron and partly of baked clay, with the dream ending with a rock cut out with no human hands, smashing all five parts of the statue to smithereens and then growing from a rock to a huge mountain filling the whole earth. After a quick reading of Daniel chapter 2 verses 36-45, you’ll find that the metal parts of the statue represent five earthly kingdoms, and then if you do a quick google search of the meaning to these verses, you’ll find a unanimous agreement as to the identity of the first four historical kingdoms – the gold was the Babylonian empire, the silver was the Medo-Persian empire, the bronze was Grecian empire and the iron was the Roman empire.
While I’m talking about this with my friends, they ask me about the fifth kingdom, and whether or not I believe the statue’s feet with ten toes represents a future globalist kingdom, that according to a lot of people, looks ready to emerge any year now. I suppose with the current conspiratorial threat of a new world order, theory or not, many Christians who don’t walk in the hope and reality of heaven on earth agree with the idea that things are getting worse and that this growing darkness is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. My friends are of that number of believers who have allowed this prophetic dream to be only part-fulfilled in their mind and are waiting for the scary emergence of a world-wide empire ruled by the Antichrist. The reason this belief causes their hope in Christ to be periodically put into confusion, is the part of the dream that follows the fifth kingdom. You see, during the fifth kingdom with ten toes representing ten kings of a divided empire, God will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed; a kingdom that obliterates all of the other kingdoms leaving their memory to blow away into nothing.
Did you notice what some Christians believe? If the fifth kingdom in the dream is indeed in our future, and God sets up His kingdom after it arises, that means the kingdom of God isn’t here now and therefore we shouldn’t expect the nature of heaven to show up in our daily lives, let alone in the affairs of the nations. If this is the true meaning of the dream, that only after the evil empire of ten ruling houses arises, God will finally establish His kingdom on earth, then I can understand why the grief of loss became too much for my friends to overcome. To them, a theological misinterpretation of Daniel chapter 2 has added to the confusion in their minds concerning the nature of God and their purpose on earth. As Christians, we’re called to be the light of the world, in other words, we’re supposed to carry the reality of heaven in our spirit and release it on earth, advancing the kingdom of God forward.
Here’s the point: the ten toed kingdom isn’t in our future, it was in our past, and to be precise, it was in full swing when the first Christmas happened. You see, when you read in the bible about Jesus fulfilling the prophecy of being born in Bethlehem, the reason Mary and Joseph had to travel there while she was full-term in her pregnancy was because Caesar Augustus called for a national census and that was the town where Joseph hailed from. That particular Caesar is known historically to have split up the Roman empire into ten provinces in order to maintain order due to their widespread dominion. It was during the time of those provincial kings that God set up His kingdom. In the dream, the thing that brought down the statue was a rock cut out without hands. This earthly element formed by unseen, divine hands was a prophetic picture of Jesus, conceived by the Spirit and born in human flesh.
Once I had gone through all the details of the dream with my friends, it was this next point that I wanted them to understand the most, and that is, when God put on flesh in the form of a man – the very second He was born on Christmas Day – the kingdom came to earth. The kingdom was inside of Him and everything He did on earth was a manifestation of heaven. So when Jesus began His ministry and went about preaching the good news of the kingdom, healing the sick, casting out demons and raising people from the dead, this wasn’t just to prove He was God, it was to demonstrate what the kingdom is like, what it’s like to live in the domain of the king and to dwell under His rulership. In the kingdom of God, people aren’t sick, oppressed by evil spirits or dead, instead people are free, they’re healthy, of sound mind and alive. During the first coming of Jesus, He revealed the reality of heaven in a tangible way that was destined to be accessible by all who believe in Him by faith. You see, the bible says that although Jesus was 100% God, by choice He emptied Himself and operated on earth 100% as a human, fully relying on God as we are called to rely on God.
The point of His first coming was to show us how to live as normal human beings, fully connected to God in relationship, hosting the reality of heaven and sharing the treasures of His kingdom with everyone, every day of our lives. You see, I’m not waiting for Jesus to come back in the future with His kingdom following behind so that I can finally experience heaven, because I know I can live in His kingdom today. It’s the reality of heaven’s freedom that enables me to have supernatural hope, unwavering faith and to know the surpassing love of God. My friends wondered why they couldn’t see the kingdom as I could – they questioned how the kingdom could be here already while the world seems so dark. I told them that the kingdom is within us to begin with, and it’s up to us to see the kingdom in our hearts and minds, so that by faith we can make it a reality. I suppose if I thought the kingdom was only going to arrive after the world falls apart, I probably wouldn’t have much hope either.
So this Christmas, remember the first coming of Jesus and begin to see the reality He demonstrated as being the reality God wants us to release into the earth. Should we be celebrating the downfall of society as a sign of Jesus’ second coming, or should we be celebrating the increase of His kingdom that’s been growing for 2000 years so far? – the kingdom that will continue to grow with no end as more and more people of faith believe in a future where earth looks like heaven and by that same faith take action to make it a reality. To me, Christmas is about the birth of a kingdom as much as the birth of its King.
As I left my friends that night, they took in what I had told them. They said that what I shared made a lot of sense, because they really do believe in the kingdom and they walk in its supernatural power with God. However, the thing they told me that spoke to them the most about what I shared, wasn’t the information alone, but it was the fact that they could see the freedom of the kingdom in my life. I believe the grief they currently suffer is lifting off their life as they partner with the purpose of advancing the kingdom of God in their lives.
Written by: Drew Fraser
Wait a second, we have been forgiven of all our sin and the Bible tells us to “love the sinner, but hate the sin,” right? Well of course, so why do you say that “Christians love sin?” Let me start off by saying that the Bible actually does not have a verse in it that says to “love the sinner but hate the sin.” St. Augustine has a quote that is similar, but not exactly that; and Gandhi quotes this, but it is actually not in this context. It’s funny, so much of what we hear and see in the world becomes gospel because many of us haven’t actually studied these things out for ourselves. But I digress, on to the point.
Before I became a Christian I was a wild and crazy sinner. The way I lived my life, I knew I was wrong for much of it, but I did “what seemed right to a man” (Proverbs 14:12) and darkness and destruction was the result. By the time I was 31 years old I was on the ground begging God to forgive me and help me change. Something supernatural happened, the presence of God came into my house that night and I was forever changed. I knew that Jesus Christ was Lord. I knew that He loved me at my worst. I knew that I was forgiven. The best part of all for me, was that I knew that I was a new creation. I listened to an audio bible that I had, day and night for several weeks before I stepped foot in a church. I was so happy to know God, all I wanted was to do work for the Kingdom and tell people about Jesus.
Sin was the last thing on my mind. But then I found myself around Christians.
I remember it clear as day, I was excitedly talking to an older man and telling him about my conversion and about all the awesome things God was doing in my life. He was happy for me, but I remember like yesterday, he said “you’ll come back to reality soon.” It was such a hit to my joy. What do you mean I will come back to reality soon? Well, after finding a church and getting around a bunch of men who had been Christians for much longer than me, I quickly found out what he was talking about. So many of these guys “struggle with sin” and many of them looked at me as weird when I told them I no longer did. That I was a saint, and I am free from sin. That I wasn’t perfect but God isn’t focused on my sin, so why should I be? I just wanted to know Him and His will for my life, I don’t have time to even think about sin and even when I do, I thank Him for His forgiveness and I move on. I remember some old guy getting absolutely MAD at the things I was saying. “What are you saying, you are perfect and not a sinner?” The Bible says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) The verse he read is in the bible, albeit he was using this verse in a way that is out of context. John isn’t saying we will always have sin, he is making the point that if we see no need for salvation, for the blood of Jesus, because we have never sinned- than we are deceiving ourselves.
The simple fact that I believed the good news, that I was a new creation in Christ, that I had been set free from sin and had become a slave of righteousness, that I was hidden in Christ, that I was predestined to be holy and blameless and above reproach. All of these statements come from the same Bible that this man was reading, but because of what he had learned his whole life and his experience, because it didn’t measure up to what he believed the Bible says and his experience, he found a verse in the same Bible that basically gives him excuse to settle where he was at and to believe the lie that he was still a sinner. So many denominations and streams in the Body of Christ, because of their systematic view of God and humanity and their experience have caused them to believe the lie that we are still sinners. When I read the New Testament, I see that Paul writes to the saints. He never once writes to the sinners. And though sometimes when he is writing a letter to them, it is to correct some of the things they are teaching and/or doing, such as sinning, but he doesn’t say they are no longer saints. He goes out of his way to remind them of what Jesus Christ has done for them. He reminds them that they are clean, so why would they live as though they are still dirty?
Being a Christian doesn’t mean we are perfect, we worship the one who is. And because of all that Jesus Christ did by living as a man, dying on the cross and raising from the dead, we have been made new creations. I believe this is what we should be focusing on. The fact that we are new creations and that Jesus Christ has made a covenant that we take part in by faith. If at our absolute worst Christ was willing to die for us… why do we still focus so much on sin rather than focusing on the fact we are made new?
Jesus says “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.” (Matthew 12: 33) Do you see what I see? He tells us to “make the tree good… and its fruit will be good.” In other words, when we focus on the fruit, whether it is good or bad… we judge them according to what we see, we are told to live by faith and not by sight. I believe we should be telling people that they have been made good trees, which is what produces good fruit.
So many Christians are known for what they are against, not actually what they are for.
So you might see a Christian who is “against abortion,” and telling people that “abortion is murder.” Okay, so what? I am not for abortion at all, I think it is horrible but does telling people that they are murderers and that God hates them for what they are doing actually change anything? I remember a few years ago I knew a Christian man who would do the whole sign holding thing on the corner, standing in front of PP and he was so consumed with anger about all the bad things going on in the world. I couldn’t get him to see the error of his thinking, but I did help him change his perspective a bit. I told him, rather than telling these scared and hurting women that they are murderers and whatnot, do you think you could tell them that “God loves them and their baby.” Maybe a sign that tells them how loved they are, maybe offering to give them a hug, maybe talking to them and finding out about why they are so scared, maybe that is a better way to prevent abortion rather than being an accuser and telling them how evil they are. (He did this for a few weeks and then moved on to another topic that consumed him and caused him much anger).
I look at the life of Jesus and how he would call things that weren’t as though they were, in fact he called Peter a rock before he denied him three times. The entire pattern of God throughout the Bible, when He comes to establish a relationship with people, he gives them a new name. We are told that David is “a man after God’s heart” and look at his life? Many Christians today would look at David and say, “you aren’t saved, look at all the things you are doing.” But that is not the reality. I don’t say these things to minimize sin and its consequences. I say these things because I don’t believe sin is our biggest issue, or at least I don’t think correcting people’s behavior is the solution. If we focus on the exterior problems we will never get to the root, which is that people believe that they are sinners, and if they believe that they are a sinner, what will they do? They will sin. In the church, we need to tell people that they are new creations. That they are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, they have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, how much more can they live victorious and full of peace and joy now. I am not saying that because a Christian believes in Jesus, that they will never have the urge to sin, or they don’t sin. I am simply shifting the focus to Jesus and who we are in Him. Whatever we focus on will get bigger, so when we focus on the “new man” we will start to manifest the things of a new creation. The fruit of the spirit will be more present in our lives.
Christians need to be more known for what we are for, not what we are against. We need to actually be teaching believers that they are more than conquerors, that they are overcomers. We need to speak life into people and encourage them that they are capable of reigning over the old man that didn’t know God. The very fact that they believe the gospel is proof that they are capable because the Holy Spirit lives in them. The world around us needs to know the joy of what it means to walk around as a new creation. The bible says “all of creation is groaning for it.”
Written by: Andrew Strobel
I recently finished reading the book “Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now,” by Greg Boyd, and to say it’s transformational is an understatement. This book has ignited a fire within me to make it my life’s journey to become constantly aware of God’s presence in every moment. I’ve since ordered two more books on “practicing the presence” so I can become more studious of this ancient practice and continue learning from others who have mastered it.
There was a certain scenario that Boyd shared in the book, though, that has really stuck with me. It pertains to the affects that practicing the presence can have on advancing the Kingdom of God. He writes:
“A young mother is standing in the corner of the airport terminal, struggling to fold her baby’s chair while holding her infant. No one else sees her or cares, but, since you’re mindful of God’s presence, you do. You respond to the Spirit’s prompting and ask if you can help. In your short encounter you perceive a sadness in her eyes. As you board the plane and find your seat, you whisper a prayer for this woman and her infant. In this little encounter and lingering prayer, the Kingdom is being advanced. More of God’s life has come into our dark and oppressed world. Whether or not you can see how, this woman and her infant have been touched by God’s love.”
I love this example from Boyd for several reasons, but mainly because of its sheer simplicity. It’s not something that you might think of as meeting the criteria for “advancing the Kingdom” and it doesn’t seem “super spiritual.” I think a lot of times, we as Christians can believe the lie that advancing the Kingdom of God means we have to lead a bunch of people to Christ, set the oppressed free, heal the sick and broken, and more. While these are all certainly a big part of advancing the Kingdom, they are not the only way of advancing it. It doesn’t always have to be something that seems monumental, but it can be as simple as asking a stranger if they need help and then silently praying for them moments later. As Boyd says, when we do this, “More of God’s life has come into our dark and oppressed world.”
When you look at our assignment in terms of spreading more of God’s life and light into this dark world, then suddenly you’ll notice opportunities everywhere you go. Give your cashier at the grocery store an encouraging word. Tell the waiter you see getting treated poorly that she’s doing a great job. Silently pray over someone as you’re out to lunch or dinner with them. These are all simple ways that we can actively advance the Kingdom of God in our everyday lives.
While these examples may seem insignificant, to God they are sacred. Any moment that we bring God into our awareness and act out of His prompting, we are extending His love to a hurting world that is in desperate need of a touch from the Father. So, I challenge you to practice becoming more mindful of God’s presence with you always, and as you do this, partner with Him in advancing the Kingdom. Ask Holy Spirit for ways that you can actively expel darkness in your everyday life by releasing God’s life and light wherever you go.
I leave you with this prayer from Boyd’s book:
“Ever-present Father, you are active in everything in everyone in every moment, moving the world toward the full manifestation of your loving reign. Help us to offer ourselves wholly up to you to be instruments of your will in this moment and in every moment. Amen.”
Written by: Nate Ebel
Cider House Rules is a story of an orphanage where many complexities of morals and identity unfold. There was a doctor that was the caretaker of these orphans who would say this special affirmation every night when the boys went to bed and they loved it. In fact, they longed for it.
The doctor didn’t see these boys as abandoned and unkempt, unschooled misfits of whom no one wanted. He saw inherent value that, despite their history, had treasures inside of them that made them royalty.
At this moment I am on a flight across the U.S. to visit family. My family history has been, at many times agreeable, but definitely not without its interpersonal mishaps. As I sit here in a cramped seat I wonder how things will be this time around. No matter how life is going within my own home or career and the tremendous growth I perceive I have complete control over, there is something that seems final when it comes to family roles and who we are one another.
In a way, revisiting people from my past can feel as if I am stepping into an alternate universe. I know that I am a new person and have great love for what the Kingdom is doing. I have become to many people someone that has been a catalyst as I pursue further and further the revelation found in His word, yet I have repeatedly stepped into a role I don’t want to play. If I have been made new, then how does that change the future of my family? I have constructed somewhat of a historical and mental scoreboard that gets lit up when I am about to visit family. Part of my stomach sinks when I think of the possibility of harsh treatments and pure negativity that has unfolded before me time and time again. As I raise my family and do the “church thing”, somehow that can get compartmentalized apart from the rest of my life.
In churches around the US we may hear a familiar rhetoric that encourages us to stay away from bad influences in fear that their sin or negativity will poison our hearts and minds. I have been personally affected by the attitudes and actions of others in a negative way, so I’m familiar with the rhetoric and sometimes substantiate it with numerous interactions somewhat expect history to repeat itself.
We all can relate to this dilemma. We have checkered pasts and after finding this great love with Jesus, we retreat to areas of safety and self-sufficiency. I entered into a relationship with Jesus and fell in love with Him. Then, in order to “grow,” somewhere I had fallen out of love with Jesus and in love with righteousness. Instead of affecting my family with the love of the Kingdom I have come to resent the fact that not all aspects have lined up with heaven. I have wrestled with maintaining my identity as a son of the Father as I have returned to the role I have always found myself in; the position I have been placed in by my family in their own minds as to where I fit. For whatever reason, I have claimed Matthew 13:57, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”
The reality is, you will step into the same family/social dynamics that you have always had until that universe has its axis tilted. Because mankind is hungry to find their identity, much like those orphaned boys of Cider House Rules, we should all hunger for more of God to be put on showcase in our lives. A trap that hell puts in front of us is this:
- Be offended by the world and try to use Gods word to prove to them wrong.
- Ignore toxic behavior that produces strife within relationships (believing that tolerance and passivity is pure righteous patience)
- Separate our hearts and interaction to either punish them or protect ourselves.
While we may convincingly justify any one of these actions of hearts, what is truly excellent is this: Calling out the gold in people. Even through rough exteriors and spotty pasts there is eternal and heavenly value that is beyond our comprehension, placed upon the despicable, the wretched, dishonest and most selfish people you will ever come across. The very least of these have assignments from heaven that are far beyond our wildest imaginations. The person we love the least has a rich story within them that could inspire the world, for that is what they were created for.
Will we believe that those from our past will see astonishing miracles happen in their lives and encounter the presence of the father’s joy and enjoy the astonishing and furious love He has for them? Our new role in our families is to love our brothers and sister with a love that is sent from heaven. It can’t be a love of merit and deserving. It cannot be justified; it has to be ridiculous and nonsensical by all means, because it is good.
Instead of wondering how things are going to be, as to compare experiences and gauge where things stand, I am stepping off this airplane and getting into a rental car with my wife and kids. But as the key goes into the ignition I can’t drive this car and “officially” complete our arrival until my wife and I settle this one thing between us.
We will be a source of heavenly love and contagious joy to those around us. Everyone. There is not a single person or event that will determine the state of our family, for we are not subject to the darkness, but the darkness is subject to the light.
As we step into today, heaven is on assignment to invade earth through your lives. You are commissioned by Jesus with love and joy. Holy Spirit let our hearts reflect the glory of Heaven. Fill our hearts to have so much love that demons tremble and people feel us coming. . Let every step we walk be the very ground of heaven and being carried with them the treasures of the throne room. Amen.
Written by: Jordan Mudrock