Thursday, September 24, 2009

Are you a tree hugger?

Here in the Pacific Northwest it is not at all uncommon for members of certain environmental groups to either chain themselves to a tree or actually take up residence in a tree to prevent its harvest. These people will sometimes remain in contact with a tree for weeks and months, their life purpose becomes protection of that tree. We seem to have an equal abundance of both trees and tree huggers.

Spiritually speaking we have had this condition since the creation of the Garden of Eden. A very great number of people desperately cling to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil while forsaking the tree of life. Too many people are hugging the wrong one, desperately trying to live their lives based on what they determine to be good or bad, right or wrong. The problem is that being right is never enough, this tree only produces death.

When Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of death they were excluded from the garden not as punishment but as a precaution. Just as that first bite caused their spirits to die, further "nourishment" from that tree could have only brought more destruction. Humans are unable to digest fruit from that tree, not in Adams time nor in ours. It would cause them endless distress, brokenness and finally the death of their spirits. God did not separate them from the garden to isolate Himself and protect His garden, He separated them from something that as humans would destroy them. That separation was the first step in their reconciliation, and the restoration of all their generations. It was an act of love!

Nourishment from that tree was fatal, and still is. Only on our best days, with the fullest information can we discern good thing from a evil thing, a good situation from a bad situation, a good intention from a bad intention. As humans we do not have the attribute of omniscience. We do not see the whole picture, we do not hear the whole story. We experience the present, but filter it through the events of the past. We react to a situation while fearing its effect for the future. We will, more often then not, react wrongly, perceive wrongly and judge wrongly.

It is only when we remove ourselves from the diet of the wrong tree and begin to live by the tree of life that we experience life, that we begin to gain strength and that we know true joy.

We need to stand guard against making the Bible our modern day tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it was never intended for that purpose, it was always meant to guide us to the Tree of Life who is a person, Jesus.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

All in Heaven?

I was asked this recently:

Okay then do you feel that all people will be in Heaven or am I still misunderstanding you?

I mean surely you don't think that all people are going to Heaven. Not in the predestination type of belief but rather in the way that I mentioned once before that people are out there that I believe will never accept what Jesus has done for them and thus will not enter unto the gates of Heaven.

Maybe I am missing your points but thanks for the responses.

This is how I responded:

1. I don't believe the Father, Son and Spirit ever intended "it" to be about avoiding hell or attaining heaven. Jesus said eternal life is knowing Him and His Father (John 17:3). I don't do (or not do) things to escape torment or gain heavenly bling, nor do I counsel others to let that be their motivation. I do constantly seek to understand that He loves me and that I can best love him by loving others in tangible ways. When I fail at that, and I do often, He reminds me that even in my failure He still loves me.

I believe much of the NT writings that referred to death, destruction, saved, perishing, etc. had to do with the imminent destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, which even to this time was one of the most destructive events in human history. I believe it is in error to assume every such term had only to do with some event multiple millennia the future.

2. Just as it is His desire and will that all be saved (1 Tim 2:3-6), so it is mine. I would think that every "Christian" would want every man, woman and child to know that the Father, Son and Spirit love them unconditionally. Do I think that will happen during every ones physical life? No. Do I think that ultimately everyone will come to know His love and respond? I hope so. Do I think that some, like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son will pout and bellyache, perhaps for eons. Yes. Do I believe His mercy endures forever. Yes.

3. I think there is room for debate, without resorting to labeling each other as heretical, regarding the nature and purpose of both hell and heaven.

4. I understand those that take a primarily literal interpretation of every scripture will find it difficult to accept other methods of Biblical interpretation but there is not much I can do about that.

5. Do I believe people must "accept" Jesus? I believe people must come to the knowledge that He accepts them and loves them in order to live life in the power of that love, instead of thinking they are separated from Him.

6. Do I believe people must repent? Yes, but not so God will change His mind about them or their "destiny" but change their mind about how God unconditionally loves them so that they can live in the knowledge of His indwelling.

7. I believe Col 1:19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
And Eph 1: 3-10 How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

8. I believe by writing what I just wrote many here will conclude that I am a radical heretic of the worst kind and should be burnt at the stake. What I believe does not really matter, how I love others does.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009