That’s right, it’s me – Gina – apologizing to you all in a public forum, without excuse or justifications. And the reason is, in recent months I’ve been very open about my views on Facebook (FB) about a number of subjects, including the Confederate Flag, the SCOTUS decision regarding same-sex marriage equality, and most recently the Kim Davis media frenzy. It’s not so much that I think it was wrong that I shared my feelings – no, I think sharing when done without belligerence is often good for myself and others. However, my sharing was manifested 100% from the heart of my natural state as opposed to the state I believe I’ve been taken as a follower of Christ. And because this revelation has taken me a few weeks to encompass in my mind and heart, I am posting it here on my blog so that I can include my thoughts as an encouragement for myself as well as others. Because, I think, others may easily manifest their thoughts as readily in the natural as I do.
Let me say many of these concepts I’ve personally taught at my old church and I was slapped awake by these ideas by my own notes, which I recently stumbled upon. Many of the thoughts I derived from a sermon I heard several years ago given by Paul White. So, I could be sad that I have “fallen from grace” and gone back to my own “law driven ways”, but instead I will just share my journey. Thank you for reading my post and considering this trip I’ve been on.
We all like to try to take the high road, to act in an acceptable way, to be kind and loving and thought of in nice terms. And yet, I think all of us can feel justified for responding to attacks (even if only perceived). In that context, and to avoid a super duper long blog post, let me define three ways human actions manifest themselves on the earth:
Through the demonic – You treat me good, I return evil. This is not just a reference to The Exorcist or other spiritually “freak me out” actions. Instead, it’s more like a warning my mom always told me when I was younger, “Gina,” she’d warn, “never stop to help someone on the side of the road because they might be pretending to have an issue and they really are a serial killer.” So, in this example, someone could stop to help someone on the side of the road (offer good), but in return they are killed (return of evil). While this is an extreme example, I think there are often “demonic” activities that occur everyday where someone does something nice and someone returns a less than nice or even mean reaction.
Through the natural – this is where I usually live; you treat me well, I treat you well. You treat me bad, I will treat you bad. It’s pretty simple, we mirror each other and if you’re a jerk I will feel totally justified in being a jerk back to you. I love those who love me, and despise those who despise me. This happens often when someone cuts me off on the highway and I have no trouble showing my discontent. In recent weeks, I have been compelled to think the very worst of Kim Davis, who I perceived as a hypocrite, judgmental and a cherry picker of scripture. I felt totally justified in considering her a poor example of a Christian for her actions while doing many of the things I was railing against as I assembled my words of condemnation against her. I laughed as others made fun of her appearance, I shook my head when her own sin was exposed. In a phrase, I was just as judgmental and hypocritical as she was, just not on such a large media platform.
Through the spiritual, aka “The Highway” – you treat me well, I treat you well. You treat me bad, I treat you good. Basically, no matter what you throw at me, I will return love and goodness. And, in my own power this is utterly impossible, as I’ve proven quite well in recent weeks. But that’s not to say it is impossible.
So, let’s establish some Truth based on Scripture. First, I have often thought the Kingdom of Heaven or of God was far off or something I would see after I died. But the Word explains it very differently. In Matthew 4:23 (ESV), when Jesus first started his earthly ministry the following was said (emphasis mine):
And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.
Notice here Jesus FIRST proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom, and THEN people started being healed. He didn’t heal the people in order to proclaim/show the gospel of the kingdom.
Then, in Acts 1:1-3 (ESV), which records the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, after He was crucified, died, and rose from the grave, this was said (again, emphasis mine):
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
There is power in the Kingdom and Jesus spoke about it constantly, from the beginning of His earthly ministry to the very end. Throughout the gospels it is recorded as being said “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”. It is not far off, it is not coming later……it is as close as my hand and it is here, now. And there is power – healing power, power to change us and the world, and it is given to us freely through Jesus Christ. I want this power in my life. I want to live knowing I manifest myself in the Kingdom and act as if I belong in the Kingdom……not when I die or when I reach some level of spiritual maturity as if it will show up some day like a bill in the mail.
And yet, in Matthew 5:3 (ESV) at the very beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said this:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
And with that, I often freak out because, in many ways all I try to do is be more spiritual. To be more INTELLIGENT when it comes to scriptures and theology and loving my neighbors and walking in this Truth, etc. etc. etc. And yet, Jesus Himself said in order to find the kingdom of heaven, I must be poor in spirit. And He said it in the present tense “theirs IS the kingdom”, not “theirs WILL BE the kingdom”. And I believe this truly means I need to get to the end of myself and realize…….I can’t get there. Not at all. I can try to be very holy, very spiritual, very cerebral even in my understanding of God and His Word, but all I ever get by my own effort and actions is the power to manifest my life in the natural. But, when I realize this and honestly say “I can’t do it, no matter how hard I try”, THAT is when Jesus smiles and says, “Now we will get somewhere”. Because ONLY JESUS can carry us into the kingdom of heaven (as in the right now, right here version, not the place when we die).
So, as I did a few years ago, I began to give up on trying to be spiritual, of trying to manifest my interactions with others through “the Highway”. Because I am poor in spirit and do not have the means in which to get there. And I will tell you, when I begin to realize and act with this Truth, when my poverty is spirit is allowed to be real, THAT is when I begin to float to the kingdom of heaven with my Lord.
Have you ever seen The Passion of the Christ? It shows Jesus being tortured, beaten, ridiculed……it is so graphic I often cry and always get very angry. In that anger I want so badly for Christ to call His legions of angels down and destroy the Roman Soldiers and the Jewish leadership who were persecuting Him. I think many of us would accept and understand if Jesus reacted that way, for He was completely undeserving of such horrible treatment. Like so many of the politicians and Christians and LGBT folk do today; we scream out and demand our rights and insist that we ARE right and that we represent God and demand others see His personality and rules and actions through our eyes and explanations. We claim to be persecuted and declare ourselves right to demand punishment for those who have hurt us. We demand everyone should be held accountable to our views of our religion and even expect the laws of this land to reflect those morals and rules. In God’s name we scream and get public attention and cause thousands of online debates and rancid comments and angry outbursts and we feel justified and righteous as we do it. Many of us actually PRAY that God will strike down entire countries or groups of people who we decide deserve to be sent to hell. I could add several links to professing Christians do so over and over again, but I won’t. So I don’t think it is far fetched to imagine Jesus jumping off the cross and laying all those who persecuted Him flat on the ground and, truthfully, many of us would cheer and scream in joy had He done so. In our natural core, we are often Zealots ready for blood.
But if Jesus really did react like that, He would be just like you and me. He’d be walking in the natural. He’d say “you treat me good, I treat you good. You treat me bad, I treat you bad.” He’d be no different or better than you, or me, or any of us who are nothing in our own power than natural thinkers and actors.
But in reality, Jesus walked or manifested Himself on “the Highway” or “the Kingdom Way”; even after ALL that had been done to Him, the humiliation and pain He went through despite His innocence, He called out to God and said, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They treated Jesus badly, and yet He returned good by not only asking for their forgiveness, but He gave an excuse for them! The Roman soldiers and the Jewish leaders hadn’t even ASKED for forgiveness – they had not repented for their actions – and yet Jesus asked for their forgiveness! Yet we, as Christians, often condemn others and point out their sin, emphasize their sin actually, justifying why they do not deserve forgiveness and absolutely deserve no kindness, empathy, or love.
Even before His torture, when the Roman soldiers came to the Garden to arrest Jesus and Peter cut the ear off the soldier, Jesus did not return their bad with evil. He didn’t say “You lost your ear because you meant to harm me with this arrest, so that’s what you get.” No, He turned the bad to good by rebuking Peter and healing the soldier’s ear, without any price or request or demands from the soldier. He returned bad with good.
The truth is, when the controversial subjects have arisen around me lately, I have picked up the sword like Peter and started swinging. I felt just a justified in my actions as Peter did with his sword, as he lovingly and passionately protected the Lord he loved. I can even claim my actions are for my Lord, the but truth is those actions have moved me far away from the actions of Jesus and have placed me right back into the natural. I have put myself in a place of direct rebuke from Jesus, just as Peter was rebuked. In fact, I and we project “the natural” too often onto the Kingdom thinking we are standing up for what we believe or what we feel is right and pound on our chests thinking we are defending our God, when in fact we are offending His sacrifice and everything He did for and to us.
And, let me be real about something else, too. I often tell people, especially when I feel passionate about the Word or an idea related to Scripture, that the Bible is final. And I pull out scriptures to prove my case and walk about like I am dropping the mic as if to say “BOOM, IN YOUR FACE.” But sometimes quoting scripture is just more of the same natural manifestation that Christ has freed us from and which we keep picking up and tying around our ankles like a chain. For example, the law was handed to Israel in Exodus 20 and then began to get more defined in Exodus 21 In fact, Exodus 21:24-25 (ESV) justifies through the law that I can and should manifest myself in the natural. In fact, the law takes me to the place I usually live anyway (you do bad to me, I do bad to you):
eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
But I want to live in the principles of the Kingdom. And it is amazing to go back to the Sermon on the Mount and hear Jesus say the following in Matthew 5:38-42 (ESV):
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
Jesus is quoting Exodus 21 and basically saying, “You got it wrong. My plan for you was the Kingdom Way, NOT the natural way!” He is showing us that we should ALWAYS return good no matter what is given to us, EVEN IF what is given to us is bad/mean/hurtful. I mean really, someone sues us and we offer them more than what they asked for????? Do not resist when we believe someone is being evil????? Yes, that is the Kingdom way.
When we REST in Jesus Christ and stop trying to fulfill the law in which He’s already fulfilled and instead focus on loving others and not fighting others (being poor in spirit, not relying on ourselves, not fighting for God but walking WITH Him), we begin to allow Jesus through the Holy Spirit to guide us in His ways…..in the Kingdom Way.
So, as I think about Kim Davis and her actions, and more importantly myself and my reactions to situations such as her recent claim to fame, I also think on Matthew 10:11-13 (ESV) (emphasis mine):
And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.
This scripture brought it home to me, in relationship to all I’ve shared here.
- Jesus died for me, providing His righteousness and power now, in His kingdom
- The Kingdom is powerful and is here, close at hand, now
- I am poor in spirit – I can’t get to the Kingdom Way/Highway on my own but Jesus can take me there once I admit I can’t do it with my own power or actions
- He showed me my reaction can ALWAYS be good when I rest in Him and His love, even when others seem to be sending me bad things
- Finally, I can always have Peace in my life. Because, as Matthew 10 says, if I send out peace, then others can send me peace back (I am good to you, you are good to me)……but if I send out peace and it is not received, my peace through Jesus Christ comes back to me (I am good to you, no matter what you do the Peace comes back to me……because if you send me evil I will always return good through the love of Christ). Either way I have Peace. It isn’t about worthiness or unworthiness of others, it is about the Peace of Christ and its power above all things in the natural.
So, again I am sorry that I have been walking in the natural and feeling justified in doing so. I thank God that He has reminded me that He has provided the means to get to the Kingdom Highway through His power and that if I rest in Him, He will keep me coasting on the Kingdom Way.