Friday, March 13, 2015

Finding the Pearl in the Field

As you've all known I've been on this theology kick lately for about 5 months which is a pretty long time for this ADD, OCD person to be focusing on something but I find it fascinating, and that has kept me hanging on.  Mostly because my concepts about Jesus, the cross, and Christianity have been pulled into a sharper, more focused view of what I believe, how it changes the world, and how does it apply to my life in general.

Before I started this journey, I was a confessing Christian and have been for about 16 years now.  More than half my life.  I have fallen in love for over a decade of the idea that an Omnipotent, All Powerful God would send his son, a piece of himself and his heart, and die for me on a cross 2000 years before I even came into existence.  I should never get tired or be familiar to this idea ever! But just like any ole romance, I started getting bored with the notion.  I wondered if this relationship was going places, was there something greater?  And if this relationship was even a good thing for me.

In the middle of this flighty kinda notion/relationship with God, I gave birth to a baby girl.  And at my lowest point of Faith, I wondered if I would even raise her up to be a Christian.  I was bored, tired and though still a professing and believing Christian, something just didn't seem right about our relationship.  Something was left out, lucid and needing to be fixed.  I thought it was God.  I thought he didn't make sense in someways still.  Why was he so shrouded in mystery.  We had been in a relationship for 15 years and yet he seemed far away and I just didn't understand the things he did, why he did them, in some ways he had portrayed himself in his "beloved" book, he just didn't seem very grace filled to me.  I questioned his motives late at night and on days where purpose just didn't seem to be anywhere near me.

Church was a continuum, I wasn't going to give up what we had so easily.  Years invested in our covenant and I wasn't just going to walk away, I wanted to fight for what we had even if it was slipping through our fingers.  I was still learning, still worshipping, still leaning in to him somehow, hoping maybe he would change, or change me.  I was dry without knowing I was dry.  I was desperately seeking him without knowing it in the forefront, if that even makes sense. My heart whispered everything was fine, but my spirit was withering.  What was happening, didn't happen over night and it happened without my mind being present.

And then one day I had a breakthrough. It happened in the most unexpected way. Jesus came to me and I was not expecting it, but I was desperate and just enough open to receive him.  15 years into our relationship and he showed me his heart.  He had been trying to tell me all these years but I was so blind to his truth. The times when I was wealthy, happy and full, I had missed him entirely but he came as a result of my weakness.  My doubts, accumulated one on top of the other and he came to set the record straight.  He came and corrected in me what I couldn't see wrong, in the most non-shameful, compassionate way.  His Holy Spirit picked me right up and just loved me and I wept.  I still weep with what made him come to me.  I think of myself as the unworthy woman who washed Jesus feet with her hair and yet I wasn't even worthy enough to use perfume, just tears. And he loved it.  He thought my questioning and searching, asking why's were the most beautiful things he seen.

He laughed at my naivety and I laughed too.  How could I had not seen what he was trying to tell me before.  He wanted to invite me into his Kingdom but I thought that Kingdom came with blessings.  I was wrong it came with desperation, with letting go of any notions but what Jesus was telling me.  It was a Kingdom founded on His Love for us.  When I finally saw this Kingdom, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and I knew I could never go back to where I had been before, and I was at Peace with that.  I was entranced by the delicacy of this Kingdom, I didn't want to miss it again.  I had to keep ahold of this Kingdom and not let myself or my ideas get in the way of this Kingdom and it's movement.

This Kingdom doesn't come by coercion just love, you can't invite people unless they are desperate enough to see it.  If they like their life, they'll keep their life, but if they are willing to lose it and everything that goes with it, they will find it.  In finding this Kingdom, I realized I had to be very open. When the contents of my heart laid out, I realized there were things there I had not seen before.  Idols, greed, comforts in other things, control, pride, selfishness.  Jesus took those things, spilled out on the floor that night like the contents of my purse.  He smiled, he knew these things were no match for the love I had just witnessed by him.  He stood up threw them out and I never saw them again.  Sure they come up every now and then but as long as I keep the principles of the Kingdom found on Love, they have no match for him.

This Kingdom, God showed me, is no match for this world.  It's an immovable Kingdom found on Self-sacrifice and try as it might the World does not conquer it.  It's power doesn't work within these walls of the ones who know they are fiercely loved.  Our weapons aren't guns, or swords, or violence, gossip or slander.  Our weapon of choice is love and love for our fellow man.  We fear no man and set up camp right in the midst of the other Kingdoms. Our Lord doesn't make us timid but gives us Power, Love and self-discipline.   Our strength comes from humility, our acts of servanthood.  We are most happy when we can bless others. We speak boldly in our silence and our prayers are an echo of his greatness.

This Kingdom is always progressive and always ahead of us, not behind.  And one thing I've realized is this Kingdom wants to keep me moving forward in it.  It won't let me be still and find comfort in my surroundings, it keeps me trusting in Him, and Him alone.  I find it invigorating and exciting to never know where I'll end up and to lay my cares upon him.  Jesus said you have to be like a child, open to him without question of your next meal or where you will lay your head.  Just resting in the present, full aware of His goodness and mercy in everything.

Many others profess they have found our Kingdom but beware for they are not the enemy but if they have not our fruits yet, they haven't found our pearl in the field.  Don't condemn them, just love them for they too are searching like I was, on a long journey in the midst of him and when they get desperate enough to lose everything, they will find him. I found him in the sleepless nights of feeding my daughter, in the times of sitting in silence, pondering my ideas of him.  Why did he die?  What did killing Jesus do exactly?  Was he sent to die or was that a result of our misunderstandings?

In these questions, I searched out the answers, I questioned scriptures and I found Jesus.  He pointed the way to life for me and the way to the Father.  I learned the Father's heart through Jesus' actions.  I learned from his actions and I found life in the way he lived.  I found a truth greater than what a book could tell me.  And in that truth I found a Kingdom, a place I thought could only be found in Heaven was in our midst and I had unknowingly chartered into it's territory. I found Hope and Joy in the mundane ways of life.  Everywhere I looked was a sign of his Goodness not devastation but restoration.  My hopeless (good intention) fearful doctrines I had grown up with were no match for the peaceful reign I felt in this Kingdom found on a fearless, trusting, belief in our Lord Jesus Christ.

In his ways alone, I had found my strengths and they showed up when I was honest and open in my weakness.  When I admitted I didn't have everything figured out and wasn't about covering those weaknesses with a desire to be "right."  lol, actually I find Him in my wrongness, a nudge when I try to be superior over others or push my way onto man.  His nudges come with a realization of my weakness and in it he makes me stronger. Please don't give up hope if you haven't found this Kingdom yet.  It's right there in the midst of each one of us, we just have to be open, humble and willing trusting like a little child.  Don't lose hope, friends! Love is coming to set you free!

“Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
14In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“ ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’a

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. -Jesus (matt 13)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Jesus, Poetry and Fine Wine

When I think of the way Jesus spoke, so many levels of wonder come to mind. It plays on my imagination like fine wine and good poetry. Like fine wine plays on my senses, indulging me to explore the pallet so does good freaking poetry.  Except it plays on my inner senses, my perceptions, my surroundings, my heart.   Good poetry or good art have so much meaning behind them that every time you read or study them, you walk away with something different every time.  One of the many reasons I'm inspired by Jesus is his creative plays on words and stories.

If you say he's not a poet, well you need to go take a poetry class and you would waaaay more understand Jesus and the Prophets and appreciate the poetic justice they bring to the table.  No really!  Before I started reading it like this.  It just felt like a salad kinda reading(blah).  Now I dive in like it's a divine chocolate treat!! The bible is loads more fun to read if you open it like an ancient scribe with playful clues and open your senses to the beautiful imagery they use to make us question things on every aspect of religion and politics while subtly and fiercely laying out the bare weaknesses of the human heart and saying "Just relax and let God fix it."

Only we don't just let God fix it.  We think we have to help too but we end up just putting a bandaid with the word Jesus on our wounds shout "Healed" and go on praising God as if he has totally restored our souls and we're just sitting around here, eating and waiting for his return while all the world goes to pot.  Sure we do charities here and there but our lives are devoid of his Grace in them everyday as if we somehow earned Grace the day we got saved and by keeping strict morals. We make sure we fall in line with the definition of what a Christian looks like.  Play it safe with normal Chrisitianese, do our rituals, work our day jobs and start back falling in step with the rest of the world.  Only we don't think we fall into step with them because we gave up cussing, drinking, scantily clad clothes and don't look at nudie pics and make sure we "fight" in God's name.  Do you see how this just sounds kind of ridiculous?  Or am I the only one?  Didn't Jesus come for so much more than me looking a certain way so that everyone knows what a "real" Christian looks like?

Seriously no other human being besides Jesus has said so many words that thousands (maybe millions) of books have been written trying to explain, contemplate and figure out what they mean.  No wonder we turn back to the Old Testament and give the old law just as much weight as what Jesus says, I mean, that's strait text from the law givers themselves, Moses and Elijah. It's easier for us to digest. Only Moses and Elijah aren't God, Jesus is. And he made it a point to tell Peter that on the Mtn Transfiguration. They can only point vaguely with little hints like the 10 commandments to Jesus but Jesus shines brightly at God and shows us full on what God's heart really is.  God didn't change his mind from the old Testament to the New.  And Jesus didn't just die so us terrible people could finally have a real relationship with God. That's a cheap knock off of the gospel and we sell it forwardly and wonder why people aren't buying.

Well, I'll tell you why people don't buy that: It's because it paints God with less dignity and Grace than we humans have for our own children.  I heard a preacher say a while back that "There's going to be soo many people you won't see get to Heaven, but you won't care because you'll be shouting anyways." Rrrreally? And you wonder why people don't see Christians as nice and caring.

First off, it is NOT our job to say who gets into Heaven and who doesn't.  We are NOT called to do that! Adam and Eve were deceived in thinking that they could distinguish between good and evil.  And we thought that till Jesus came and somehow we still think that when we devoid Jesus' teachings and equalize everything he says with the bible and somehow we justify that we can and do have the right to do that.  No honey, ya don't, and that should actually feel like a relief like ACTUAL LIBERATION.  Your Savior came not only so you can be Liberated from this unquestioning Obedience to the law but he came to show us the faithful questioning of the law.  Because if you notice, Jesus and Paul were big examples of quoting Old Testament scriptures and then not finishing them (like a boss) when they start talking about killing enemies and wanting to see their enemies killed.  They're like "God's about love" and booom drops the mic or in Jesus' case he just rolls the scroll up when it gets to a disagreeable place and sits down.  (he read Isaiah 61 this is found in Luke 4:18-19)Which was a very scandalous thing to do back in the day.  Well actually still is, for some reason.  A lot of us think if you question the bible, you're somehow slipping off the bandwagon.  When actually should we even be on a bandwagon to begin with?

I'm finding I think bandwagons are lame and I don't like cliche.  I don't like saying that because I belong to a certain political party I'm more Christian than some that don't. I don't like comparing my Christianity to others. Why? Because there is no substanence in that!  Someone who expects Jesus to come to others the same way that Jesus came to them really doesn't appreciate diversity, creativity or see beauty in the raw humanness that God has made.  Seriously if God were simple enough to box up into religion and look at people as binary 1's and 0's, in's and out's, then why the heck are we ALL different?  Why do we even have brains to think and process stuff if all God really want's us to do is follow rules and look a certain way and then most people think were Christians when we fight for Christian things like "In God we Trust" on buildings more than human rights, then we're good.  For real?? Who we trying to convince God or people?  Because I KNOW God say's I demand Mercy over sacrifice and Love over Law.

I believe in fighting for human rights more than oppressing them.  I believe in fighting for an unborn child's right just as much as a gay person who wants to get married.  Jesus cared more about loving someone you don't agree with than keeping a "biblical tradition". Last time I checked Love was about liberation not oppression.  Law was about oppression, pharisees were about oppression.  Jesus was about love and liberation.  He was about leveling the playing field.  He was about all people getting paid equally even if they worked all day or the last hour. And I think it's funny that because I'm not on any certain bandwagon besides the fact that I just love Jesus, that people would write me off as not Christian enough or being deceived. I love Jesus, I just sometimes don't love being a Christian because then I know I'm lumped up into this one category of characteristics that don't some up my beliefs and somehow I should adhere to them if I want to "prove" my Christianity.

But really who gives a crap what other people think? I'm not called to have other people confirm me and I think that's where we get it ALL wrong. Only Jesus has that position not us, remember we're not equal to him.  We're just equal to each other.  Enemies or not, muslim, gay or straight-laced.  We ALL fall short to the Glory of God.  I think realizing that is what will separate us from the world.  It's the appreciation of God's goodness in our enemies.  It's the realization that no matter how hard we try God is going to do what he says He's going to do.  He's got this.  We don't have to fight! We just have to love and love unconditionally like God loves us.

I love the idea of the Kingdom of God being found to those who come like little children.  Looking at the world in full wonder, mystery and thinking it is a magically beautiful place.  Children just enjoy the here and now they don't worry about the future or the past. They know everything will be taken care of and they live in the moment.  I want that kind of faith.  Where I know everything will be taken care of.  I just get to sit back and enjoy the moments, love infinitely, learn about my Creator and the created.  Revel in the mysteries of the unknown, sip my wine and think about the different flavors of creation and the created bodies the same way.  And while the rest of the world gets obsessed with measuring each other's moral muscle, I'll just sit here and love each one of them, whether they change or not and just trust my God that his mercy outshines the bad in them like it did in me.  Cheers!!

(Also Paul's interpretation of scripture changed after his conversion on the road to Damascus.  He followed the Law to an almost perfection and was very zealous before that.  After the conversion he still read the same text but in light of Jesus teachings over them.  He found he was no better keeping the law or not.  I love Paul's teaching because it sounds like straight up zealous dude.  He loved to tell the crowd about how despicable some people were then like flipped the script and was like Nope, your just as guilty. Paul understood Grace and played well on the proud to show them just how their righteousness looked in light of God's goodness. He expresses true liberation as a believer which is why somethings he says are the most controversial too and he coins his own phrases in Greek which have hard interpretations even to this day.  I just love Paul and his unique zest for the gospel!)