Random Blog Clay Feet: April 15, 2008
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Counterfeit Integrity

I woke up quite early this morning from a rather vivid dream with thoughts so compelling that I couldn't remain in bed for fear of forgetting them. I had to get up and write them down before they became lost in the clutter of others thoughts and ideas that cause dreams to quickly evaporate in the light of day. (It has turned into a very long writing and needs to be condensed at some time)

I had a dream of being caught in the largest pile up on a freeway that I can ever imagine. It involved almost exclusively semi-trucks that were crashed into various buildings, each other or just caught in the tangle at all sorts of angles and various degrees of damage. Some of them were crushed quite badly and others were not damaged very much at all. There were at least dozens of them if not hundreds, but I could not tell from where I was because the area in which I found myself on the roadway was completely blocked in by trucks all around me and I could not see anything beyond them except maybe some of the surrounding buildings.

As usual, I don't remember some of the details of what happened early on in the dream but I do remember how the dream evolved in my perceptions over time. In particular, I remember one trailer that was broken open and there being containers of food lying on the truck-bed such as yogurt and cans of juice. (Nothing to do with buying several containers of yogurt a couple nights ago?) I remember there being a strong insistence by the driver of the truck that everyone should respect the rules of honesty and should not open or utilize the containers for themselves but should help transfer them to a cold room nearby for better storage. A number of us were involved in helping him out with this transfer.

I also remember looking around with awe at all the damage and beginning to wonder how long it was going to take us to get out of this mess. It was becoming increasingly clear that it might take days to unravel the gigantic pile-up enough to even reach us and open a way for us to get out from amid all the wrecks. But for awhile I was more interested in just gawking at the wrecked vehicles than I was worried about our long-term prospects.

But later in the dream I began to realize that the people who were trapped here with us were going to need to eat and that this rule about respecting the ownership of this food was in direct conflict with the needs of people to survive. This tension became very intense in my mind in a very short time so much so that it woke me up and I lay wide awake wondering why I again had to wake up so early after going to be late after a long road trip home. I lay there and pondered to possible purpose of this intense dream and suddenly more things began coming sharply clear to my mind. I felt so compelled by them that I could no longer feel safe to sleep longer without losing important things that I wanted to remember.

What suddenly became crystal clear to me was the sharp tension between the priority of rules above that of relationships. I remembered the many illustrations of this from stories that occur in war-times by those we later consider to be heroes. But at the time they are seldom viewed as such. They are usually considered to be traitors and violators of the law by the people in control and they are usually threatened with severe punishments for breaking the law.

Then another word came to my mind and I realized that this word has sharply different meanings dependent on what one believes about what is proper priorities in life. That word is “integrity”. In my dream the cold food laying in the truck became to issue around which conflicting concepts of integrity came to a head. While the driver was trying to keep others from eating so it could be repacked in the name of honesty and integrity, others were becoming hungry and the reality of the situation (depending on what one views as reality) pointed to the need for something at odds with what appeared to be honest. At first it seemed the right thing to do to respect the private ownership of the food, but then it was becoming obvious that likely the food would go to waste before it could ever be moved on and in the meantime many might become very hungry while being denied access to food right in front of them – all in the name of honesty and integrity.

It began to dawn on me that rules were being made more important than lives, that the food would spoil anyway and the people that were trapped in here needed to eat. There was an emerging clarity to the tension between integrity being defined under the false definition of keeping rules or integrity being that of looking out for others in humane way.

This has been the tension that has always emerged in crisis situations and creates confusion in the minds of many and long, heated debates about what constitutes proper ethics. What became clear to me was that it is really the titanic clash between the world's system of control and governance and heaven's methods of looking out for others ahead of one's self or even of keeping rules. The latter is the model that Jesus demonstrated and that riled all those who considered rules as more important to God than relationships. These kind of people may believe that relationships are important but that rules always trump relationships. If there is a problem in relationships then the rules just need to be tweaked some more because at root it is believed that somehow we can achieve just the right formula of rules to make everything work out right for relationships.

But rules are too artificial and inflexible and completely lack the ingredient of spirit. So rules can never accommodate to new and unforeseen situations in a crisis because the “right” thing to do will always vary from one situation to the next. The only real rules that really work are rules – really principles – concerning the spirit, not the externals.

When rules are oriented toward the externals they nearly always reflect the counterfeit government that is set up in opposition to God's government. The two systems are incompatible though it often is attempted to make them mesh. This is due to the deceptive nature of the counterfeit system which has always led us to believe that if tweaked enough the rule of law will achieve better results than God's ways. Rule-based living is really a false god that we worship and give allegiance to in preference to trusting the Spirit of the real God to lead us in right ways in every situation.

Rule-worshipers accuse those of being led by the Spirit of believing in “situation ethics”. By this they imply that it is immoral to perceive right and wrong based on flexible guidelines. In fact, the very notion of flexibility in definitions of right and wrong is horrifying and blasphemous to them. It strikes at the very foundation of their god of law and can never be tolerated. Any talk of such notion is considered very dangerous and heretical at best and is ultimately considered so dangerous as to sometimes deserve the elimination of those who promote such thinking so as to not contaminate the rest of the world with their dangerous heresies.

Think about the many stories that emerge from times of chaos, war and calamities. The one recurring theme is the increased tension between the definitions of what is “right”. But often rules are deliberately put into place to increasingly impose an atmosphere designed to dismantle relationships and separate people from bonding correctly. I wonder if that is not one of the subtle, deceptive problems of rule-based thinking fundamentally. Rules are inherently designed to promote fear and bond people together by the use of fear. Law, economics and kingship are primarily aimed at disassembling love bonded relationships and establishing relationships based on fear. Fear-based relationships can sometimes look positive and very deceiving and appear to create real unity, joy and peace. But they will always be counterfeit because of the underlying bond used to keep people in that unity. And these relationships will always be in tension opposed to the kind of relationships God intends for us to enjoy.

This also emerges in the definitions we give to words like “heroes”, “winners”, “champions” and even “overcomers”. Today's media is devoted to filling our minds with false and mixed illustrations of what the lives of these kind of people should look like. It is believed that our heroes must always mix some degree of selfish motives and sinful activities in with noble and loving relationships to come up with something so emotionally compelling that we are led to believe that our lives will be fulfilled if we make similar choices based on similar mixed motives and activities. Very seldom is a person portrayed in movies as being desirable based on completely selfless choices in view of heaven's definition of integrity.

But here it becomes even more murky. For in a crisis the false system switches tactics and employs situational ethics (as the world designed them) and appears to make relationships more important than rules in order “to deceive the very elect”. Rules of morality are then abandoned and whatever feels good at the moment is indulged in for the sake of following lust – for power, for sexual pleasure, for personal survival, etc. – and fulfilling relationships are portrayed as the indulgence of romantic attractions that seldom have any negative consequences. Selfish exploitation of others for pleasure or power (which is usually portrayed as pleasing to everyone involved) is romanticized and glorified in most of the media and this false god is exalted as the superior model to that of God's ways of selfless servant relationships. But the consequences can always be massaged in the pretend world of movies and music and even the news and so the real results of sin are masked under the guise of pleasure and endings of “living happily ever after”. These kind of relationships are touted as the model for others to follow but they do not work out that way in real life because they are based on selfish desires instead of selfless love for others in a context of keeping heaven's perspective of reality.

There is a time when rules must have apparent priority over “relationships” in heaven's model of governance. But it is not really as it appears at first, for when more carefully examined it still puts true, love-based relationships above arbitrary law. For the rules that take priority in heaven's kingdom are principles that reinforce true relationships, not preempt them. The kind of laws that govern heaven are spirit-oriented laws that external in their results, not in their foundations. Heaven's laws are far more flexible than we believe they are from our human, distorted perspective confused by the deceptions of human legal mentality. Because heaven's laws are not externally based they do not attempt to define or micromanage every situation from an external perspective but are designed to govern the heart and the motives so that the heart and motives will then be free and empowered to interpret the best way to externalize those principles in any given situation.

In reality, God's system is something like situational ethics, but is not the counterfeit that Satan invented that discredits that phrase. The counterfeit principle makes morality the variable and selfish pleasure or exploitation the fixed standards. God's true principle of “situational ethics” makes moral integrity in the heart and loyalty to God and selfless love the fixed, inflexible factors and external behavior the variable.

This is why so many teachings of Jesus sometimes seem baffling and cause many Christians to try to rationalize and explain away some of His statements. Because some of the things Jesus taught are in tension with rule-based religion people feel compelled to explain them away or reinterpret them turning them into even more rules according to the world's model of externalized religion. We talk about internalizing the rules as if that is God's plan but what we are really often saying is more along the line of forcing ourselves and others to memorize rules so that they will govern our behavior through internalized fear, guilt and shame. There is no freedom in this kind of living though from the world's viewpoint there appears to be great freedom. For freedom is yet another word with two definitions.

In the world's system freedom is viewed from an external perspective as is everything else in the counterfeit world in which we live. So if a person is not forced into a prison and has relative freedom of physical autonomy they are considered to have freedom. Notice what is implied in all the talk about freedom from our political leaders today. As long as you comply with the myriads of rules (that are ever expanding, conflicting and restrictive), you will supposedly be left relatively free to make personal choices within those ever-tightening borders – and that is labeled as freedom. But we sense that there is something inherently no right about this definition but we cannot seem to figure it out until nearly all of our freedoms have been stolen away from us by the very ones claiming to protect them for us, and it is too late to then get them back. Freedom is supposedly “defended” by the use of force which itself is the very opposite of true freedom. But freedom achieved by fear and force is not real freedom but is an illusion that leads into ultimately the most abject slavery while blindly marching its followers in time to the songs of “freedom” drummed out by our culture and its leaders.

God's freedom does include external freedom of movement, choice and autonomy. But it is a freedom that is based on unselfishness and a total absence of coercion, threats or intimidation. God's freedom is based on the internalization, not of external-oriented rules and formulas but the principles of thinking and motivation on which all of true reality is based and in which were were designed to thrive and bond with others. These principles are not left-brain based definitions and restrictions by which we are to formulate controlled behavior but are cause and effect principles of the heart that only function correctly while staying in vital connection with its Source of guidance and joy.

The Holy Ghost is the greatest promoter of situational ethics and as such is likely the greatest source of irritation to religious people everywhere, even many of those who claim to be filled with the Holy Ghost. God's Spirit is the only reliable source of knowing what the “right” thing to do is in any given situation and that may look very different for different people or different circumstances. But it will always be in perfect harmony with the fundamental principles described in God's Word and the foundational characteristics of God Himself. But these principles are impossible to condense into external formulas that can then be used in place of continual guidance by the Holy Spirit. For formulas can never replace the function of the Spirit in guiding us into all truth.

That word too, is another word with double meanings. Truth in the realm of external religion is considered primarily “correct” facts, doctrines and refined formulas and theological propositions designed to create “correct” outward conformance to externalized descriptions of what a “good” person should look like. And a “good” person will always be one who, above all keeps the law and obeys the (external) commandments of God. While it is true that a good person will indeed keep the commandments of God, the way that behavior is produced is vastly different than the path laid out and prescribed by most people claiming to understand religion and the Bible. It is a classic case of making the symptoms the driving priority instead of giving priority to the causes which are impossible to regulate through external methods. Because of the inability for external controls to regulate the heart motivations Christianity as devolved into primarily an externally defined system of working very hard to achieve lives that approximate the descriptions given in the Bible of what is righteous. We fall for trust in control. We fall deep into the deceptive trap of trying to live our life backwards, focusing more on the externals and then living in increasing frustration because the externals are so difficult to manage and control with the tools we are trying to use.

In the kingdom of heaven truth has a very different meaning than used in external religion. While it is true that truth can be somewhat described in the results seen in the external life of a true Christian, those manifestations and descriptions (what others view as obedience to law) are only externalized symptoms of a much deeper – I can't even find an appropriate word for this – element, ingredient, character motivation, than anything known by external religion. Real truth is not abstract and left-brain based but is a vibrant, interactive, dynamic, vital and flexible relationship with the Source of real truth, life and freedom. Truth might better be analogized by the idea of a flexible power cord that connects a computer into its source of electricity – but even more than that. Truth requires something of a data flow through that cable, and yet even more than data because data again implies left-brain, cognitive facts, and truth is far more than facts. Our connection with the Spirit is like a virus checker as well as a constant source of wisdom to test all spirits. Truth is fundamentally a relationship far more than it is a collection of ideas.

During the life of Jesus this issue of how to define truth was a constant source of tension and conflict that swirled around the presence of Jesus wherever He went. It culminated in the famous question by Pilate, “What is truth?”, very near the end of His life shortly before He was crucified. Jesus was crucified because of people who just like us claimed to know and have more truth than anyone else on earth. Externalized truth will always ultimately set itself up against God because God will never be able to fit into the parameters of how we define truth as based on external measurements. Any box we create claiming to use the restrictions we often call truth will sooner or later have to be shattered by the God who is too big to fit in any such containers.

But that does not mean it is right for us to shatter the containers that God creates for us and defines as truth. Because our minds operate far more in the logical realm and perceive reality – at least this side of eternity – from our limited abilities and definitions, God uses intellectual means of defining truth using legal terms and restrictions that we need to respect and utilize to keep us in proper relationship with Him until we are mature enough and safe enough to synchronize more fully with His heart.

But this does not mean that this is the goal of God for our lives or that we are to deify the restrictions that He has given to keep us safe until we are grown up. Paul makes it very clear in Romans and many other places that the law was only given as a stop-gap slave-master to keep us out of undo trouble until we could mature enough to live in proper relationship to the Source of all truth. That relationship itself is the real truth that trumps the somewhat artificial “truth” perceived in the law, and we are to always be moving toward the relationship much more than toward the law which is being superseded. To continue to keep ourselves bound to rules and formulas as the ideal life God designed for us is to insist on remaining in infant maturity and demanding that anything beyond that is heresy and is against God's will.

We utilize rules and silly restrictions for our babies and small children to protect them from dangers beyond their understanding and to help them learn basic concepts of how to live life in self-control when they have more capacity. But if they were to refuse to ever grow past their simplistic, rule-based, infant-relationship with us and were to forever remain dependent on us like that for the rest of their lives we would be failures as parents (although I know of parents who continue to relate to their children into adulthood using this model). Parents who do keep their children in total dependency on them are usually those who have personally bought into the religion of externals taught by many conservatives and have carried it out to its logical extremes.

God, thank-you again for making this a little bit more clear to me. I know that I am very slow to grow and embrace the flexible, dynamic life of continuous interaction with You that You so much desire for me. I still have so many fear bonds created by rule-based religion. That is almost all I have ever known and it seems so difficult to shift my many paradigms to live the way You are revealing to me. It is also in direct conflict with what many around me insist is true who claim to know truth much better than I, and so there is always tension between what You are showing me and what others insist that I believe.

Father, continue to teach me Your ways and fill me with Your ever-current presence. You are the God who can live simultaneously in the past, future and present with complete ease, but I must remember to live more consistently in the present in constant awareness of Your presence for guidance. I know from the past that when I live this way You are faithful to guide my spirit and impress me with Your wisdom in every situation. As I fill my mind and heart more thoroughly with Your Word and allow more access to Your Spirit I become more clear in my perceptions and more easily sense Your voice. Fill me today with Your Spirit and empower me to be a clear channel of encouragement, strength, hope and faithful love to those You have waiting for me today. Make me an efficient conduit of Your power into other lives today for Your reputation's sake. Reveal Your glory more fully today through my life so that others will be compellingly attracted to Your beauty and allurements and will release the lies about You that prevent their hearts from trusting You fully.