Random Blog Clay Feet: November 03, 2008
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Monday, November 03, 2008

Resisting Truth and Catching Fire

We react with the feelings and intensity that reflects what we really believe about the God we imagine Him to be.

Watch the reaction of a person when confronted with concepts about God that challenges what they already believe. If they become hostile, then what they reveal is that they want their God to be hostile toward those who disagree with Him. If they become intrigued, then there is a good possibility that deep in their heart they have been secretly hoping that God was much better than how He has been misrepresented by religion. These are the ones who are more likely to respond positively to the true gospel.

I am still struggling with my own gut-level false views of God that run counter to what I am learning and teaching about Him. Very often I sense an intensity of irritation whenever people resist thoughts on what God is really like. But then almost immediately I realize that my spirit and my words are incongruent and I have to cry out to God to do much more work at my heart level. I want my heart and spirit to reflect what I am learning with my mind about God, but I cannot force myself to believe these things just because I can logically perceive them and observe them more clearly in the Word. What is being exposed at times is my real gut-level beliefs that are still entrenched in old patterns and familiar routines reflective of the lies that are believed all around me. I want to become completely free of all of these lies but that is a goal that is far more difficult to reach than just accepting new facts. What I really need is to be mentored and exposed and healed.

Most of the lies still embedded in my life remain out of sight for me though I can see the symptoms at times. My lack of real love and compassion for others betrays heart-based lies about God's compassion and love for me. My lack of gratitude betrays some other lies that I still am not even sure what they are. My anger and lack of respect for authority at times betrays deep roots of bitterness which are also based on lies about God that are systemic in my nature.

I am starting to realize that sometimes when I am confronted with lies in others people's reactions to me that those same types of lies are triggered inside myself. Ironically I am trying to counter those lies in other people's minds with my words, and when they resist what I am saying their very resistance awakens sympathetic reactions in me which tends to justify that their lies are actually true and my words are wrong. Because I become resistant and my voice takes on an edge, I am actually giving a mixed message that can be confusing and self-defeating. I am acting as a false witness about God with my spirit while attempting to be a truthful witness with my words. This sounds a little like the description found in Romans 7 and 8.

When I find myself giving an inconsistent witness for God I am immediately assaulted with strong temptations to just give up and accept that maybe these new truths about God are not really factual after all. But I know the source of those kind of thoughts – the same source that implanted all the other lies in my heart that I am struggling to become free of. Instead of giving up my attempts to embrace fully the truth about God's goodness I have to throw myself onto God's mercy and grace and power to transform me more completely into the likeness of His character that He is revealing to me. Instead of caving into fear and feeling condemned by the false pictures of God that I have grown up with, I must steer my thoughts into dwelling on what I have heard from God and what He has shown me from His indisputable Word about how He really feels and acts toward me. I have to exercise the little faith that is growing inside of me so that it will stretch and grow and deepen its hold in my own heart.

Why is it that we are so resistant to believing the truth about God and accepting that He never will torture people with fire in revenge for not trusting in Him? This is the question that keeps coming to my mind at times.

What seems to keep coming up in answer to this question is that we are loathe to give up our current concepts of God that we have embraced for so long in exchange for a God who just might not satisfy our deep cravings for revenge against those who have hurt us deeply. That is such a horrifying thought that it is easier to insist that God will indeed run out of patience and will resort to force and human-like anger to satisfy our warped sense of justice by lashing out at those who have wreaked so much damage on the earth in the lives of others.

We want an angry God when we feel angry.

We want a God who uses force when we are feeling helpless.

We want a God to torture our enemies whenever we are being abused and mistreated.

We desperately want a God to do all the things that we want to do

if we just had access to the power of the Almighty.

Inherently – at least when it applies to others – we like the idea of condemnation, of revenge, of getting even, of settling the score by hurting others at least as deeply as they have hurt us. And anything that challenges those assumptions about what constitutes justice is reprehensible to our way of thinking and our inner picture of God. So we often become very defensive of our own beliefs about God and insist that the problem lies in the ones who are seeing something new in the Scriptures about God that challenges centuries of settled doctrines built on our images of God that are reflective of our own sinful desires. But when it really comes down to it, more often than not we believe in a God who is shaped more in our own image than the other way around. And when we choose to continue to believe in a God who indulges at times in hateful anger against people and even plans to ultimately torture them with fire for displeasing Him, we are actually reinforcing the image of Satan in our own hearts and then projecting those concepts onto our false image of God. Thus Satan succeeds in painting God with the distorted, twisted, depraved character that he himself possesses while causing humanity to sympathize more with Satan and believing that he is not nearly so bad as he has been made out to be.

But the truth is that all of the false notions we have about God are actually reflective of the character of God's archenemy, Satan. Originally we cannot help it that we think this way about God because we were born in a world controlled and saturated with lies about God that influenced our minds and hearts as we grew up. Our concepts of God are inevitably formed by the way adults treated us as young children. God understands this far better than we do and does not condemn us. But the true gospel about God is becoming more and more clear today and when we are faced with the real truth about God's perfect love, His never-failing compassion and goodness, His unconditional forgiveness and the fierce protection that He exercises over the freedom of each person to choose for themselves, then the natural consequences of rejecting this true gospel results in all the tragic “punishments” that we have previously thought were imposed by an angry, offended Deity.

But the truth is that it is sin itself that pays out the wages of death, not God. The real truth is that there are universal principles in place that cannot be ignored or defied without terrible consequences ensuing except as intercepted by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ taking the hit for us so that we can have another chance to synchronize with reality.

Yes, God takes full responsibility for all the bad things that happen as a result of sin that we call punishments. But where we get confused is that the consequences are built into the forces of reality and the principles of creation that God set up originally, not imposed arbitrarily and directly from the hand of an offended Deity. Because God created the universe and set up all the principles and forces that are so powerful and potentially dangerous when ignored, He accepts full responsibility for setting it up that way. But just because a person can suffer enormous pain and even death when ignoring the principle of gravity does not mean that God is personally imposing those consequences as an arbitrary punishment for “disobedience” to that particular law. And this same concept applies to all the principles and laws that govern the universe in every aspect of reality – physical, spiritual, emotional and any other dimension that may exist.

The real gospel brings to light the this very truth about God's consistency and the truth of His unconditional, unchanging attitude toward all of His creation. What we should be afraid of is not an angry God who is desiring revenge on His enemies but a loving, compassionate God who is so pure and undiluted in His passion for our hearts that to come close to Him while harboring lies about Him results in sheer torture of a magnitude far worse than any fire could ever produce in our minds or bodies. It is far easier for us to believe in a God who is more like us and wants revenge at some point in time because we can respond with hatred and resentment and feel justified in our resistance. But to face the fact that God is so unselfish and passionate to save us that He stops short of nothing to accomplish that purpose except to refuse to use force against our will, this is a situation that exposes our own sinful desires that causes our selfish hearts to become exposed and frightened.

God knows that the inherent principle that must be satisfied to experience real love is absolute freedom to reject love if one chooses to do so. Whenever freedom is not present mutual love can never be present in a relationship. When we maintain false notions of God that paint Him in any way as one who violates our freedom or forces our will through intimidation or threats, we are trying to shape Him into our image and try to reject the far more potent reality of the dangerous potency of pure love.

What is now coming to light is that love itself is so powerful and full of energy and inherent “force” that it is lethally dangerous whenever it is resisted by lies about it. That is precisely why God has to veil Himself so much from our view until we are free of all the lethal seeds of sin that would act like land-mines in our heart if we were to see His face fully in our fallen condition. Whenever a person is faced with unconditional love, forgiveness and compassion they are forced to either embrace it and be embraced by it or they face the prospect of inner torture of extreme magnitudes due to their own resistance to that kind of love.

But key to this understanding is the fact that it is not true love's intention to torture the resistant heart but it is just the natural consequence of resistance itself. Just as a resistor in an electrical circuit will overheat and catch fire when faced with more current than it can handle, so it is with a heart that resistants the current of love that powers the whole universe; it will heat up with resentment and anger and fear and will eventually experience the same sort of pain that it imagines might come from an angry, vengeful God that reflects its own characteristics even though that is not what is really going on.

Thus the fires of hell are really of our own making. And the real reason we are so resistant to embracing the truth about God today is because if we are unwilling to let go of our own desires for revenge against others and truly forgive them from our heart, we will begin to experience the fire of hell right now. For to be unwilling to forgive another person while trying to draw close to a God of unconditional forgiveness and love is a recipe for producing hell in the heart. It is a small foretaste of what all will experience who ultimately reject the revelation of God's heart of passionate, unrelenting love for sinners.