Looking at the mountain is not the same thing as being on the mountain. The views are completely different. So is our experience when we make a religion out of spending all our time inspecting the invitation to relationship with God. We substitute looking the part for real healing. And yet God is with you now wherever you are. Ask Him. Ask Jesus to reveal God to you.
Trying to manipulate God is religion. Or as I prefer to call it, witchcraft. It is no different than the idea of witches sitting around a boiling pot with a book of “spells”. The key is that you think there is a formula where if you do xyz then God’s switch/button is pushed to automatically do abc. And if He doesn’t do what you thought was His side of the deal, then you must have gotten the formula wrong. That is religion and witchcraft. That is not relationship. Even if your book of “spells” is the Bible. Even if your formula consists of doing things that are so-called “good” when done on their own without any agenda. This is subconscious stuff we’re talking about. As you mature, you grow away from blatant prayers like, “God, if you do abc then I’ll do xyz.” But even if you know not to explicitly say it, your heart might be at the wheel still making decisions to that effect.
Relationship is entirely different. Relationship is not about control and manipulation. Which is why it is so difficult to accept. Total respect for the other person. Total freedom. To walk away or stay. I choose to love you even at your worst. Because of who I AM. Letting the other person go completely. Yet not enabling. Not consenting, not condoning. My releasing you is not me giving you permission to treat me however you want. To do to me whatever you want. I still have the ability and responsibility to exercise my power to choose how much I expose myself to your behavior. This is relationship.
Where you are invited to participate. Where your choices and decisions matter. But not in terms of performance. Where you as an individual matter. But not in terms of conforming as if we were created with our highest good being religious robots or so-called “spiritual” yes-men. To reduce it down to that is an insult to the beauty of who we are and who God is. Not an insult in terms of an affront to ego. But insult as in a gross miscalculation, a severe understatement.
Real love does you no favors by allowing you to continue on in stinking thinking. Even when it means I get something out of the deal, out of your wrong thinking. Real love doesn’t use you like that. Real love, even though it wants you close, will endure the pain of pushing you away when it is better for your ultimate and highest health and healing. It looks like punishment, but nothing could be farther from the truth. I AM passionately furious FOR YOU. Not against you. I will not stop and settle for using you as if ego was everything or anything. You mean too much. I want more for you than you want for yourself. That is real love.
I long for your embrace. I wait day in and day out for your return on the horizon. Even a word. A glimpse of hope. I would search under every rock and behind every tree if I knew it was better for you. But you’ve chosen a different path. One you have to get to the end of on your own. Not because I want it that way. But because you insist. You don’t see yet. You don’t trust because you don’t know that you are safe and that you are loved. Dearly. Deeply.
I was thinking this evening about how it probably wasn’t just luck or coincidence that Ruth ended up in her Redeemer’s field. How do we then balance the tension between recognizing Divine coordination and reading too much into things?
I have had many instances in my life where my paths crossed with someone else with such specificity to my situation that I just cannot accept it as purely random, a manifestation of positive thinking, or related to attraction theories. There seems to be something much bigger happening.
And yet we know God is not a puppet master. He Created us to create. To make our own decisions. I don’t feel like I have the space I need in my mind to fully appreciate or understand the dance between His omnipotence and our free will. I can spend hours analyzing the nuances of my every step as they pertain to this question. Or I can live. And trust. Like a child. That kind of knowing settles in where it needs to go only through experience. Not endless education.
We are invited into relationship. I feel confident that we are also invited to participate in this Divine Dance, as some refer to it.
There used to be a country song that I heard but cannot recall right now. It had a lyric that basically was: she wants to know how the song ends before she starts to dance. We can get stuck there. I’ll say it as long as I live: perfect love casts out fear.
Here I’ve been trying to know as much as possible all my life. Endless preparations and rehearsals. Over the years more and more of what I was so sure I knew feels like best guesses for the most part.
Now it is becoming clearer to me that the only thing I really need to know and can know for sure is God. That’s it.
Have you ever struggled with condemnation? I thought the message by Nick Padovani in the video embedded at the very bottom of this post was maybe one of the best messages I’ve ever heard in regards to spiritual warfare. I highly recommend it. Goes along some lines of what I wrote in a separate post earlier today. Makes me so excited – Holy Spirit on fire and on the move!
The following are some of my favorite quotes from the message and then some additional information I found elsewhere on Romans 8:1.
“Satan loves to operate through religion. He loves to masquerade through a religiosity… And today, there is so much that’s masquerading as religion that really just wants to condemn and steal. It might look spiritual. It might have all the right words. But underneath that fasting, prophesying voice is many times jealousy, selfishness, and false humility.”
“If satan can get you to allow condemnation in your heart, that’s all he needs to steal joy, peace, and love from expressing itself in your soul.”
“He’s not as interested in the sin itself as in the effect of the sin on your conscious.”
“Satan goes after your heart. He goes after your innocence. He goes after the true identity within. He goes for your heart and he shoots these fiery arrows of condemnation and fear in order to get that guilt process started. The shame which then leads to the condemnation. Which leads to the closing out of life, of your inheritance from bursting forth like a river inside of you. So notice, I’m not saying he actually steals The Spirit from you. He wants you to think that. What he does is he steals the ability for The Spirit to flow freely in your life. So we have to put on the breastplate of righteousness. So another question, is that the breastplate of YOUR righteousness? …The breastplate of righteousness is Jesus’ righteousness. It’s His truth about you. It’s how The Father sees you and feels about you… Have you ever heard the gospel?”
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are IN Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1
Why did I leave off the rest of what you might see of Romans 8:1 in your Bible? I’ll end by asking you to read the following from Precept Austin:
“The Nestle-Aland and Westcott and Hort Greek texts do not consider this phrase as legitimate. It is probable that a copyist inadvertently picked up the phrase from Romans 8:4 which has the identical wording.”
“Can you see how this additional phrase leads to a slightly different interpretation of ‘no condemnation’? Paul is not basing his declaration of no condemnation upon our conduct, but upon our position (in Christ). While it is true that those who are in Christ should not and do not consistently walk according to the flesh, this is not a condition for their status of ‘no condemnation’ and for that we are thank our merciful Father for the wisdom and perfection of His plan of salvation.”
“The Net Bible also adds this note: ‘The earliest and best witnesses of the Alexandrian and Western texts have no additional words for v1. Both the external evidence and the internal evidence are completely compelling for the shortest reading. The scribes were obviously motivated to add such qualifications (interpolated from v4), for otherwise Paul’s gospel smelled too much of grace.’!”
“Dr Harry Ironside has an interesting thought on the variation in translations remarking that ‘Careful students of the original text discover that the last part of Romans 8:1 in the King James version is an interpolation properly belonging to verse 4 [Romans 8:4]. The magnificent statement that opens Romans 8 – “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” – requires no qualifying clause. Our justification does not depend on our walk. Freedom from condemnation is given to all who are in Christ, and to be in Him means to be of the new creation. A glance at the Revised version or any critical translation will show that what I am pointing out is sustained by all the editors. It was man’s innate aversion to sovereign grace, I am certain, that brought these qualifying words into the text of the King James version. It seemed too much to believe that freedom from condemnation depended solely on being in Christ Jesus and not on our walking after the Spirit.'”
Empty pockets, open hands. 💞💗