I have learned something vital over the last year or so. Something that I can't figure out how I ever lived without. I have experienced inextricable heart break and grief, and felt the sting of rejection penetrate the depths of my already raw and tender heart.
In the strongest sense, I understand what it means and what it feels like when God allows your heart to experience pain in the most intense manner.
I know what it's like to have your joy robbed from you and replaced with a black cloud of seemingly unending despair.
I know what it's like to have your world shattered into a million pieces and to wake up one day and realize that it has been shattering for years, but love tried to conceal the brokenness and denial was an easy escape from reality.
But you know something else? If you never experience darkness, you don't know what *true* light looks like. You can't appreciate the freedom that Jesus died for you to have, if you have never known what bondage and oppression feels like. You can't know how to minister to a hurting heart, if your heart has never hurt.
I have learned that subscribing to any, and when I say any, I mean *ANY*, movement whatsoever, is a death sentence and the most dangerous thing you can possibly ever do to your spirit... the spirit that God gave you and seeks to fuse your soul to Jesus... the spirit that is supposed to illuminate dark corners and heal broken hearts... the spirit that is supposed to be nurtured and take care of by us.
When people want to constantly pour guilt and burdens on you, because they have developed their own set of *rules* that you are to obey or risk offending these people (who act as if they are members of the Royal family), do me a favor and run, because the guilty are not trusting in Christ to bear their guilt and consequently are trying to dump their guilt somewhere. Run for your life because those people will entangle you in a web that can only be broken by God Himself. Run because they were sent by Satan to rob you of your freedom that our precious One spilled His blood for. Run because your tears of joy will be turned into tears of depression and you will feel like you are not meeting up to standards that some random man made, instead of using God's standards to show you how much you need Him -- and only Him.
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If there is one thing that I could tell every single true Christ living and breathing Christian I know, it would be: 1) that I love them as if we had the same blood running through our veins, and 2) that all they need to do is live their lives in the face of Jesus and proclaim His Gospel with every breath that they take.
I wouldn't give them a list of do's and don'ts -- I wouldn't hand them a bazillion books and direct them to a gabillion websites. I would say that the organic Word of God Almighty is the only "rule" for Christian living that is necessary. (*note: I am not saying that we are islands and need no one else to help us interpret the Word, nor am I saying that we don't need pastors and teachers, etc., but we do need to make certain they are true shepherds and leaders, not spiritually abusive and self-seeking wolves. I am also not saying that with the problems that come with life, getting help from outside sources isn't necessary. God gave us resources, knowledge and skills to assist us through some complex situations that life throws at us. I am talking here about just basic Christian living.) Labels, movements, lists, conferences, ladies' teas, retreats, churches that seek to centralize family or marriage above the Bride of Jesus Christ, audios, books, books and MORE books, etc., etc. -- all of those things are recipes for a life of trauma, unrest and plain old hell, if they are abused and used as tools to mold into submission everyone that a group or set of people deems "rebellious"... not submission to God, but to leaders who bear no God given authority whatsoever, but deviously desire control and power and fame.
As human beings, we desire control and power. We thirst for something that will make us feel like a god. Sometimes this desire is demonstrated most strongly when people claim the name of Jesus and are not truly converted in their hearts.
For instance, what better way is there for a power hungry man or woman, to satisfy this raging hunger, than to masquerade as a true convert in the faith and have others begin to esteem them as a highly religious and respected Christian, and then try to jam others underneath their power and control and take individuals and shove them into their own man made mold of what they think people should be? The only way for a small person, submerged in a culture like this, to get any attention or love or affection, is to bow and worship and wash enough feet to be deemed worthy enough.
It is demeaning, shameful and certainly not what our Beloved sought to instill in the hearts of those who are clothed in His righteousness.
We don't have to earn the love of Jesus... as a matter of fact, we are incapable of earning His love! That is the whole point!! As the elect, we were chosen! We were selected to be loved. We did not do one single thing to earn it.
I am loved.
That is it.
I don't have to prove that I am loved. I do not have to prove that I am worth loving. I do not have to expect others to do things that I did *not* have to do in order for me to be loved. And I certainly do not have the right to tell someone that if they don't follow A, B or C, they can't be loved with the love that has been bestowed on me.
We are not loved because we are perfect... we are being perfected because we are loved! The point in living a life that is different from the world, is to show how love transforms. Not to maintain being loved, not to show how worthy we are of love, but to show how wonderful it is to be loved to perfection.
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Ask anyone who was formerly in a cult, how they got there, and they often don't even know. It is a slow process and it usually comes because someone preyed upon a victim's feelings of worthlessness and instead of pouring the love and balm of Grace over it, they took advantage of it and told them all they had to do was a few little steps and they would be whipped right into shape. They use you for their own selfish desires and set you up to fail publicly, by loading you down. Then once they have destroyed you, they remove all traces that you ever even existed within their feigned godly circle
The enemy is as a ravenous lion, seeking whom he may devour. You think he is an idiot? You think he doesn't know the power of subtlety? You think that he is going to be obvious? Well if you do then you are an obvious idiot!! Satan isn't going to run around, clashing a set of cymbals, declaring that he is hoping to destroy your life! He is going to do it sllllowly, softly and oh so quietly that you won't know what hit you until it is almost too late.
*Rabbit trail alert*
*Rabbit trail alert*
I love good books! I love well written, solid story line, classic literature! (I am kind of a snob when it comes to my books; but another day, another rant.) Honestly, I went through this phase where I felt guilty for reading anything fictional. It was kind of a gnostic approach to literature. I felt that it had to be something that was spiritual, in order for it to be worth my time.
Now God has delivered me from that and shown me that He designed the imagination to create all forms of art, whether it be music, books, paintings, drawings, cakes, photography, etc. These things point us to the beauty He created us with! Delphiniums (for those who don't know, that is a flower), Peonies, Weeping Willows and Pecan trees all scream to the majesty of their Creator, simply by displaying their beauty. Art is the same way. Photography is an art, but photos don't have to be solely of Churches or crosses to be enjoyed by Christians. Unless it defies God or discredits or is not glorifying to Him, then we should be able to enjoy it.
I love love love LOVE, To Kill a Mockingbird! It is one of my favorite books! There is much to learn in it, but also much to just simply enjoy. (I'm not saying you should ever enjoy sin being condoned or displayed in a glorified manner, by the way.) Harper Lee had a gift that I envy, but I can see how beautifully God created the human mind.
I recently decided that I would pick this book back up again and one line in particular, hit me right where I am at in life...
“Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of another."
Whoa! Wait a second! What?! How did she know?!
A Pharisee with a Bible, is just as dangerous as a drunk with a bottle of booze. They take the Word of God, and use it to bind, manipulate and oppress God's people, all for their own glory and benefit, including raising themselves to a more famous stature.
You think God likes this? You think God is just going to wink and nod approvingly?
Why do we have such a low view of God, that we think He isn't going to *care* if someone uses HIS WORDS to falsely misrepresent Him to get others to do what THEY want them to do.
Ummm... I don't know about all y'all, but Ima feared they is gunna be under some fiercest judgment if they don't go a repentin' for their crimes against the Ruler of... everything.
Sounds a bit dangerous to me! Which is why I ache and suffer pain over my desire to just live my life in accordance with the Gospel. I don't want a polluted Gospel... just the plain. organic. whole. Gospel that Jesus preached.
That doesn't sound too hard, now does it?
That was a trick question, and if you answered "no, it doesn't sound hard at all", why then, you have a lot to learn, because it is the *hardest* lesson to learn in the whole world... but God is good to teach us, and be there to catch us when we fall, because frankly, the "cloud of being taken in by others' false system of Christianity" is a looooooong way to fall from.
So tread lightly, move gently, love much and above all trust Jesus...