If you have been reading these posts for any while you know that one of my “broken records” is our fallen perspective because of our consumption of bad fruit. When we chose to make our sustenance the fruit from the knowledge of good and evil fruit tree we really got messed up. Before the cross it was so bad that it was impossible to even see the Kingdom of Heaven which was among us. Ouch! No one knew or had seen God. Not even Moses or Jeremiah or David knew God. (Jesus said that not me.) We were really messed up and were making stuff up based on our fallen way of thinking. We processed only through a good-bad filter, trying to figure everything out based on observations of a fallen world. Greek philosophy erupted during this time before Jesus. (Much of that wisdom has propagated into western Christianity today.) Then Jesus came to do what He planned all along. He included mankind in Himself. The good news is NOT that we can ask Jesus into our lives but IS Jesus has already taken all of us into His life.
Now years and years later we still struggle in our minds with all kinds of fallen thinking. The darkness still doesn’t see the light. Our blindness to His goodness mutates into religious striving to become something we are already. Religion confuses our thinking and operates in the darkness of separation from God when Jesus has clearly joined Himself to mankind. We have never been apart from our creator Jesus (The Word) and have never been without the light. Now, as a new creation, we have the capacity to “see” the Kingdom and step into the Kingdom. We are in union with our Salvation. We are included in the triune family of awesome! We are no farther from our Father than the breath of Jesus Himself. We are accepted and understood and even liked. God’s plan was always to include His children in His family in a tangible and real way. The incarnation, death and resurrection makes that possible and actual and real. We are in Him and He is in us and the Father is in Him and the Holy Spirit illuminates the whole thing as a certainty. We are forever in the love dance of our family.
When we begin our walk with Jesus the starting point must be the gospel. If we start from the wrong place we will never find the right road. If we begin from concepts founded in darkness we will stumble around in the dark with the blind leading the blind and all of us falling into pits now and then. If we begin with separation from God or the terror of God’s punishment or our good-bad judgment processor, we will be stuck on the wrong road until we have a wreck and wake up on the right road, walking in the light. It happened to Paul so there is always hope.
I have an example of starting at the wrong place and never finding the right road.
In my early training in the Navy I was learning to fly the F/A-18. Back then the airplane was a single seat fighter so you needed to know how to navigate, talk on the radio, execute tactics and work all the systems by yourself. There was a lot to soak in. While we were learning in the training squadron we would sometimes have a flight in a two seat airplane with an instructor. There was some of that hands on kind of training. He would show you something and you would repeat. Still there were two brains in the cockpit to keep from making mistakes that can get you into trouble. Other times the instructor was in another aircraft. For those flights he would “chase” you as a wingman to evaluate how well you did on a particular mission. On this day the mission was a low-level navigation and the instructor was “chasing me.” One brain in the cockpit…mine.
We were in Florida and the low-level I had planned was a route through parts of Georgia and back into Florida. We were to fly the route at the minimum altitude which was about 500 feet for this low-level. We didn’t have GPS in the airplane back then so you would fly using your inertial system and use the map to check your location and timing. An inertial system is a “dead reckoning” system. You put in a starting location when you start-up the aircraft. Then the system measures your velocities and calculates your position based on how long and how fast you have traveled a particular direction. Over time it can develop errors but in general the systems were pretty good. The error was mostly less than a half a mile which was pretty good back then.
I don’t know if you have ever been to Florida but let me tell you it is very flat. The only vertical development is in the form of radio towers (which can get pretty tall). The instructor’s grading of this flight was based on my ability to fly the route precisely, hitting each checkpoint on time and checking my progress on the chart I carried in the jet. The checking the chart thing is tough since everything in Florida looks the same from 500ft. Pines trees and more pine trees. Grass and chicken farms. Fields and ponds. Radio towers and road intersections. It is pretty nondescript. So when you are flying you find yourself looking down as you pass over an intersection or pass by a tower and you look at the chart to see if you are where you are supposed to be. Did I mention that there are a lot of towers?
I take off, fly the route and feel pretty good about the whole thing. I am ready to hi-five the instructor as we walk back to the hanger and instead he looks at me in distress. He says, I have to go and see the CO about what I am supposed to do. I am thinking “what, dude are you crazy?” He comes back and sits me down with a very serious look on his face. Now I am getting worried. So far in my training I had no “bad marks” on any flights. He says “I have to give you a down.” OK, what He just said is “I have to give you an F, you failed, you could get kicked out, this may be the end, I’m not sure you can recover from this mistake.” I still don’t know what I did wrong.
He says to me…”you were so lost, didn’t you know how lost you were?” Wow! Now he is crazy. After some considerable discussion (argument) I discovered that he was very right. Somehow I had put in the WRONG STARTING POINT in my inertial navigation system. I had put in a point that was 15 miles off! From that moment on I flew an entire low-level 15 miles from the intended route. Thankfully we didn’t fly over any towns. If we had been that far off of the route I could have been violated by the FAA and lost my wings (couldn’t fly anymore). I was so exasperated. I had checked every point and had even made a considerable timing correction. At one point I was unsure about a few checkpoints but I found the “right towers” (they all look the same) and made a correction. Wow was I all messed up. It was like I was flying blindfolded in the darkness and didn’t even know it.
Starting points have everything to do with the path and the finished line. The beginning has everything to do with the journey.
Let me help you “align you inertial system” for your journey. First God is good. You could pretty much stop there if it weren’t for our fallen thinker and a bunch of Greek deterministic cosmology running around in our heads. So you need a context for good, believe it or not.
We are not separate from God in any way any how. Read John Chapter one and Colossians Chapter one as starting points. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth and get a good alignment to start. Read John 12-17. You will find your inclusion. Look at Colossians chapter 2 and 3 and see your inclusion. There are many more places to go and you will discover inclusion and union in so many passages (Rom 5, 2 Cor 5). It will blow you away.
Next take fear and destroy it with His love. If you fear the punishment of God then you don’t know His love. Read 1 John 4. Soak it in. You are His child and you are included (no separation). The healthy fear of God is seeing how awesome He is and how you wouldn’t want to ever jeopardize that relationship with some stupid counterfeit.
Next take your judger and put it in its place. Discernment of morality and making good choices is a tool not a master. You are not positioned to judge anyone or even yourself. Tell the conscience to submit to God’s love and goodness and kindness and truth. You have been judged in Jesus. You are sitting in Him in the circle of the family of God. You are being judged and found completely worthy and righteous even right now. This is your inclusion in Him. Check out Hebrews 9 and 10. Take a journey in 1 John 3 to see how the heart should not condemn you. Put the good-bad where it belongs. Stop eating from that forbidden fruit. It is still forbidden by the way.
Now enjoy the journey. Take a peek at your chart every now and then to make sure you haven’t drifted off course. The darkness has been revealed. It is anything counter to what Jesus has done for you (see above). The light is shining through the darkness and now you can see it. Your inertial system has been properly aligned. It may take some maintenance to ensure the starting point is still valid. It may take some “humility” to dump some old teaching or thinking. It may take a little time (or a bunch) of reflection and letting go “being right” to “see right.” The starting point is everything. Guess what…you already know the starting point perfectly…Jesus in you.