John 14:18-20 “I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you. (The Message)
Learning how to live as one with Jesus will stretch our minds and elevate our souls into a reality that changes everything. Our upside down thinking gets flipped so that we can now use our mind of Christ to see what Jesus sees and know what Jesus knows and feel what He feels and love how He loves. It is absolutely mind-blowing to walk in the ecstatic freedom of total assurance. We live from the bliss found in the totality of the finished work of Jesus. We dance and sing and laugh in the triune circle of inclusion. We wake up each and every day as a Child of God with opportunities all around us to reveal a God who has not given up on His children. We light up a room with the glory of a Jesus who removed every excuse for God’s children to fear His punishment. Through us the Holy Spirit illuminates a Jesus who reveals a Father that has never been disgusted or angry at any of His kids. In the Father’s Son’s shoes, we stand on the road waiting for the prodigal to come this way. We embrace the lost, surrender our place to the last and exalt before everyone the least. This is our discipleship. This is our calling. This is our service. This is our obedience. This is what it means to be one with Jesus. He does all the heavy lifting. We walk with Him in the revelation of Him in the Father, us in Him and Him in us. That is our journey.
So with all that is going on in the news and on social media and the rest…are we walking in union with Jesus?
I could quote so many verses right now that clearly reveal that Jesus has removed any judicial necessity for sin punishment in our eternal reality. Jesus took away the sins of the world. He is the propitiation for all of the world. He became our sin so we are His righteousness. We are under a new covenant where God doesn’t even remember or count our sins against us. I could go on and on and on, but that would be just another debate. Instead let me go a little deeper and take a greater risk and just jump off this cliff before me.
As a pastor and teacher and writer I get asked questions like “well if Grace is all you say it is then are you saying we should just let people keep on sinning?” There are other versions of the same theme like “so we should keep on sinning so Grace will abound? (wait, that is what they said to Paul)” Or statements like “what you are teaching gives people a right to sin.” I used to dodge those questions and statements. I used to turn the tables and bring the debate and appeal to their “compassionate” side. Now I think I am ready for a different approach.
What happens if “they” or “we” or anybody keeps on sinning? Really I am asking the question point-blank. What if they just don’t stop? What if we let them off the hook? I’m not talking about redefining sin or minimizing the list or anything like that. I mean the bad stuff. I mean the list that is especially bad to us. You know the sins that are really really awful. We all tell lies and gossip and get angry and covet people s stuff and worship money and use God’s name to curse people and…well other “little” stuff like that. We might look at the hot chick next door and daydream inappropriately but that isn’t really that bad. We might check out the abs on that one commercial and think about a boyfriend replacement but that is normal. I mean the stuff like cheating on your spouse or stealing or hurting people or even living in sexual perversion. Not the sexual perversion like a guy and girl living together that really love each other and will likely get married soon so they are really “married” already so that sex is OK. I mean the really perverse stuff like same-sex marriage stuff. Maybe I missed some and that isn’t all the bad stuff but there may be more things to list if we spend some time thinking about what “they all do,” You know “they,” right? All those sinners. What if they keep on sinning?
(I hope you get a sense of the sarcasm. Words on a post don’t quite capture the disdain.)
What if they do? No doubt it will hurt them and others. It will reap a bunch of bad fruit. It will definitely impact the quality of their lives. It may even shorten their lives or the lives of others. It will be a head smashing against a wall over and over again with the thought that this time it will be better…experience. But what else happens? What happens with God? What happens in the judgment? How does it affect our eternal destination? Ready for the answer? It doesn’t.
Jesus is our righteousness. We are in Him and He is in us. Heaven and Hell are full of forgiven sinners. There is no person on the planet that Jesus didn’t die for. Our inclusion in Him was outside our choice. Our insistence on a punishing g.o.d. with a hell of torment that lasts forever and ever is not real but is our human insistence on human judgment born out of endless consumption of good-bad fruit. Heaven and hell are both in the presence of God. They are the same place since all places are in Him. Hell is a place where the inhabitants are screaming at God for human judgment and justice and torture and payment. It is a place of un-forgiveness in the presence of absolute forgiveness. It is a place where the love of God is so intense as to burn away any semblance of un-forgiveness and selfishness and self-centerdeness and exclusion insistence. God does not reject. God does not exclude. He dies to include everyone. We are all His kids whether we like it or believe it or accept it or not. Any part of us that is inconsistent with God’s nature must be burned away like stubble and chaff so only the gold remains. That is our eternal existence. For some it will be heavenly to be in the presence of pure Love in an eternal embrace of His perfect goodness and acceptance. His burning love will finally remove any remaining lies about His goodness. For others it will be hell and ultimately destruction.
So back to planet Earth and this reality right now. What about “all those sinners?” What do we do about them? We do what God does.
Luke 15:11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. (ESV)
God financed the son’s delusion and dysfunction and independence.
This is why we must see the truth of the incarnation. Jesus comes into our “flesh” to join our “sinfulness” to overcome our “Sin” to kill our Adam and raise us again as a new creation. We are so connected to Him that we are one with Him. Jesus entered into our darkness so we would find Him in our darkness. What was our greatest darkness, our unforgivable sin? We rejected GOD to death. It wasn’t just Pharisees and Romans. It was all of mankind. While we beat Him and spit on Him and mocked Him and hung Him on a cross saying “if you are the Son of God…” He said “forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” In that moment Jesus had entered our darkest place and joined us in our worst moment. He became our Sin. So now, today, right in this moment everywhere on every continent and in every dark place…THERE IS JESUS. Please “see” this.
We have made Jesus so small in our religion. How have we missed Him. It makes me cry to think how far He went just so we would never be without Him. Think about it. Where did the prodigal son meet Jesus? He met Him in the pig pen. Right there with the pig-poop sandwich inches from his lips, he said Abba. In that moment a child met his father. He comes home to find a father who doesn’t want speeches or any of that arrogant self-righteous human effort junk. No. He wants to embrace his smelly, dirty, awful, sinful, rotten, putrid, rebellious, inheritance squandering…the list goes on and on…son. He loves him and has always been there for him. This is what Jesus has done for us with the Father and Holy Spirit with Him.
When the father throws a party for the younger son, who at the party is pissed? Who wants no part of the celebration? Who is insisting on “justice” and “judgment” and “payments” and “fairness?”
I don’t know why it is this way with all of us. I don’t know why God doesn’t just carry us all away into happy land, but I am beginning to get a glimpse of His wisdom in all of it.
We are still very much in the darkness. We are still very blind to how amazing God really is. We are still rejecting Him for our insistence on our good-bad, forbidden fruit, fairness. God’s fairness is He includes us all and the only “getting out of this family” is our total rejection of Him. It comes in many forms but one of the most apparent is a religious spirit that declares “you can’t let them in.” To live eternally with a God who is unconditional forgiveness and mercy and love, we can’t be opposed to His nature, right?
Just this week I saw the movie “Inside Out.” Now I didn’t think about that title and the last few posts but there it was right in the movie. Why isn’t it all pixie dust and fairy tales and utopias here now with Jesus within everyone? That is the first place our fallen thinker leaps. In the movie there is a moment when “Joy” realizes there can be no joy or happiness without sadness. It really hit me. Isn’t that what is going on all around us? Isn’t “sin” just an opportunity for Jesus to show up? Isn’t a crash into the wall a moment when Jesus shines bright in the darkness?
My worst moment, the day I was handcuffed and put in a police car for DUI was the best moment of my life. If you haven’t been there you may not understand. In a moment I ended and Jesus gave me life. In the darkness the light was very bright. God didn’t make me a drinker or wasn’t trying to teach me a lesson. It was just years of investment on my part reaching a pinnacle of unwanted returns. And there He was. He was standing right there. He had always been standing there and I didn’t know it.
So be very careful about vilifying and objectifying and excluding and dividing and threatening people with a g.o.d who isn’t real. Jesus is way bigger and better than we can understand. Watch out for judgment when even Jesus didn’t come to judge but to save. Don’t be the older brother standing outside throwing a temper tantrum. The party is real and it is now. Don’t be surprised who is in the party. Let Jesus show you how to join in. He takes away all those urges to gorge ourselves on forbidden fruit. He is the bread of life. You can be free of judgment and embrace forgiveness. There is nothing more beautiful or fulfilling than to see another person realize they are forgiven too. We get to plant the seed and reveal a Jesus who will meet us in our darkness. One day someone you meet might be sitting in the back of their own “police car.” Won’t it be amazing when they remember an encounter with you and you showed them the Love and acceptance of their Abba.