When you undergo deep inner transformation, you begin to awake to the reality of the Good News of Jesus Christ. You begin to sense and see unconditional love of the Father toward humankind, and you begin to flow in his divine power to bring about genuine transformative changes in people, places, and situations. You begin to feel like you’ve finally found the pearl of great price, and you can’t wait to share your findings with those around you.
And here comes the reality check. There might be an array of unexpected reactions coming from those who are supposed to have all the right answers. If that wasn’t your situation, and you had seasoned, mature, secure mentors around who saw you through the process – that is truly wonderful! That’s how its supposed to work. But not all of us were as fortunate.
It’s not at all uncommon to get the kind of advice from spiritual leaders which would actually arrest your transformation, or even roll it back. The worst of it may come when your new insights actually begin to really work for you. Many people are afraid to admit that these types of problems are endemic for a fairly sizable sliver of institutional Christianity for fear of appearing “divisive”. But in my opinion, this is the same as CDC not admitting known facts about serious epidemics for fear of appearing alarmist. This is nothing but “cover my own butt and let everyone else repeat my errors” kind of fearful mentality.
This might be fiction, or this might be what really happened. And I ain’t telling which one that is …
MY ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS
I heard a gentle whisper in my ear: “Come, follow me”. I turned around, but there was no one in the room. But I knew what I heard was real.
“Who are you?”, I asked, in childlike awe and wonder.
“I am Jesus, who you have been reading and hearing about.”
When Jesus was speaking, his lips weren’t moving at all, for whatever reason. I heard and understood everything he was saying, though.
“Follow you? Follow you where?”
“Wherever I call you to”.
This didn’t seem scary at all. Rather, an intoxicating sense of excitement and fascination welled up in me, sending shivers through my entire body. Finally, I was starting to get a sense that all my searches have led me to the One.
Plus, there’s only so low you can fall. And for a while, I have really felt like I hit rock bottom.
In Christian culture, we like saying stuff like “Let’s seek God”. I am not sure what that means. Should we check under the pews, maybe? Perhaps he’s hiding there. I didn’t know that God’s plan included a few rounds of hide-and-seek.
Or how about this – “we are waiting for you, God”. Waiting for what exactly? God showed up 2000 years ago on the cross of Calvary. I think we got our turns confused on the chessboard of life. It’s not us who are waiting on God. It’s God who is waiting on us.
We all want to see miracles from God. I think God is waiting to see some miracles from us. And the biggest miracle, perhaps, would be transforming our church subcultures from keeping us stuck in the mentality of sin-conscious pew warmers and instead treating us as entering into the ever-increasing glory of sons and daughters of the Most High God, walking in his majesty and splendor, and manifesting his love and power all across their cities, regions, countries, and the whole world.
It’s a very different experience to know the Bright Figure by name (vis-a-vis the last stanza)
Dashing hard against glass walls,
So impenetrable and thick –
It doesn’t seem like I can escape
From the self-imposed prison of standards and rules.
I look through the glass, and I see the bright sun,
The colors and smells of everyday life.
A fresh-painted bedroom, a just-printed book,
A cleanly bathed baby, playfully cooing.
We were designed to have a close fellowship with God every day, spirit to spirit. Then one day, satan told humans that they don’t have to be that tight with God, and that they can determine their own good and evil. Humans gave that a try, and some pretty major stuff hit the big fan.
Today, God is again inviting us for close fellowship with him, daily. He loves to see his children secure, happy, and fulfilled. However, most of us have been fed on a steady diet of shame, guilt, and fear. We steadfastly refuse the fact that God’s heart desire is to restore the former glory back to us:
22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Only after we realize that Jesus came to give us back God’s glory, can we be secure enough in our identity that we would come together as the body of Christ in full unity. And only then the world will know that God has sent Jesus, and loves them no less that he loves his own son Jesus.
A fundamentalist approach of ardently structuring one’s life by following the letter of the holy book of any religion produces people that are fragmented at deep levels of their humanity. Folks like that wear their religion as a man wears his headache. Their character is opposite of wholesome. Various fragments of their character are rigid, and are poorly fitted together, always angrily creaking, always ready to give way at the fault lines. (This visual gives a new meaning to the word “character faults”, doesn’t it?)
A life lived like that is always do, do, do, in a never-ending quest to become. While that zeal and commitment can be admirable, the very system is deeply flawed. Its moral compass always points away from self and onto others. People living that life always build walls, draw lines, arbitrarily decide who is in and who is out, leave many wounded any dying in their wake, they scoff at laughter and joy, scorn childlikeness, trample over destinies, and ultimately sacrifice their soul on the altar of being right. As Blaise Pascal once said, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”
The whore of Babylon is a mindset, an ideology of man-made religion. It’s an ideology that holds many captive. I took artistic liberties to describe how I perceive it within the Biblical framework (mainly Rev. 17, 18). This is not an expose or criticism of any organization, or group of people.
However, this mindset can be expressed both individually and institutionally. Therefore, I won’t say that any resemblance to existing religious ideologies is purely coincidental. Most likely, it is not. If the shoe fits – wear it. (Of course, that goes for me too.)
The whore of Babylon is beyond redemption, but she always masquerades as the bride of Christ. Seductive and sultry, she’s spread out on her luxurious linens, singing the siren songs of passivity, complacency, and either sin-tolerance, or sin-management for those with sensitive consciences. It’s her religious lovers who crucified my Lord Jesus Christ.
I have recently seen the movie “Spotlight”. It’s a movie about systemic pedophile sex abuses in Roman Catholic churches. In every major city the the US and abroad, there are hundreds to thousands people who have been preyed upon and sexually abused by clergy. The sexual predators get shuffled around from parish to parish, having a ready access to fresh supply of young flesh. They are almost never prosecuted by our criminal justice system. They are rarely even defrocked by the RC church.
That is a tremendous travesty of justice, and a very personal betrayal of the trust of Jesus Christ.
The problem with this issue is two-fold.
The first factor is this. The theological aspect to all of those abuses can be singularly traced to a grossly out of context interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7. It doesn’t talk at all about forced celibacy. It’s talking about postponing marriage due to the then-current economic crisis in Corinth (most likely, a famine). Additionally, the passage clarifies that there are those who willingly forsook marriage, since they were too busy spreading the Gospel. The key concept is “willingly”.
Today, we may also have people who are too busy for marriage, for a variety of reasons: business, career, etc. That’s the same idea here. But we are talking about Steve Jobs kind of busy, not a fast food restaurant manager kind of busy. About people who are really about God’s business out of the depth of their being. God’s kingdom to them is something that they live and breathe.
Being unmarried was shameful in the ancient Mediterranean societies. Paul’s argument completely refutes that idea. And that’s all there is to it.