Monday, May 12, 2008

Grace & Freedom & Worth & Such...

So... I was watching a TV show online last night. It was an episode of 'Numb3rs' called 'Atomic No 33' It is about a 'Christian' cult that gets poisoned. I was a little cautious - not sure how they were going to treat the subject. They treated it well. The thing that stuck out to me was an interaction between one of the regular characters - Dr. Flienhardt - who is a spiritual astro-physicist who has made some interesting spiritual journeys through the show... and is all about peace... He meets one of the head ladies at this 'church' and the sparks fly. This church's doctrine considers science evil. She accuses him of being in league with Lucifer. He loses his cool and gets in her face. He really struggles with his feelings on this... Then, through a conversation with another character, realizes that he has been acting toward her in the same 'bigoted' manner he was accusing her of. Then, he says something that has ended up on the sidebar of my blog - something he recognizes as the essential thing in spiritual dialogue... "Separating the ugliness of the dogma from the sincerity of the faith." Hmm... I'm really glad my Papa God is an expert at this!

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I decided to go back a look at some of the things that let me out to where I am now. The last few months I was at my former church, a friend and I began (prompted by the Holy Spirit, 'cause I didn't consciously know that it was even a problem!) praying for freedom. And this last 19 or so months, He has been doing just that. I came across some letters written between my friend and I on the ideas of freedom and worth (all in the fall of 2006)...

Letter 1: (on worth)

As I keep thinking about this [worth] . . . hmm . . . our worth is not determined by our physical condition - looks - the outward. Our worth is not determined by our emotional condition - fears - dreams - scars - pains. Our worth is not determined by our experiences or accomplishments - what has been done to us - what we have done. None of these things have anything to do with our worth.

The worth of something is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it . . .

So what was the price paid for us? In light of that, what are we worth?

Our worth to other people will vary. Some will consider us worth more than money can value (like the worth of a true friend). Others will consider us worthless . . . maybe because they are not able to see past the surface . . . maybe because they are focussed inward.

But to God, our worth is determined by what He is willing to give for us . . . 

Consider - God knew how we would be, what we would do - to each other - to ourselves - to Him - before He ever breathed the first Word of creation. And yet, He still chose to create us - knowing we would reject Him - kill Him . . . 

Our worth to Him . . . hmm . . .

Worth versus worthy . . . we are not - of ourselves - worthy of His Grace - His Mercy - His Love - His Life . . . but Love is not given - Mercy is not given - Grace is not given - Life is not given - based on worthiness . . . real love is not earned - it is a gift . . . we are not worthy - He has made us worthy - we are worth His life to Him . . . without that life, we are not worthy to be in His presence . . . paradoxes . . .

So when we look at each other through the eyes of God, we see great value. Hmm . . . when we look at ourselves through God's eyes . . .

He sees us the way He meant us to be . . . the way we really are . . . He sees us finished - complete - perfected in His Love.

Just some thoughts

Letter 2: (on worth)

Reading Mark 14 today and right off the bat - perceptions of worth...

"3-5 Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper. While He was eating dinner, a woman came up carrying a bottle of very expensive perfume. Opening the bottle, she poured it on his head. Some of the guests became furious among themselves. "That's criminal! A sheer waste! This perfume could have been sold for well over a year's wages and handed out to the poor." They swelled up in anger, nearly bursting with indignation over her.

6-9 But Jesus said, "Let her alone. Why are you giving her a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives. Whenever you feel like it, you can do something for them. Not so with me. She did what she could when she could - she pre-anointed my body for burial. And you can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she just did is going to be talked about admiringly."

10-11 Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the cabal of high priests, determined to betray him. They couldn't believe their ears, and promised to pay him well. He started looking for just the right moment to hand him over." - Mark 14:3-11 (The Message)

Hmm . . . the woman expressed her perception of Jesus worth . . .

Judas Iscariot expressed his perception of Jesus worth . . .

They were both with him every day in ministry . . knew him very well . . . 

One saw inestimable worth . . . 
the other . . .

Perceptions . . . hmm . . .
Letter 3: (on freedom)

Now I'm reading romans 10 . . .

"The earlier revelation was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it's not so easy - every detail of life regulated by fine print! But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story - no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah, no dangerous descent into hell to rescue the Messiah. So what exactly was Moses saying?

     The word that saves us is right here,
       as near as the tongue in your mouth,
       as close as the heart in your chest.
It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God - "Jesus is my Master" - embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!"" Romans 10:4-10 (The Message)

Hmm . . . if we fall into the trap of thinking we have to keep the Mosaic Law - the Old Covenant - in order to be righteous, we cut ourselves off from the righteousness given as a gift through Christ. Tragically, this cuts us off from all righteousness because no matter how meticulous we are, we can NEVER fulfill the Law by our own efforts . . . 

"For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written,The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith." Romans 1:17 (Amplified)
"I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ's hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law. I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior :faith expressed in love." Galatians 5:2-6 (The Message)

Hmm . . . powerful words, no?

Freedom - Law fulfilled by Christ - us in Christ - Law fulfilled in us . . . free . . .

Letter 4: (on freedom)

Another note . . . another passage . . . more understanding on freedom . . .

"So, then, if with Christ you've put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it? "Don't touch this! Don't taste that! Don't go near this!" Do you think things that are here today and gone tomorrow are worth that kind of attention? Such things sound impressive if said in a deep enough voice, They even give the illusion of being pious and humble and ascetic. But they're just another way of showing off, making yourselvs look important." Colossians 2:20-23 (The Message)

Rules . . . Law of Religion versus Law of Love . . . love your neighbor as yourself . . . this will, sometimes, cause you to not partake of something or do something that you have perfect liberty to do in order to not cause someone else to stumble because they do not yet see . . .

Peace . . . calm . . . stable . . . unshakable . . . love . . . fearless . . . patient . . . perceptive . . . wisdom . . . God in us . . . free . . .

Hmm . . .

Letter 5: (on freedom)

So . . . we need to quit trying to please God with our efforts or even think that we can . . . we do not have the ability to please Him - it is not in us . . . anything we do for Him is Him in us . . . quit trying to be the 'good Christian' and just surrender . . . quit trying so hard and just surrender. So simple . . . not works . . . grace - the Blood . . .

"And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 
    But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love wit which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:1-9 (NKJV)

We had nothing to do with earning our salvation and we have nothing to do with keeping it . . . 

HE drew us - HE convicted us - HE chose us - HE saved us . . . not us . . . at all . . . we just surrender . . .

"So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit." John 19:30 (NKJV)

He didn't say, "To be continued..."

"And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last."" Revelation 1:17 (NKJV)

He is everything . . .

"Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of [our] faith, who for the joy that was set before HIm endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)

He even is in charge of our faith . . .

"For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace." Romans 6:14 (NKJV)

Wow . . . 

"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises." Hebrews 8:6 (NKJV)

Hmm . . .

"So, since we're out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we're free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it's your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives, you've et sin tell you what to do. But thank God you've started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom!" Romans 6:15-18 (The Message)

FREEDOM!!

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." Galatians 5:1 (NKJV)

Hold on to your liberty! FREEDOM!!! FREEDOM!!! FREEDOM!!!

Law and works are the opposite of grace and mercy.

     LAW                                       GRACE
     Follow the rules                    It is a free gift
     See your sin and shame       God accepts you as you are
     Consciousness of sin             Awareness of righteousness
     Do or die!                               Embrace Jesus and live!

"For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells, for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find." Romans 7:14-16 (NKJV)

We are not capable of making ourselves good enough to please God - ever - by any means . . .

His greatest pleasure is when we allow Him to do the work . . . enter into His rest . . .

We must quit trying to subdue our own sins . . . we are not able . . . give them to Jesus and let HIM do it!

"He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast our sins into the depths of the sea." Micah 7:19 (NKJV)
"For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for [His] good pleasure." Philippians 2:13 (NKJV)
"For My yoke [is] easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:30 (NKJV)
"Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly  I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." John 8:34-36 (NKJV)

We CANNOT solve our own problems . . . we CANNOT clean ourselves up . . . if we could, why would we need Jesus?

" So he answered and said to me, "This [is] the word if the LORD to Zerubbabel: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," Says the LORD of hosts" Zechariah 4:6 (NKJV)

Hmm . . . quit trying and surrender . . . let the Spirit of God do what He wants . . .

I haven't fully got this yet, but I am seeing the light dawning . . . do you see it?

Not striving and straining and stressing to do it right . . . no . . .

Saying, "God, I sinned - forgive me - cleanse me - subdue my iniquities in Jesus name - I plead the Blood over them - thank You."

So simple . . . do you see?

Excitement . . . His yoke is easy and His burden is light indeed . . . WE don't have to do the work!!!! Just surrender . . . 

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Current thoughts...

"THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [ the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2 (Amplified)

Freedom. I think, if I had known 19 months ago, when I began praying for freedom, where that would lead, I might have balked - cutting things loose that I thought were permanent - learning that it is okay to say no, even to parents and pastors. It is still a work in progress - I think it will be until we die. But for now, I am working on letting go of the guilt and the anxiety that I am 'getting it wrong.' Of course I am. One of the things God has been saying to me through this whole process is, "Relax and trust Me." - said with a smile, not a frown. And He has been teaching me how to do that. I am a long way from it, but I am closer than I have ever been. 

"Then he said, "How can I picture God's kingdom for you? What kind of story can I use? It's like a pine nut that a man plants in his front yard. It grows into a huge pine tree with thick branches, and eagles build nests in it."" Luke 13:18-10 (The Message)

So... it is a process of growth - the kingdom grows within us. By the hand - the Spirit - of God. Teaching me - leading me into the freedom to live... learning to live my own life, not on the terms of men, but on God's terms.

"And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free." John 8:32 (Amplified)

9 comments:

Robert said...

wow be careful what you pray for eh katherine?? So much of what you shared holds so true. Surrender to the work He has done and let His love and Spirit lead me into freedom. So very simple yet also so amzingly difficult to grasp and just wade in. So loved your saying He wore a smile and not a frown. Even with constant failing He still always smiles and reaches out in love and grace. My emotional core needs to bathe in this every second!!! Thank you katherine love your sharing!!

jON said...

my goodness, i don't even know where to begin. first, let me say thanks for stopping by my blog. things are usually a little more lively, but you've caught us in the middle of a game of apples to apples. feel free to jump in if you would like.

you talk as much as i do! i've only skimmed so far as it is very late. give me a day or two to catch up and we can chat about some of these things. if you don't mind a little conversation that is...

always good to meet others on the journey.

Katherine Gunn said...

robert~

Hmm... you are welcome. :-D

jon~

Conversation is one of those things I definitely don't mind. ;-D Thanks for coming by...

CZBZ said...

"Freedom. I think, if I had known 19 months ago, when I began praying for freedom, where that would lead, I might have balked - cutting things loose that I thought were permanent - learning that it is okay to say no, even to parents and pastors. It is still a work in progress - I think it will be until we die. But for now, I am working on letting go of the guilt and the anxiety that I am 'getting it wrong.' Of course I am. One of the things God has been saying to me through this whole process is, "Relax and trust Me." - said with a smile, not a frown. And He has been teaching me how to do that. I am a long way from it, but I am closer than I have ever been. "

Well said, Katherine! I always cringe when people say they are on a journey to enlightenment...as if they're headed for a suntan in the Bahamas. If people really knew what they were asking for, they'd run the other direction. ha!

I used to yearn for 'freedom' never expecting the price I'd pay. But you know what? Despite the tears and suffering, it's been worth every box of Kleenex.

Maybe the Xanax helped a little bit, too.

Somehow, true seekers manage to have just enough courage, just enough stamina, just enough faith to endure. In fact, we find out what it means to trust God to support us when we're no longer able to stand on our own.

It took a lot to get me on my knees but life has never been sweeter than when I sacrificed pride for a big dose of healthy humility.

Big Hugs,
CZ

Katherine Gunn said...

CZBZ~

Thanks. Hmm... The freedom that comes from admitting that there is no way I can do this. I simply can't. And then the realization that He knows that... and it is okay, He never expected me to. He wants to do it for me. That is the whole point... :-D

CZBZ said...

I'm not a biblical scholar, Katherine which is why I appreciate your insights so very much.

Let's just say I have 'issues' with Biblical interpretations which I'm working on. Living a good life is all about process, isn't it?

When people have the dedication and ability to examine scripture, it brightens my world and reduces my anger about misinterpretations taught to subordinate people, not Enlighten them. My interest in the Bible has been peeked and it's people like yourself who have done that.

I am so grateful women are speaking up and offering their interpretations and understanding. I've had a difficult time relating to scripture if it meant glorifying Mankind and subordinating 'others'.

Hugs,
CZ

Katherine Gunn said...

CZBZ~

Wow. That is a huge compliment. Thanks!

I grew up with certain 'interpretations' that were hard to live with, especially with an Nmom that was a 'religious' guru in the family - and a somewhat legalistic denomination with a couple of Npastors... yikes!

God finally got me to really read the thing for myself - and let Him show me things (as I was ready to handle as tools, not weapons). I am seeing things so much different from how I was taught. I am sure that if I talked to one of my denominational pastors, I would be considered a heretic... ;-)

But the THRUTH will set anyone free who is willing to see...

Hugs back,
Katherine

Beowulfa said...

How awesome. And I picked the right day to read this, too-yesterday my head was filled with guilt (although what mom's head isn't?). Thanks for the reminder that I am not alone, that the world does not need me to save it-that that has already been done :)

Katherine Gunn said...

beowulfa~

Welcome. I'm glad this helped. ;-)