How do we rate on the idolatry scale? While the idols of the ancients were easy to spot, our modern western idols are far more subtle being merged into the chief components of modern life. They have with names like Technology or 'The Market' or 'Fiscal Responsibility' or ‘Our Tradition’ and the notion that well being is found in 'consuming.' The effect of this is the consumption of air, rivers, soil, vegetation, earth and people.
Many seek their security in the world they know and are familiar. If they have a god it is a generic god who keeps this world system in place and a god that is merged with conservative civic religion. Many speak of heaven but live from the earth, which is to live from Adam and the realm of the flesh. This has a logic of its own that is opposed to God's love and the living way of heaven.
There's no grace, well being or vision in conservatism as a make-do religion. It walks backward into the future with eyes fixed in the past. It's a kind of secular fundamentalism composed of black and white verities and a strong sense of entitlement - which is sad since it is the humble who see God and the meek who inherit the earth. Those who embrace the quasi 'god' of the way things are become the fiercest opponents of change and the most bigoted deniers of climate change and its cause: We, Ourselves and Us.
The notion that we are being destroyed by The Economy and the world system on which we have put our trust produces panic and desperate repudiation. Much conservatism with its dogmatic rejection of change is sourced in, fear, prejudice, self-interest, self importance and a desperate need to be in control. Together with mental laziness and partisan blindness. None of this is the Kingdom of God. Either we belong to the Kingdom of God or we are propping up Babylon.
'The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets ... and for destroying those who destroy the earth' Rev 11.18 NIV.
Christians can have one God in in heaven and another god in the world system from which they hope to gouge their well-being. Christians can make a life out of their own traditions and assumptions; a life that gives them a degree of life, a lot of death and a false sense of security. It's not difficult to attempt to make a life out of the status quo. Not hard to fall for the fallacy of thinking we can make a new life out of adding new truth to an old fallacy - like adding Spirit-filled to the old covenant or building a kingdom called church that is an adjunct of the kingdoms of the world.
'But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away' 2 Cor 3.14 NIV.
But what if these verities are distortions of the truth or straight out lies? What if they are the outworking of a conspiracy to rob us of what Father won for us in Jesus at the cross and through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost? What if major portions of our beliefs are cunningly devised fables? What if like the worldly wise we have built our house on sand? What if they are a war against the new creation that was meant to be ours and the world's in Christ? What if we have made a life out of robbing ourselves of our inheritance instead of a life out of life?
'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full' John 10.10 NIV.
'When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory' Col 3.4 NIV.
"Good souls will one day be horrified at the things they now believe of God ... such must take courage to forsake the false in any shape, to deny their old selves in the most seemingly sacred of prejudices, and follow Jesus, not as he
is presented in the tradition of the elders, but as he is presented by himself, his apostles, and the spirit of truth." (George MacDonald, 1824-1905 in Jeff Turner, Saints in The Arms of a Happy God).
Father has given us a new covenant from which to form the new creation. Jesus Himself has given us the real vision of the Father. Yet many Believers continue to wade through a swamp with the dove of the Holy Spirit on their heads and the law of Moses like the jaws of a crocodile around their legs. They seek to serve a demanding God made in the image of their performance driven selves. But Jesus says. 'If you have seen me you have seen the Father.' If our Jesus exists to help us keep the law and fulfill our Christian performance obligations we have not seen Jesus. The veil has not been removed and we have seen a false christ. A religion in which we attempt to 'keep close to Jesus' is not the life of Jesus or His gospel. It's self-effort of the kind that reduces our peace in Him to pieces of him. Why? Because Christ lives in us. He is our life and it is His life that transforms us into His image and generates the new creation among Believers.
Jesus did not come to help us perform, keep the law or deny evil and embrace the good. Not primarily. He did not come as a clever means to deal with the knowledge of good and evil. He came to be life in us and be the multiplication of life through us.
He delivered us from the knowledge of good and evil and placed us in Himself. Don't confuse the result with the life. There's a tree of life and a tree of death. Only in Christ are we made alive. Never in Adam. Jesus came to give us life and be our life. The life of sons is more than right deeds. Infinitely more. It is the fullness of life itself. This is why the moralist can be stilted and mean and the Believer who stands in law lives in limitation and stagnation. Rivers of life flow from sons, never from workers and slaves.
'But what does Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son' Gal 4.30 NIV.
Some attempt to make a life out of holding on to their stuff. The cupboard of the hoarder is so overflowing with old stuff that nothing new can be put there. Security is sought in not throwing anything out. People hoard old and outdated ideas just like they hoard things. The hoarder is similar to the Believer who will not throw out the old covenant to embrace the new. The hoarder paralyses himself in the present in order to secure the future. But in the process his spirit dies and he cannot minister life. But you are alive by the Spirit in Christ.
'He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life' 2 Cor 3.6 NIV.
All that is Jesus is life. Anything not Jesus is death. An amalgam of Jesus and law is paralysis. Performance and Jesus is death. None can serve two masters. Any mixture of Jesus plus some assumptions of our own is not Jesus. It's a false christ, a deceptive amalgam sourced in deceiving spirits. Should we be poor in spirit, we will have the humility, openness, sense of adventure and love of life that will result in us 'seeing God' as He is rather than how our lens has distorted Him. When Christ is our life the veil is taken away because death is taken away.
Jeff Turner writes,
'Like Abraham, however, many of us also eventually find ourselves in that moment where, as George MacDonald said, we stand horrified at the things we believed to be true of God. We find the doctrines we once thought so angelic to be utterly demonic, and the beliefs we thought so pure to
be rotten to the core.'
This is our new beginning in life to the full. The horror of our distortion of His life and our inheritance is the revulsion that spurs us to leave the first half of life behind and dive joyfully in the second.