Some years ago a new Christian book emerged in the form of a novel. I am talking of The Shack by William P Young. Stealing upon the public as a work of fiction it managed to sew into the minds of all who would hear, the key truths Holy Spirit wants us to know about our Father, His son and ourselves in this hour. If you want to inspect the theology in this book - although you would be better off just to read it - you will find an explanation in books like The Shack Revisited, Eternity to Here, Repenting of Religion and the work of Grace Communion International, particularly their Trinitarian Conversations. People like Francois Du Toit, John Crowder, David Kowalick and Jeff Turner highlight different dimensions of the same theme: That God is for us, we are included in the trinity and that He lives in us.
The purpose of the revelation above is so we can live joyfully with the mind of Christ and so be relieved of our own often tortured conceptions of God and live rejoicing in who we already are: Sons. Sure, we are not in heaven yet, but heaven is within and we can release it as we go.
But here’s the thing. Many are skeptical of a God who is as good as He is being revealed and more comfortable with the less loving god with which they are familiar.
The Shack reveals a God who loves life and who is for pleasure. It is also a parable on the trinity. The Shack is a work of fiction that concretises spiritual realities. It utilises metaphor in similar fashion to Jesus’ use of parables. Both C. S Lewis and J R R Tolkien employ such devices to portray the issues of the ages.
The Shack is such a non-religious tome about religion versus life, that many of the religious do not discern its meaning. They remain grumpy about it, which is fine by them, since many are comfortable with a grumpy and legalistic God. But wonder why non-believers are turned off the god they represent. Certainly ‘this god’ is not found in the Bible, yet is the stubborn inhabitant of many minds who have made a god in their own image and likeness and then bowed down to worship it. Much like the man in Jeremiah 10, who cuts down a tree, carves it into an image and then falls down and worships a tree. So futile, yet not so different to what many of us might do in the our worship of the thing we have created - religion.
The Shack is a gripping work with gems in it like God being asked why he goes about being angry all the time, which is understandable since so many think anger and wrath define Him rather than love. Then there is Jesus asserting that He is ‘not a Christian.’ There is enough here to cause guffaws in the righteous and apoplexy in the religious, which to me is the appeal of the book and a sign that it is of the Spirit.
I was discussing the book with a friend who was dubious about it and worried about ‘being deceived’ as do many are who are raised in ‘sin consciousness’ rather than life consciousness. Talking to him it became apparent that he was rooted in a non-gospel of fear and uncertainty rather than Christ’s gospel of the Kingdom. Make sure your gospel is the gospel of the Kingdom and your Christ the Christ of God.
Some may think it does not matter what you believe about Christ so long as you believe in Him and as they say, ‘love Jesus.’ Not so. Anything that is not true engenders fear, decreases liberty, fosters paralysis of spirit and eventually brings death - especially does it bring a little christ and a perverted gospel. Truth, liberty, life and love give rise to joy. There is no fear in love because their is no lie in the life of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
If truth is love, it is also life and both are God. Among Believers there are those of the kind that Rick Joyner’s vision, The Torch and the Sword, depicts as blind and paralysed. They are stupefied by the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil tree and are seeking to draw life from that which is rotten. For example
Jill, who loves Jesus and is going to heaven will not come to terms with Romans 8 and the life of the Spirit of Christ in us. Locked into a performance mode Jill lives in frustration and is personally surrounded by a palpable weather pattern the opposite to spirit and life - deadness of spirit. As hard as Jill works she fails to multiply spirit and life because she is not alive. Jill is not joined to the spirit-life of God. Basically Jill is joined to herself.
Greg loves Jesus and has some familiarity with the gifts of the Spirit. But Greg’s spiritual discernment scarcely exists because he uses work to gain self-worth. This separates Him from God. His self-effort insulates Him from union with God and the Light of Life. Greg needs to place hist trust in Jesus’ effort which is more than enough. Jesus wants Greg to forsake this idol and find his self-worth and identity in Him. He wants Greg who was blind to exclaim. ‘Now I see!’
Sandra is a charismatic who came into the Spirit from a fundamentalist sect. But Sandra, despite an early ‘bang’ in the Spirit has faded into a state of inertia and futile motions. She remains rooted in the law of her fundamentalist past. As a result she is almost cut-off from the union with God and fellowship with the trinity in her mind. Thus union with God is her inheritance but not her possession. She remains united to the abstraction of the law. Yet she has huge potential if she can make Jesus totally and entirely her life rather than an addition and prop to her other husband: The law. Sandra can only have one master and one source that is life-multiplying: God Himself. In reality she already has Him and He her. She and Father are one. She needs to take back what the Enemy stole. Sandra is yet to learn that nothing joined to the law can produce the Kingdom of God. But those who grow from the womb of life - the trinity- are the sons and daughters of God.
Today there is no separation between Father and His children. We have union with God. He lives in us. We are together by the One Spirit. Because Jesus is our life, who God is we are. Joined to the Word we have the capacity to speak the living word and do living acts - acts that are not just well meant by acts that are brimming with spirit and life. We are the agents of eternal life building the new creation.