Today's changing world presents an unprecedented time in history. Changes in values and beliefs, elevation of individualism and relevant truth; all there have people turning from Jesus to other "religions" of idolatry. As the world has changed, so has the American church. While this is not true of all Christians in America, I believe it is partly true that many Christians have become tense, angry, anxious, loud, nervous, verbally accusatory, and filled with animosity and hatred toward other people. Here's a good example to apply to what is wrong with that approach... If you own a piece of furniture that is white and you want it to be blue, you can either scrape off all of the old color, or simply paint it the new color. This begs the question of Christians today... what is in your hand? A scraper, trying to rid the world of the color you do not like, or a brush, filling the world with the color of Christ?
People don't seem to run to Christians who have scrapers in their hands. We point out the flaws of individuals, organizations, governments, leaders, and all those other "evil doers" out there like evil is something new that the world has never experienced. We scrape with our words, emotions, and actions that do nothing more than stir up further animosity toward Jesus and His church.
I believe today, people need Christian Painters... people who carry with them the color of Christ and know how to paint healing, redemption, grace, mercy and justice over the landscape. Again, we paint with the power of Christ that manifests itself in love, mercy, grace, physical-emotional-relational-spiritual healing, freedom, justice, kindness, etc. etc.
Scraping accomplishes the work of the devil's choosing.
Painting accomplishes the work of Jesus Christ.
Scraping is the work of the kingdoms of this world.
Painting is the work of Kingdom of God and of His Christ.
I say this mainly because of the dilemma facing the children of God this election year. We have before us a selection of candidates that leave us with no choices to satisfy our conscience. In any direction we find candidates that stand on principles that are not of the Kingdom of God and we don't know what to do. I hear Christians coining outright nasty names for candidates and saying very pointed schoolyard childish insults at them. I really must ask any of you insult-hurling Christ followers; "Is that really the best way to represent Jesus in this crucial moment in history?"
When we get out our paint scrapers and try to scrape the evil off the world, we are no different than Peter, who thinking he was doing Jesus a big favor, chopped off the ear of the soldier who came to arrest Him. What did Jesus do? He healed his ear, then told Peter to put away his sword.
Put away your paint scraper. Those who live by the scraper will die by the scraper.
Psalms 143:11 CEV Be true to your name, LORD, and keep my life safe. Use your saving power to protect me from trouble.
Once upon a time I held the false belief that God's nature was to hunt people down and expose their faults. This false belief was rooted in two things: 1) The fact that people had treated me in this way, and 2) My misinterpretation of God's character based on #1. Nothing good comes from this view. Yet, it is undeniable that, on the pages of scripture, we read story after story of times that God seeks to reveal sin that is lurking in, and harming His people. And there is the point... sin harms us, but God heals us. The only way for healing to happen is to expose sin for what it is.
Being exposed is never comfortable, but is entirely necessary. This creates a problem for the church of today. People largely seek a church experience that is always encouraging, topically light, mostly entertaining, full of 'blessing', filled with words of comfort and consolation, and non-confrontational. The intent of God is healing and completeness; holiness and salvation. In order to get there, God has to expose us for who we are. The exposure leads to the very best of God's healing work. Exposure is designed to produce godly sorrow, repentance, humility, revelation, and a starting point from which healing begins.
Being exposed for who we really are is an act of God's grace. Being left alone is sin is an act of abandonment. Grace leads to life... abandonment leads to death. God doesn't abandon us, He pursues us. A pursuing God is an exposing God. An exposing God is a loving God. A loving God is a God we can trust entirely.
Once we have been exposed into the hands, care, and healing power of our Trustworthy God, we can learn to share vulnerably about our life and our experiences. Once God heals, the experiences that once harmed us become the tools of healing for another when they are exposed by our own voice as we tell our stories.
Have you been exposed by God? Are you ready to bare all for Him to set you free? Do you know the joy that others could find through your story? Let God in to do what only He can do. Take the risk of being vulnerable before God and then experience the beauty of being vulnerable before others.
Blindness can be mimicked with a blindfold. Deafness is duplicated with ear plugs. Paralysis can be mimicked with the refusal to move your limbs. In other words, perfectly functioning organs can have their freedom stolen from them by a conscious act of the will to refuse them their ability to act freely.
The number of Christians who have self-imposed blindness, deafness, and paralysis is staggering. God did not give them a spirit of fear but of a sound mind and of power.
But bondage, when it reigns in a stronghold of the human mind, has a language. Bondage says:
You and I were designed by God in this age to be so free in Him that His Kingdom naturally flows through us to the world around us. In order for us to allow our spiritual "eyes" to see, our spiritual "ears" to hear, and our spiritual "limbs" to function properly, we must remove all blindfolds, ear-plugs, and restrictions. The implications of what happens when God's people are enslaved in their own minds are huge. People are not hearing the gospel, therefore they cannot respond to the gospel. When prayers never leave our mouths, answers are never delivered. When our ears are stopped up, we cannot hear the voice of our Lord who has so very much to say to us. Visions remain unseen, dreams are held back, and the gospel is handcuffed.
Bill Johnson, Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, CA says this: "The Holy Spirit is a prisoner in the lives of unbelieving believers." I agree wholeheartedly. The Holy Spirit will never do through you that which you are unwilling to allow Him.
Dear friends, let us lay aside all bondage and seek the power of God, the love of God, the healing words and touch of God, the prayers of the saints, the presence of God and the message of God. Let us seek to inject the spirit of Christ into every area of our lives regardless of the constrictions real or imagined. Let us end all disbelief and be the disciples our Lord has called us to be.
May the LORD Himself be glorified in you, through you, and for the world this day and always. Be FREE.
Brett Heintzman is passionate about the spiritual formation of God's people. These writings are designed to draw us close to God and to help us live out of the riches of His presence. It's all about being in the world but not of the world.