Replacing Jesus

14 08 2015

Many paradigm shifts have taken place this season. Necessary ones. This one concerns Jesus.

How does Jesus relate to my current activities? To housework, homework, to life in general? Does He merely make me a good steward of time and money? Does He make me honest and a good rule-keeper?

Is this why He came and died…to make me honest??

I sense a shift any minute – one so monumental that it will change everything for me. I don’t want to miss this. it has weight (glory!) attached to it.

I read The Great Dance by C. Baxter Kruger. It was eye-opening, although I had to struggle with the concepts at first. My mind could only barely grasp them in the beginning.

The church (at least in America) teaches a “good-cop, bad-cop” God. It’s like having a touchy, militaristic father and a placating, intervening mother who steps in and places herself in the line of fire and takes the brunt of the father’s anger.

Sometimes her attempts fail, though; and that’s when ‘all hell breaks loose in our lives,’ or so we think. Calamity, hardship, ill health.

Mom couldn’t quite assuage father’s fury, and we ‘got it.’

{No wonder the Spirit seems more like a doting aunt who pops in and out long enough to drop off one trinket or another. 🙂 }

The relationship (trinity) of God has been replaced by the holiness (law and order, crime and punishment, blind and cold justice – as we define it) of God. Holiness has been defined as ‘legal perfection’ and ‘moral rectitude.’

This begs the question: “Do I enter into relationship with people for the primary purpose of getting them to ‘shape up’?”

“True holiness is the joy and fullness and love of the Father, Son, and Spirit, their mutual delight and passion, the sheer togetherness of their relationship, it’s harmony and wholeness. Rolled into one word: holiness.” (The Great Dance, p. 25)

I want to tattoo this on my arm:

“Every time God forgives us, He is saying that His own rules do not matter as much as the relationship God wants to create with us.” (Falling Upward, Rohr, p. 57)

Isn’t that Good News?? The best ever, and a far cry from “I came that they might behave better” stuff we hear from spiritual leaders on a regular basis…a ‘re-translation’ of John 10:10. (“…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”)

Galatians tells us that the law was never meant to be kept, but to be a tutor that shows us that we can’t ‘behave better’ on our own. It was meant to drive us to God…not to cause us to shrink back as utter failures.

So we teach Christianity thus:

1. God is holy (in a legal sense)

2. Humanity fell into sin and is liable to punishment

3. Jesus Christ came to satisfy the holiness and justice of God

4. On the cross, Jesus bears the guilt of the world, and God punishes Him instead of us

5. God’s justice is satisfied and we are forgiven – morally clean

In this model, Jesus came to rescue us from God.

The cross replaces Jesus as the point of eternal significance; thus, after the crucifixion was complete, He ceased to be of any real and practical value.

No longer needed, He bows out and lets God and the Holy Spirit get on with their business.

At best, He remains important as a shining religious example for us to follow – and to remind God of His sacrifice.

Justification replaces adoption as the heart of the Christian message.

Forgiveness is necessary, but it’s not the sole point of the grand story…it’s not even the main point!*

The focus and goal is inclusion into the existing relationship of the Trinity.

This is the purpose of adoption!

One who has been adopted has been welcomed into a family – given their name, protection, provision, and inheritance along with the other members of the family.

No longer on the outside looking in, they receive all the benefits, love, and treatment of the original family. No ‘Cinderellas’ here! Unless an outsider was told, they would not be able to tell the difference between ‘natural’ children and an ‘adopted’ one.

Further (unless they’re warped!), a couple chooses to adopt because they want someone else to love…more people to love, not someone new, to the exclusion of the old.

In a word, they want:

Relationship!

With all the focus on Jesus as mediator between us and an angry God, we’ve lost the beauty of the Gospel message:

Our adoption as sons and daughters.

Jesus doesn’t exist to protect us from wrath by reminding God that He took our punishment so now God ‘has to’ love us.

He is the connector between us and the Trinity; He mediates the triune life of God – to us!

According to western teaching, once Jesus has the ‘sin thing’ fixed, He returns to heaven and observes us from a distance. This leaves us seeing ourselves as ‘merely human.’

There is no inclusion into the Trinity, no divine life, no divine dance. Life is merely secular…ordinary. Except, of course, on Sundays.

We have no idea who we are!

The western world is crying out for spiritual meaning and the Church has none to give it. We only know how to encourage others to behave better.

Our Jesus is too small.

*YES! The Gospel of Atonement is vital to our right standing with God. Why is it necessary? Because we are born spiritually separated from God. THIS is the problem Jesus came to solve…Adam and Eve ‘unplugged’ from the tree of Life (God as our source for life), and ‘plugged’ into their own knowledge. They made themselves the source for life.

Apart from His death, burial, and resurrection – at which time He entered the Holy of holies once for all and placed His blood on the Mercy Seat – we were without hope.

Thanks to Jesus, we are now welcome to come boldly into the Holy of holies; to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

You won’t find a ‘bouncer’ at the entrance, replacing Jesus.

*****

(In my next post I want to share three verses that took me by surprise!)

This post is far above my ‘pay grade’. I’m still processing much of what I’ve learned – and cannot yet articulate as clearly as I’d like. Thanks for your patience while I work this out!

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7 responses

15 08 2015
Mel Wild

Sounds like you’re in a really good place, Tami. Another major upgrade is in process (I think for all of us). As you know, I think that Dr. Kruger’s book, “The Great Dance” is a classic, although many in the West may argue against it. It takes time to change, and we don’t like to change. We tend to prefer the old wine to the new at first (Luke 5:39). God is patient. 🙂

15 08 2015
lessonsbyheart

What I’ve noticed is that the individual’s growth follows the Bible’s course. We’re set free from Egypt, wander a bit, then live under the Law, in the Promised Land.

In time we realize we can’t fulfill the requirements on our own. We NEED Jesus’s sacrifice. There is no other way than the cross.

It isn’t until we come to this understanding that we can fully embrace grace and live as freemen. Does that make sense?

Thanks for your comment. I was beginning to wonder if I’ve become a heretic!

15 08 2015
Mel Wild

That makes perfect sense to me. Church history proves that today’s heresy, if said enough times and believed by enough people, eventually becomes tomorrow’s orthodoxy! As Sam Soleyn said, “Longevity legitimatizes absurdity.” 🙂

14 08 2015
Pure Glory

Thank God for adoption and relationship with him.

14 08 2015
lessonsbyheart

Amen. I don’t know where I’d be without Him. \o/

14 08 2015
vonhonnauldt

Of course, the law of God (“rules”) “matters”. If you don’t think so, look at the Cross. That One hanging there was the only One Who could ever say that He pleased God in everything, without lying about it. Yet God put Him on a Cross, not because we’re “born spiritually separated from God,” but because we’re SINNERS. THIS is the “problem Jesus came to solve.” He took the place of sinners. God is indeed holy, righteous and just. He cannot and will not just “forgive” sin. The only reason God can “adopt” us is because our sin debt was paid by the Lord Jesus. Don’t ever think lightly of “forgiveness.” It took the life and death of the Son of God for that to happen.

14 08 2015
lessonsbyheart

For the last year I’ve been walking through more trauma than you could imagine, have been sinned against in more ways than I care to share, and am having to forgive that person because Jesus died for my sin and the other person’s, too. I am well aware of the sin problem, and am hourly reminded that I need His forgiveness. This post represents only a small piece of what God has been teaching me this year about forgiveness, grace, mercy, and my need to stay connected to Him instead of relying on *my* understanding of what is good and evil.

He has promised to bring good out of this freaking mess, and upon that promise I will forever stand. Without that promise I am in serious danger of losing my mind.

Thanks for your comment.

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