Tuesday, March 22, 2016

1 Touching God's Heart: The Means of His Friendship

                   Touching God's Heart:
                                  The Means of His Friendship 
         A single, book-length work installed in 10 sections

Section 1: The Author's Foreword:

So, it would seem that in the mind of modern mankind, the question has become, does God really matter in a world like this? With science, technology, and materialism now so very ascendent, should we even care about the abstract concepts of spirituality and the divine purpose anymore?  And, at this present, enormous level of social, political, and economic stress, does the “God Agenda” still hold any practical relevance?

In truth, God and His purposes are all that ever do remain relevant at any point in time. This is true because of one invariable reality. It is this. The conditions of the present are always short-lived.

Always, for better or worse, time sweeps the human condition irresistibly forward, on to some new “present condition.” And, as it does so, only two things ever remain unmoved and impervious to this force of passing moments: God and His agenda. All else is eventually swept away.

So, in fact, the divine issues are the only issues which ever really do continue to matter. Thus, the smart move is to focus on what will endure to confront us again tomorrow. It is not to be consumed by the things which the force of time will very quickly blow away.

And so, I write. I write for any who do, indeed, still retain their spiritual wits in this ever more tin-hearted world. I write for any who still hear the divine call upon their heart above the noise of crumbling social structures. I write for any who, even at this late hour in human history, remain willing to undertake that mysterious personal pilgrimage which restores our soul, our relationship with our Creator, and the goodness of our personal here-and-now.

At the time of this writing, I have, myself, enjoyed this redemptive journey for 40+ years. And, across the course of that long path, I have discovered that it all simply comes to one thing – God’s friendship.

After all the elements of my own journey: the study of grand theologies, the personal struggles, the celebrations, the changes, the confrontations, the praying, the soul searching, the agonizing, the mistakes, the apologizing, the tears, the joy, the challenges, the drama, the worship, the failures, the successes, the surprises, the relationships, the revelations, and the just-in-the-nick-of-time rescues – I can find no better way to sum it all up than this. The work of Christ, in its ultimate purpose, is really only about creating a strong and wonderfully fulfilling “League of Two” with our loving Creator.

It seems so obvious now, looking at it from this end. My redemption - as is everyone’s - was always only about awakening within me, through Christ, this trans-formative daily friendship.
And the living Christ has been, and is, even now, enlarging this amiable relationship.

He is ever expanding this comfortable oneness of heart with my Creator. And this Christ-brokered heart-agreement has, indeed, over the years, become the strong matrix of our enduring friendship.

So, my uncomplicated purpose for this writing is to provide a thorough, A-Z exposure of the beautiful workings of this life-transforming God encounter. My hope is to simply achieve a real clarity in the mind of the reader concerning this renewing odyssey of the heart.

Obviously though, any religious writings are fertile ground for the cultivation of contention. And, I’m sure that these will be no different. When the old timers and religious insiders, for example, don’t recognize their seemingly “canonized” words and phrases, the language by which they learned, they are not going to be happy about that. And so, almost certainly, many of them will simply reject these writings out of hand, assuming them to be some new and inordinate thing.

Others, who have wrapped themselves in the delicate security blanket of their own “patchwork theology” will not want their comfortable, pick-and-choose belief system disturbed – even in the interest of greater clarity. So, their insecurity will almost certainly cause them to choose the seeming safety of their disjointed religious cliché’s over a broader and more coherent explanation.

And for a thousand other reasons, many others will reject these ideas as absurd and far inferior to their own more familiar religious ideas. Nevertheless, for all of their protests, the truth which Sir William exposed so many years ago remains true. Merely casting the “rose” into the fresh light of a more vibrant language has absolutely no impact on its immutable qualities.

So is this attempt to simply display Christ’s redemptive work in the brighter light of contemporary language and 21st century awareness levels. The point is not to reinvent redemption, but rather, to better frame it - in order to better communicate the opportunity.

Obviously then, it falls to the reader to be willing to lower, at least somewhat, the defenses you have established to protect your religious status quo. Most all of us harbor those security measures on some level. But, by their very nature, they get in the way of new levels of discovery.

Perhaps it would help to simply remember that, in fact, you are always in charge of the buy in. You, alone, decide what you will believe and what you will not.

So, there is really no need to fend off every new, and thus, less familiar, perspective which may, after all, actually hold some value for you. Please, do give yourself a real chance to find out if that’s the case with this writing. Please don’t begin building barriers in your mind to protect the more familiar – only because it is.

A “fresh eyes” approach always requires a willingness to venture beyond the zone of the already familiar. That's just the nature of life’s important pursuits.

So, all of that being said, if you choose not to be driven away by such insecurity, you are about to read something I think you will find extraordinary - not so much for its literary beauty, but for the simplicity of its content. And, indeed, I hope you will consider giving yourself permission to just relax and explore the issues of this writing with some curiosity. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2 Touching God's Heart: The Means of His Friendship

Section 2: 
   God's Friendship


             The Higher Purpose Of Faith…

God's plan to elevate the human circumstance involves a beautifully sophisticated process.  But, in its basic aspects, the process of God's help remains very simple – though we often try to make it otherwise.  


Nevertheless, in what follows, you will be shown this life-changing process in the clearest terms.  And this knowledge is, indeed, valuable as it can produce a priceless result:  a vital personal friendship with Almighty God - and from that friendship, an entirely new and empowered you.  

             On Friendships…

But, there are friendships, and then there are friendships. Obviously, some friendships are all that you would hope for them to be. But, there are also friendships which are hardly worth it.

For example, some friendships are very high maintenance with very little pay back. Others are so shallow as to be almost meaningless. Still others are so pretentious that they actually become disconnected from reality. Obviously, all of these are just bad relational deals.

But, God doesn’t really traffic in such emptiness when it comes to the interpersonal. 
His interest is in high quality, deeply meaningful, and mutually fulfilling relationships.  


In a prayer for their well-being, Jesus revealed the level of relational access which He envisions with those who would be His friend. He said, “… that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (Ref. John 17:20-23 NKJV)

To be a true friend of God, is to come to this distinctive oneness of heart with Him. Always, the redemptive relationship which Christ enables moves the believer in the direction of this wonderful relational harmony with God. And what does this growing connection mean in terms of the everyday human reality?


            The Dividends Of God's Friendship…
 

Well, for one thing, it means we will always know the reassurance which comes from an ever present divine companionship. Thus, in Christ, we never wake up alone, consigned to the surrounding darkness of our circumstance with only our own puny resources with which to face it down.

Rather, there is always with us the Divine Presence. And, from this everyday partnership flows a new confidence and an empowering  synergy. Thus, this intimate league of two is exponentially more substantial in every way than a life lived alone and apart from our divine friend.

And God’s friendship also means that we are not forsaken to humanity’s chronic inner darkness. Whether that darkness takes the form of some latent and unexplained anger, or an ugly appetite, a blazing character flaw, or some unresolved guilt, etc., a friendship with the Almighty means – “It’s all solvable.” 


      And Then, There's The Voice...

And certainly, as an incredible element of the divine friendship there is the most life-changing resource of all – His voice. What could possibly compare to actually being able to converse with God in one’s heart on a moment to moment basis. Certainly, His inner voice becomes the every day matrix and means of our relationship with Him.  


 To hear in our heart the divine whisper exposing powerful, even life-changing, insights does change us. To know the joy of being able to ask for divine direction in our life circumstance is so confirming. 

To experience God's comfort in our devastation, His encouragement in the face of our discouragement -  such intervention is incomparable.  Certainly, this ability to get an answer, to discover God's wisdom, or to hear His inspiration or correction changes everything.  

In addition to the careful study of God’s written Word, His inner voice becomes the daily connection which enables real depth and sophistication in our friendship with Him. And, without this conversational interaction, a truly intimate relationship with God simply wouldn’t be possible. But, in Christ, the divine conversation is, indeed, our everyday privilege.


            What The Larger World Is Missing

The reality which escapes non-believers, at least in concrete terms, is that Christ truly is a Living Savior. And, because He is alive, He is able to live in Spirit form within devout believers. 


 And, in the privilege of this shared life essence, the devout are then afforded this invisible, but constant and very real, daily access to God. And through this affectionate access, we are enriched in a thousand ways every day – far beyond just the most immediate needs of our soul.

The world needs a Savior of the soul; and Christ is certainly that. But, in real life terms, the Savior also brings to us the every day reality of a vital and energizing divine companionship.  


And, in that intimacy, He becomes our confidante’, our advice giver, our direction provider, our forgiver, our encourager, our helper, our therapist.  

He becomes our rescuer, our teacher, our mentor, our corrector, our enlightener, our counselor, and our defender.  And, in all of these roles, and many more, He remain, through all of the ups and downs of life's struggles, our unfailing and very true Friend – always looking out for our very best interests.

                    The Joy Supersedes

It’s true, nevertheless, the divine friendship does, indeed, involve a willingness to embrace the real requirements of that friendship -and there are some. Every important relationship has those.  But eventually, these mechanics are simply swallowed up in the glorious shinning of our easy daily companionship.

And again, that's what the uninitiated don't really get.  They simply miss the great joy of it all.  But, indeed, the sheer beauty of this every day friendship stands in diametric opposition to the larger world's mistaken idea that a renewed life in Christ involves some Spartan lifestyle entirely governed by "The Big List" - i.e. the big list of oppressive dos and don’ts. 


To be sure, the divine friendship is one which changes us - but not by oppression.  Rather, in essence, the redemptive process remains, first and finally, merely the process of a good friendship - doing what a good friendship always does. It elevates and enriches and enlarges our existence. 

The proverbist put it this way.   "As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." (Ref. Proverbs 27:17 NKJV)  So it is when God becomes, not just the Savior of your soul, but your very best friend. 

 

3 Touching God's Heart: The Means of His Friendship

Section 3:
   The Main Players: God, The Father 

      
The process by which God creates these very personal friendships with us is a thoroughly redemptive process, as we shall see. And, this "Redemptive Drama" has now become very large.

It actually sprawls across the whole of human history.  And, by now, it involves virtually endless subplots stemming from each new life that Christ touches.  So, there are many, many players filling the various scenes of this "redemptive play." 

But, reduced to its basic plot, the story line actually becomes very easy to follow.  And, the main players are reduced to only a few, at least in general terms. 

So, let's go over the "program" of this grand drama and use it as you might use the program of any play.  Let's discover the identity and the roles of the players.  And, let's also pay careful attention to the basic plot of this epic story of God's love and His life transforming process of friendship building.


God, The Father:
            So, Who Is God – I Mean, Really?


                 But First, The General Process…


We could hardly talk about a meaningful friendship with God without first discussing some general principals of relationship.  So, let's begin there.  For a moment, let's just consider relationships and friendships in general.

The process of friendship-building is discovery.  And, the purpose of discovery is appreciation.  And, the hopeful intent of appreciation is heart-binding.  

Now, to expand those ideas a bit, in building a relationship we first simply seek to know, to build a larger awareness.  And the point of this discovery effort is to probe the positive possibilities for relationship by discovering a real appreciation of what we find. 

And this appreciation then becomes the binding mechanism of our heart to that of another.  And the deeper the appreciation, the more durably bound our hearts become.  


So, for example, how many young ladies have found themselves sitting under those Friday night lights of a high school football game focused on one special player on the field.  And, as she observes him in this, his very flattering element, she starts to admire what she sees in him.   
 


And what of the proud parents who sit under those same lights to watch their quarterback son direct his team with precision and skill under great pressure?  And as they watch, they too gain a new level of awareness, which goes something like this, “He really is growing up!”
    


These, and countless other such situations, are just the very gratifying process of relationship-building. Discovery is how we do it.  It’s how we start relationships.  And, it’s how we sustain, and deepen relationships.  And, it's how we keep our relationships updated.   

And, at the end the discovery process, if all goes well, we will perhaps find a valuable, new relationship.   And, if we do, it will be based in some level of appreciation which draws us and amiably binds our hearts together.  And the level of that cohesion will depend the real level of appreciation that we feel.

               The Other Side Of The Coin...


Obviously too, this discovery process also carries with it an intrinsic risk. Certainly, it can result in a negative outcome.  It can result rejection of disapproval, a lack of appreciation.  Obviously, that's always a very unpleasant thing to the human psyche.  

But, this is the risk we must be willing to take to experience relational success.  This risk is just the "long limb" we go out on, in order to get to the truth in a relationship.

                   The Universal Mistake


And it's also on this side of the relational coin, where the universal mistake often occurs. And, that mistake is this: an involvement based in only a narrow range of awareness.  

How many couples, a few months into their marriage, have found themselves sitting across from their pastor or some other counselor - totally surprised.  Thus, they sit there expressing disappointment at what they consider some outrageous post-wedding behavior on the part of their mate? 

This disappointment is usually easily traced back to a rush to relationship where little real discovery has taken place. Thus, in their great hurry to become deeply involved, a couple sometimes fails to become broadly involved – to develop a broad awareness of their partner. 

Now, in the stark light of reality, she comes to a realization: “All he ever really had going for him was his football prowess, well, and nice hair.” Obviously, even with the good hair thrown in, that’s a pretty narrow ledge upon which to base an important relationship.

And, it doesn’t really matter if we’re talking boy-girl, parent-child, or God-man.  All important relationships are the same in this regard.  Strong appreciation based in the broad awareness of a large context is essential to a solid relationship.  

So, to minimize this essential, at best, consigns the relationship to shallow levels.  And, at worst, it is to doom it altogether. 


 Now, The Main Question


So, with this bit of relational bedrock under our feet, we are better able return to and answer the main question, “Who is God, really?”  The answer to that question, even regarding God, is still a function of this same relationship-building process which we have been discussing.  

So, it's probably obvious by now that to really get to that answer you will have to broadly experience Him.  You will need to go up and down some of life’s hills with Him.  

It is simply impossible to grasp more than the mere basics of His identity unless you actually experience life with Him.  A thorough and accurate God awareness only comes through that essential discovery process.



The two of you will have to spend good times as well as hard times, together – deeply immersed in the real issues of life.  To discover who God really is, involves celebrating together, and crying together.  It involves many good days.   And, it involves some rough days with less than desirable outcomes.  



But, it’s out of all of this intimate interaction, the good and the not so good, that there comes a heart-binding appreciation for who God really is.   And, it's out of this broad appreciation that an enduring friendship grows.



What Does God’s Friendship Look Like?



So, what does God’s friendship look like in everyday life?  Well, like any friendship, it goes through different stages in its development.  And, certainly, it is fair to say that, especially in the early days, sometimes - the relationship “ain’t” very pretty. 



But later, as it goes through its various stages of development, and the discovery process has a chance to work, that all changes. Indeed, the divine friendship becomes very precious and deeply fulfilling.  But, that’s later.  First come “the trenches...”



                        The Early Stage Friendship…



A succinct description of an early stage friendship with God would probably best be described this way.  It is, invariably, a trans-formative confrontation of love.  It is not unlike the relationship between a good parent and a young child. 



As time goes along, a loving parent is required, by love, to confront the childishness of the child, while they still are that – a child.  The idea is to mold the child’s heart, while it is still moldable.

The parent does this in view of a time when this parent / child relationship will morph into an entirely different kind of relationship.  A wise parent always anticipates a fulfilling adult friendship with the child, which is based in a shared core value system.



In order for that to happen, this loving confrontation is essential while the child is young and teachable.  What is really occurring through this process is the shaping of the child’s value system and character, and through that, his or her basic world view.  

From this process, results a comfortable core likeness with the parent.  And again, this then becomes the basis for a strong adult relationship between the two, later.

You have probably already noticed that in this cultivation of the later friendship, it is the child which is required to do most of the changing and adjusting.  You’re quick.  You’re very quick.  Welcome to “God Friendship - 101.” 

So, indeed, as with the parent / child thing, in the God / man relationship, the onus is on man to embrace this "agree-ability" of heart.  In this analogy, God is the “mature parent” and we are the “developing child.”  And that is never more clear than early on, in our pursuit of His friendship.

However, this trans-formative confrontation is not nearly as off-putting as many assume.  It is always, after all, a loving, process.  And it is couched in patience, and time, and careful explanations, and the joy of gaining new and valuable “life stuff.” 

And, as it should with our children, the process incorporates some latitude for our own trial-and-error confirmations.  Although, after a while, and a few bumps and bruises to our “headstrong,” most of us realize - not really the easiest way to learn or confirm the truth.
 
The Rubber Reality...


Nevertheless, so goes our work-a-day discovery process as we explore the question, "Who is God?"  It really is very similar to the earliest growth process of our childhood and that of our children.

So, we enter this very intense time of discovery.  Certainly, it is a time which is not quite like any which will follow it – perhaps due to this high level of intensity.  




And, it is certainly here, in this early phase of our developing friendship with God, where the learning curve is the steepest.  And, it's here that we first encounter what might be called the “Rubber Reality.”  

The Rubber Reality is a situation which is naturally generated by our faith. This is the reality which always occurs when the smallness of humanity bumps into the bigness of a loving God.  It is the place where our developmental childhood encounters His divine parenthood. 





Essentially the Rubber Reality is the parental molding process - on steroids.  It is God’s means to challenge us, and stretch us, and stimulate us to learn and discover.  

And, this process enables us to achieve a greater awareness, not only of what God is presently doing and why, but more ultimately, of who God truly is.  And, in fact, as we experience this Rubber Reality, it also gradually changes who we are.



The reality that we know before this faith-generated reality comes along is the more concrete reality of self-determination.  This self-determined reality is the reality where we are essentially in charge of life’s interpretations and decisions.  Thus, we are generally in good command of the facts in a given situation – or at least, we tend to feel like we are.

Ah, but not so in the Rubber Reality.  It's interpretations are much more challenging and disconcerting.  This is true because in this more elastic reality of faith we are usually playing catch up with the facts as a part of the divinely orchestrated discovery process.

So, the Rubber Reality of faith is a much more uncertain existence.  It is a place where we often find ourselves searching for God’s interpretation of, and purpose in, a given life situation.  

It is a reality in which we are often left wondering, for a while at least, what in the world God is up to, or where he might be taking us.  It is a reality where all facts and conclusions remain debatable while we search for His interpretation and intent, and our proper response to all of that.

In both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible, we see this Rubber Reality of faith in operation.  Again and again, we can notice God bringing His people into concrete situations only to turn them into very elastic situations which lend themselves to the God discovery process.
 
For example, we can notice how God rubberized reality when the nation of Israel became trapped between the military legions of Egypt and the Red Sea during their historic Exodus Journey.  The concrete reality was this, “Oh no, we’re trapped, and at the mercy of our pursuers!” 

But, God changed the concreteness of those facts into this more elastic version.  “Oh no you’re not.  Because, I will part the sea.  And then, you can “figure out” the why, the how, and most importantly, the Who of it all.” (Ref. Exodus 13-15)

And on and on this Rubber Reality goes from the manna which fell from Heaven, to the falling walls of Jericho, to the miracles connected to the prophets of old.  God challenges the usual to stimulate us to understand Him and His ways at higher levels.

And certainly, in these New Testament times, this divine tactic continues.  From the miracles of Jesus and the apostles to the Resurrection, itself, our faith is challenged by these divinely orchestrated situations which confront the normal interpretations of the facts. 

And certainly, well beyond the realm of miracles, God often immerses the faithful in the stretchy realities of the everyday.  From a counter-intuitive Biblical principle, to a delayed answer to prayer, to a moral inversion where the guilty escape while the good suffer - God uses these Job-like situations to confront our status quo.   

Always, this elastic reality asks us to move beyond the more childish levels of our understanding.  The Rubber Reality is ever about the greater view which God would show us of Himself and the true nature of our existence and our relationship with Him.

                          A Bit More Difficult

Obviously, when compared to the more concrete reality of self-determination, where we are able to pretty much call the "interpretive" shots, the Rubber Reality is a more difficult place to navigate.  But this faith-generated reality is also much richer in the dividends of discovery as we find ourselves challenged to know and understand God’s heart and actions. 

Thus, the Rubber Reality facilitates relational strength and maturity by bringing a much higher level of God awareness and a more accurate self awareness.  And this stands in real contrast the more concrete and less taxing reality of self-determination.  

                         Essentially, A Humbling Process

What we are calling the “Rubber Reality” is but a part of what the Church has, from the beginning, understood to be a divine “Humbling Process.”  And that humility becomes the strong matrix of our friendship with Him.

                 From The Trenches To The Blessing

So, as we follow the Lord up and down the hills and valleys of the Rubber Reality of faith, we do, eventually, begin to gain our relational footing.  And, as we do so, something wonderful happens.  We start to experience the point of the whole exercise.  We begin to taste the priceless blessing of a true "heart-oneness" with God in our daily life. 



                        The Oneness of Two…


Jesus once said, as he prayed for his disciples on one occasion, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word; that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us..." (Ref. John 17:20-21 NKJV)

The discovery path of the Rubber Reality of faith may meander from one life lesson to another. And, it may take us through various levels of personal growth.  Yet, there is always one constant direction to the journey. 

There is always a single end point toward which God nudges us.  It is Oneness with Him. This ideal of concerted hearts, a mature harmony with God, is the ultimate prize toward which our friendship is always moving.

This is not, of course, oneness in the sense of actual identity. We do not become God. Neither does our own identity or personality cease to exist in His.

Rather, this is a core oneness. A similar harmony is easily seen in couples who have continued to grow together over the period of a long and healthy marriage. Eventually, these wonderfully special relationships reach a point where the partners can easily anticipate each other, because they have become so merged in heart.

Consider the larger text from the previous passage quoted from the book of John, where, again, Jesus says, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 

"And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. " (Ref. John 17:20-23 NKJV)

“Heart-oneness,” it is the ultimate quest of our friendship with God.  Everything that Christ has done and is doing is about affecting this eclipsing harmony in our relationship to God.  

But, the former question was this, “What does such a friendship with God look like?  Well, in every day terms, what Jesus described above is exactly what it looks like.  It looks like a completing togetherness.

It’s The Ultimate In Relationship…


Every day - good day, bad day, makes no difference, this oneness of heart always enables our  fulfilling companionship. And,  through Christ, we can certainly have this kind of easy harmony with our Creator.  Indeed, this is exactly the way God intends it to be.

4 Touching God's Heart: The Means of His Friendship

Section 4:
    The Main Players:  
    God, The Son - And Savior - Jesus Christ

            But First, The Trinity…

Before we begin to talk about the Savior, perhaps we should talk about the nature of the Divine Trinity:  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  The nature of this Trinity becomes a significant background issue as we start to look at the interactive roles of God the Son and Holy Spirit. 

In later sections, we will delve into the very intimate details of the unique operational means of the Trinity.  But, let’s first begin with some very basic ideas and illustrations here.  And to begin the conversation, let’s first talk about you – because you are also a trinity of sorts.

In the genesis of mankind God said, “Let us make man in our image,” and He did.  Among other ways that He made us to be like Himself, He also made us to be our own kind of trinity.  And, He did so in this way.  He made us to be an intellectual being.  He made us to be an emotional being.  And, he made us able to be a blended expression of the two.

Indeed, it is possible for human beings to act in a purely intellectual way.  It is also possible for us to act in a purely emotional way.  But, most of the time we act in a blended way which involves both our intellect and our emotions at the same time. 

Thus, we are these three expressions of the same personality.  And, even though we may choose one expression over the other two, that expression remains entirely one with our corporate personality. 

There is that, however:  we have to make a choice.  Regarding the human trinity, we must choose to act in only one of those expressions of our personality at the time.  God, on the other hand, can act in all three expressions of the Divine Trinity as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit at the same time and yet remain entirely incorporated.    It is this more complex operational nature of the Divine Trinity which most often gives us pause.

It’s likely that we only struggle with this complexity in the Divine Trinity because we tend to think of personality in terms of human limitations:  one body - one personality expression at a time.  But, in fact, God is an all-powerful Spirit.  As such, He is entirely free of all corporal limitations.  As a result of this entirely different and much more sophisticated nature, God is simply capable of more complexity than is allowed by our more restricted physical nature. (John 4:14 / Isaiah 55:9)

Nevertheless, when it comes to this greater complexity of the Divine Trinity a good illustration of its workings exists in the world of computers.  Often we set up computers with multiple outlying terminals emanating from one main frame.  Those terminals are obviously distinctly different from the main frame.  And, they exist in an entirely different location.  And yet, they are the main frame as far as their core informational content.  So, this “complex singularity” in computers is, indeed, a good illustration to help conceptualize the Divine Trinity’s “complex oneness.”(Ref. John 14:7-11)

Thus, to complete this illustration, if follows then that we are a simple PC, while God is a powerful wireless mainframe with multiple terminals.  OK, now that I think about it, maybe that’s just too fine a point to put on the whole matter.  But, you get the idea.

Nevertheless, there is another, far more important difference between the human trinity and the Divine Trinity.  This more significant difference lies in what characterizes and defines the two.  Where the human trinity, as noted, is primarily defined and characterized by our emotional / intellectual make up, the Divine Trinity is defined and characterized by two elemental values.

These two primary values are at the very base of the Divine Personality and do, in fact, give primary definition to the Divine Trinity.  These “Prime Values” are, very simply, Fear (respect for authority) and Love. (Ref. Jude 1:20-22 / 1 John 4:17-18)

We can easily observe how God employs these two basic values in concert with each other at very strategic places in life.  For example, in the makeup of the Holy Bible, the Old Testament of the Bible mostly conveys the message of Fear, or respect for God’s authority.  However, the New Testament mostly conveys the message of His Love for mankind.  And, the Bible, as a whole, then becomes a beautiful blend of these two most primary values to impact and shape man and his response to God.

In the home, at least before the social insanity of these more modern times, again we see these two elemental values operating together.  The father figure has typically represented and modeled respect for authority.  And the mother figure has generally represented and modeled the idea of tender love.  And again, through the mingled influence of both parents, comes a balanced blend of these molding values acting upon the child for his or her proper formation.

And finally, when we look at God, Himself, we can easily see these same two primary values giving definition to the Divine Trinity.  That is, God the Father, is easily seen as portraying respect for authority to His creation.  While Jesus, God the Son, is easily seen as primarily portraying God’s love.  And, God the Holy Spirit then becomes the everyday perfect blend of these two defining values.

Understanding all of this about the Trinity, it becomes easy to see how this Respect / Love nature of the Trinity so perfectly serves the business of friendship-building and heart-oneness.  Not unlike what happens in an ideal home, as noted earlier, these two prime values, are carefully modeled and conveyed to us by the personalities of the Trinity, our “Divine Parents.”  Thus, as we interact with God, in all three Persons of the Trinity, these values eventually begin to imprint on our heart to shape and/ or reshape who we are.   Indeed, it is these two prime values, operating within the matrix of influential humility (faith), which daily move us toward a beautiful heart-oneness with our Creator.    

          Now, The Role Of The Savior

So, as we begin to discuss the role of Christ in the divine drama, the first thing to understand is simply that He is, indeed, that Second Person of the Divine Trinity, and thus, every bit God.  He is the very same essence as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. 

Christ is distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit only in His ministry role, as noted, but in character essence, the Divine Trinity is one at all times.  And these same ideas are true when applied to God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit.  (Ref. John 14:1-11)

Now, on to discover more about the Savior.  The best way to grasp the role of Christ, the one true God-Savior of the world, is to set that discussion in an historical backdrop.  So, let’s first look briefly at some key events and issues of previous times.

The Context…

Let’s begin by going back to the very beginning to re-examine what really happened to mankind, as a species, in the Garden of Eden.  This probe will explain much about why we do what we do and why we are the way we are. And, it will explain much about the role of Christ as our Savior.

 The early existence of Adam and Eve was nothing less than precisely what we are talking about in this writing - a friendship with God.  It was a beautifully uncomplicated – though, by no means, unsophisticated - daily walk with their Creator.  It was an easy, unforced companionship which was truly fulfilling to both God and man.

And, there was, indeed, a sophisticated responsibility involved in the relationship.  It was the responsibility of choice.

When God created Adam and Eve, he immediately gave them the privilege and the responsibility of personal autonomy.  And this afforded them a true personal sovereignty over their life and destiny.  At any time, they could choose to be self-determining rather than God-directed.

Thus, in effect, Adam and Eve became true influences in the Universe.  They were, indeed, from the very beginning, capable of making independent choices and taking independent actions which affected their own and the larger circumstance around them in the most real ways.

The Great Lie…
Adam and Eve were, of course, the first individuals to address this question of personal sovereignty and what to do with their personal influence.   And, in fact, these were the underlying issues of that first temptation.

Essentially, Satan’s temptation to the first couple was an enticement to reject God's authority, and assert control over their own destiny.  His goal was to get them to take charge of their own lives, to assert their influence in the universe in a way which, first and foremost, pleased themselves. (Ref. Gen. 3:4-6)

Satan’s indication was that they could take control and elevate themselves if they chose do so. So, instead of trusting God’s directions, Satan encouraged them to trust in their own knowledge of good and evil in order to bring personal fulfillment to themselves. (Ref. Gen. 3:4-6)

In fact, The Great Lie which Satan presented to the first couple was essentially a very simple one.  It was this:  “You are your own best hope for personal fulfillment.”

The underlying thought is that “there is really more security and a greater certainty of finding fulfillment in life if we direct our own path instead of entrusting that responsibility to God.”  So, this is the delusion which has become humanity's chronic misconception.  Thus, it is this repeated glittering emptiness which continues to mesmerize and entice each new generation to risk themselves to themselves - even to this very day.

So, Satan encouraged the first couple to become self-sustaining instead of remaining God-dependent. He encouraged them to ignore the consequences, and simply risk themselves to their own initiative. He said to them, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it [taste of your own perspective on life] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [Brackets Added]


With these words, Satan made Adam and Eve to believe that they really were their own best hope. And beyond this great error, they were also made to believe that there were no consequences for pursuing life on these terms.

So, the first couple ignored God’s truthful warnings about the down side of that choice and decided to act on the false promise which Satan held out to them.  But, as we now know, the outcome was not exactly as promised. In the end, Adam and Eve were completely duped. Instead of becoming empowered by this “subjective knowledge of good and evil,” they were poisoned by it.

 The toxic psychological change which they were tricked into experiencing instantly ruined their relationship with God and with each other. It entirely flawed their view of life, and thus, undermined their whole existence.  And it also did so for every human being to follow after them in every generation.  So, let's explore these outflows more fully for a bit.

What Really Happened…

 The knowledge that Adam and Eve actually gained from that forbidden fruit was not an objective, broad-based knowledge, which is based in unchanging principles, such as scientific knowledge. Rather, just the reverse occurred.  The knowledge which they gained was a completely Subjective Awareness. That is, it was a knowledge based entirely in the individual's perspective.

So, for Adam and Eve, instantly, good and evil ceased to be based in the objective thoughts and decrees of a loving, holy, and all-knowing God. Instead, good and evil suddenly became defined by their own individual point of view.


Thus, good and evil became this: “Good” is what seems good to and for me.  And, “Evil” is what seems evil to me and for me. Good and evil became entirely determined by how “I” perceive a given circumstance, which was, in turn, largely determined by how “I” am affected by that circumstance.

And this personal determination of good and evil goes far beyond mere moral interpretations.  Good and evil are involved in all of our life choices and directions.  Our view of good and evil colors all of our thoughts, and everything we do, and all that we are.  So, our view of good and evil certainly does impact our more strictly moral choices.  But, it is by no means limited to only those.  It is involved in our every choice.

Thus, we see Adam and Eve's new self-awareness, their new perspective on good and evil, beginning to exert itself immediately as they decide to drape themselves in fig leaves.  Suddenly, they now view their nakedness as an evil thing as they begin to diverge from the views and interpretations of their Creator. (Ref. Gen.3:7)


 And because this poisonous personal perspective on good and evil was passed to the rest of humanity through the psyche of the first couple, every generation which followed has been affected in the same way.  And, this selfish perspective on life, which places each of us at the center of our own universe, has been wrecking our relationship to God and to each other, ever since.


This immutable selfishness subconsciously colors every thought of humanity. And this motive, even when we try to resist it, remains an ever present subliminal drive which constantly urges us to try to use our influence to sway reality according to our own perception of good and evil.


And this very often conflicts with that same selfish motive in others. Thus, there is this ever-present potential for contention with each other. (Ref. James 4:1-5)


 It is this subjective view of the circumstances of life which destroys marriages. It makes nations go to war. It makes children rebel against the good advice of good parents.


It is this chronic, self-centered perspective which keeps us from an easy and enduring harmony in our relationships. And, it is the always underlying threat to all of our cooperative endeavors. And, worst of all, this self-based view of good and evil has entirely estranged humanity from God. (Ref. James 4: 1-10)

Thus, this “designer view” of life actually keeps us in constant turmoil on every level of our existence and on every stage of human activity. Deep within our subconscious, it always prescribes disagreement, with each other and with God.  (Ref. Rom. 8:7)

So now, it has come to be that from the moment of our birth, this selfish point of view pressures us to reject God and his idea of goodness in favor of our own. Thus, now we enter this world with every intention of asserting and maintaining a personal sovereignty over our own life. And this makes us more than a little contentious regarding the issue of “Who is in charge of charting our life course - or more precisely, “Who gets to determine good and evil?”. (Ref. Psalm 51:5 // Rom. 3:23)

All of this is not to say that human beings cannot agree with each other, even for a moment. Obviously, that is not true. Nor is this a contention that our every act is selfish, or that humanity is not at all capable of rising to true charity and selflessness. That is also, obviously, not true.


But, the inescapable reality is this.  While we have our high and noble moments, we are always under pressure from our own selfishness. And not unlike gravity, it is a constant background force which acts on us in every circumstance, though certainly, with varying degrees of impact depending on many factors.


But, bottom line, this personalized knowledge of good and evil is a psychological poison which skews and blurs our entire view of life. And, if we are able to sometimes get beyond its deceptions, it is with no small effort; and only on a limited basis.

The Obvious Effects…

So now, in this late hour of human history, the impact of that Garden treachery is easily observed. Mankind has now spread far and wide across the planet. He has organized himself into groups and built great civilizations across the centuries.


But characteristically, we have struggled to make those civilizations to long endure. Our competing selfishness constantly disturbs, and disrupts, and destabilizes, and eventually, destroys them.


Always, the results are essentially the same. It is constant turmoil, growing out of this divisive and relentless “Me Perspective.” And, while it is obvious that man is intellectually capable of great accomplishment; yet, it is equally obvious that he has been constantly defeated by this embedded selfishness which ultimately imperils his every momentary success.  Thus, the real stuff of self-determination is shown to be merely emptiness.


                                                    
Clarity…

So, we are left with this.  Good and evil are the most basic issues of life.  And, the question, “Who gets to decide what is Truth regarding those issues?” is the central point of contention in our relationship with God. 

Thus, the basic effect of the satanic treachery in the Garden has been to create a kind of alternative “truth,” an alternative interpretation of good and evil, an alternative interpretation of reality.  And this alternative view of life puts us at odds with God as we contend for our own selfish viewpoint. 

But, here are the facts.  Real Truth is always and only “the correct interpretation of reality.”  And, that determination is always based in God’s view of things, not in man’s.  So, it’s only God’s interpretation of reality which actually defines true good and true evil.  And any alternative view of reality is nothing more than a delusional mistake.

So, as we grasp this larger context of what’s really going on in the human economy, indeed, it does explain a lot concerning our relationship with God. It becomes obvious why God makes this issue of Truth, and who gets to determine it, to be the Prime Issue in our relationship with Him.  It is because this issue is at the very heart of a trusting relationship with God.

                        Enter Jesus Christ, The Savior Of The World…

So, the true reality is this.  If we choose to assert a personal sovereignty over our life and develop our own interpretation of reality (embrace our own subjective view of good and evil), then we become estranged from the light of God’s truth – God’s correct interpretation of reality.

In this condition, we are simply stumbling through life in the darkness of our own delusions entirely owing to our self-determined view of life.  And that selfish view keeps us separated from God and defeats our friendship with Him.  Enter Jesus Christ, our "Enlightener" and the Restorer of truth.  

The New Testament describes Jesus as the Way, the Truth, the Light, and the LifeJesus, Himself, said, “No man comes to the Father but by Me.”  (John. 14:6 / John. 8:12)

These simple ideas give great definition to the role of Christ in God’s redemptive plan as a friendship-builder.  It tells us that He is the Way back to God’s loving embrace.  He is our means to rediscover and live in the Light, an awareness of God's truth, (the correct interpretation reality).  He is our Life, our means to enduring personal fulfillment.    

Very simply, it is the role of Christ to extricate us from the delusion of our own self-sufficiency.  It is His mission to bring us back to a real agreement with God’s interpretation of good and evil.  And this Christ-restored heart-agreement with God, then enables our friendship with Him.  We typically just call this humble willingness to embrace God's life view - "faith" 

                        The Binary Nature Of The Savior’s Role…

When we step back and take a longer view of redemption, as we have been doing, much of the detail fades out and we can more easily see just the basic facts. We can then notice that redemption and participating in a friendship with God is really about only two primary things. It is about Reconciliation, restoring the relationship.  And, it is about Renewal, fixing what broke the relationship in the first place. (Ref. Eph. 4:20-24)

And here is another simple thing which comes into view when we just look generally at redemption. The Reconciliation Aspect of salvation, which is essentially based in our decision to stop trusting in our own self-sufficiency and begin trusting in God's guidence, primarily happens in the conscious mind of man.  It is in the conscious mind that we decide to bow to the Lordship of Christ and simply trust God’s love and sufficiency to guide and sustain us.

However, the Renewal Aspect of redemption must go further to also involve the subconscious mind of mankind. This is true, because it is in the subconscious mind where our most basic self resides.  It is the subconscious which is the real seat of our character. And, it is in the sub-conscious person where that “Me Perspective” really lives. 

So, in short, redemption must necessarily involve both levels of our consciousness if we are to be not only forgiven, but renewed.  And certainly, God is aware of this wider scope of our need.  So, He designed a redemptive plan, in Christ, to thoroughly answer the whole of the problem.  Thus, God's redemptive plan addresses, not just the surface issues of the conscious mind, but also, the very depths of who we are in the subconscious mind. 

Thus, Christ is God’s redemptive agent, who goes far beyond just absolving us of the consequences of our conscious choice for self-determination.  Rather, He also repairs our subconscious brokenness.

Christ:  Our Solution On Two Levels…

The Apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament, “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” The renewal of our mind – this is exactly what Christ does for us. And, it changes everything. (Ref. Romans 12:2) 

As we have seen, mankind has been deeply and chronically affected by Satan’s deception in the Garden. Through the first couple, he has infected the whole of the species with what might be called the “Sin Instinct.”  This is a powerful inner motive for self-determination. And, it actually does affect both the conscious and subconscious make up of mankind to this day.

Thus, Christ, as our Savior, must necessarily solve the sin (self-determination) problem on both of these awareness levels in order to fully reconcile man to God and truly renew His fallen creature.  And, the two major events which anchor this redemptive work, the Crucifixion (Christ's death on the Cross) and the Resurrection, (His coming back to life from the grave) enable Him to do exactly that. And when Christ is finished, His trusting follower is left with two wonderful benefits: complete forgiveness and a thorough personal renewal – just as God intended.

On The Conscious Level:  The Work Of The “Dying Christ”…

So, let’s begin with The Cross. Obviously, the first things we need in redemption are Forgiveness and Reconciliation to God. Forgiveness is the only thing that will allow us to escape the consequences attached to the “sin attitude” of self-sufficiency. 

Christ secures this forgiveness and heals the rift in our relationship with God by His death on the Cross. His death on the Cross is essentially Jesus stepping into our place, at the moment we truly repent of our self-will, to spare us the punishment that has always been assigned to this intention of self-determination.  In spite of what Satan may have told the first couple, and even whispered in our own ear from time to time, there are always consequences to the self-determined approach to life as we have already noted. (Ref. Gen. 2:16-17 // Eph. 2: 13 - 18)

So, in a true conversion to Christ, when an individual has a change of heart, and decides to renounce their belief in The Great Lie of self-sufficiency, he or she relinquishes control of their life (their personal influence) to Christ. Christ then becomes their Savior; and God then forgives their previous arrogance - without punishment. The reason being, Christ has already taken their punishment on Himself by His Cross, thus satisfying God's sense of justice. (Ref. Rom. 6:23)

            Imputed Righteousness…

Something else also happens at this point as a direct benefit of Christ’s death on the Cross. We are assigned a personal righteousness. That's right, it's just assigned to us because the death of Christ absolves us of all guiltiness.

This “Imputed Righteousness” has absolutely no basis in reality. It is simply a benefit of the atoning work of Christ on the Cross.  His Cross makes us entirely righteous in God's eyes.  It is true that eventually, Christ also brings a Reality Based Righteousness to the believer. But initially, we simply enjoy this Imputed Righteousness in God's eyes.

So, by His Cross, Jesus secures our forgiveness, bringing us a personal reconciliation to God. And, beyond all of that, His death assigns an imputed righteousness to us in God's sight.

But, here is what the Cross does not provide. It does not provide a “fix” for the problem in our basic nature, our sub-conscious nature - which is the root cause of the rift in our relationship with God in the first. The Cross does not eliminate that nasty, gnawing, and disagreeable inner motive which drives us to be self-determined and decide good and evil for ourselves. It does not fix this Sin Instinct which continues to linger on the subconscious level of our awareness.

The Cross does not repair this subconscious brokenness because our subconscious renewal is not a function of the Cross or the Dying Christ. Our subconscious renewal is primarily a function of the Resurrection and the Living Christ.

 On The Subconscious Level: The Work Of The Living Christ…

The second great redemptive event aimed at enabling our friendship with God is, of course, the Resurrection of Christ. And, from His Resurrection, flows the second facet of God's redemptive intention: The subconscious renewal of the believer. (Ref. 2 Corinthians 5:17 / Ephesians 2:10)

The Resurrection of Christ is way more than just a promise of the eternal life to come. From His Resurrection, flows the real means to thoroughly remake the believer - in the here and now.  From the Resurrection, flows the divine power which can rid us of that underlying instinct for self-determination, and replace it with a consistent motive of faith (an attitude of humility which always embraces God’s interpretation of life).

All of this is accomplished through a very literal personal merger with the Living Christ.  The progression goes like this.  The first purpose of the Resurrection was to provide us with a Living Savior. The purpose of a Living Savior is to provide us with a real access to the vitality of His Divine Nature.  The purpose of that access is to enable us to rise above our own subconscious brokenness in the energy of the Living Christ as He literally comes to live within us in Spirit form.

This Spiritual Merger with Christ is, very literally, an integration of the divine nature with the human nature. Through this spiritual merger, the divine nature of Christ is actually mingled with the human nature of the believer.  This integration with the Living Spirit Christ enriches the nature of the believer, providing the divine energy to completely transform and renew him or her - both in the inner person and, ultimately, resulting from this inner renewal, in their outer circumstance as well. (Ref. 2 Pet. 1:4)

So, very obviously, Christ is the central character in the Divine Drama.  He is the one perfect Savior who can and does restore and renew humanity’s capacity for an intimate and enduring friendship with God in His two roles as both the Dying and the Living Christ.