Tuesday, January 13, 2015

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please Feel Free To Comment