Posted by: sailingspirit | May 28, 2012

Copernicanism and Christianity: Self-Centeredness Chokes Grace, Empowerment and Obscures Justice

Like the great Copernican debate about which body is at the center of the Solar System, or even the universe, most Christians seem to think, act, and even believe as if they themselves were the hub and focus of everything.  Need I say this is a problem?  They will have a really hard time climbing out of the pit of despair if they don’t stop.  Not to say they won’t get any of their faith to work, but they sure will face more delays and hiccups that way.  And it’s just not worth it, as their shabby results can attest.  They’re like…race horses trying to run with blinders on.  But unlike horses, blinders make people more hysterical, not less.  They’ve got to remove their blinders and see the bigger picture, in order to see God’s love and justice as well as take hold of His grace as empowerment for positive change.

In a recent post, I wrote a little about the struggle to accept God’s love and how it relates to being desperate for justice.  In that post, I used a courtroom analogy to point out the failure of logic many Christians use to accuse God of not loving them or answering their prayers, because they apply such a small world view they don’t bother to consider Satan’s role in anything.  Similarly, I wrote how the struggle to make effective use of spiritual tools is rooted in a belief that they don’t deserve to be given such gifts in the first place.  Determining what one deserves is works-based, which leaves both Satan and Christ out of the picture.  Why do they keep cutting others out of the picture?  Where are they getting the idea that faith is a duet, not a chorus?  If you cut out all scripture involving characters other than God and the reader, you’d have what–one or two pages?  It’s craziness!

When people consider spiritual things as only having two principal players, themselves and God, they are cutting out the vast majority of information and explanation that would help them get to where they want to be in their walk.  In other words, they’re cutting out the answers to their own questions.  God Himself said righteousness is not about what you do, it’s a gift.  So if God is saying it’s not about what you do, it must necessarily be about something else.  Why are they ignoring the something else?

As any good story teller begins by setting the scene, the Bible opens with the necessary contextual information: Lucifer’s attempted coup in heaven.  (Admittedly, most reprints of the Bible don’t include the helpful notes here, so the understanding is largely lost.  I can’t recommend highly enough the Dake Annotated Reference Bible; even as a KJV I understand scripture so much more out of that thing!)  Everything from Genesis to Revelation can be more clearly understood when tied back to the Great War Between Good and Evil.  Including, therefore, how to make your faith work.

Let’s go back to the issue of deserving anything from God, such as forgiveness or gifts or empowerment sharing of any kind.  To determine whether you deserve anything or not, you have to focus on what you have done or have neglected to do.  It’s all about you.  All about you, and what God owes you because you think God’s purpose for existing is to either make you happy or punish you, whichever He is bound to do like a battery-operated scoreboard.  The very definition of self-centeredness!  When, ironically, the essence of the Christian faith is that Christ did a selfless thing.  No matter how many millions of times life-long church goers have heard it and repeated it, they still aren’t grasping the concept of Grace.  I’m becoming convinced it’s not for lack of good definitions, it’s for lack of proper context.  So let me put the frame around the picture to give proper context, and say it as simply as I can:

Victim (1961 film)

YOU DESERVE GOD’S GRACE BECAUSE YOU ARE A PRISONER OF WAR, A CIVILIAN CASUALTY, A VICTIM.  GOD’S GRACE IS HIS JUSTICE.  SATAN HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN HUMAN TRAFFICKING FOR MILLENNIA, AND YOU AND I AND EVERYBODY ELSE HAVE BEEN VICTIMIZED AT SOME POINT.  YOU WERE ABDUCTED, DUPED, ABUSED, RAPED, USED, MISLED, EXPLOITED AND PROSTITUTED FOR HIS GAIN.  HE STOLE YOUR IDENTITY, PERVERTED IT, AND SOLD IT BACK TO YOU AT A HIKED UP PROFIT.  HE HAS STOLEN FROM YOU, BASHED AND BROKEN WHAT BELONGS TO YOU, HURT YOU, EVEN TRIED TO DESTROY YOU.  HE DESTROYED INDIVIDUALS, MARRIAGES, FAMILIES, EVERYTHING PEOPLE HAVE WORKED HARD FOR AND INVESTED SO MUCH INTO.  HE MADE YOU DO AWFUL THINGS AND ON TOP OF THAT, MADE YOU FEEL ASHAMED AND GUILTY FOR IT.  GOD GOT ANGRY, RESCUED YOU OUT OF THE MESS OF YOUR IMPRISONMENT, AND PUT THE SMACK DOWN ON SATAN.  THEN HE GAVE YOU THE KEYS OF AUTHORITY OVER SATAN AND ADDITIONAL TOOLS TO KEEP FROM BEING DUPED AGAIN.  YOU DESERVE GOD’S GRACE AS RECOMPENSE FOR WHAT SATAN DID TO YOU.  THE LEAST YOU CAN DO IS START BEING HAPPY ABOUT IT.

Now is that so hard?

Our seemingly immutable, innate demand for justice simply will not be satiated by the typical presentations of grace because we know bad deeds must be punished in order for God to be a just God.  Knowing we have done bad things, we want to be punished so that we can believe in justice again.  So if God won’t punish us for what we did, and Christ didn’t deserve to be punished, either, how are we to reconcile the accounts?  How are we to maintain faith in justice?  Like so:

a) As was stated to Adam in the Garden from the very first, Satan could and should be kept at bay.  Eve and Adam chose to believe what Lucifer said above what God said, and when He questioned them about it they still didn’t accept responsibility for what they did.  So, for their disloyalty and dishonesty, He issued mild punishment initially via displacement and curses.  He used the nature of these, as well as prophetic proclamations, to illustrate that He loved and cared for them so He would not punish them forever; eventually it would end.  But He could not ignore any attempt to demote His sovereignty, so some amount of punishment was necessary to prevent a trend.

b) Satan’s influence out-paced God’s initially, resulting in the entire earthly population being perverted and corrupted.  It got out of hand, so God had to issue punishment by destroying them all before the last trace of God’s pure (human) race was lost.  He drowned the planet and started over.  But He didn’t want to have to do that again, as Satan would assuredly try again.  God made a promise to Noah and planned for a different remedy.  Like a courtroom that doles out relative blame for a multi-party incident, Satan’s share was the greatest percentage, the fallen angels who sided with him the next greatest percentage, with humans and the lesser beings of creation given the minor percentages of the blame.  Thus Christ bore a collective spanking for all the humans who, technically speaking, could have kept Satan at bay by ignoring him.  They had a role to play (agreement), albeit a small one, so that had to be addressed.  But their collective punishment could still be borne by one perfect man, Christ.  It, too, was a temporary punishment.  He was raised up and continues to live well, continuing to honor God’s sovereignty and being honored in return for it.

c) Satan, on the other hand, was responsible for the vast majority of the problem and will therefore get the majority of the wrath.  And he will get the rest of what’s coming to him soon.  But like every other people group in the Bible, there is a set measure of evil that must be attained before God will over-ride His exhaustive mercy and destroy them.  Satan has not reached his maximum peak of evildoing yet, so God is waiting until he peaks to show that His strength is still greater.  That way, there will never ever again be a thought that maybe Satan could have overthrown God’s throne.  It will be settled beyond the shadow of a doubt.  Satan will not just be temporarily punished, he will be permanently destroyed (the second death).

And, it warrants mentioning, delays in receiving our justice are not detrimental to that justice because the all-powerful God, who lives outside time, is perfectly capable of restoring and making up for anything and everything that went wrong or got ruined, and then some.  He is the ultimate life insurance adjuster.  He has infinite resources, so whether He fixes 3 things or 3,000 things matters not to Him, and He knows you’ll be at perfect peace and satisfied either way.  So if the end result is the same for you, He might as well time it to get the most impact and benefit across the whole Kingdom.  (See, once again, it’s not all about you.)  Things like “waste” and “undue burden” have no meaning in infinity.  When you enter infinity, it won’t matter to you, either.  We may not like it here, but our merciful God measures it to be tolerable; you can’t experience collective pain or hunger, either.  Just what is happening right now.  Put your big-boy pants on, you’ll be okay.  Learn to take one for the Team, here.

So as a fitting follow-up to my previous post, we see that Love and Justice are indeed intertwined.  God has and will continue to affect justice on our behalf because He loves us and hates what Satan is doing to us.  When Christians start putting context and other characters back into their screenplays of scriptural truth, I hope they will not only get the clarification they need to find peace and start getting results for their faith, but I hope they also will recover from their self-centered sickness and start sharing their gratitude in ways that bless others as well.  Often times, and I hope it will continue, escapees wish to go back and help fellow victims get freedom, too.  They don’t feel totally free knowing people they care about are still in bondage.  In spiritual as well as physical warfare, we ought leave no fellow soldier behind.  This is the entire purpose of ministry: get yourself free, then help others get free, too.  As one generation had Pearl Harbor, and another 9/11, just what kind of attack on your life will provoke you enough to enlist in the Great War effort and help God squash the Perpe-traitor?  You don’t have to wear any fatigues or wield any physical weapons, just spread this Good News Truth so that people can know there is, in fact, a way out.

You do not eliminate shadows with guns or bombs; the only way to destroy darkness is by introducing light.

(May I now recommend reading “Copernicanism and Christianity, Part II”)

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