Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Old Man Reconditioned Or Improved

We’ve also been contacted by major movie studios about purchasing the movie rights. We’re not selling those, by the way. The dream from the beginning was to make this into a general-release feature film that would offer our culture a view of God that religion has totally obscured. It looks like now we’ll get that chance.

The above quote is from Wayne Jacobsen over at the LifeStream Blog, regarding the current news about the book, The Shack, by Paul Young.

It reminded me of something I heard Paul Walsh share. He had been teaching for a long period of time on who we are in Christ, but there was a point where having done this he sensed something was missing. He went on to say how he felt the Lord was saying, 'They seem to know who they are in Me, but maybe they don't know who I Am in them.
If I heard him correctly it was during this time Paul sensed the Lord saying to him, 'I want to change how the world wrongly perceives who I am, by addressing how Christians wrongly perceive Me'.

The following comments were most helpful in seeing that this 'mystery gospel' and its affects upon our lives is so much more than a superficial botox face lift.

We might consider some familiar names of believers whom God obviously brought to maturity and used for His glory—such as Pierson, Chapman, Tauler, Moody, Goforth, Mueller, Taylor, Watt, Trumbull, Meyer, Murray, Havergal, Guyon, Mabie, Gordon, Hyde, Mantle, McCheyne, McConkey, Deck, Paxson, Stoney, Saphir, Carmichael and Hopkins. The average for these was 15 years after they entered their life work before they began to know the Lord Jesus as their Life and ceased trying to work for Him and began allowing Him to be their All in all and do His work through them. This is not to discourage us in any way but to help us to settle down with our sights on eternity, by faith "apprehend[ing] that for which also … [we are] apprehended of Christ Jesus… Press[ing] toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:12, 14).

The following comments are by Paul Walsh, from his book 'The Bonsai Conspiracy':

I had imagined that this was a book for disappointed Christians. But, as the work unfolded, I began to see that whilst my prescription is Christian , the reality is that the problems addressed here (e.g. performance-addictions, the need for meaning and acceptance, living with guilt, the fear of failure, anxiety and the deep-seated belief that our best might not be good enough) are not peculiar to Christians. Far from it. They are universal issues which confront us all. Whilst it is true that the primary audience of The Bonsai Conspiracy is the disillusioned Christian, it turns out that this is not an exclusively in-house book. A failure to understand who we are dwarfs us all.

The challenge is to enable people to be who they really are. And herein lies the great mitigant It is hard to be who we are because it does not seem to be what anybody wants.

Real freedom is not accessible to the strong or even the weak for to claim that one is weak is to admit that one has a modicum of strength. It is for the dead ! For many, this death to self-effort comes in the form of burnout which we define as a person being in a state of fatigue or disillusionment brought about by a dedication to a way of life which failed to bring the expected reward. There will be those who wonder whether the burnout phase is inevitable. I would dearly like to believe that it is not inevitable but I am yet to have any evidence to encourage such a view. Ultimately, everybody must have their own personal moment(s) of Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? [Rom. 7:24]. Everybody must first exhaust their own resources before such moment(s) can be experienced.

Now, having undergone our period(s) of disillusionment (i.e. Dark Night(s) of the Soul), we emerge on the other side only to discover that we do not like the look of freedom. This is understandably so because freedom is a scary thing. How does one function in a paradigm where there are no alibis, rules, codes of conduct, ethics, structures or law? How does one function in a world where morality has been surpassed and outclassed by the absurdity of grace? It is up to you to interpret freedom for yourself. Nobody is going to tell you what to do. All this new paradigm will do is to reinforce who you are. So, you can neither control nor be controlled. Freedom is truly frightening as it is an alien and implausible structure to a bound guilt-stained soul.

We suggest that in most circles, what passes for Christianity is not Christianity at all. We shall prove beyond reasonable doubt that the essence of Christianity is self-replacement where the Old Man (Adam) is removed and is replaced by the New Man, Jesus (Last Adam). This is distinct from what we call Churchianity , the kernel of which is self-improvement.

In this paradigm, the old man is saved and the new man is simply the old man reconditioned or improved. We suggest that most believers are actually doubters because consciously, subconsciously and/or experientially, they acknowledge a difference between the Christian Life and the Life of Christ. We posit that there is no such distinction.

Burnout~This chapter of the same name explores and explains why burnout is an agony to be embraced. Burnout clears the path of all self-sufficiency and places the beleaguered believer on the threshold of realizing the true nature of the Christian Life. Therefore, in what may appear to be an apparent paradox, we argue that the key to success in the Christian Life is our abject and total failure to live it.

Frightened By Freedom , we examine the thorny problem of freedom. We are, for the most part, institutionalized and conditioned. Consequently, we are intuitively very much afraid of freedom, especially in circumstances where freedom comes at the high cost of change. As Daryl Conner, author of The Speed of Change , puts it

Humans are the most control-oriented animals on the planet . When we are unable to meet our needs, we become disorientated. When we meet these needs, we gain a feeling of stability and psychological comfort so powerful that attaining this state is one of the most potent motivators of human behaviour.

Anyone who has read the story of the Exodus of the Israelites from the captivity of Egypt to the Promise Land of freedom will take little convincing as to the congenital nature of this problem.
Long story short, I'm not sure how all of the above ties in with the following quote: "It sounds like you’re moving from the disillusionment of religion, into the reality of real relationship with him. I’d like to tell you that’s all glorious, and it will be in the end, but the process can be a bit disorienting and painful. That’s why many talk of it as ‘de-toxing’, because there is a bit of withdrawal involved from our dependence on religion. And, there’s the reaction of others that won’t understand what he’s doing in you and will make harsh judgments about you."


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