If you haven’t read part one, I suggest you do so before continuing here. I’ve already laid the theological foundation, so now we’ll see how this works out in our everyday lives.
First, know that the enemy of our soul is a coward. He always tries to kill the baby. We see this with Jesus and with Moses (Exod.1:15-16; Matt.2:16). If he can’t kill us (or stop us from believing), he will attack our identity as a son or daughter of God (Jesus – Luke 3:22; 4:1-13). His modus operandi hasn’t changed from the beginning, starting with Adam and Eve. He doesn’t need to change it because it usually works on us!
The accuser’s arrows are shot into the young and innocent “us” when we don’t have the ability to judge a lie from the truth. Especially, since they usually come through those who are supposed to be nurturing and protecting us. These wounds forge an alien identity that we’ve come to believe to be the truth about who we are, and we carry this false self into our adulthood…into our relationships…into our Christianity.
This is the “Great Sadness” in William P. Young’s book, “The Shack.” It’s the deepest part of us that we dare not let anyone see.
But the good news is, Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection was for the purpose of healing mankind of all of these “Adamic” wounds. (Note: “sin” literally means “a tragic flaw….” See my post titled, “Missing the mark.”) And Christ has already come to take up residence in our hearts, right in the middle of our deepest darkness. He lives there in order to save every part of us…spirit, soul, and body.
Jesus has made all our religious pursuits to “reach up to God” irrelevant and obsolete. God has already reached inside of us!
The Greek word for “save” is σῴζω (sōzō). It means “to rescue; preserve safe and unharmed, to cure, heal, restore to health, to deliver from, set free from, to restore to the original image and purpose.”
Jesus gives us a blueprint of what being completely saved looks like.
Jesus mirrors our completeness and endorses our true identity. He is the “I am” in us. (Col.2:10 MIRROR)
As C. Baxter Kruger puts it, the Great “I Am” has come to heal us of all of our “I am not’s.” This is the “I am not loved, not pretty, not handsome, not wanted, not smart, not worth it…” self-talk that short-circuits our living a fully authentic life (John 10:10).
The thief has done this, but we think it’s who we really are, that it’s really our fault.
Jesus also came to completely undo the corrupted Adamic mindset that thinks we need to hide behind our religious fig leaves, our ritualized systems of penance, appeasements, and performance…our futile pursuit to “become someone” we know in our hearts we are not. He comes to remove this veneer that keeps us from living completely naked before God and man, unashamed and unafraid (Gen. 2:25). By “naked” I mean, having nothing to hide, no image to project…to be able to enter into true “mutual interpenetration” intimacy in our relationships (see my definition of intimacy in part one).
This is why our unpretentious authentic humanness has to start with a right relationship with God. We’ve come to Him full of shame, guilt, condemnation, and doubt. (And it doesn’t help that manipulative forms of evangelism and theology actually promote this self-loathing!) The “accuser of the brethren” has gotten us to accuse ourselves…and, therefore, accuse God and everyone else.
We need to get angry at the right enemy.
We need to discover that God is not disappointed or angry with us…that we are His “pearl of great price,” and He is our “treasure.” We need to let Him drive out all our fallen fears of separation, punishment, and all our “I am not’s” with His perfecting love (1 John 4:18). For we cannot grow beyond this point until we know we are loved by God and have been embraced by this reciprocal relationship of mutual devotion and trust.
This process of sozo begins with a revelation of God’s unconditional love and acceptance. By His grace, we accept His invitation to be “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Pet.1:4). You see, this “lust” is our misguided need for counterfeit affections that only poisons our souls and makes our hearts grow small.
We begin to interact with the Living Word—Christ Himself. This includes reading the Bible. I’m saying it this way because if we think simply reading the Bible will transform us, we are mistaken. If our study of the Bible doesn’t lead us into regular, honest, heart-tenderizing encounters with God, we run the risk of becoming religious (pharisaical), or indifferent, rather than like Christ.
We become superficial, relationally dishonest, ungraceful, divisive, judgmental, petty, theologically myopic…or just religiously obnoxious.
This is because we eventually project what’s really inside of us.
I shared my own personal religious hardening in my book, Sonshift. I can honestly say that most, if not all, of the significant transformational tweaking of my soul came from these deep personal encounters with Love…where I let Jesus re-interpret the darkest part of me, tenderizing my heart, thus, letting me begin to understand His heart.
Becoming human, then, is the process of discovering the real us in the real Him. The glorious result is that our need to prop up ourselves is removed! We are free to live other-centered in every way. We become kind, compassionate, understanding, patient, peaceful, full of grace, believing the best about everyone in spite of what may seem to be true about them on the surface.
When I’m fully human, I can walk in intimacy and connection with all people. I don’t need to be right; I need to understand. My goal is to communicate, to share life, to comfort those who hurt, to give value, to hate injustice and all inhumanities to man. I’m not driven by fear, greed, or a need for affirm myself. I’m already affirmed by Love, and so I have everything that I am to give to you.
No, I’m not there yet, but I can sure see it…smell it…taste it!
Here’s what I see. Jesus said it best…
20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. (John 14:20 NKJV)
I know that when we see ourselves in Christ in God, we will see each other there, too. And that, my beloved fellow sojourner, changes everything.