I thought some of you might appreciate a look over my shoulder at a recent email exchange.
I have been reading and appreciating your writings on the Lifestream website for about a month now. Recently, I read your Journey notes of 2002 and am beginning to see that I am an attempting manipulator of God and people, even my own family. No wonder I get frustrated, anxious and impatient when God and others do not do what I want them to do. I’m only beginning to see this, but want the Lord to deal with this in my life, for the sake of freedom.
Tonight I read the following from one of your Journey Notes of 2003, “There is no greater freedom than learning to live deeply in the life of Jesus and watch his Father’s plans and purpose unfold in our live.” Will you help me to understand what it means and how to “live deeply in the life of Jesus”? >From your perspective, how does one know if he is doing that or just hoping that he is. The ministry I have been working with for many years teaches how one can be filled with the Holy Spirit by faith. I have taught others myself, but wonder if I really am, or am living deeply in the life of Jesus, or really trusting Him in a way that He wants me to.
Even as I write this I think I am getting deeper. I know the scriptures that speak of God’s love for us in Christ, but how do I really grasp, beyond the shadow of a doubt that God really loves me, really will shepherd me and meet all my needs.
As you say I think it has a lot to do with finding security in his love, which is what the cross was all about. Unfortunately the power of the cross has rarely been preached in Western Christianity in the last 40 years. We have been taught that to make us free a wrathful God had to satisfy his need for justice in the torture of his Son. He suffered our punishment so we can go free. How does that view of the cross accomplish what Paul stated in Romans 8, that the cross forever convinces us of Father’s affection for us and we can rest in that reality no matter what circumstance we face? It doesn’t.
A closer examination of the New Testament will show us that the cross wasn’t about God venting his wrath on an innocent victim, but Father and Son working together to consume sin in themselves so that we might be cured of it, not just forgiven of it. I deal with this briefly in the third section of He Loves Me and more extensively in the CD series, The Power of the Cross.
Seeing the cross as God’s sees it is a critical part of our learning to live the life of Jesus because it focuses more on what he wants to do in me today, than what I can do for him. We’ve been steeped in a theology of religious obligation, which will not produce relationship. So instead of doing a bunch of religious things to ‘build the relationship’ we must instead learn to respond to him as he builds it. Even trying to build it ‘by faith’ focuses on our actions instead of his. Faith is nothing more than the growing trust we have in him that results from the growing relationship we experience in him. Ask him to show you himself. To help you listen again to his still small voice and know him as a real presence and not just an abstract concept. Follow him and the growing convictions he puts on your heart. The reason many people miss out is that they are either hung up on religious methods, or they want to make it more difficult than it really is. Living deeply in the life of Jesus is not that complicated when we get our agenda out of the way and learn to rely on the security of God’s love for us.