“God’s position on humanity hasn’t changed. But humanity’s position on themselves has.”
This is a quote from an episode of the BEMA podcast. The host, Marty Solomon, a messianic Jew, walks listeners through the Torah as he shares the Bible through an ancient Jewish lens. Reading scripture through this lens is bringing so much more depth to my faith. When he said what I shared above it hit me like a ton of bricks.
People live out of the thinking that they are separated from God thanks to fear, shame, & religious traditions/bad theology not from what God & Christ actually did and showed us in scripture. I remember my entire life growing up in church and well into adulthood being afraid of God. Fear of God’s wrath was a constant theme of messages whether it was spoke outright or implied.
Ted Dekker writes in The Forgotten Way, “Many people have been led to believe that Yeshua’s (Jesus’s) primary purpose was to rescue them from the Father’s wrath. But as Yeshua said, “if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” Yeshua and your Father, though distinct, are one. If He and His Father are one, why would He need to save you from Himself?”
How many times have I heard a pastor or speaker say “if you feel far from God guess who moved?” How can they imply that we have moved away from God yet also say that God will never leave us? Isn’t this contradictory? No wonder people leave church when there is so much contradiction coming from those who are supposed to be the leaders.
I recently read an article about a well known preacher/evangelist who was asking to be nominated for a certain denomination’s top leader of their national organization. The author of the article was questioning if this was a wise choice due to the man’s views on several things. In one quote from the evangelist he referred to children as vipers going on to say something to the effect of you have to train the evil out of children.
The Christian church has a history of a sin management approach to their views. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we aren’t sinful. We all are and we need to acknowledge that. But when you have this metaphorically beaten over your head it sets us up for a spiritual scarcity mindset. It inadvertently teaches people their identity is in their sinful nature instead of their identity being in Christ. This perspective can trap people in a spirit of fear and despair.
What if instead we focused on helping people understand how they are created in the imago deli, in the image of God? Teaching them to yes be aware of their sin, but not heaping guilt and shame on them.
What would happen if we flipped the script from what so many churches teach? What if instead of preaching at them to “turn or burn” or focusing on “sin management” and trying to keep them from “going to hell” we showed them how they are created in Christ because in Christ we live and move and have our being? Christ is all and in all.
I wonder what that would do for our mental, spiritual, and maybe even physical health?
What if instead of looking at people dualistically as good or bad and thinking we need to “save” them we showed them the love of Christ? Maybe if someone had taught us this we wouldn’t live out of fear or shame or striving to “be a good Christian” so we don’t go to hell when we die. Maybe we could show others their true worth and that they don’t have to live in fear and shame. I’m not saying excuse actions that are harmful or hold them accountable for actions that need to change. What if those actions are born out of an incomplete or incorrect view of themselves? Shouldn’t that be the root we look at?
This is what learning about the enneagram has done for me. It’s shown me how I was created to be an image of God to others. Yes, it’s taught me about my weaknesses when I’m living in my core fear, but it’s also shown me that I was created with an aspect of God’s image that is my greatest strength. Learning about my spiritual gifts and my strengths has shown me that how I serve others does not have to look like how someone else serves others. It has led me on a path to understanding that I don’t have to live in fear of God’s wrath.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m no where near perfect and daily have to surrender the core fears that try to sabotage me. I still find myself acting and reacting out of those fears, but they are no longer my identity. There is power in awareness without shame. I’ve come to believe it’s shame and guilt that keeps people blinded to their identity in Christ. There is power in letting go and surrendering the fear, guilt, and shame that keeps us from seeing who we are in Christ. Because implying people’s identity is their sinful nature doesn’t seem to be helping our world.