6. God is Beneath Your Feet
We KNOW this is the gospel. The first shall be last and the last first. The valleys shall be exalted and the mountains brought low. Except you become as a little child you won't even see the kingdom of God. To be the greatest in the kingdom become the lowest of servants. And a little child shall lead them. If you want to see God, look down.
6. God is Beneath Your Feet
". . . the way of the wicked He turns upside down." Psalm 146:9
God is alive in me and new every morning. Thus things I thought I would write about disappear in the present bubbling spring.
God's people are seeing the reality of the manifestation of the sons of God. This fills me with such joy, for it is further confirmation that God fulfills all He speaks in us. Christianity as it has been cannot ever produce such a break, such a shift in reality as the birthing of liberty and the elimination of darkness upon this planet really must be.
I find myself back in Genesis 3 over and over. It is the entirety of what must be broken and cast off. Our return to the revelation of God through us (image) to all creation parallels in every way the original break with Him.
I looked briefly at the casting off of the curse found in Revelation Chapter 12 that corresponds point by point with every part of the curse spoken by God in Genesis 3. Understanding the psychology of Adam and Eve helps us identify the difference between Christ and the pretender forced by human imagination and ruling in the church.
But it is that path of Jesus from Gethsemane to the resurrection that shows us the incredible meaning of our full union with Him. Here's the difference. Adam ran from that path as fast as he could. Look at the length of time between Adam's confrontation with the real task God had given him and his flight. "She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate." See that comma after "her." That's it.
And so the path of Jesus from Gethsemane to the Resurrection is a path Adam did not take; this path does not run parallel, it runs beyond. The only reason we look back to the garden is to understand the path Adam continues to refuse, the path upon which we walk.
Now, this glorious exercise through which the Lord has taken me over the last couple of weeks, has given me a picture of the three parts of Jesus' defeat of sin and death that we must know. Through this passage, the passage of the atonement, He takes us into Himself and carries us in Himself through it. Our union with Him inside this portion of the path is more than profound and utterly unexpected.
First, no matter how willing we may be, we cannot carry our cross. The Father alone carries it for us.
Second, Jesus accepted the "shame" of His nakedness. The outer frame God had crafted for Him was fully acceptable to Him, He was content. When Jesus said, "Father, forgive them," when He said, "Hey, mom, there's your son, John," he was stark naked, stripped of every human dignity and respect.
Third, Jesus cast Himself utterly upon the Father, refusing to reach for His own power, even when the overwhelming darkness flooded His soul in the agony of defeat and separation.
But through all three of these steps into weakness, there runs a mighty cord, a simple cord, filling the heart and mind of the very human Jesus, a two-fold cord. One mighty strand of that cord was giving thanks, giving thanks, giving thanks for all things. The other mighty strand was the expectation, the certainty, the overwhelming confidence that the Father Himself would resurrect Jesus from the dead. God would raise Him on high.
It was not a "god" who died upon that cross, but a man. That's why the rulers of the Jews killed Him. They expected Superman to come out of the sky, blasting thunderbolts at his enemies. The main reason they hated Him was that He was powerless and human; how could the Messiah, the revelation of God, be so weak! If Jesus had been strong, they would have bowed to Him, they would have obeyed Him, that is, until they could figure out how to finagle behind the POWER and thus, in the end, gain control over Him. They persuaded the Romans to kill Him because He was beneath their contempt.
The entire church has done exactly the same thing with Him, deifying Him, expecting that when He comes this time, this time we know He will come as Superman out of the sky, blasting thunderbolts at his enemies. Sure the rulers of the Jews had it wrong then, but we don't, we have it right!
A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.
The human mind despises weakness. Look at how the church has deified every element of Jesus' weakness. From the halo on the baby to the crucifix on the wall to the Nicene Creed, every attempt of the Father to prove to us that He reveals Himself through weakness has been turned into Superman. And those believers in Jesus who discover the incredible reality that they, IN their weakness, are just like Jesus are called "blasphemers."
I cannot express how important it is for us to comprehend the fulfillment of the three feasts of Israel in the life of the church and in the life of each individual believer. We are not talking about being born again or baptized in the Holy Spirit, we are talking about the final entrance into the city of God, the fullness of Christ revealed through us in the earth. The third feast is what everything else is for. The entrance into the third feast gives purpose to all that comes before. Drawing back from the third feast makes the rest of redemption of limited value for the present time.
This three-step passage of Jesus IS the pearly gates of the city. Pearls: our response to pain and humiliation. We give thanks with joy AND expect with all confidence that the Father will raise us on high.
But we never cover our weakness with pretending nor reach for our own power separate from Christ living as us. The weapons of our warfare have nothing to do with our outer frame, but they are mighty.
I am going in a direction I have never seen before; I hope to unveil things I have never considered. Yes, my title is provocative, but when you see what I mean, you may well be in tears as I am. In my last letter, I talked about the outer frame of disability. Now I want to look at the outer frame of ability.
We humans possess both a physical body and a spirit body in equal proportions. Our soul exists at the point of union all through these two bodies. Our persona, our individual human ways and characteristics, are determined by the metabolism of these two bodies in equal proportions. Every human's spirit is as much a contributor to their person as their brain and heart. Just because we are blind to the spirit realms does not mean that our spirit does not function fully. A so-called psychic is just someone who is a bit more in tune with his or her spirit than most. Yet everyone is a "psychic" whether they know it or not. That is, everyone derives half of their persona from their spirit.
Paul instructs us to walk in our spirit merged with the Holy Spirit. The church calls such a practice "new age." It is "occultic" when a person enlarges their unregenerate spirit, but every Christian manifests spirit all the time, even if they know nothing about any union with the Holy Spirit.
Our spirits are as complex and ordered as our physical bodies. They contribute entirely to our outward persona or form as much as our physical bodies. People move out from the nature of their individual spirits equally as much as they move out from the nature of their individual bodies. The reason we don't know that mentally is we are blind.
What blind person do you know who goes around pretending and arguing, convinced they are NOT blind at all, but that everyone is lying to them about this so-called "ability to see"? Real blind people ask questions, all the time.
When Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," he was referring to the quality of knowing that we, in our present state, are unable to see whole realms of normal human existence and expression. He was referring to the quality of a child to ask questions. Someone who says, "I don't need the gifts of the Spirit," is saying that they are happy to be half a human, crippled and blind, with no interest in what they really are.
God crafted, by sovereign choice, the outward form or persona for each individual one of us to walk in all the days of our life. That outward persona comes from the characteristics of both our physical metabolism and our spirit metabolism joined fully in equal measure.
Here is a person who is never sick; there is a person who is always sick. Here is a person who sees success with everything he or she touches. There is a person who sees things fall apart every time he or she makes an attempt to rise up from failure. Here is a person who is continually bubbly and optimistic; there is a person who is continually grumpy and pessimistic. Here is a sanguine; there is a melancholic. Here is one who is powerful and dominating; there is one who is timid and withdrawing. Here is a person who is disciplined and put together; there is a person who is scattered and undisciplined. These are all qualities that come out of the construction of both spirit and body merged together.
These are the extremes, but God fashioned every form of in-between as well, including the outward form that has an ability to move along a scale from undisciplined to disciplined versus the inability to move along that scale at all. There are 15 billion different human personas (a rough # of Adam’s children), every one different and unique.
You and I did not choose the form we live in; neither can we change that form. Absolutely NO human form is in any way "better" before God than another. God does not play favorites to any outward form, capable or incapable.
When I lived in a certain place, a friend of mine ran a small construction crew in the nearby town. I ran the construction work in the community. We both heard from God all the time. He heard God speak to buy this tool and that tool, to engage in this increase and that increase, all with great joy. I heard God speak, "No," every time I sought to purchase for myself even a screwdriver. I was disturbed by that for awhile until I realized that God has an entirely different path and persona for each individual person, though we walk side by side in Christ.
Since that time I have refused to place my nature and persona onto anyone else as the "expectation" of what they ought to be doing. God can speak to my brother in a very different way than He speaks to me.
One of the greatest sins we commit against one another is to lay upon our brother the obligation and expectation that whatever God speaks and does with me is what that brother ought to be hearing and doing. It is sin, and the practice of it does not take place inside of Christ.
"You ought to change; you ought to practice a different persona than the one God fashioned for you," is a charge we burden one another with - weights NO ONE can bear.
The charge that I should not "talk about Asperger's" is a personal offense. It is contempt thrown against me; no different than lepers have always been treated. I have lived with that condescending, "If you were really in Christ, you would be like ME!" all my life and it still - well, I do give thanks in my frustration.
I was "reviewed" in my teaching ability again this week. And again this week, I was told that I ought to do the things I cannot do. I could write a book on the things they say, but I cannot do them. Yet I am a well-loved teacher with a track-record of students who learned from me what they did not learn from others. Yet I do not have the group "people-person" abilities found in the "teacher's manual." I compensate for what I do not have by showing deep compassion and the utmost respect to them as persons whenever we are one-on-one. No evaluator has ever seen that, nor is there a place for it on their forms, but my students see it and there is a place for it in their hearts.
Yet, going through this review, I was fully aware that I have never been treated in the educational world with the contempt by which I have been treated (by some) in the church. I say "some" because not all are like that, but those who are seem to stand out and often to lead. The world does not expect you to "be like Christ," Christians do. And they torment one another with that expectancy, turning Christ into a whip.
In a previous letter I explored the Greek words for Philippians 3:21. Here is the paraphrase I gave with the two critical Greek words:
(Jesus) metaschematizo our lowly body that it be synmorphizo His glorious body . . .out from His dynamite energy bringing us into His full sway.
"Metaschematizo" refers to the alteration of our outward form or persona. "Synmorphizo" refers to an element of internal union with Him far beyond our present ability to know. God will change our outward form or persona in the resurrection, in the fullness of the Third Feast, but NOT in the way humans expect in their present ignorance.
May I suggest that you obtain and read Hind's Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. I have read and taught this book over and over because it gives me such great hope. Much-Afraid is very much afraid; she is hit with attacks by craven-fear again and again. She is crippled and twisted. She stumbles and falls every step along the way. When she reaches out for "help," all she gets in one hand is suffering and in the other, sorrow. NO ONE believes that she could possibly "know" the Shepherd.
Her change does come. But NOT in the way she or anyone else expected. Rather she discovers that all along, sorrow has really been Joy and suffering has really been Peace. She discovers that her "blemishes" are now beauty, and that her bruises, tears, and failings ARE now the jewels of her crown.
But "metaschematizo," or the alteration of the outward form, is used elsewhere by Paul in an entirely different application. Here it is found three times, all underlined.
". . . those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness . . ." 2 Corinthians 11:12-15
We are not talking about Dracula's here, but Christians. Paul is referring to those who, finding that they do not care for their outward persona crafted for them by God - primarily because it does not give them an advantage in the eyes of others - then work on and alter their outward form until it gives them a place of advantage and preeminence in the church, in the eyes of other Christians.
However, here's the deal. It is impossible for a human being ever to alter his or her outer form or persona. Certainly, God fills our hearts with joy and peace where once we did not know His love. But those are qualities that shine from the inside out, always coming through an honest and real expression of our outer form. Of course, we believe God for healing - and He heals, and we rejoice to see Him transform us. But it is God who transforms us, we do NOT transform ourselves.
Therefore, when someone alters their outward form for advantage or approval in the eyes of others, they are not actually changing anything. All they are doing is draping their own version of fig-leaves upon themselves. They are pretending. I know such people (a few), very, very well, having walked with them side by side every day for years.
They are fake. Yet they fill most churches, and every one of us have practiced this fakery to greater and lesser extent much of our lives. Notice, in 2 Cor. 11, that Satan and his ministers "transform themselves." Don't do it; be real. Christ is in you.
Next, let's look at the upside-down unreality we call "church."
For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh (no human outer form or persona), should glory in His presence. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
God does not call very many of the people to whom He gave the outward form or persona of success and achievement and human capability. Quite the contrary, most of the people God calls are people to whom He gave the outward forms of inability, of failure, of stumbling, of ineptitude. The majority of people whom God calls into His church are the kind of people that humanity despises.
But He does call some of the others as well. Let's say, for discussion purposes, that 10% of the people God calls into His church are outwardly capable.
Since no one chooses his or her outer form, it is no one's fault if they are capable and successful in this world. One who is capable and successful is well able to know Christ revealed as them, and to enter into the fullness of Christ in the firstfruits. But NOT MANY will.
Look at that word, "wise according to the flesh." We have always read that wrong. We read it as being "wise according to evil." But that's not what it says, it says, "Wise according to outward human ability." That is, the people we naturally look up to as wise and capable leaders, those whom we call "examples."
Here is one of the biggest problems with Christianity. Even though only, say, ten percent of those whom God calls into the church are outwardly capable and successful leaders, still, it is those people almost entirely who become the ministry and leaders in the church. Now, even though this reality is upside-down, it has been God's order for the present in-part age of the church. I will explain why.
But first, I want to give an illustration to help us understand all reality.
When Adam rejected the way of Christ, God turned the world and all humanity upside down. Technically, as believers in Christ, we have been turned right side up, but we hardly know that. For the most part, we Christians have lived in the same understanding as the world, that of being upside down.
But humans do not hang upside down all on the same plane. The nature of being upside down takes the form of a pyramid. Consider a pyramid. If you are an American, you can pull out a one dollar bill and look at the pyramid on the backside. The eye at the "top" is the eye of Lucifer. The levels of the pyramid from "top" to "bottom" are the levels of the hierarchy of human authority. Those near the top are most like Lucifer in their definition of "God." They sit upon the ones who are beneath, ruling over others with their wisdom and their human abilities. Those at the bottom, according to the upside-down version of reality, are the ones sat-upon, the crushed, the despised.
Now, turn the dollar bill "upside-down." You are looking at reality as it is.
Lucifer is FALLEN. He is far lower than man. Yet man, hanging upside down, arms flopped down towards Satan at the bottom, defines God the Father and Jesus the Christ by the definition Satan gave himself.
What is it that keeps man from falling as low as Satan? God caught man and is holding him by his feet.
If you want to see God, do not look "up," look down. God is beneath your feet.
But look again at the pyramid turned right-side up, that is, with the point at the bottom. In this illustration, God does not hold onto the entire pyramid. No, He has His grip entirely upon the top of the pyramid, that is, upon that thin wide layer of the despised. It is the despised of humanity who are closest to God. All the rest of humanity owe their entire survival to those same despised.
Think about this: modern protest rails against the "top 1 percent." But no one on this planet looks at the 1 percent at the opposite end of the spectrum. No one looks at the blind, the maimed, the crippled, the homeless derelicts standing at the street corners. No one looks at the autistic, the Down syndrome, the lepers, the unhealed.
No one, except God.
It was impossible for Sauron to imagine that hobbits could be a threat to him, especially two weak, hungry, worn-out, defenseless hobbits stumbling without outward hope through the darkness and horror of his realm. Sauron never considered weakness, neither did the Pharisees, neither does the world, neither does the church.
In the third Pirates movie with Johnny Depp, there is a particular scene. The pirates had passed into the unseen realms of death in order to rescue a "dead" Captain Jack Sparrow. Now they are faced with the puzzle of how to return to the world of the living. They hit on the "solution." Now - everything about the scene and the movie is absurd and ridiculous. If you have not seen it, I am not suggesting you do so.
What is important is the concept. In order to pass from death into life, the pirates had to turn the ship "upside down." They succeeded in doing so, only to be frozen in the probability that all was lost. Then, surging into the light, they found themselves right side up and back in the world of the living. Two fools who had thought to "transform themselves" by their own abilities before the ship went under, were now seen, still hanging upside down.
Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.' And the servant said, 'Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.' Then the master said to the servant, 'Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. Luke 14:21-23 (I suggest you read the whole chapter.)
Jesus was not talking here about being born again or receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. He was not talking about fellowships of deeper-truth Christians or years of ministry and service, and He especially was NOT talking about "going to heaven."
Jesus was speaking of the revelation of Jesus Christ, of the fullness of the Feast of Tabernacles manifest in the church upon this earth.
If we want to know the way into the fullness of Christ, we had better go looking for people who never get it right, for people who are crippled and maimed in body and in soul; we need to follow the blind. If we want to know God, we better find a Down syndrome boy and ask him to tell us the secret; we better find an autistic girl and learn what makes her sing. God is found among the lepers; He is there on death row among the "criminals." Ask a drunk, homeless, Vietnam vet standing on the street corner holding a soiled cardboard sign to show you Christ.
We KNOW this is the gospel. The first shall be last and the last first. The valleys shall be exalted and the mountains brought low. Except you become as a little child you won't even see the kingdom of God. To be the greatest in the kingdom become the lowest of servants. And a little child shall lead them.
If you want to see God, look down.
The revelation of Jesus Christ will shatter the sensibilities of every human being upon this planet. Ninety percent of all Christians will be deeply, deeply offended by Him (in more ways than one). How dare He! To come in weakness, to walk as the despised.
A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.
When God turns the world right side up, 99% of all humanity and 90% of all Christians will find themselves hanging upside down. They will not be impressed. The very last thing most Christians want is for Jesus to return.
When Jesus said, "Whatever you do unto the least of these My brethren you do it unto Me," He was not speaking figuratively; He did not mean "it is the same thing as doing it unto Me." The lowest and most despised people in the church, the ones who simply cannot appear "Christ-like" no matter how hard they try and no matter how many tears they shed, are He.
He bears their sorrows and He carries their grief.
But what about that 10% in the church, the "not many" who are called as capable, as leaders, as wise, as successful? What about that 10% whom the church always places as pastors, elders, apostles, bishops, as the leaders of the church?
Is there any hope for them? There is always hope in Jesus!
My pastor, Joel Osteen, is a prime example of one given a wonderfully successful outward form and persona by God. Everything he touches prospers. He is a sincere and humble man. There is not an ounce of "I control you" that comes through him; if there were even a shadow of such a thing, we would never return there. Yet he does get it wrong. There are times when he suggests that God blesses him outwardly (and it is God blessing him outwardly) because of some element of his "getting it right."
Every single Christian and every single assembly does the same thing. We pick people to be the "leaders" because they are wise and sensible and capable. We imagine that, because they are wise and sensible and capable, because they are outgoing and socially astute and gifted, that they are closer to Christ than the rest of us, and that their outward persona is more like Christ's than ours.
And this is not wrong for the capable ten percent to become ministry in the church. God has established this order for His church during this in-part time.
The problem is this. Most of those who are capable imagine that their outward persona of success and leadership makes them "more like Christ," and that is why God "anoints" them. They are completely wrong. God anoints them because of the Blood so that He might move through them to touch those who ARE "closer" to Him, the ones who are incapable of "leading" anyone.
Now, some of the brethren who were such a blessing and strength to me through life, were both outwardly gifted and anointed of the Lord. One in particular, everything he touches prospers. He is not "rich," but at every turn God leads him with favor, doors open for him, things fall into place. He is a continual optimist. Yet, never once, not in all the years we walked together, did there come from him any shadow of thought that his outward persona made him any different than me in my outward persona, but at all times he walked together with me as an equal in the Lord, heart to heart, side by side.
Even the mistaken idea that "I experience continual favor and health and success because I must be doing something right," is not a problem for our Savior. The horror that is created in most Christian circles is when that belief about "what Christ looks like" becomes a club to beat the precious ones God has entrusted temporarily to those with "successful and capable" personas or outward forms.
Jesus said it this way:
But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 24:48-51
Yes, there will be pastors, there will be elders and apostles, there will be bishops and priests, who do enter into the fullness of the Kingdom. They will be those who follow right behind the lepers. They will be those who keep their hands upon the Down syndrome, to know which way to go. They will be those who sit at the feet of the blind and who listen carefully to the crippled and the maimed.
The time is at hand. Are we ready for a world, are we ready for a church, turned right-side-up?
The princess must kiss the frog.
I do suggest that you rent the movie, Penelope, with Christina Ricci. It is the classic fairy tale in a modern setting. It is the absolute truth of God. Pay close attention as you watch, after Penelope has escaped the horrific manipulation of her pretending mother, after she has embraced her deformity with joy, after she has been transformed, listen to the little boy speaking to Penelope, his teacher. Write down his words, ponder them in the setting in which they are spoken.
"It is not the curse. It is what you do with the curse."
"Fix it" yourself and lose. Give thanks with all joy and be transformed.