So they were saying to Him, “Who are You?” Jesus said to them, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning?I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.” They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. [John 8:25-30]
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EarlierI wrote about a 5 year old (and his older sister) who simply did “what kids do”, and astonished an observer with their kindness. Their mom quickly pointed out that she didn’t feel there was anything extraordinary about their training or education, and she felt uncomfortable when their parenting was specifically praised.
A few weeks ago, Paulfg (“Just Me Being Curious“) was pondering the age old conundrum of Free Will versus Predestination, and I was pondering his pondering. My reveries led me to John Chapter 8, and to Jesus highlighting the concept of “family” in me.
That may seem strange. I know it did to me at the time.
But the first thought that clearly came, about how to understand… or how to embrace ideas that don’t seem compatible… was this from John 17: 20-21 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
Now, if you just sit there for a moment, Gentle Reader, and let those words sit and stare at you… you realize… they make no sense. They CANNOT make “sense”. We have no psychological preparation or paradigm for this kind of “multiple personality”. We’re talking about two/three consciousnesses occupying the same space (person) at the same time. Beyond even the incomprehensibility of THAT, is that One of these CoHabiting persons is God the Father (Fully Deity)… One is Jesus Christ, God the Son (Fully Deity/Fully Human) Son of Man/Son of God/Son of Man… and one is ourselves (Fully Human).
We don’t even have a semantic or grammatical structure to express ideas like this.
So Jesus seemed to ask how do I, in the here and now, teach a concept that cannot clearly be comprehended or expressed? How can I help people come to the experience of the Immediate Intimate Presence of Christ in Us… (the “state” Jesus describes there in that passage)… when I cannot even clearly SAY or describe what that passage means or denotes?
It’s the ongoing challenge of all teaching or communication. So… how did Jesus look at this? How did HE deal with it? How did He explain it?
Clearly the most tremendous teacher/preacher of all time was Jesus Himself. Yet, equally clearly, some responded to His teaching with all their hearts, and others were so unmoved they went on to help murder Him. So… since… clearly… it wasn’t anything that HE could have “done better”… what makes the difference between those who “get it” and respond to the Gospel, and those who do not?
These reflections led me to look very intently there at the whole chapter of John 17, trying just to “steep” in it, and “feel my way” to the key insights… rather than to study, analyze, and exigete to a “solution”. What I sensed, was this fundamental element that Paulfg was pondering. This sense that God Himself places His hand on us, and His word in our hearts first, and that then… when we are willing to let them flower and embrace them… when we hear or see them from an “outside source”, as when Jesus preached, or when we hear great words of evangelism… it’s as if something inside us just “vibrates with the harmonics”, as the strings of a piano can hum along to the played notes of a violin alongside it.
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It all seems (like Free Will/Predestination) to be a problem of TIME… of SEQUENCE… of “which-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg?” Do we “decide” first, then God knows what that is, and weaves reality and “destiny” around that decision? Or does “destiny” first have us situated in precisely the right spot that our own spontaneous free-will decision will harmonize perfectly with His plans? Or do those questions have any real meaning at all when we are discussing the “Infinite”?
My issues, of “learning to experience God”, seem to be parallel. As we look at scriptures where Jesus discusses those who “get it” versus those who don’t… it seems like there’s a similar pattern. And this is all I want to highlight here today, manfully resisting dozens of other important and wondrous insights contained in these passages.
Oh… and here’s the kicker… as God worked to “unfurl these petals” in front of me… (the phrase “explain it to me” just implies too much that I actually “understand” this in any analytical way. That’s just not the case. It seems I can “apprehend” this as true, without “comprehending” HOW it is true. Faith, I guess.) Anyway…
God illustrated the truth of this with that 5 year old as an illustration.
Here’s what the scriptures seem to point out, both in Chapter 17 of John’s Gospel, and in Chapter 8:
God the Father reveals Himself all the time. He plants the words of truth into the hearts of people, where they may or may not recognize them. But Jesus, specifically articulating the Truth, in a way that they can HEAR it, makes it possible for them to respond, to embrace or reject, those words. Some choose to embrace, some choose to reject. That choice embodies our choice of household, of legacy, of father. We can choose to respond to Truth, choose God as Our Father, become truly Abraham’s Seed (righteousness, faith accounted to him as righteousness)… or we can choose to follow the illusion of the world, choose the Adversary, the Father of Lies, as our household, legacy, and parentage.
When we hold to the household of faith, we hear truth. When we embrace the household of illusions, shadows, and lies… we cannot hear the Truth.
It depends on the house we grow up in… Light… or Shadow. (And by this I mean “spiritually grow up”, not just what earthly family we are born into.)
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How did God illustrate this with little 5 year old “Loud”?
Loud never “pondered” what to do with Timid. He just acted out of what he knew, what he figured, to be true and right. Where did that come from? Where did those values arise? From the very home he lives in. His mom didn’t even know how to respond when complimented… she never thinks about it. They endeavor to keep a home of love, grace, light, and mutual caring. They try to treat others with the grace they experience from God. They don’t breastbeat or soulsearch over that.. they just walk through it day by day as a lifestyle (including both good and bad days).
God’s point to me was that Loud acted in truth because he lives in a family of it, and comes from a father and mother of it. It is simply all he knows to do.
THIS is what God the Father has for us, His children, as well. We can choose to “abide”, to “house our souls”, in “environments of truth, grace, light”… in the choices we make day to day. Or we can choose to live not only IN, but OF, the world… and try to keep God confined in His polite “Sunday Box”, where we drag Him out for our “holy brownie points” and dress up, tithe, carry our big Bible, and parade off on our weekly pilgrimage… then return to “the real world business of practical living” for our other six days.
The first group is likely to “hear and resonate” with the Gospel when it proclaimed around them. They are likely to “seek and find” the face of God. They are likely truly to experience the immediate and intimate presence of Christ in the here-and-now, and find the fullness of their hearts desire. The second group? Not so much. Too busy to deal with God on His own “messy” terms… much neater to just keep everything pristine and polished.
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Not sure my words are making sense. If not, I apologize. But it seems such a simple thing, yet hard for me to express.
I think “Loud” demonstrated it much better…