Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dying to Sin

Spirit Mindedness begins with a fundamental change in the way that you live life or rather die to life.  It seems that the paradox within the Christian tradition is that one lives when one dies.  Romans 6 summarizes this kind of living (dying). 

What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.
Romans 6:1-4 (HCSB)

There is a problem of sin within the Church.  We like the idea of being saved in spite of our sins, but we do not take the next step of being saved out of our sin.  Jesus did not come so that we could continue to live the same sinful life with the assurance that we could make it to heaven.  One has to wonder if living in this way is even remotely close to a genuine faith and relationship with Jesus Christ.  You see living for Christ involves dying to the former way of life.  Which is what this passage deals with.  When we come to Christ we are "baptized into his death."  But more than that we are raised to a new life.  It is a life that is dependent on the Holy Spirit of God. 

For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin's dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin's claims.
Romans 6:6-7 (HCSB)

One of the reasons that dying to the old self is so important is that it releases us from being enslaved to sin.  Sin is missing the mark that God has given us.  When we miss the mark then the Holy Spirit is grieved.  Sin hinders the Holy Spirit from working in your life.  In fact sin produces bad fruit in your life.  When sin is present then it is evidence that God is not in control of your life.  We have to die to sin.  

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in light of the fact that He lives, He lives to God.
Romans 6:8-10 (HCSB)

Not only do we die to sin, but we are raised to live to God.  We are called to live our lives every moment to God and His righteousness.  When we live to God then we have hope of freedom from falling back into sin. 

How to die to Sin

Step 1:

So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11 (HCSB)

Step 2:

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. Romans 6:12-13 (HCSB)

Step 3:

But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness.
Romans 6:13 (HCSB)

Step 4:  Meditate upon this truth until it becomes embedded in your mind:

For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.
Romans 6:14 (HCSB)

A word of warning.  It is easy to consider this as a act of religious devotion or exercise of commitment.  This is not the case.  It is a work of the Holy Spirit in you.  It is trusting the Holy Spirit to accomplish this work in you.  The point is that you have to be willing to do it ("Consider yourselves...").  We will explore this further in the next few posts. 

Have a Blessed Day!

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Spirit Mindedness

The Holy Spirit Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr As I draw near to the end of this series of posts on the topic of Christian mindfulness, I am drawn to a distinction within the tradition of Christianity.  Christians believe (and experience) God's Holy Spirit indwelling them.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit though is not an automatic pathway to spiritual awareness.  I would say the possibility of spiritual awareness is there, but there is a specific discipline that is required in order to achieve what I would call "Spirit mindedness." 

If I were to draw a parallel with the eastern tradition I would say that Nirvana or higher Bodhi (the highest spiritual goals) are similar, but also very different from Spirit Mindedness.  The transcendence of lusts, desires, obsessions, fixations,  negative affective states, suffering and the like are the goal of Nirvana and end of delusion in Bodhi.  In eastern tradition there is a dilemma that no matter what there is a dualism that exist between the mind and reality.  The mind suffers from varying degrees of delusion in that an unenlightened mind can never perceive things as they really are.  The end of delusion is when a person is able to move beyond this dualism into a state where what is perceived and what is real are one (so called one with also called enlightenment).  These are similar to Christian Spirit mindedness in that death of lust desires, obsessions, fixations, negative affective states, suffering are the goal. 

There are some definite distinctions between Spirit Mindedness and eastern enlightenment that make Christian spirituality unique.  There is a dilemma of dualism in Christian tradition.  In this case though there is the reality of God's law and impossibility (because of sin) of the mind to will the person to behave in accordance to the Law.  In Christian tradition this dualism is resolved when the believer moves from desiring to keep the law in the flesh to setting oneself on the Spirit (i.e. setting the mind on the Spirit). There is a oneness as well in Spirit mindedness, but rather than one with reality the the Christian is one with God and fellow believers.  In the eastern thinking the individual is lost in the oneness with all things.  In Spirit Mindedness the individually is retained as a person takes their place in God's order of things.  In eastern tradition the goal is transcendence of will.  In Spirit mindedness the goal is setting the will. 

Consider a tree.  In Eastern tradition the goal is to become so intimately aware of the the tree that the leaf recognizes that it is the tree or that the tree is in it (i.e. one with).  In Christian tradition on the other hand the leaf is connected to the the tree and recognizes is dependence one the rest of the tree (branches, trunk roots) and accepts its very important role of producing the energy for growth and fruitfulness of the tree. 

Stated another way, enlightenment is a state of oneness will all things.  Christian Mindfulness is awareness of the unity of God and His people and accepting your part within the whole and according to God's plan.  In this way these concepts are very unique. 

I believe that Romans 6, 7, and 8 present the best description of Spirit Mindedness that I have found.  I would encourage you to read it.  My next few posts will deal with these chapters.  Generally 6 summarizes death to sin, 7 presents the dilemma of simply willing/desiring/working to do good without the Spirit, and Chapter 8 describes how one goes about setting the mind on the Spirit. 

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Knowing Christ (Part III)

Therefore be alert, since you don't know what day your Lord is coming. But know this: If the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming, he would have stayed alert and not let his house be broken into. This is why you also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Matthew 24:42-44 (HCSB)

Icon second coming Via Wikimedia commons After 2000 years is it much more difficult to be in watchful anticipation of the Lord's return.  Part of that is the time that has passed, and part is do to the many false prophets that have predicted his coming and we have seen the date come and go.  This passage here clearly indicates that the day of our Lord's return is a mystery.  However, it also indicates that we are to live in a perpetual state of readiness for his return. 

I think of when I was a kid when I was waiting for someone to come pick me up.  I would wait in the living room watching for the car.  There was anticipation of getting to see them arrive.  My bags were packed and they would drive up and I would be ready to go.

This is a bit different than being ready for Jesus' return.  We do not have any luggage to take with us, nor does he expect that we are staring up at the sky wondering, "When will He get here."  Readiness has more to do with what Jesus will be finding you doing when he returns.  I think of another time when my brother and I had messed up the house while my parents were gone for a while.  We knew they were going to be gone for a while so we relaxed.  When we realized that the time was short for their return then we got the house in order.  That is how it is with Christ.  We should perpetually have our house in order so that we are prepared for his return. 

What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:21-23 (NKJV)

There are three things that would leave a person unprepared for Jesus' return.  First would not having a relationship with Him.  When Jesus returns he will gather those that have a relationship with him.  Those that do not will be "left behind."  Second for those that have a relationship with him to be caught up in some habitual sin.  This sinning on and on destroys our intimacy with Christ.  In some ways living in anticipation of His return is preventative of habitual sin.  When you ask yourself, "If Jesus were to return at this moment would I be honoring him?" it keeps you from those things that would make you ashamed!  The third thing that keeps you from being prepared is actively doing the things that God has prepared for you to do.  We should live every day to its fullest.  Not in anticipation of what will happen tomorrow, this weekend, next week, next month, next year, but rather in anticipation that this may be the last day we have.  This anticipation is not dread like one that has a terminal illness seeking to get all the things done they ever wanted to do, but is life and life to its fullest in anticipation of greater things yet to come. 

Instead, you should say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn't do it.
James 4:15-17 (HCSB)

I must admit I have much growing to do in the area of anticipating our Lord's return.  So much of my life is guided by what I will be doing days and weeks from now.  I hope that today I can begin afresh living for today, planning for tomorrow (Lord willing), anticipating our Lord's return at any moment, and be doing good when he does that I might receive honor and give him glory. 

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Knowing Christ (Part II)

Wall painting of Jesus Christ praying at the Mount of Olives. The interior of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Nativity of Christ in Ternopil, western Ukraine. via Wikimedia On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus prayed for His disciples both present at that time and those that would follow after (including you and me)  This prayer is recorded in John 17.  The whole passage is good for us to remember.  As we face the world around us.  This prayer offers a picture of how we can know Christ while walking through the world. 

So often Christians become Spiritually insulated from the world.   That is to say they have a public life and a Christian life and the two never really cross each other.  I think this is more true for men than it is for women, but I suppose that it can happen for women as well.  Their behavior may or may not change as a result of what happens on Sunday morning, but the knowing Christ through the walk of the week is not a spiritual reality.  I think John 17 offers some insight into how we can walk with Jesus through the week and get to know Him more intimately. 

Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said: Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son so that the Son may glorify You, for You gave Him authority over all flesh; so He may give eternal life to all You have given Him. This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent-Jesus Christ.
John 17:1-3 (HCSB)

Knowing Jesus must first and foremost begin with receiving eternal life.  Jesus' mission was to bring salvation to your soul, that in receiving it you could pass into eternal life.  It is a life that begins the moment someone makes that commitment.  Knowing God and His Son Jesus in this way is the first essential step to having an intimate relationship with Christ (Click Here to learn more about this step).  It is the first step in an amazing and fulfilling journey.

I have revealed Your name to the men You gave Me from the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they know that all things You have given to Me are from You, because the words that You gave Me, I have given them. They have received them and have known for certain that I came from You. They have believed that You sent Me.
John 17:6-8 (HCSB)

Revelation and receiving go hand in hand.  Revelation is gaining knowledge about God and receiving it makes this knowledge intimate.  Just  at in salvation God is revealing his plan for you, just knowing it does not make one saved.  You have to receive the revelation (that is accept it as true) to be saved.  The revelation requires that we are listening and the receiving requires faith.  In this passage Jesus is saying that God has given men (and women) from the world to Jesus.  These are those that 1) Keep God's word, 2) Know what God has given through Christ, 3) hear the revelation of Jesus' words, 4) Receive this revelation, 5) Know that Jesus is the Son of God, and 6) believed that God sent Him.

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world but for those You have given Me, because they are Yours. Everything I have is Yours, and everything You have is Mine, and I have been glorified in them.
John 17:9-10 (HCSB)

Christ is in Me...

When a person gives their life to God through Jesus Christ they become property of God.  They are His.  This ownership allows for our lives to be a glory to God.  Glory is a celebration of God's Righteousness and Goodness.  I want to call your attention to that last phrase, "I have been glorified in them."  Normally parsing prepositions is not very interesting or fruitful, but in this case it it revealing.  The Greek word (en) translated "in" is a preposition that is intermediate between eis (into in English) and ex (from).  Consider it this way.  Jesus is from (ex) God the father,  He came to (eis) us, and is now glorified in (en) us.   This simple preposition in is profound in implication.  Intimacy is knowing or making known for others to see.  Intimacy with Christ is knowing or making known in you.  This is a work of the Holy Spirit, but when it happens Christ is Glorified in us.  Stated another way we have intimacy with Christ when we allow His Holy Spirit to Glorify Christ in us.  By doing this we move from knowledge about to knowing.  It is the knowing Christ that makes the relationship intimate.   It is difficult to imagine being more intimate in a relationship than having that person in you Spiritually.  Yet that is what Jesus is talking about here. 

Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don't go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you.
John 16:7 (HCSB)

When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you.
John 16:13-15 (HCSB)

Jesus told his disciples that it was good for them that He "go away."  This must have seemed strange to them.  "How is it a benefit to lose the presence of our Lord and Savior?"  In fact it is recorded that they were confused, "We don�t know what He�s talking about (John 16:18)!"  However we know now that because Jesus went away there is a greater intimacy of having Jesus in us not just with us.  Notice also that the Holy Spirit reveals (revelation) not on His own, but what is Jesus'.  What is more is the Spirit will "glorify" Jesus.  Is the picture becoming more clear now?  "Jesus Glorified in me" is a work of the Holy Spirit when I receive the revelation from God through the Spirit and the Sprit glorifies Christ.  

Now having this intimacy with Christ established we now move into the world. 

I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, protect them by Your name that You have given Me, so that they may be one as We are one.
John 17:11 (HCSB)

Jesus stated that is was no longer in the world.  That is to say he was no longer going to be physically present in the world.  He is calling on Our Heavenly Father to protect His disciples and future believers (v 20-26).  The phrase "they may be one as We are one" denotes that special intimacy again. 

I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.
John 17:22-23 (HCSB)

See how this is all fitting together?  "I am in them" "given the the glory" "made completely one" "loved" these are all expressions of the intimacy we have with God through Christ. 

Jesus is no longer physically in the world.  However He is in us through the Holy Spirit.  In this way we become very important ambassadors representing Christ.  For what purpose?  "So the world may know You (God) have sent Me (Jesus) and loved them (us) as You have love Me.  There is a moment when we represent Christ to the world that intimacy grows.  It is an interesting thing that the more you share the gospel the more intimate you are with Jesus.  What is more the more intimate you are with Jesus the more you share the Gospel.  I have personally experienced this truth.  I believe that this has to do with the being one with the purpose and desire of God which is to restore lost sinners to Himself.  I think the reverse is also true.  It is hard for me to imagine becoming more intimate with Jesus while relegating your faith to something you do on Sunday morning, but completely keep to yourself the rest of the week.  In other words the more you keep your spirituality to yourself during the week the less intimate you are with Jesus,  likewise the less intimate you are with Jesus the more you keep your spirituality to yourself. 

... Yet I am In the World

As Christian's we have a dilemma.  We have the ability to experience intimacy with Christ, but we continue to live in a fallen world.  This world can be a stumbling block to true intimacy.  And desire for true intimacy can interfere with our second greatest purpose that God has laid out for our lives which is sharing the Gospel (Loving other's). 

I have given them Your word. The world hated them because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world. I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. I sanctify Myself for them, so they also may be sanctified by the truth.
John 17:14-19 (HCSB)

Sanctification is the key to living in the world but not being of the world.  We miss golden opportunities when we neglect God's word for us.  Jesus lays it out very plainly in this prayer.  Christ is sanctified Himself, by being obedient to God's word.  He creates the potential for us to be sanctified as well.  Note the potential is their but the application of that sanctification is by truth.  Jesus makes it clear that the truth is the word of God.  Further we know that John the author of this Gospel declares that Jesus is the word.  It is a coming together of truth.  This applies to us because when we spend time in God's word we are cultivating intimacy with Christ and Christ is sanctifying us that we might be sent into the world. 

Jesus makes it clear that we are being sent into the world.  There are some things that we should know about being in the world. 

First there is a high likelihood that we will be hated if we are spending time with Christ.  Jesus was hated and so will we when we are accomplishing his mission for our lives.  Someone asked, "If I am not hated then am I doing God's will?"  It is an interesting question.  I don't think that you have to be hated to do God's will, but I do believe that if you are going into the world as on sanctified by Christ and spreading His gospel that you will come to those who express hatred toward you eventually.  So in answer to the question of not being hated, either you are not being sanctified by truth, you are not spreading the gospel, or you are not in the world. 

The second thing about being in the world is that we are in a spiritual war.  We need God's protection in this battle.  That protection is gained not by isolating out of the the world.  It is possible to be protected from the evil one by not being in the world.  We can come to Church, have Christian friends, work in a Christian business, listen to Christian music,  Wear Christian clothes, talk in Christian phrases, participate in only Christian activities, read only Christian books, buy things from Christian stores, work with only Christian businesses, and drink milk from a Christian cow.  Just kidding on that last one  Although we could find a Christian dairy farmer I am sure.  The point is this, protection by isolating is not really protection at all.  We are in a spiritual war and when we isolate ourselves from the world in this way then we are not really a threat so we do not need protection.  On the other hand when we take it to the streets then we do become a threat and we need that protection.  Jesus is teaching us that our mission must be covered in prayer. 

The third truth which we have already touched on, but I want to emphasize at this point is that we are sent.  Jesus is sending us into the world.  We are called to go into all nations and spread the good news of Jesus Christ.  If you think that being sent is for pastors, evangelists, or the apostles consider this:

I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message. May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me.
John 17:20-21 (HCSB)

Did you catch that last part, "That the world may believe You sent me."  We are sent into the world that they might believe.  Now this is not a promise that all will believe.  In fact there will be those that believe and those that will hate.  However, the outcome does not change that we are sent. 

Lastly we need to make sure that we are intimate with Christ and not with the world.  Jesus says that we are "in the world," but "not of the world."  The phrase "not of the world" means that we do not originate out of the world and its ways.  Our sinful flesh makes it possible for us to slip back into worldly ways.  Being in the the world, but not out of the the world means that we make no provision for the flesh that we should obey it's lusts.  We have to put to death worldly ways.  If we do not then the message is defeated.  No doubt our spiritual enemy and the haters will be looking for some hypocrisy or weakness to attack. 

This brings us back to the importance of Christ being in us, sanctification through God's word, and covering our lives with prayer.  When Christ is in us we can have the spiritual closeness with God that we long for and were created for.  Sanctification through God's word allows us to be connected to God and his purpose for our lives.  It gives us strength to face the world with out being conformed to the world.  Prayer is a special type of intimacy that allows us to communicate and be with our God.  This close bond is one of communing as well as God protecting us from the forces of spiritual darkness.   Remember we discover intimacy with Christ as we we go through the world no called out of the world.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Knowing Christ

Good Shepherd Catacomb of Priscilla Image via Wikimedia Intimacy with Christ is the highest human endeavor.  We have been created to seek fellowship with our creator.  There a longing unquenchable that can only be filled by the Creator Himself.  I have found that intimacy with Christ is the fulfillment of this longing.  There are moments that we forget this and some how become disconnected from Him, but He is gentle and always guides us back into the fold.  Our relationship with God if it is truly to be intimate must come before all other relationships.  It must be ordered first in line.  When we do this then other relationships fall into order (as God would have them). 

Intimacy with Christ has at least four qualities that relate to mindfulness: knowing his voice, knowing the power of His resurrection, walking with Him through the day, and anticipating His return.  When we cultivate these then we will experience the closeness we long for in Christ. 

Knowing His Voice

I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep. But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd.
John 10:14-16 (HCSB)

My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish-ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. The Father and I are one.
John 10:27-30 (HCSB)

There are perquisites to knowing the voice of the Good Shepherd.  First you have to know the Shepherd.  You have to have received Him as your Lord and Savior.  Nothing short of surrendering you life will do.  You are entrusting your life to His guidance and protection (Shepherdship).  Next you have to be listening.  Sound obvious right, but not so easy as it it obvious.  We have so much noise around us and worldly trinkets to distract us that we do not pay attention nor do we listen.  Finally we have to be obedient and follow Him.  Being out of earshot is no excuse for not listening.  Being near the Lord by obedience allows us to be within earshot of his voice.  

Knowing the Power of His Resurrection

But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ-the righteousness from God based on faith. [My goal] is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. Not that I have already reached [the goal] or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:7-14 (HCSB)

Coming to the end of the worldly and embracing Christ by faith is to know the power of His resurrection.   We are found in Him.  We achieve higher intimacy with God by dwelling in Jesus Christ.  We have faith in Him. 

Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6 (HCSB)

The wonderful thing about this faith it is a gift and can be requested. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
Ephesians 2:8 (NKJV)

Then Jesus said to him, "'If You can?' Everything is possible to the one who believes." Immediately the father of the boy cried out, "I do believe! Help my unbelief."
Mark 9:23-24 (HCSB)

A word of warning though only ask God to strengthen your faith if you are sincere about seeing it through.  Faith is not strengthened without trials (no pain no gain). 

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
James 1:2-4 (HCSB)

I will consider the topics of walking with Jesus through the world and anticipating His return in my next post.  I hope that God will expand your knowledge of Him so that you will move from knowing about Him to knowing Him!

God Bless you!

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

To Know and Be Known

walking hand in hand Image by gari.baldi via Flickr Intimacy is a powerful human experience.  It is the very mix of security and vulnerability that charges the moment.  The security is based on the character of the other person and the vulnerability is based on being willing to open oneself to the other.  It is an emotional closeness that can only be understood in the context of that particular relationship.  Physical closeness or longing for physical closeness can drive intimacy.  In true intimacy Agape Love is at the very core of intimacy as a both people become completely devoted to the wellbeing of the other person.  Intimacy is to know all characteristics good and bad and continue to be completely accepting of that person, and experience that acceptance from the other person.  Communication is required as intimacy is letting your inside out for the other to see, hear, touch, understand, and accept. Bonding is the chemical expression of intimacy that occurs in the brain.   Interestingly you can have bonding of two people without intimacy, but rarely if ever will you find intimacy without bonding.  Two people with mutual security, vulnerability, emotional closeness.

False Intimacy

Let me just start by saying that false intimacy is destructive to true intimacy to the extent that it replaces or dilutes intimacy.  Here are some types of false intimacy. 

Seduction is a type of false intimacy.  Intimacy is how can I make you feel secure that I can meet your deepest need.  Seduction is how can I make you feel secure so I can meet my own desires.  Intimacy is knowing the other.  In seduction the one caught has a false sense of knowing the other and seducer really only knows him/herself.  

Flattery is a type of false intimacy.  Intimacy is awareness of all things good and bad.  Flattery is only awareness and exaltation of the good.  The flatterer is convincing him/herself that the other is some inhuman ideal, while the flattered lives in fear of being found out that they are not perfect. 

Conversely A critical spirit is a type of false intimacy.  Intimacy accepts the bad and seeks to build the other person up.  A critical spirit rejects the bad and tears down the character of the other person.  The person being critical feels connected by assuming something worthy to offer a type of false edification.  Typically this is merely an escape from awareness of personal faults by focusing on others faults.  In this respect the one with a critical spirit lives in fear of being discovered they are not perfect.  The target of criticism feels connected in that someone is paying attention to me.  Self-sacrifice is intimacy, but in this scenario self-degradation is not!

Gregariousness is a type of false intimacy.  Longing for intimacy you put your best front forward.  At times it is not even the real you.  It is founded in the belief that no one could possibly accept you for who you are, so this invented self or partial self will have to do.  Again fear of being discovered will prevent true intimacy from occurring. 

Victim stance is a type of false intimacy.  We long to be rescued from our circumstances and the meanness of others without recognizing that most times we need to be rescued from ourselves.  The victim stance draws the attention of others through playing on their sympathy.  As long as the victim can play the role then others will meet their need for closeness.  It becomes a vicious trap with the victim needing to stay perpetually the victim or risk being alone.  The irony is that in the end the victim ends up alone if unwilling to give up the role as others begin to pull away.

The rescuer stance is a type of false intimacy.  Interestingly rescuers and victims tend to feed off of each other's insecurities to create a deep bond, but no true intimacy.  Most rescuers imprinted at a very young age that helping someone that is helpless is the purpose of life.  They also tend to view weakness in others as attractive or revolting, but never in between.  They tend to see personal weakness as revolting and end up in a perpetual state of self-denial (which they mistake for self-sacrifice).

Controlling is a type of false intimacy.  The controller attempts to mitigate vulnerability, by managing (manipulating?) the circumstances.  The problem is without vulnerability the controller can never reach true intimacy and becomes frustrated which is often expressed as anger.  The controlled is often a mixture of the criticized and victim accepting being controlled for the sake of closeness.  Bonding to moments of apparent emotional and physical closeness and denying evidence to the contrary.

Why do we long to be known?

It seems to me that God created us with three primary ways of experiencing intimacy.  First and foremost we where created to know and be known by God:

Make Your ways known to me, Lord; teach me Your paths. Psalms 25:4 (HCSB)

Lord, my every desire is known to You; my sighing is not hidden from You.  Psalms 38:9 (HCSB)

But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. 1 Corinthians 8:3 (HCSB)

I will discuss knowing Christ in my next post.  Secondly we are created for intimacy with our spouse:

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, "I have acquired a man from the Lord."  Genesis 4:1 (NKJV)

I am my beloved's, And my beloved is mine. He feeds his flock among the lilies. Song of Songs 6:3 (NKJV)

Finally we were created for intimacy in fellowship with others.

Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. Each one of us must please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Romans 15:1-2 (HCSB)

Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 (HCSB)

Will you join with me in prayer for the true intimacy to fill our relationships with God, marriages, and fellowships?  We long to be known, but it must start with ourselves.  Am I one to cherish and guard such intimacy?  Am I willing to let go of false intimacies in exchange for the real thing?  Do I take such a risk to be vulnerable (not reckless, but vulnerable none the less) knowing that with vulnerability comes the possibility of being hurt? 

Pray for me!  I am praying for you!  Even those whose names I do not know.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fancy Flights

Brooklyn Eagle Image by gaspi *your guide via FlickrUnreservedly giving yourself to God involves being committed to do it today.  Often I hear Christians (at times myself) telling me what they are planning to do someday for God.  The fancy flights are not any more mindful than worrying about the future.  Even though they make have a feeling of good will, they do not accomplish much based on my observations.

In a way fancy flights are boasting before the actual act has occurred.  We say I will go do such and such for God.  One of the difficulties is that we do not know what tomorrow holds.  Our hearts go out to the family that just lost a young daughter this week.  Their loss has affected our family.  Life is like that.  Three weeks ago we had no connection to the family and now we are grieving with them as they wrestle with this loss.  It reminds me though about how uncertain we can be about the future. 

Another problem with fancy flights is that tomorrow never comes.  It is always a perpetual tomorrow.  It is a little different than procrastination.  Procrastination is putting off something that you don't want to do.  Fancy flights are planning to do something that you want to do, but never taking that first step or following through.  I still struggle with this myself, but by God's grace I am getting better.  Trust me I still have much room to grow in this respect.  those that know me well will testify to this. 

The cure of fancy flights (verses)

  1. Daily prayer (Matthew 6:11)
  2. Discern what God is doing today (Matthew 16:23; Luke 19:5)
  3. Do not harden yourself with sin today (Hebrews 3:12-13)
  4. Encourage another person today (Hebrews 3:12-13)
  5. Plan your tomorrows with speculation (not certainty) in light of God's will, and do good while it is today (James 4:13-17)

God bless you all!

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