I feel a resistance within me falling apart, a partition tearing. I wrote about it Sunday, how I’ve realized more and more that I’ve resisted God trying to tell me just how big a problem it is that the church makes helping the needy a low priority, even when Matthew 25: 46 promises eternal punishment for those who neglect the needy, while the preceding section is about how neglecting the needy is the same as neglecting Jesus, no less.
I’ve wanted it to be a fixable problem, one I can help a little by posting in recent years how Jesus is in the needy and similar thoughts, as I’ve done. Surely it’s a communication problem somewhere between God and many people who truly want to follow Him, I have thought, if only they knew how, even though the idea that His commandments are love God, love neighbors and love enemies, in other words love everyone, is at least two thousand years old. Why should that be so hard to follow? It’s not, is it?
So why should I do better at such communication than anyone else? I suppose that’s part of why I’ve resisted accepting what I hear. I don’t have a good answer. Maybe my biology is suited to hear God. Maybe the breadth and depth of my experiences in life, academic, practical, and spiritual, are suited to understand God. Maybe God just picked me. I spoke so little growing up in that angry home, the child of adultery that made that longstanding adultery known to the respective spouses. Maybe I was a blank slate when it came to having opinions, not trusting all these bad people, finding it too dangerous to speak freely. Maybe that’s good training for the real world. Maybe the degree of redemption involved in my life was just enticingly high. Maybe it’s just luck – no, that’s the hardest one to believe.
When would God have picked me anyway? Before the beginning of the world? At my confirmation when there was that tingling as the bishop pushed his hands on my head? Was that a spiritual experience or was the bishop just compressing my spinal cord a little? There are so many uncertainties in life.
Whatever served as prologue, the real drama certainly began with that road-to-Damascus experience on February 28, 1989. It was so much like what St. Paul described. There was the sunlight streaming directly into the room that turned into the presence of God, not changed in its appearance, but only in my cognition. Wait a minute, this can’t be. I don’t believe in this sort of God. God had His answer for that, “You’ve always believed in Me.” Then a flood of words and images began a cascade through my mind to illustrate that He was right in that simple sentence, and I was wrong. It’s the best debating technique I’ve ever seen. If so many skeptics could just experience that, whether atheists, liberals or conservatives, it would be so much easier to talk about. Self-hypnosis? Some innate chemical like cocaine? I don’t think so. I’ve never taken cocaine, but all the caffeine I’ve ever drank couldn’t do this. 0 to a million instantly? Hmmm, not natural. I was blown away. I was glad I hadn’t gone blind, just crazy for about four hours. I knew what it was. I knew I didn’t need to wind up dead like Jesus or blind like Paul. They had already done that. I had that thought right away. I didn’t like that I had lost my mind, but I thought it was the best option of the three. Fortunately that was temporary. What was it for? Just so I could have faith?
One thing it was for was so it wouldn’t be so traumatic the next time. It was still disruptive when God showed up four months later, but it became less so as it happened more and more, then continuously unless there’s something going on around me that makes me forget about God for a time. His prolonged presence started in my prayers first, just as the God to whom I was praying at first, with no sensory phenomena, then as something that seemed to help me find words that I just don’t think were in me without the Spirit and things to pray about that also didn’t seem to be on my agenda without such prompting. Who knew that prayer just means to open one’s mouth and let go? Some charismatics do. Sometimes it’s best to shape the words some. It is a cooperative effort. Then words started coming back at me that were just like what I had heard when first in the presence of God, simple answers to a prayer just as I was praying it, things like that.
It’s strange how differently people report what they hear God say. When I read an evangelical Christian who hears God in words like Joyce Meyer, the quotes she attributes to God don’t sound at all like what I hear. She has God giving explanations for things that I’m sure immediately are oversimplified or just wrong. I never react to what I hear from God that way. I may ask for some clarification. There are things God says that I just don’t understand. There are even some things that I resist, that I really don’t want to be true. Anyone who thinks God tells me what I want to hear doesn’t have the slightest idea of what’s going on. Yet certainly God must speak to people in concepts they understand as well as the language they understand. It has to be some sort of cooperative effort between an individual’s mind and the Spirit. So is that the real Spirit coming through Joyce Meyer or is it not Spirit at all?
Likewise with a New Age version of this are Neale Donald Walsch’s three volumes of conversations with God. It doesn’t sound like God to me. It sounds like a psychotherapist who needs to switch to decaf.
I’m sure many would find equally skeptical things about anything I hear from God. And that has been part of my resistance, that I know how to attack myself better than the most malevolent atheist or traditionalist bent on saying he’s right, and I’m nuts. I don’t want to hear that, especially not from me. I think God gives us enough freedom in general and has enough sympathy for me in particular to not mind that much if that resistance has caused me to say things publicly like, “Who can know?” when in my conversations with God, I give Him much more credit than that.
God tells me that He doesn’t know Joyce Meyer. He doesn’t know Neale Donald Walsch, except through what I’ve read of him. He doesn’t keep extensive databases on everything and everyone as He would have to in order to be omniscient. He doesn’t have to do that to help those people who come to Him genuinely, instead of to an idol. He has their consciousness to work with. That’s all He needs to know. He wouldn’t know me except He lives in me, and I in Him. He is constantly in my consciousness. My eyes are His eyes. My hands are His hands. My walk is His walk. My flesh remains, but there is Spirit as well, intertwined somehow. What it means that I live in Him is less clear to me. I know it’s different than living naturally, than living solely in the flesh. I don’t know how to explain it well, so I haven’t tried that much. Whatever it is, He needs me within Him, She needs me within Her - that was a revelation.
Even the best idol theology can construct is not God. It is an idol, and people can hear words from an idol, either naturally or with a spirit facilitating that. That’s different from what the Lord of the universe does. That’s what He says to me. I believe Him.
Gee, how do I buff that up so it doesn’t sound arrogant?
That’s been my resistance. Traditional Christianity is more than just a little wrong, but who am I to say that? I’m just a guy. Jesus Christ is my Lord and my Savior. That wasn’t true in 1989. Maybe I was saved then, saved once, saved forever, but I wasn’t following Jesus as my Lord. That’s where this listening to God took me very quickly, a couple of years being quick for this sort of thing.
I thought after that would come an understanding of how the church of all believers is one, one body as Paul wrote. It is not. Even now I wanted to qualify that sentence that says, “It is not,” to make it less harsh, and the Lord of the universe said, “It is not.” Man, call me a liar if you want, but that’s what He said just now and confirmed for me, and I’m not resisting this one just for the sake of your blood pressure and my public image. This one is a big deal to God. The church is nowhere near what it should be. So does it change, or does He just start over? He has started over countless times. That's something traditionalists don't understand.
That’s what happens. I’ll do anything for God. He may have to ratchet up the intensity of His direction, but I’ll do it. He’s proven that to me. What people who fear that don’t understand is that the real God is good, angry, but good. He doesn’t drive people to do evil things. People are the ones who are rightfully frightening, loose cannons that they are, not God. I have some family members who are bound to understand this at some point.
In contrast, there is this mass of Bible-believing Christians. They are so together, so uniform. They believe so many things with absolute certainty. I don’t think it makes sense if you try to put all those beliefs together at once, especially if you add science and other empirical knowledge from living one’s life to the mix. That doesn’t keep an awful lot of people from believing as one that homosexuality is an abomination to God, evolution is a lie, and abortion is murder, not just that abortion is always wrong with absolute certainty, but that abortion is murder, with no possibility of contradiction. That’s what it means to be a Christian? That’s not how I experience following Jesus, but I guess that’s my liberalism, something some conservatives think means I can know nothing about anything, especially God.
I could write a lot about what God says to me about Bible-believing Christians. I was wondering how long it would take us to get to the title I wrote before writing the rest of this. Suffice it to say that even though so many people defend “abortion is murder” as being unassailable, anyone who says that without qualification worships an idol. It may be the idol many have made of the unborn child. It may be a different, religious idol that supports saying “abortion is murder” with certainty. It is not of God. God says so. There are plenty of reasons why abortion is abortion, not murder, but the reason this slogan is not of God is that God says so, right now, to me, as He has said for some time to anyone who has the right sort of ears to hear Him. That only I hear Him in this moment doesn’t negate that this was God any more than one should say it wasn’t Jesus that Paul saw on the road to Damascus, just because no one else on that road saw Jesus. You have to know the entire context.
Does He forgive the pride and idolatries that have people who are nominally Christian running after a political and economic agenda instead of doing what God wants them to do, like help the needy, as doing so helps Jesus, instead of crucifying Him over and over and over again? No, not today. Maybe another day, maybe. God doesn’t like it that people preach that they have a contract with God’s signature on it, something like that, that promises forgiveness for everything they do wrong. There is no such contract. There is love for those willing to be a part of that love. It is free, not God’s obligation to love us, not with strings attached, but if people reject that love, then they don’t have that love, or forgiveness.
I forgive it. I forgive everyone, everyday, but I can only forgive what people did to me today or some other day. That pales in comparison to the hatred, indifference and falseness that people dish out to people other than me. Somehow I’m forever both hearing about that and feeling about that. I’m adapting to that, though. God keeps helping me, much more than I would need just for me, I would think. Be careful of giving yourself to God. He might actually need you. I’m not sure what’s in it for Him or Her, but one or more of Them certainly gets pushy some days. It’s not like many people will read this. The dilemma comes up for everyone, though. What does God want of you? Does God love you? Do you love Him? I do. I show it everyday. I think I fell in love with God in school when I gave Him credit for science in a way that I no longer believe. He didn’t even show me He knew I was alive until 20 years later. Well, maybe He did, and I was rather dim about that. He says now He would do many things differently if He were to do it again, but we’re all doing this just once. Once is enough. Another 14 billion years is not what anyone wants. Some things don’t take that long, like it didn’t take long for me to know that I can’t be married to Him, only to Her, the same God, just different. It is love for everyone to be flexible, as much as they can be.
That’s a hard one for people, how to love God. So many have no desire at all to love God as I love Him. They want to do what so many others do and call that love. It’s a free country. The love you give is the love you get. There must be another one to complete a triad. Oh well, maybe not. Maybe those two say it all.
4 pages to get to that? God says there were some other things here that needed to be said besides saying we are free to love or not, but only love is returned with love. Being certain of one’s moral definitions does not let God love you. Now it’s on the record. It’ll come up again.
A God-possessed man, what a concept. God is one Spirit, with many voices. Some come to believe that intellectually, even that God is everything and everyone. Not every voice is God, though, far from it. So many people say whatever they care to say, do whatever they care to do. The idea of the flesh and the spirit captures part of this, but there are so many ways one can move away from God, not just one, and not every spirit is God. I share my consciousness with something that has seen all of this and finds many ways to express that. It’s an amazing thing to watch, even if sometimes I wonder when She is going to get to the point. Patience, it takes time, exactly the right amount of time, more or less.