To Stand Firm on the Ground of Openness
TO STAND FIRM ON THE GROUND OF OPENNESS
For a fulfilling Spiritual Walk one needs to be Open. To be open does not mean to believe in a certain aspect or expression of God but openness recognizes the vastness and the ultimate unknowableness of God. What we know of God is so small that we cannot possibly understand all His means or ways with our finite minds.
To stand on the ground of openness is a recognition that our human minds like to box things in. We like to construct neat and clean understandings. The human mind is comfortable with black and white and when our minds attempt to understand a Spiritual God we tend to understand Him in our image of black and white, good and evil. Ultimately, in our minds attempt to define God we create, as it were, graven images. A graven image is a lifeless image like a photo of you. It is an image of you in a moment in time but it is not you. One of the 10 commandments was to not make any graven images.
Exodus 20:4-5 (The Message)
No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am God, your God, and I’m a most jealous
When the children of Israel began to worship the golden calf at the base of Mt Sinai in their minds it was Jehovah they were worshiping it was not another god. The calf was a physical representation of the characteristics they understood and had seen demonstrated by Jehovah. Another way of saying it was this that this golden calf was their theology, their understanding of God. Today in evangelical western society we don’t create statues to worship but we do create theology, creeds, teachings and doctrines that are worshiped the same way that golden calf was.
You see at the base of Mt Sinai the children of Israel made a fatal decision that would ultimately lead to them wandering in the wilderness for 40 years and never entering the promised land. God called the Israelite’s into intimate fellowship with Him. They were called to come up on the mountain and meet with God face to face. It was God who told Moses to tell the people to prepare and when: Exodus 19:13 ……. ‘ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.”
But because of fear they rejected the call to come up and remained at the base and eventually began to worship what they understood Jehovah to be like in the form of the golden calf.
Exodus 20:18-21 (New American Standard Bible)
All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.”
Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.
Man’s fear of God comes from his lack of faith and trust in God and ultimately from his not knowing the heart of God. People need an intimate knowing of God
– As the Prophet Hosea says: 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. And the Prophet Isaiah in 5:13 Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge This knowledge that people lack is not head knowledge but a knowledge that comes from an open heart. The Hebrew word here is daath with the root word being yada and it speaks of the intimate knowing that happens between a husband and his wife. When man rejects intimacy with the uncontainable, unknowable God, usually because of fear, he turns to what he can know in his mind and that is simply an image of God. In the case of Israel they built an earthly kingdom instead of being apart of the spiritual kingdom that God had called them to. Today when God calls man into intimacy with Him we go to Seminary or Bible College or some other way to begin to learn about God. We do this until we discover that God is not really known that way. It is in the stillness and openness of heart that we can know and have a revelation of God.
Often Men and Women experience God intimately and share of their experience to other brothers and sisters. Others instead of desiring their own intimacy with God fear what they do not understand and begin to reconstruct, with their minds, that experience with God into a modern day golden calf’s that we call movements and denominations.
It was Peter who saw an amazing event and immediately he wants to build something. He wants to try and close the door and contain it, capture it with his mind and memorialize it.
Matt 17:1-4 Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
The only thing we memorialize are things of the past or things that are dead – God is neither! God simply is – and this is something our fleshly minds just don’t comprehend but fortunately they don’t have to because we have a spirit that does and it in this spirit that we can live.
Our flesh needs to define our spirit expresses
Our flesh needs protection our spirit explores
Our flesh wants to contain God our spirit experiences God
Our flesh needs to see in the physical realm our spirit has eyes and ears in the spiritual realm
Our flesh fears God our spirit is Love with God
Our flesh sees us as separate from God our spirit knows oneness with God.
Openness of heart and will is the ground on which Christ, the Word of God, is planted, takes root and can grow.
Openness is not a revelation of Christ it is having a faith and trust in Him that He will reveal Himself to you in the way He chooses to do so.
When Jesus walked the earth he found that hearts were closed and hard they were not open. The gospel of Mark records the story of the minds of men in action. These minds had so captured their God that they could not accept a work of God if it did not fit into their present picture and understanding of God.
Mark 3:1-6 (New American Standard Bible)
He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.
The hardness of heart is a condition of many in the religious world today. “If it is not said the way we say it, it is a sin” Theology and doctrine often rule over love!!!! Jesus is recorded as saying : John 10:33-34 The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I SAID, YOU ARE GODS’?
What was he doing that they wanted to kill him? Nothing, he simply said something they did not have revelation about themselves. He said something their minds could not wrap around and all mind wants to do is kill what it fears because it does not understand.
It is only on the ground of openness where revelation can happen!
Matt.16:16-17 – Not flesh and blood but My Father revealed this to you!
It is only on the ground of openness that Jesus says (Matt.16:18 “I will build my church and the gates of hell (or the things which try and contain, capture, memorialize and bind up God i.e. religion) will not prevail!!!!
The gates of hell, the abode of death wants to contain God but Resurrection life has defeated this forever! You want a fresh Revelation – STOP REJECTING WHAT YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND – stand in faithful and trusting openness before the Lord – turn to that resurrection life within you and see the Revelation of God. Stop fearing a defeated enemy and Trust God.
Paul writes to Timothy and says:
2Tim.2:23-26 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
The snare of the Devil is the rigidity and rigor-mortise of your understanding of God. The hardness of ones heart is not the rejection of the God you have know but a rejection of a living God today. A God that is new every morning and wants to reveal Himself to you in a new and fresh way. You who are not standing in openness will reject the God you claim to love because He is not coming in the same form He did last time.
To those standing in openness Jesus said:
Matt.25:37-40 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
These followers of Christ didn’t understand who they were loving they just loved. They were open to all and unknowingly ministering to God through their openness to all. They didn’t ask if you were a Christian or what kind of Christian or what your belief’s were they simply gave to everyone those who came to them what they had to give and what they had to give was the love of Christ in whatever form worked at that time!!
Much fellowship and Church Life is lost because it is not being built by Christ upon the ground of openness. Openness does not mean agreement in everything it means I can be open to hear your experience or revelation of God in whatever form, words or images who choose to do so. Openness means I am not going to judge your experience or revelation. For some reason man has come to the conclusion that he needs to be the one to build the church and he wants to do it based on his understanding of God. The Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom built with spiritual stones by Christ. All we can do is stand together in that open field and let Him do His work.
Does it really matter if your loving brother believes that sprinkling with water is baptism. Does he really have to be fully immersed because that is the way it has been revealed to you. Is this required for you to consider him a brother or sister.
If one sees a demonstration of the Love of God in the story of the Buddha or hear the wisdom of God in the writings of Lao Tzu can you not accept it for what it is. You are not required to see it just as you are not required to see the love of God in the story of Job. Can you hear it on the ground of openness and simply ponder these things in your heart like Mary did with the things she did not understand. Now I know that minds will read this and fear of the enemy will being to enter – “Oh if we did that it will be the way the enemy will get in and corrupt us” – Fear of the enemy is a lack of Faith in Christ and his work on the cross. If you don’t stand in openness you leave no way for the Spirit to do anything new in or with you. Can we be people who ponder instead of judge the things we don’t have revelation on?
The Christian faith was started upon a revelation of God that was seen by at least 120 people after Pentecost. It was the 120 in the upper room who were standing together in that room of openness and expectation. It took the 3.5 year ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus to get those 120 to stand together in openness. When the new manifestation of God came in the form of Spirit the 120 received this new way and for the first time saw the life of Jesus through spiritual eyes and God was made new to them. Paul had a revelation of this same God in Jesus not because he believed the stories of the Apostles but because he got knocked down off his horse, physically blinded, and placed on the ground of openness and then saw and heard God speak through Jesus to him. On the ground of openness you will shocked and amazed at the places you find God. If you have ever had a revelation of Jesus Christ then you know that ground of openness because you were standing on it when you first saw or heard Him. The ground of openness is the ground young children play on – they don’t ask for a list of belief’s or statements of faith they just want someone to come and play with them.
Here we read the story of Peter and the Baptism in the Spirit given to the Gentiles on the ground of Openness that Peter stood on. It is throughout the gospel stories that Peter is being asked to take a stand on the ground of openness. Peter was a very black and white person but Peter had faith in God. It is Peter’s willingness and understanding of his lack of understanding God that allows him to do what he does.
A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky. Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, …...While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. “But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.” …….As he talked with him, he entered and found many people assembled. And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. “That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me.” ……Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, ……. While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.
Peter was perplexed in mind – this was against what he believed to be right and true. Peter responded by reflecting not by accepting or rejecting. Peter did not judge the vision he simply reflected on it, gave it time, he remained open to what it might mean. The scriptures say “while Peter was speaking.…..because he was open and operating in that openness the Lord does the work of building the church. It was not the words of Peter that opened the way for the Spirit to fall but the Spirit of openness that Peter demonstrated that gave way for God to move on a People that Peter didn’t even believe God could accept. It says that Peter was amazed at what happened. When we stand on the ground of openness we will be amazed at what God is capable of doing it is beyond our wildest dream and hopes.
I understand that the fleshly mind fears openness but I ask you to be open to these words and reflect on them. Trust and have Faith in God that He will be your protection and give you a new Revelation of Himself.
This entry was posted on September 10, 2010 by Eclectic Mind. It was filed under Bible, Bible Contradictions, Church Life, Disciples of Jesus Christ, Friends, House Church, Organic Church, Pagan Christianity, Reimagining Church, Religion, Simple Church, The Lord, The Word, Truth, Wise Sayings .