Honest to God (#593)

Can you imagine a world in where people couldn't tell a lie even if they wanted to? Knowing the damage that deceit and duplicity do to relationships, that may well be heaven. But not everyone would agree since many use lies and pretense to cover their own shame and brokenness. Living loved will increasingly give us the freedom to see God as he really is and find our way back to honesty and truth. Perhaps it would be better said that heaven is a place where there is no reason to lie — ever! That's why salvation is not just about forgiveness, but finding a path to God that will transform us from the inside out, and why performance-based living will never set us free. Almost everything in Scripture can be turned into religious rules that kill, or be seen as relational realities that invite us to hope and freedom.

Podcast Notes:
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  1. I haven’t even listened to this podcast yet, but I already have some comments because I’ve realized that honesty is a key factor (obstacle, hurdle) in learning to live loved. I did not respect nor (here’s a deeper one) TRUST honesty. In my experience, honesty always brought me more reaction, more retribution, more punishment, more pain. Despite the words of Jesus that, “the truth will make you free,” I couldn’t buy it. I’m sure the majority of lies I told while growing up were designed to save my skin, disregarding any potential for further consequences. Lying, for me, was a matter of survival.

    Wayne has said that God ‘won me to trust.’ For me, there’s still ground to cover in the trust department, but I can say that ‘God has won me to honesty.’ I can’t tell you the specifics of how this miracle came to be, but the result of being overwhelmed by agape love melted my honesty = punishment equation. God himself became the SAFE place to be, and my honesty made me even safer. I realized I had nothing to lose by honesty; that lying would only plunge me deeper into hiding, into farther separation from this new love I so desperately needed.

    God knows my ins and outs better than I do. (when you lie everywhere you lie to yourself too) He knows me better than anyone ever has or ever will. He depends on me believing that I’m his adopted kid that he personally picked out of a lineup. When that realization sets its hook in my heart, I begin to see him for who he is, begin to see myself as he sees me; I begin to KNOW him, my heart tells me he is KNOWING me. All of a sudden, the deepest longing of my heart, to be truly deeply KNOWN, is being addressed by the lover of the universe.

    I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain…

    • Now that I’ve listened to this podcast a few times, I have to append my comments.

      Once I realized that God was not going to bite my head off, but rather that he wanted to love me and heal me and give me LIFE, I began to trust him. Somehow I knew that I could count on him for my very existence, my very LIFE. My fears were being dismantled, a seed of trust was established in my heart, and honesty gushed forth, all at the same time in kind of a concurrent process. I sense that these three factors are still interrelated as my life goes on. Honesty is where the deep inner healing begins and continues.

      A few months ago it hit me that this relationship I’m having with God now, today, is the first and only genuine relationship I’ve ever had with any person anywhere. He is the only person I can be truly honest with, no fear of reaction of repercussion. I am assured every day, not only that God can fully handle my honesty, but that our relationship depends on honesty. Honesty seems to be the catalyst to or dimension where everything he is and does becomes real. But there are two persons here relating to each other. He makes himself known to me by HIS honesty with me! (I entrust myself to him, he entrusts himself to me)

      As you can probably tell, this new relational reality I’m having with God is very unfamiliar to me. I would really like to experience this kind of relationship with another human being, especially with my loved ones. But I have not met a human being, including myself, who could handle honesty in this dimension. Honesty, even at a surface level, tends to repel people. Maybe that is because honesty exposes, and no person wants to respond by exposing themself. No matter what the appearances are, all of us are ‘dishonest people.’ All of us cover ourselves to each other, at least to a certain extent.

      When I relate to God, one of us is trustworthy. Human to human, neither of us are. I have no idea how two humans get there. Maybe he can make us trustworthy? Maybe when two hearts are both ‘in honesty’ with him, he can bring them together? I just hope I get to experience this before I leave this earth.

      Note: “honesty gushed forth” Somehow I knew I could just unload everything on him, no matter how ‘disgusting’ I thought it was. I encourage everyone to begin having your own honest moments with God, because I know from personal experience that he will not disappoint you. He IS your safe place.

  2. As a young Christian in my early 20’s, I had an experience with the Lord in which the Lord challenged me regarding my honesty. “Liz, if you are going to get to know me better you have to learn to be honest” – honest with Him, honest with others and honest with myself. I was shocked as to the best of my abilities, I always thought I was “honest”. I took some time to ponder this encounter and realised that in a number of situations I was “polite” rather than being honest. Now I’m not suggesting that we be impolite with others, but I saw that there is a thin margin between being polite and being political, both situations leaving wiggle room for the old man and nature to be expressed. In light of what I now see, many years later, I realise that our living can be according to the old creation or the new creation. The comment of Brad’s friend in heaven that he couldn’t lie there, even if he wanted to, is the reality of his living, now being totally according to the new creation. He has left his existence in the old creation and now enjoys life in Christ without the encumbrances that we who still live in the old creation are unfortunately still subjected to.

  3. Craig…thanks for your words. They are an encouragement along the way. Blessings, Sue

  4. Just started listening and had to pause to leave this comment. I believe in being honest, but I can’t imagine being transparent. There are parts of my life which I never want anyone to know about. Now I’ll finish listening.

    • Rick,

      Transparency mostly occurs within the context of depth of trust within a given relationship. Some may view it as being completely honest, but we have all known that one person who wore everything upon their sleeve; and who was usually the one most others have chosen to avoid. Transparency relates to confession for some, but this, outside of a properly established relationship, turns others off. Transparency can also be a version of validation for those who struggle with security. Whether semantics or out of some antics, these days, my yuck meter usually sounds either way. But I also used to be one of each of the above memntioned!

  5. if the authors of the new testament were writing about salvation from the context of healing rather than judicial proceedings, then all the words they used in association with salvation (repentance/forgiveness/justification/etc) would have carried restorative meanings: not judicial ones. The fact that we continue to define these terms judicially leads to our continued misunderstandings.

  6. Hey Brad and Wayne: I had (up till now) like many others, thought I was seeing a clear connection between God’s forgiveness and the cross (the blood/redemption) and I had been teaching that these were deeply connected, and that this connection was even integral to our understanding of “Christ crucified”. I had also accepted that the understanding (and teaching) we have of this area (Christ crucified) was the most important criteria, based on my reading of Paul, for recognising those whom God has gifted to the body/community on a local level as shepherding elders, or as you describe them in “Finding Church” as “guardians of the gift of life”.
    So I am concerned now that what I had understood and was teaching re-God’s forgiveness and the connection to ‘Christ crucified’ might not be on the right track here.
    As short as I can, here is what I had being understanding up till now:
    Like many, I am aware that while in Craig’s hypothetical, though the husband may seek and receive forgiveness from the wife and even restore what is broken in the relationship so he never strikes her again, at least in Australia, if the matter becomes known to governing authorities, they will call the husband to accountability and he will suffer consequences regardless of what the wife says. In other words, just as Jesus, while walking as we do, forgave certain individuals of their sins, such as the crippled man lowered through the roof, God has declared that the soul that sins shall die and subsequently, most acknowledge that those who die in their sins resisting or rejecting God’s offer of reconciliation i.e. are unreconciled and therefore not justified – they will be separated from God for eternity, regardless of whether that turns out to be an eternal prison or annihilation. In other words, unless something or in this case someone does something about our unreconciled and unredeemed state or condition, forgiving sins past or present such as Jesus did on the cross e.g. “father forgive them for they know not what they do” does not resolve our eternal situation.
    I know things like forgiveness, redemption, adoption, justification are not God’s primary concern when it comes to mankind situation here – it always has been our personal reconciliation to him and more specifically, our reconciliation to him as children coming back into a father and child (son and daughter) relationship with him. Forgiveness, adoption et cetera are automatic ‘givens’ to those who respond to God/Jesus with trust and change their minds about trusting the evil one as their source of truth and paternal care (i.e. trust the wicked one as their dad) in this life.
    I had thought that this connection between forgiveness of trespassers/sin/doing harm/offence and the cross (the blood/redemption/substitution) always had in mind the big picture – where God himself was demonstrating his willingness to not bring to account any who would be reconciled to him and that for those reconciled and remain with him as his sons and daughters, eternal accountability and consequences for sin past present and future (i.e. the judicial element) were dealt with – including the removal of the ‘ written instructions’ which stood against us i.e. we are now no longer under the ‘law, sin and death’ equation where you would be dealing with God as your judge, rather, due to our being reconciled, we are now under the ‘grace (gifted favour), faith (trust/believing) and life’ equation where we are now dealing with God as our dad.
    In fact, how God deals with us now in my mind, is no different to how we as parents deal with our own children, especially when they are young e.g. under 14 years old. For example, we approach our relationship with our children with a heart of ‘favour’ (gifting forgiveness, acceptance and care usually expressed through gifting kindness, respect and generosity) and we do our best to teach them to have the same heart of ‘favour’ towards others. And no matter what we have to deal with in our relationship with them, none of us as parents would ever consider ejecting a young child out of our home. I see it as no different with our heavenly dad in his dealings with those who continue to accept him and accept his involvement in their life as their ‘parent’. [the human family analogy alone would require another post to flesh out].
    While I see that all sin does damage to our relationship with God, self and others, the accountability and consequences for doing harm/sin/transgression in this life as his sons and daughters, in my opinion, will bring correction from our heavenly dad – which it appears can even include sickness and death e.g. Acts 5:1-10; 1Cor11:30 or having a local community exclude a brother or sister on the basis of them justifying and continuing in sinful behaviour which is deemed harmful to the community (a little leaven leavens the whole lump) e.g. 1Cor 5:9. And along with that, God can (and does) bring accountability and consequences from governing authorities who are his servants (Rom13:1-7) against his own children. Despite this, I am convinced by the Lord himself and Scripture that in regards to eternal consequence, all sin is cast as far from the east is to the west for those personally reconciled to God because of their personal trust of him who died and rose again (Christ in us).
    My current understanding of forgiveness (letting go of his offence) which God holds in his heart towards us I see as deeply tied to ‘the cross’, and that the cross was something that God had determined and planned even before creation. And that this heart of forgiveness that Yahweh has towards humanity was then indisputably demonstrated when he personally took on human flesh and provided the only sinless substitution which counted – a human not guilty of the offences of those for which he was willing to be a substitute for – and that in doing so, he removed forever the consequences for ‘doing harm to’/offending etc., either against God or neighbour, for all those who would be personally reconciled to himself.
    Again, until now, I thought there was a very real and important connection between God’s forgiving us (past, present and future) and the cross (redemption/justification i.e. the judicial issue). I could be wrong of course, but I had been understanding that Paul’s preaching of the cross i.e. “Christ crucified” (his ‘shorthand’ for these very issues) was the most crucial element of God’s salvation in and through Jesus – and that a person’s ability to explain the area of “Christ crucified” was the most important element for recognising those Jesus called, trained and gifted to his body, the assembly as shepherding elders. So I am keen to know if I have got this crucial area wrong…

    While I’ve clearly already taken up more than my fair share of space here, while I’m at it, I might just as well take up some more and ask Brad if what he felt being communicated by the guy in the dream/vision was that we lose our ability to choice to do wrong or do harm when we go home e.g. lie, or was it more that we lose any desire or a reason to do harm/wrong once were out of the ‘mess’ of this life?

    • quick reply: re–what I felt was being communicated in the dream/vision… I don’t think we lose our ability to choose, that wouldn’t be very consistent with how God created us; but what I think we lose is the shame and insecurity that more often than not is the cause of our inclination to not be honest or fully transparent. What I marveled about (as in what I thought was being conveyed) is the environment of heaven where there would be no need or desire to lie–I think that is because our carnality is burned out and transformed and being in the atmosphere of His love and fully aware of it, it removes my need to hide or my fear of exposure — (can’t hide, etc) … Hope that makes sense. – Brad

      • Brad: your vision is huge! Maybe heaven is not a “place” at all, but rather an ‘environment’ or a reality prepared for us by God in which all dichotomies that exist(ed) are reconciled to each other? A reality of transformation that we can dwell within for all eternity where shame and death and destructive consequences fade into distant memory. Can you imagine a reality where everything is fair and righteous and loving and truthful? Transformation may draw us into a state where we truly want nothing less.

  7. Hi Ken

    I have come from a position of a complicated ‘cross theology’ where I had it all worked out, to a very simple one. For the first few years in my journey out of religion, I couldn’t nail down forgiveness, and how that all worked now! I couldn’t understand why I needed to ask for forgiveness if I had already been forgiven everything already.

    It wasn’t until it dawned on me that forgiveness is one of the necessary byproducts of being able to have a deep and intimate relationship with Father, that it made more sense to me.

    I think you already talked about relationship being the point of creation, and forgiveness a side issue! You also talked about our relationship being like a 14 year old or less.

    I love that analogy, in fact I think it is one of the main lenses to look through to understand Fathers heart and why he does or doesn’t do this or that!

    My take on the cross now is quite simple.

    What Father wants is an adult relationship with his children.

    Before Jesus, people had a 14 year old or less relationship with Father. Because humanity wasn’t mature enough to go any deeper, they needed tight boundaries ( law ) and added consequences and rewards to bring them on a path leading to relationship with Father. They simply weren’t mature enough to handle the freedoms of no boundaries, and they imploded even with boundaries.

    What Jesus accomplished with the cross, opened the way for us to grow into a deep, adult relationship with Father.

    I gather Wayne has a good relationship with his adult kids, and I’m sure many others do also. ( mine are still teens and younger, so I’m yet to see what it’s like)

    That’s my whole ‘theology’ now. Jesus opened the space for us to realize that Father loves us unconditionally ( sorry Wayne) and the reason it had to be such a dramatic thing as someone dying for us, was that we simply wouldn’t believe it! Too good to be true! However, we can’t argue with the fact that Jesus was prepared to die to show us that Father will love us no matter what!

    Then the magic begins!

    Someone who knows they are loved no matter what, will begin to simply enjoy the relationship more. Loose some of the angst! Nothing they do will change how Father feels about them. The more destructive parts of our personality will begin to change and his love will slowly but surely transform us.

    I know Wayne and Brad put a lot of emphasis on being transformed, and I couldn’t put my finger in why that never quite sat right! Finally I realized I was still thinking in the old way, that our transformation was somehow the point! It isn’t!

    Forgiveness isn’t the point, transformation isn’t the point, not ‘sinning’ isnt the point. Only our relationship with Father is the point, the framework if you like! Everything else fits into that framework, necessary parts of the relationship.

    Transformation will allow for a deeper and deeper connection with Father, and others in our life.

    Brad discussed his view on people who sin because it’s easier to be forgiven than to ask permission. In a very crude sense, they are right, they can do what they want. If relationship is the point of the exercise, however, they will miss out big time. They will only experience a shallow relationship with Father, when such an amazing one is on offer.

    The thing I marvel at with Father, is that the drawing in power of living in a forgiven and loved place, is the most beautiful thing i know! We may live a whole life knowing we are ‘forgiven’ but not realizing we are loved!
    If we know we are loved, it will be almost impossible for our hearts to respond to that, and give us 40 years, we will very different people!

    • Hi David Mee

      Much of what you’re saying is deeply impressed in my heart and relationship with God also.
      I agree totally on the point re-“tight boundaries” for us as children (before Christ) and believe I expressed that to be true in our relationship with Jesus – as we are married to him now, not any form of law/written instructions (Rom7). Though, while in this life, we recognise that should we ‘do harm’ we reap some of the consequences I mentioned.
      I like using the under 14 analogy because in my mind, it reflects what Paul is saying in Romans 7 in that just as an underage child in a natural family is not under the ‘law of the land’, rather they are under the ‘law/instruction/care et cetera’ of the parents. In the union we have with Jesus (married to him) we also are not under the ‘law of the land’ (including the Mosaic law) so to speak, while ever we remain under his instruction/favour/love et cetera.
      In normal relationships where there is estrangement due to offence causing us to feel ‘offside’ with someone; we all recognise the need for reconciliation and usually know what that requires even if we don’t act on it e.g. apologies for wrong, sometimes restitution, re-establishing engagement and most importantly, rebuilding trust, love and friendship through gifting kindness, respect and generosity.
      The letting go of our offence, anger, resentment, hurt, bitterness et cetera is all part of forgiving/ forgiveness which we know (especially if you’re married) that takes time to heal, and the only thing that speeds that healing is our mutually gifting forgiveness, acceptance and care expressed through gifting kindness respect and generosity as it is these things which best build mutual trust love and friendship in any relationship.
      This, I am convinced is exactly where God/Jesus is coming from i.e. it is his nature to be like this, therefore it is his heart towards us, it is how he deals with us and how our heavenly dad wants his children to deal with each other….

  8. Ken,

    I do admire your focus and stamina but I think it is time we straighten something out. “The Shack” was a milestone in the inauguration of a new way of looking at this issue for many Christians. Forgiveness isn’t for some thing as ethereal as the “fall of man” as we have been taught to believe. Nor is it for something we, you or I, did as in saying we violated a law of God, it is simply a God given facility to enable us as humans to connect a proper relationship with the Creator, our Father. Being a son or daughter of God is not automatic it is voluntary. What God has designed is a system for the creation of lots and lots of humans, called human reproduction, each of whom can, if they will, become a willing child of his. He does that by placing Into each of these humans a piece of himself, what we call spirit, to guide us to a place where we will willingly give up our human goals, hopes, dreams, wants, desires, habits, fears, longings, angers, loves and even our very life itself and turn the whole direction of all that we are to him by trusting all this and eternally more to him. That process is three fold; repentance, forgiveness, acceptance. We repent, not of what we did, but of what we are (more specifically what we are not), he forgives us, which is merely saying he connects our humanness with his spirit and in so doing begins the preparation of us as eternal children of our heavenly Father instead of earthly children destined for earth, and lastly, we accept his guidance. That last step is the facilitator of what we hear from Craig on these posts. When we accept his guidance he guides. If we don’t hear God, it simply means we aren’t listening. It never ever means he isn’t talking.

    What Jesus did 2000 years ago is show us how the whole process works from soup to nuts, from beginning to end, from time to eternity. Personally, I believe Paul has made a mistake in focusing our attention on the Hebrew concept of redemption and forgiveness as two parts of the same. We weren’t and aren’t in need of redemption, the process of connection with God’s spirit was established by our Father to enable us to make a choice to do his will, to come to him voluntarily, TO EXPERIENCE SALVATION. This salvation isn’t from sin, it is salvation to eternal life. To experience this we must be willing to let God be real in us. We must will ourselves to do the will of God. Heaven is not just our birthright, it is our responsibility. We take responsibility for that by recognizing our failure to seek God and his heavenly kingdom, asking him to forgive our failure to do that prior to that moment, and finally by accepting the result, the spiritual embrace of his eternal love. Then he simply asks us to go into the world and help others do the same. Jesus said this.

    So we still labor incessantly to make sense of that which will never. The truth is much more simple than that. God wants volunteers, volunteers who will take on the responsibility of showing the world what living life with him is all about. We must learn to transfer the seat of our identity from our self view of reality to God’s view of reality. Point by point and issue by issue and all the while, seeking that still small voice for the most absolute and accurate guidance there is. It is our personal decisions that drive the process of spiritual growth.

    Rejoice, his path is simple and straight forward.

    • Thanks Jim George. Like many, I have found difficulties understanding some of what Paul says and am relieved to hear he didn’t get things such as this area right, so even though he wrote half of the New Testament, I guess I shouldn’t worry about anything he said any more even where it appears he is saying the same things Jesus did. I was wondering, do you think I should bother even reading the rest of the New Testament, as much of that appears to be affirming the same things Paul is saying? It is possible, I suppose, that the whole New Testament is not a reliable source to inform us about God and his salvation in and through Jesus as well. When you think about it why bother with the Old Testament?! Well, when you think about it, it is the Old Testament isn’t it? I.e. gone, done away with, replaced et cetera. Instead, perhaps you could let us know everything we need to know about God and his salvation in and through Jesus? Would we use “The Shack” as our source document……?

      • How can a written document be the ‘source’ of anything? There is only one ‘source’ and one starting point, and that is the God of the universe himself! Consider where the ‘scripture’ we have today came from. God spoke, some people heard him, some of them wrote it down. The only universal truth in that statement is that God spoke. It’s really that simple. What, or whom is the source?

        If Moses wrote the first books of the bible, apparently God spoke to a number of people before anyone wrote it down. Adam, Joseph, Abraham, etc… What we call the new testament was written decades after Jesus left. What was the source for them, before the writings existed? There’s a lot of NEW stuff in the NT that we have not found documented anywhere else. Where did that come from? How did they know how to live THE NEW LIFE before anything was written down? God spoke, some people heard him, some of them wrote it down. (and I’m sure they verbally shared what they heard from God with each other)

        The constant is that God spoke. I believe that God is speaking as much today as ever. Most of humanity is not hearing him. I can attest to the fact that there 1001 reasons why we DON’T hear him. My reasons included bias, scope of possibility, busyness, preoccupation, what I believed God thought of me, unbelief, focus on sources that aren’t sources, etc. (not that I wasn’t listening, because I was) In the cross & resurrection God removed everything that keeps us from hearing him. If we don’t hear him, we have created our own obstacle.

        As far as Paul is concerned, cut him some slack. Apparently he received a plethora of insights in a relatively short period of time, but his revelation was never complete. You can see a progression of his unfolding understanding throughout his letters. Unfortunately, all we have of his writings are the ones that survived. Writings are such that, if I got an insight 6 months ago and wrote about it, then the insight developed and I wrote about it again today, you would notice that the descriptions and wording are better in today’s version. Questioning if Paul ‘got it right’ is absurd!

        • Hey Craig, I thought it was clear here that I was mixing a little facetiousness with a little reductio ad absurdum to help expose an approach to understanding God and his salvation in and through Jesus which frankly, I think is just plain unhelpful e.g. bringing into question the reliability of the witnesses in Scripture such as Paul or worse, abandoning Scripture altogether as one of the most important reliable tools/means God has to speak to us about himself and his salvation. While I hold a very high regard for Scripture i.e. it’s divine inspiration and preservation, I completely recognise (and trust) that it is God himself we need to be hearing to understand what he has revealed in the writings – which I have no doubt he chose to preserve as both a reliable historical account of his dealings with humanity – which also preserves his instructions for us so that we stood a chance of understanding who he is as a person and how his salvation works against the many voices claiming a better or deeper revelation et cetera. And so I am totally committed to approaching Scripture in this way and have been doing so for many years…

          • Sorry, Ken. Your comments just triggered my response about the source. That assumption, (that the bible is a source) more than anything else, kept me from hearing for so long. I had always gone to the book first, to listen through the book, but discovered that the book is not a source, and never was.

            You can’t know a person by the things they write. You must engage with the person directly. Meaning comes through knowing that person.

            I’m tired of so many obstacles to hearing (and knowing) Father, especially a magical book.

          • No worries Craig, I totally get where you’re coming from here. I reckon there was close to a 10 year period where I couldn’t even read Scripture without being bombarded with all the preconceived interpretations/indoctrination I’d suffered, including the issue you reacted to. I became so grateful when that change for me – so much so that even to this day when I’m reading Scripture I often find myself in tears of gratitude for being released from that and having that replaced by Jesus to the point where I find reading now a soothing experience for my soul and so often brings me a real joy and peace.

          • Hey, Ken: when I began to hear and knew it was real, I was somewhat shocked that the insights I was hearing SEEMED to contradict scripture. But I was starting to know God the person, the Father. The insights and the knowing Him caused my lifelong interpretations to unravel. (unravelling continues) My perspective is changing (more his, less mine), and the idea of what is important to him. (honesty, knowing him, LIFE. note my comments @ top of this page)

            I have a whole new appreciation for scripture and its purpose, and I’m experiencing a whole new relationship with it. As my relationship with him develops, so has my relationship with scripture; many insights received I have found later in scripture. My previous interpretations had obscured the real insights. The insights always come through hearing, first.

            Like you said, the joy and peace are real, and so are the tears of gratitude.

  9. I can’t say I understand the vision/dream aspect of seeing/hearing Brad’s friend, but the honesty piece resonates as truth. I believe it was Dallas Willard that I heard speak of the three marks of a humble (real) person, namely don’t pretend, don’t presume and don’t push. Not pretending would be synonymous with honesty, but perhaps wisdom might suggest not lying (and I don’t mean the “technically not lying” thing ala Bill Clinton’s I did not have sex with that woman). Don’t presume would cover the dangers of quid pro quo living where we act in a way whereby we create expectations of the other person rather than just love them for the sake of loving them. Don’t push is self explanatory but not easy especially if we think we know/see truth and need to see others change their mind “for their good”.

    I may not understand the forgiveness as discussed – ie. supposed “forgiveness but I don’t want anything to do with them”. As with abortion arguments that try to decipher the issue in the context of an extreme situation like pregnancy as a result of rape, the context of continuing with someone who has beat up his wife as if nothing happened is neither being suggested or the way to understand forgiveness. No one suggests the rape victim marry the rapist. Where someone’s sin causes (and inevitably does) pain of varying levels, the extent of that victimization needs to be taken into account.

    I may have misheard what was said, but to say I forgive you but don’t want to have anything to do with you seems to reflect the kind of forgiveness I saw attempted in religious systems where we are encouraged to forgive because we have to. Again, I get the need to address issues of not allowing the abuse to continue, but it seems that disregarding reconciliation in the “reconciliation is a different/separate issue” paradigm is skewed.

    I have developed my views on forgiveness by focusing on “Forgive as you have been forgiven”. It’s the part after “as” that helps me rather than the “command” that I must forgive. When I came to an end of myself and received the love of God as delivered by and through his grace, I saw for the first time just how rotten my flesh was/is (it may have done me in if I saw it before the experience of his total forgiveness of past, present and future sin). I began to see the truth of the reality of my freedom being tied to my access to being able to forgive by “passing on” the forgiveness that I receive through the finished work of Jesus. I often hear the Lord’s prayer invoked, but I think it is important to take into account that the prayer was suggested before the cross. Lot’s of analysis/preaching on it seems to reflect and old covenant dynamic. In that prayer the dynamic was “forgive us our sins AS we forgive others”. Notice what is after the “as” in opposition to “as we have been forgiven” in the new covenant.

    Please be clear I am speaking of my own beliefs/opinions at this point on my journey developing inside my knowing of God, but I find it non believable that Jesus would ever say “I forgive you but reconciliation is another thing”, or “but I really don’t want anything to do with you”. As relates to human relationships, I think it is important to discuss how continuing a relationship can be done in a healthy and safe way, but to separate forgiveness and reconciliation seems counterintuitive. I think forgiveness that results in freedom must be God’s forgiveness (in that he produces the desire and strength to “channel” (not in the Shirley MacLean kind of way) his forgiveness to others characterized by the way his forgiveness happens in the “AS we have been forgiven”. At the risk of “proof texting my own ideas” I combine my ability to forgive with “for it is God who is at work both to will and to do according to his good pleasure”. I don’t seem to have much to do with the source of true forgiveness other than the response of doing what I want to do as I delight in the Lord and see the desires that he is putting in my heart. This will conflict with the desires of my flesh, and even with my emotions, but the strength the Spirit gives mitigate the difficulties of pursuing what is healthy, healing and freeing both personally and relationally. The transformation in my thinking and acting is clearly sourced in God because I am only too aware how I could never will these changes in my life prior to moving from my faith/beliefs in what and who I thought God was to trusting him inside of the dynamic of life by the Spirit. Fighting, or changing my flesh, and its’ inclinations is impossible, in fact it keeps getting worse as religious system changes are painted with religious paints in order to disguise their origins.

    • I hear what your saying Tom, that forgiving as we have been forgiven should have reconciliation involved…..

      This is my view only, based on my experience, but I think there is no one liner for this. Every situation and everyone is different.

      Forgiveness is on our side, and we can absolutely forgive as we have been forgiven, but reconciliation involves both sides, which is an entirely different kettle of fish!

      What will be most healthy in one situation will be unhealthy in another!

      I have been involved in both types of this scenario since leaving religion, and in one case my forgiveness did involve some reconciliation. In another case we still forgave, but we had to completely sever any form of contact with a close family member. Any contact would have allowed toxic sludge into our family!

      I think also that as we grow in the journey, we are able to offer a deeper level of relationship after forgiveness is needed. One of the fruits of the spirit working in our hearts I guess.

      So it’s one of those topics which may look ‘religious’ but isn’t, and which may look ‘grace filled’ but isn’t, depending on the circumstances.

      That’s what makes this journey with Father so interesting! Every child of his is unique and their relationship with him is unique. I don’t believe there is a common ‘principle’ which covers most of our life with Father and others. Each moment and each person are very different!

      • Thank you David for your clarifying comments. I was referring to the the attempts at forgiveness I see wherein people claim they forgive in response to their need to obey the command to forgive, but it seems clear that they are not freed up in the process.

        The development of friendships and other relationships is clearly a matter of choice that can reflect our preferences. However I was referring to dynamics like shunning or attempts to control the conditions of a relationship while insisting on having that relationship on their terms. One can easily observe this in cultic type environments and unfortunately I observe that dynamic in organized church settings, particularly where people are influenced in there choices by a leader or the conditions set out by a particular theology.

        When I see situations where someone claims they forgive, but seem to continue in a prison whereby the offence appears to continue to “eat them up”, I am left wondering whether that forgiveness was from God or a grit your teeth and bear it because that is the obedience that is required.

        • I agree totally!

          It makes you wonder if there can truly be forgiveness unless it’s in the context of Fathers love. Unless it comes from within and from a place of ‘being forgiven’ ourselves, then maybe what you describe is actually something else!

          If someone is living from ‘obedience’, then it doesn’t seem like they are in a good relational place with Father, and forgiveness can really only operate in a relational setting.

          I don’t like pointing fingers at the religious institutions any more, just want to move on and try to live where I see Father pointing me, but even among Christianity at large, there seems to be an overwhelming emphasis on forgiveness, and hardly any on relationship. I think it makes it all lop sided, and unhealthy. Just like you described!

  10. The truth will set you free…….as I am learning more and more everyday. I so appreciated listening to this again and again…..For a long time I thought I was a little weird because I have been somewhat ridiculed for being myself but now I’m glad that I have been. I felt like I never was involved enough or thought the same as others in my “church” settings, which have been many over the years and thus felt judged. I’ve been a “born-again and again” Christian since I was 16 years old feeling like I just couldn’t live up to the religious standards but have been more of a Christ-follower since I read the book “The Shack”. I want you to know that so many truths and a lot of my wonderings about who God is and how he relates to me, came through reading that book. It has opened up new thought processes and also confirmed so many feelings that God talked to me in so many non-traditional ways and it was okay! Being who you really are is not for sissies but it is so much better. The truth really does set you free. You try and be truthful in words, ideas, and all of life and it does set you free. Now that doesn’t mean I have it all down because the more I walk this journey the less I feel I have conclusive answers and I think that is a good place to be as it helps to keep me humble and realize that God does have the best way for me. I just have to learn to keep trusting in his love, keep in the relationship, and keep learning more and more about him.

    Thanks for sharing your vision/dream/experience, Brad. The “can’t lie if you want to” has been on my since you said it and is very much worth pondering for me. I enjoy the fact that you two are so very honest in your pod casts. I can hear the truth and humility in that you don’t have it all down either but you are not afraid to state that. You live life the way you talk! Thank you and may God continue to give you the truth to set you and all of us listeners free!

  11. I just listened to this podcast for the 2nd time and really enjoyed it. When I think of what heaven will be like the one thing that I most look forward to, far beyond streets of gold and an amazing mansion, is that truth will be the “norm” of the environment. This I understand to be so because all hiding will be done away as we will completely be seen and known for who we truly are. The wonderful outcome is that each of us will never feel the need to live in a world where we find ourselves judging one another’s motives because we will not only see Him as He truly is, we will also see one another that way. There will be no need to live in the CYA or CYB (we in New England clean it up by saying “Bum” instead of “Arse”) world that so often creates far more unnecessary angst than we were ever created to experience. It takes far more energy to constantly be looking over our shoulders than I think we are aware of. To me this is heaven!
    I am growing to experience that taste of heaven here on earth as Father is more and more freeing me from need to perform and as His love continues to break into the broken places of my life, but it’s still far from the wonderful reality that is yet to come. I find this as a wonderful hope or as theologians termed part of our “blessed hope”.

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