About the art of being involved with God without falling off the horse: Children of God.
"For our knowledge is fragmentary, and our prophetic speech is fragmentary. 10 But when that which is perfect shall come, then shall that which is in part cease. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, and thought as a child, and was wise as a child; but when I became a man, I put away that which was childish. 12 Now we see through a mirror in a dark image; but then face to face. Now I know in bits and pieces; but then I shall know even as I am known. 13 But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but love is the greatest of these." (1 Corinthians 13:11 ff)
"And when Jesus had called for a child, he set him in the midst of them, 3 saying, Verily I say unto you, Except ye repent and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, if anyone will humble himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven; 5 and if anyone will receive one such child in my name, he receives me. 6 But if anyone brings down one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for him that a millstone were hung around his neck and that he were sunk into the depth of the sea." (Mt 18:2 ff)
But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom my Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and remind you of all that I have said to you. (Jn 14:26)
My dear friends,
I have a bright, confident, and downright smart son. Yes, he is a gem of a son, we love him very much.
Right now he is nine years old, an age when the first signs of the teenage years (coming far too quickly) begin to appear: We are no longer allowed in the bathroom when he showers. When his friends are around, his beloved mom is only there to refill the candy bowl. The answers about how it was at school become scarcer-"yeah, it's all good," "oh, they're all dumb." He's getting cooler, more detached, not as clingy and cuddly as he was. I watch his growth with amazement, with pride too, and a little melancholy.
In the evenings, however, when the shadows grow long, he needs me. It is out of the question that we slowly end the ritual that we have cultivated for many years: although he has long been able to read for himself, either Dad or I read aloud - Asterix with Dad, Five Friends with Mom. We pray together, ask Jesus to protect the night, the dreams and our whole being, and only then, after plenty of cuddling and closeness, is he ready to enter the uncertain time of sleep.
When he is sick, he needs my closeness, my hand, my care. Suddenly the big, cool, strong boy becomes a little boy who seeks my closeness. When conflicts arise at school, with other kids, with violence or assault, he seeks shelter with us, tells us how he feels. And we do the best we can to either equip him so that he can handle it himself or, if necessary, intervene when there is actual injustice.
His thirst for knowledge is endless. He wants to know more and more, to understand, to comprehend the world around him. For this, too, he needs his father in particular, who explains to him how chemistry works, how the universe is structured, who talks to him about biological relationships and explains to him how to hold a carving knife so that he doesn't saw off his finger. He asks a lot of questions, and we take time to answer.
Sometimes he surprises us. Yesterday, at dinner, he said, "You know, Mom, I do believe God is writing a story and we are part of it. So He knows everything we do, too." When I said that I understood it that way too, he was amazed and said, "Then you know for sure that I am your son." No, my son. Then one knows for sure that you hear Jesus' voice- with your nine years.
It is wonderful to see that this little guy is already thinking about Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit in ways that some adults never think of.
For some reason that really escapes me, every Christian strives to be an adult. Rational, independent and self-responsible. I always wonder then if Paul's statement in Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, and thought as a child, and was wise as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things," has supplanted, overlaid, nihilated the statement of Jesus who said, "Truly I say to you: Unless you repent and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Mt 18:3).
I believe that Paul, who once thought he knew it all, wrote 1 Corinthians 13 deeply thoughtful and pondering. He, who once persecuted Christians, in full authority, without any childlike confidence, without "childlike cleverness", relying fully on his insight, realizes that everything we know is piecemeal. He knows that he is fully known by God: seen, understood, naked and bare before Him, while he can only see all the glory of God "as through a mirror in the darkness." One day, he says, we will know. Until then, faith, love and hope remain. He knows that we can never grasp the full complexity of God's plan, not even the full complexity of Jesus' being; we can only speculate. Trusting His voice, what He reveals before we see Him and it all adds up to a whole picture that will blow us away. Maybe we'll laugh. Liberated because everything finally makes sense, because His sovereignty and serenity, born of omnipotence, is evident in a mischievous smile. When we realize that all our fear, all our sorrow, all our doubts were simply unfounded in the face of this loving, glorious King and God.
Paul takes a huge step back from claiming to have understood everything- and acknowledges that the One who holds and is all wisdom is simply not comprehensible to us from our limited perspective.
Children feel the same way.
Children ask their parents why things are the way they are, and trust that they have the puzzle pieces to what they are missing. Children seek protection and trust, indeed insist, that we provide it. Children seek closeness and comfort when they are sick, they need to be cared for. Often, however, in the claim of independence, this precious trust is lost. They try to manage on their own, and where the capacities, the abilities run out, because they do not grasp the overall context, everything ends in a single chaos. They lack insight, overview, experience. If only they had asked us, we think with a sigh, while we sweep up the pieces.
You know, that's how I see our community landscape, too.
Everyone is trying to explain themselves, cool, detached, claiming the only truth, while our King is so great that all the arguing is totally unnecessary.
Instead of asking him for his wisdom and waiting for his answer, we try to help ourselves to him, to choose our own ways instead of his: so many different teachings, and each claiming to be the one way of salvation. So many churches, so much theology and scriptural teaching on the one hand - so much feeling and urge to experience and experiment on the other.
I believe in revival. I believe in it, I also experience that the Holy Spirit is real. But maybe we need to have the book read to us again in the evening. Because the Holy Spirit knows the right mood, emphasis, context. Because he was there, after all, with Paul. Because he was there with Peter, Isaiah, Moses, David. He can explain to us how it was meant, how it really was. He can explain to us why we don't experience the spiritual gifts as Paul did. He can blow away the dust of centuries and make the Bible come alive. He can, and he will. But do we ask him? Beyond a religiously bland phrase?
To hear him, we must stop "thinking like adults and dismissing the childish." Otherwise, we will not see the Kingdom of Heaven. "Daddy, how is this meant? Daddy, will you show me how to do it? Daddy, can you handle this for us?" Trusting. Admitting that we don't know everything. That we need protection. Provision, guidance, wisdom. Because no father gives unsolicited advice. No father is overbearing, but he is pleased when we come to him to learn from his wisdom.
What is going wrong in the revival movement?
Oh, it is self-claim, nothing more, that opens the door to false spirits. The most glaring thing that distinguishes the experience of the Holy Spirit from magic is the line of sight: the Holy Spirit, he teaches when we ask him. When we respect him as a teacher. But he does not let us look at his cards nor command him. It is magic that works from "below upwards", that strives for "above": For power, control. For command and self-exaltation, godlikeness. After heavens and other spheres, after manipulation and after bringing oneself into states of consciousness that make the "spiritual world" perceptible - through hypnosis, trance, meditation. Man forces phenomena and opens himself. And the spirits he called, well, he can't get rid of them until he cries out to the King. "Jesus, help me!" Christ-likeness, on the other hand: Well, Jesus became man. He served. He humbled himself. He renounced the self-use of his omnipotence to become like us, he only healed others, not himself. He gave his life, he stood ready to be addressed, he was humble through and through, not domineering. He chose simplicity, not wealth. He chose friendship, not honor. He chose not the mansion, but the stable and the places where he was offered to stay. He who created all things, the Word from whom all things are created, chose possessiveness.
Christ-likeness...is not God-likeness in the sense of claiming power and self-exaltation.
The Holy Spirit, God, Jesus: this is a movement from "top to bottom": God becomes man. God gives vision. God chooses. God leads. God touches the innermost. God blesses. God heals. God speaks into our world, not we into his. His will be done, through us, not as we determine.
Paul says he visited heaven, didn't he? It was a given vision, not a permanent meditating Paul who visualized and opened himself to worlds he did not comprehend. Jesus will come again, to us, choosing the same path again, on this earth with us. So why should we travel to him before time? And then where do we end up?
Who do we meet there?
Don't we have the mission to win as many as possible for him? Here? Don't we have enough to do with his statement that we should do what he tells us? Not what we want? His mission: to be light of the world, love, hope and faith, and precious salt of the earth, truth, clarity and spice....
Dear ones, I see the fire burning in the churches- but no one ever said we should be fire. No fireballs, no flame throwers, no fire arrows. Because fire- destructive fire- is Satan's weapon. The purifying fire of God is the affliction that burns away all dross, frees from all sin, from all wrong ways. For love does not tolerate darkness. For life fends off death. For Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross defeated Satan.
Daddy. Abba, dear father.
If you do not become like the children....
May we learn to love God again. Learn to respect. Bow down before what he has created. Trustingly ask for his advice. Follow his call when it comes. And trust him not to hold us as slaves, but to love us as sons and daughters.
And in return for giving and granting so much- we should accept when he says:
"But this drawer do not open, it is dangerous."
New Era is the second term to New Age. But the New Age is the age of Jesus' return. It is the new world, the new creation. There is no New Era, friends, no New Age on this earth. Jesus is with us until the end of this age. Till the end of this age. And then- he will come again.
I can understand why we all want to be there. But neither can we hasten, build, or rule the Kingdom. We can wait for it and trust that it will come. That it in fact will come. May our King, Friend and Lord meet us then with open hearts and childlike wisdom.
With thoughtful greetings, lots of love and the wish that you will not be confused. You know...I have opened the drawer before. It looked great what was lying there. And then it revealed its darkness - like ecstasy pills, like heroin, like everything that looks so tempting and in the end only wants to bind us. Leave the ring of power when it is offered to you. It is meant to "find them all, drive them into darkness, and bind them forever in the land of Mordor, where the shadows threaten" (J.R.R. Tolkien). And also this ring...at first looked inconspicuous, beautiful and somehow fascinating.