Back in February of 2000, I experienced a paradigm shift.
We have certainly entered a new season In The Lord, The charismatic renewal has passed away terminating in the Vineyard “church,” and the Kansas City Prophets. There have been left over pockets of “charismania,” but not a great deal of Spirit energized power and manifestation. Now there are signs all over the world that The Lord is beginning to visit His people once more, though it is not yet so clear, the direction that The Spirit is taking.
In my case, after four months of a broken heart. I don’t think I ever want to be without one again.
In October of 1999, my friend and older brother in The Lord, Nate Krupp, asked me to clean up three or four manuscripts which I had been working on for about 15 years. He said “it’s time,” and he wanted to get them published as soon as possible. Nate has now gone into publishing. His wife Joanne has finally published her book on women, which contains so much truth that she has not been able to find anyone who would publish it for over 8 years. The book is called “WOMAN, GOD’S PLAN, NOT MAN’S TRADITION.”
My three manuscripts deal with; “THE CHURCH AS A NEW CREATION”; “THE AUTHORITY CRISES”; and “CIRCUMCISION THE BATTLE OF BELONGING.” Nate asked that I try to combine them. It hasn’t been so easy, and now may be impossible. In February 2000, I sent the following letter to Nate:
I wanted to write and tell you about an interesting revelation that is only now working its way through my life and understanding. It has to do with the use of Scriptures in sharing the gospel.
In recent weeks, I have been assaulted by truth on a number of fronts at the same time, but it was only day before yesterday, and yesterday that I began to see something, maybe, feel something, would be more accurate.
I was working on a new chapter for the book. Teri, (the editor) seemed to agree that the book should be kept more focused, and indicated that perhaps my initial impressions were correct, that it was three separate manuscripts, which, in fact it has been until now. So I was going to replace the three chapters dealing with the circumcision issue, (I think that they would constitute about 90 pages in print all by themselves. If they were by themselves, a fair amount would probably have to added to them in order to make the application more substantial) replace those three chapters with a new chapter, which I was increasingly feeling was a necessary addition to the relationships manuscript, the “New Creation” manuscript. I felt there was a real need for personal testimony. So I began working on a chapter, tentatively titled “GETTING PERSONAL, CHAPTER 17, a new last chapter.
In this chapter my intention was and is to be as transparent and vulnerable as possible. I was determined to let it all hang out, I say, “determined,” because the thought of being that vulnerable was very frightening, the fear was, and is, the fear of rejection.
Last Sunday, as Don and Sue Hurley, Carleen and I took a walk together in our woods. Don shared with me an insight that The Lord had given him on the parable of the talents:
Looking at the one talent slave, in context, we must understand that the application to the Kingdom of God has little or nothing to do with financial investment, stock market investment, putting money in a bank, or even burying it in the ground. However, The Lord is speaking about “high risk” investment as contrasted with the relative safety of money in the bank. Don’s insight into this had to do with the nature of the investment.
In the Kingdom of God, the investment is in relationships. Jesus is the investor, He staked everything on relationship first of all, His relationship with His Father, and, with His Father as His backer, He invested everything in us who believe. He is after relationships, lots of them. Jesus’ Father is looking for fellowship. When the Greeks wanted to meet Jesus, He went away and left the job to us.
By His death, He made a deposit in us, and The Holy Spirit continues to bring us even more of Him. Jesus is looking for a return on that investment. Jesus knows what it is to risk rejection, and be rejected, Isaiah 53:3. He expects us to take the same risk, and invest ourselves in others.
For the slave who had very little experience of The Lord, there were two problems, one a problem of perception Matthew 25:24, and the other, a very real fear. Matthew 25:25
If we have no sense that The Lord has sown anything of substance into our lives, if we know little or nothing of Him, we have a very false impression. We don’t see ourselves as having enough to take a chance on reaching out to others. The downside risk is that of rejection, rejection now, and rejection on the day when we must all give account.
The Lord has promised us in this present age, “one hundred times as much as what we are willing to invest, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers, (Luke, parents) and children…” Mark 10:29, 30
As I was working on the chapter, I had an increasing sense that I was violating my original intention, which was to be transparent and vulnerable. Then I realized that I was increasingly using the Scriptures to support what I was sharing, and the reason I was doing this was so that I could hide behind the Scriptures. I was hiding behind the Scriptures because of the fear of rejection. Jesus was despised and rejected. I don’t want to be despised and rejected. I want to be esteemed and accepted. Talk about “Who do you think you are?”
Yesterday, Tim (my son) and I were talking, and I found myself wondering about Jesus’ style of ministry, wondering if He had used the Scriptures as I was using them. I have not had the opportunity to make a thorough investigation, but it is now my impression that this is not at all the way Jesus ministered.
In his skirmish with the Devil, he used the Scriptures to defend himself, but that was war. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. In the Beatitudes, He repeatedly said, “It is written…” but then went on to say, “But I tell you….” When
confronted by the Pharisees, He quoted Scripture, but again that was war. The Scriptures are a weapon, our only offensive weapon. We only need weapons when we are at war. When we are at peace, we can be vulnerable. If I am making love with the lost or the young, I don’t have to come at them with all guns blazing. Make no mistake. I think you know well enough that I am armed and dangerous. But that is not the way I want to come across. For years I have joked about wearing pink to leaders meetings to keep them from being too threatened. I don’t want to be seen as a threat, but as a lover.
Jesus may have “only said the things His father said,” but it did not come out of Him in the form of Bible verses. We use the phrase, “What I am saying is…” and we go on to say what we have already said, but in different words. This, I believe is who Jesus was, He was what the Father was saying, but in different words. If challenged, He could use the Scripture to explain Himself well enough, but He did not come to us as Scripture, He came to us as life and love, and asks us to go to others the same way.
He invites us to go to the nations. How are the nations? The nations are raging. The people plot in vain, the rulers of the earth take counsel together against The Lord, and against us. Unless I have misunderstood Him, I think he invites us into His vulnerability. He invites us into the same possibility of betrayal that He suffered. He invites us to be crucified. How else could it be, to be “sheep among wolves”?
Those who are being saved will respond to, and be drawn by our transparency. Most will not, but that’s our Father’s problem, not ours. He is not troubled about it, he laughs. If only we too could go forth in tears, that we might enter into His laughter. If only we too could be like Him in His death, that we too might attain to the resurrection of the dead.
More and more in recent months, I have found myself saying what The Father is saying, but in different words, and without conscious effort. It’s awesome, and it’s terrifying all at once. A person could get hurt doing this sort of thing.
It is at the point of relationship that this becomes particularly problematic. Jesus said of those that the Father had given Him, that He “kept,” John 17:12, them while He was in the world. That’s my father’s heart, His heart and my heart. My heart is increasingly broken as I think of inviting others into this same vulnerability. It is one thing to have faith that He can save and protect me, It is a bit more of a stretch to have faith that He will save and protect those who he has made mine from the fallout of my humiliation.
As I recently wrote my friend Philip:
“Philip, my own children are still damaged by the rejection I have experienced, and we as a family have experienced, from the “church” back in Connecticut. As you know, when the church meets in your home the transparency and vulnerability are greatly increased, When people who were like older brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, even second parents walked away, because of pressure coming from the institutionalized leaders and saints around us, they just could not understand, and are gun shy to this day. I do take some comfort, however, in knowing that no one is going to sell them any snake oil in the name of The Lord.
But, it was not just my flesh and blood children it was my spiritual children as well. At this point, just about all of them have come back in the Spirit, but in between then and now, there were many years of alienation and estrangement. In the present exchange with John, a local “pastor,” I am looking down the same gun barrel once again. It breaks my heart to see my children hurt so. For this reason, I ‘make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,.. and as for my part, to be at peace with all men.’
Nate, perhaps that is enough to give you some sense of what I am feeling at this point. I am wrestling with going back over what I have written, and getting rid of most, if not all the references and footnotes. The problem is, that the religious will see the passion and the intimacy that I have experienced, and into which I am inviting others, that the religious will see this as illegal. That’s what happened to Jesus. When the leadership got in His face about it, He nuked them with the Scripture. At least, tonight, that is the way it looks to me.
I value your impressions and advice as a seasoned warrior.
Yours in Christ,