Kingdom Principle: Forget your intentions, forgive others intentions! Proclaim your convictions, and be proved by your actions.
|Exodus 24:12-18||Psalm 2||2 Peter 1:16-21||Matthew 17:1-9|
Intentions are said to pave the road to hell, and yet I hear often Christians who believe they are on their way “to” Heaven, saying “that is not what I intended to do, say, or have happen”. There is no doubt when AC/DC is singing “Highway to Hell”, they are not trying to hide their intentions, rather they are proclaiming that their actions and intentions are in alignment. However, there is no highway to hell, but there is a reason that people end up there. Rather, than a highway to hell, I think good intentions lead us to become road kill on the highway to heaven. That is as if there was a secret highway to heaven. (Sorry Michael Landon fans- dating myself) But, if you think you are on your way “to” heaven, this is the road that is marked with good intentions. But as proclaimed many places in this blog, the reality is that heaven is already here. (Matt. 3:1, 4:17, 12:18, 16:19, 29) (The heavens is also a place called where God dwells, however believers need not try to get there, rather the heavens have come to earth. (Hebrews 1:3, 9:11, 24-25) It is no wonder that believers are the people who struggle most with good intentions, for the war wages within them. (James 4:1, 16) This war is fought on the (mis-marked) road to heaven, and Jesus is calling us to have our eyes opened to see that in Him heaven has already come.
This week we celebrate the Transfiguration. This revelation or epiphany is the experience of the disciples (Peter, James, John) to become eyewitnesses of what it means for Heaven to come to earth in a very real sense. And it the midst of this experience we capture Peter’s good intention but mis-guided thought to build shelters (tent/tabernacle) for Moses, Jesus, & Elijah. But first, let us understand the transfiguration; this revelation demonstrated that Heaven had fully come to earth in Jesus. Most say that it is Jesus that was transfigured; I am saying that it was the disciples who experienced the transformation. You may never have heard that before…so let me say that again –Jesus was not Transfigured into something new, this was the transfiguration of the eye-witnesses. Jesus was already fully divine and fully human.(Phil 2:6-11 – plus) So if Jesus were to become more divine – we have a problem… he was already fully divine –you can’t get more. Just like you can’t be on your way to heaven, if heaven is already here. Therefore, the transfiguration was in what the disciples were eye-witnesses too. Hence their eyes were opened in the same way the Elisha prayed for the servant’s eyes to be opened to the Spiritual Realities in 2 Kings 6:17. I am saying that Jesus always shone like the sun, but in this moment the disciple saw what was true in a way that they did not before. Where did Moses & Elijah “go” when Jesus touches the disciples? – no where –they were still right there… but the disciples no longer had their eyes open to see. To understand this from a scientific understanding regarding dimensions and quantum physics – you can watch this video. The last 4 minutes addresses what I am saying here. Basically, it would take years for Peter (Acts 10:9-23, 44-48) to learn the spiritual realities of the true tent in which we dwell, but in learning this, (2 Peter 1:9-15) his eyes were opened all the time. This is the call of the church today, as we saw last week.
But back to intentions:
What was Peter’s intention when he says let’s build houses or tabernacles. First, he missed what Jesus had already said as captured by the Gospel of John, that the Word became flesh to tabernacle amongst us. (John 1:14) They did not need to build tabernacles they already had them. And so did Peter… his good intentions came from a lack of seeing things as they are. Further, his good intentions were an attempt to express a dis-connect between that which his soul was longing for and what the Spirit was calling for… Peter wanted to capture this epiphany/revelation and keep it forever just as it was… We see in Matthew 16 that Peter’s spirit and soul were at war over who Jesus was and how Jesus was going to proclaim this to the world. (Matt. 16: 13-17, 21-23) Peter knew in his spirit that Jesus was the Christ, but Peter was surely not going to stand by (his soul’s conviction) and let Jesus be crucified. Peter was yet to see the Kingdom as the coming of the heavenly rule of Jesus as the King. (Matt. 16:28) We will see Peter continued to fight this battle with the good intentions. His intent was to follow Christ even to the cross, but this good intention led him to deny Jesus three times. (Matt. 26:31-35)
What are we to learn from this interaction and how are to proceed not with intentions but rather with convictions and action that align and are boldly proclaimed.
The problem is that people have a tendency to judge their own actions based on their “good” intentions, but they “rightfully” disregarded others intentions when their actions do not line up. I say “rightfully”, because intentions are confessions of failure, not declarations of good. If you murder someone with no intent to do so, the person is still dead, and you are guilty of man-slaughter. No one gets married with the intention of getting divorced. No one smokes a cigarette with the intention of getting or giving cancer. Everyone thinks the best of their intentions – the intention of marriage is that it will work; the intention for the cigarette is that it will grant peace or at least bring relaxation and ease stress. There are also the intentions that most will call “good” like giving money to a homeless person, but they in turn buy alcohol or the “good” intention of inviting friends over for dinner and someone gets their feelings hurt, or the “good” intention of helping a neighbor and they are offended greatly for unforeseen reason. These are “good” intentions but the result of the action caused turmoil and pain for others. Are we then to say it is the other person’s fault because they did not see my intention… NO – it is your actions that you are accountable for – not your intentions. And while I am not responsible for another person’s reaction to my actions, I am responsible for my actions regardless of my intentions.
Therefore if my actions are causing harm or being misunderstood even if my intentions are “godly” my actions are not good. For this I am to hold myself accountable for, and if another person brings harm to you, but their intention is good, it is not you who must hold them accountable, it is God alone. Our call is to turn the other check, and love in spite of their failure. Their failure is their punishment, they need not our judgment, and they need our forgiveness. However if this person is a believer – it is the call of the church to move in love and to speak truth for the sake of maturity. (Gal. 6:1-10, Eph. 4:14-18) This response will either produce road kill on the road to heaven, or it will bring revelation! If such transfiguration takes place and eyes are opened, the result will be reconciliation leading to revolution in the Kingdom.
1. To struggle with having good intentions is an indicator that heaven is knocking on your heart. (Rev. 3:19-22) For this reason, Good Intentions have been said to pave the “road to hell”, but the road signs will all tell you it’s the road to heaven.(Remember neither are true.) However intentions do indicate that your body, soul and spirit are not in alignment of with the Will of God. (read more on that here)
2. God does not engage our intentions; (notice Jesus did not even engage Peter’s request) further God discloses his motivations which lie behind intentions, so that we are not left to interpret intentions. (Trying to defend, interpret, and judge an intention is like chasing shadows, once you step into the light the shadow goes way, as does the intention.) The believer will do well not to trust their intentions but rather learn to articulate them. In this articulation, you will step in to the realm of responsibility for your actions.
3. When our convictions (spirit driven intentions) and our actions are aligned, our need for the approval of others is removed. (Often we defend our shout comings with “hidden” or “deeper” good intentions as to ensure that others will see our good efforts and accept our actions not based on reality, but rather intentionality.) This effort is done as an act of reconciliation which is based on fear and false identity rather than the forgiveness and love. The true act of reconciliation is done through listening. And this is the charge God gives the disciples in their transfiguration.