Kingdom Principle: Everything is made twice… a spiritual reality calls forth a physical expression.
However, a physical reality cannot be understood spiritually without discernment.
Many have heard of the phrase “Begin with the End in Mind”. Stephen Covey uses it to teach people to make more effective decisions in their life and leadership – what he guides us to do is to recognize that every reality or image is first created as a mental picture prior to the physical reality being created. Therefore – you are to picture what you want as the end outcome, before you begin to go off looking to make it happen… Biblically the pattern is the same concept the spiritual precedes the physical. The clearest example of this is with regard to the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle of Israel was a physical replication (shadow) of that which has a spiritual reality in heaven. (Hebrews 9, vs 24 ) Jesus himself is a physical reality of the spiritual presence of God. (Hebrews 1:3)There are other examples such as the marriage of Hosea to Gomer, a physical marriage to represent the spiritual adultery of Israel and the many diverse actions of the Prophets. My favorite example of this is found in 2 Kings 6:8-23 when Elisha asks the Lord to open the eyes of his servant to see the Angel Armies that are spiritual present to fight for them. (vs. 17) This holds true in the New Testament as well, some examples are the “dove” that descends upon Jesus as his baptism, the healings of Jesus where spiritual healing precedes physical healing, the transfiguration itself, the tearing of the temple curtain and the destruction of the temple, not to mention this is why Jesus’ parables are so powerful, they lead the hearer to discover the spiritual truth hidden within a physical story. Jesus clearly establishes the principle for the church in Matthew 16:19 showing the inter-relatedness of that which is in heaven and on earth.
In our texts this week we see this reality being expressed both in the spiritual and in the physical as well as for the positive and a negative reality. 2 Samuel shows how the physical anointing of David by the elders was preceded by the spiritual anointing of David by God. God is with David prior to his physical and political power increasing, yet the base of this reality is the spiritual power being made manifest in the physical realm. The Psalm demonstrates the “city of God” as a mighty fortress, this is both a physical reality and a spiritual metaphor. In 2 Corinthians Paul is demonstrating that merely judging a physical reality can cause us to be misinformed with regard to the spiritual truth that exists. Paul seeks to proclaim that his weakness (a physical reality) becomes a tool for the spiritual reality to shine forth. One might conclude that because Paul has weakness, then the spiritual reality is that Paul is spiritual weak, but we know this not to be so… In this one must be able to discern the spiritual reality first, before drawing conclusion based on the physical expression. Paul quickly shares that his physical weakness is a gift to show God’s spiritual power following through him, lest others mistake the power as belonging to Paul. Therefore the spiritual reality is not a lack of power, rather a willingness on Paul’s part to submit his body and soul to the Lord. This spiritual reality manifests through Paul’s difficulties so that light can shine through brokenness.
Jesus was not immune or above the reality of this Kingdom principle. When he was in his hometown the spiritual reality was an absence of faith. This spiritual reality directly impacted and manifested through a lack of physical healings to be done in this town. Contrast this with last week’s Scriptures in Mark where the woman was healed simply by touching Jesus. But also take note that when Jesus raised the girl from the “dead” he limited who was allowed in the room. Could it be that Jesus was protecting/ensuring the level of faith so that the spiritual reality might precede the physical reality? Further sending the disciples out to do healings, Jesus is calling them trust in the spiritual provision they have already received, not looking for a physical confirmation.
It is an ignorant argument to expect the physical reality to prescribe the spiritual. It is the spiritual reality that gives meaning to the physical. This gets messy when we consider what Soren Kierkegaard says, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” So putting this together we do not have the privilege to stop living our life to figure out everything behind us, and at the same time to truly understand life, we are going to have to look backward. This looking backward is to search for meaning –specifically spiritual truth. What this means is that simply because a city is a mighty fortress, we cannot conclude God is the center of that city. However if God is with a city, we can discern that God’s unfailing love will not abandon them and is right hand with up hold them. In this same way God promised to never leave David’s line would be enthroned forever (2 Sam. 7:12-16, Psalm 132:11) This spiritual reality was passed from generation to generation delivering Jesus to be the King of the Kingdom of Heavens even through the line which had including Tamar (incest), Rahab (a prostitute) and Ruth (Moabite – a rejected people) and now Bathsheba.
Let us seek to embrace and express the spiritual depth of our lives in our physical surroundings. Remember you must discern the spiritual first, rather allowing the physical to dictate. It is of great concern of mine that much of our culture as moved away from the need of spiritual discernment to know the truth and test the truth. The movement away from testing the spirit has no doubt affected our ability to know what it means that God is love… notice how the two are related in 1 John 4.
I have buried within my weekly blog a few thoughts on same-sex marriage and our current US context. I am attempting to live out Proverbs 26:4-5 as well as applying the hidden spiritual reality with a physical reality. (Proverbs 25:2) I will most like provoke more questions than provide answers here, but I am willing to continue the dialogue are you?
It is an overwhelming physical reality (truth) that:
- People are born with same-sex orientation.
- Same-sex marriage is a stance of equality.
You can disagree and/or agree these physical realities, but as you are doing so – you are most likely reading a spiritual truth into it. I believe that my acceptance/affirmation of the above statements will cause some to question my Biblical convictions, and I simply ask them to join me on a journey of discovering spiritual convictions which run deeper even than that of biblical interpretations. The church/Christians who disagree with the above physical truths are clearly failing to build bridges or winning arguments which will allow for any discussion or relationship to continue. This is a reality that separates the “conservative church” from Jesus, in that Jesus had a way to be with “sinners” and “Pharisees” that kept the conversation moving forward. Each side is holding securely onto a very different reality. The “open and affirming” church community is interpreting physical events as a current reality which is leading to a spiritual truth. The other is holding a spiritual truth and therefore denying the physical truth. (the “conservative church”/ homosexuality is sin view point) It is for this reason the conservative church is appearing bigoted and judgmental – they are denying that which is plain to the physical eye as real and true. (If you disagree with the two statement above – you are not looking at the reality of real people and our current social context objectively.) Looking back at the example of Elisha seeing the Spiritual reality of the angel armies, this lead him to have peace, the servant however did not have this peace and joy until he saw the spiritual reality. Now – look at it differently. There is a physical army advancing against Elisha but if instead of finding peace in the spiritual army and pointing out to the servant – imagine if he simple denies that there is a physical threat and tells the servant, “pay no attention to the physical reality that there is army here to kill you. I this not only does Elisha look like the fool living in denial, and he does not help the one who is looking to him for guidance rendering him foolish. This is at the crux of the problem the conservative church is facing today. They are denying a physical reality (looking like a fool), and they are unable to unveil deeper spiritual realties, limiting their unable to open the eyes of those who do not see the spiritually (foolish). I am cannot stay silent amongst this current reality.
Again, I do see the two statements above as true. People are being born with a same-sex orientation, yet the spiritual reality behind this truth is that homosexuality is a deeply rooted spiritual entity that is passed from generation to generation. As this spiritual reality is embraced and validated by the individual will of a person, it is made stronger. Where it is rejected it must be managed, where it is redeemed there alone is true freedom. Therefore I hold the position that we (the US and the world) have entered a tipping point – a new reality is now upon us where the will of the people or at least SCOTUS is to embrace this physical reality. First let me say – I do not believe that God is cursing homosexuals, nor are we to blame parents or anyone for that matter. God is not evil, and humanity are not victims. However, I do see a nation that is filled with greed & arrogance, and willfully choose to consume without regard to the poor and needy. (Ezk. 16:49) I confess I am a product of this nation and still recovering through repentance. The lack of faith and (re)turning to God for deliverance in our nation the root of sin has become the source of many symptoms. This is our spiritual reality. I do not hold that you simply must “pray the gay away”. Rather what I am seeking is for God’s children to live a life that is redeemed, where all spiritual roots (including homosexuality) are de-throned and dis-empowered. This clears the way for your “identity” to be found in Christ alone. In the same way that heterosexuals must see their flesh (sin nature) crucified/redeemed – the old must go and the new must come. This is Repentance to enter the Kingdom.
With regard to a stance of Equality. Frankly I amazed that this is what the homosexual community is fighting for…. The heterosexual community has not done well at holding it up as a valuable institution. I see this as well rooted in the spiritual realm as a lack of identity and faith. This reality is that which was found by Jesus in his hometown – where miracles did not happen. The institution of (heterosexual) marriage needs a miracle, but it is nowhere on the horizon… This is not good news. We in the US have entered a serious zone of lack of faith. In exchange of faith, legalism and universalism are on the rise. For legalism the cry is to be more strict on all the other sins and write statement to protect ourselves, and universalism makes faith easy for it does not matter what or who you believe in or what you do – God is always Love. Neither of these are faith as Jesus invited us into the Kingdom following the children.
So how do I go forward: I believe this applies to all believers regardless of their understanding of same-sex orientation and marriage.
- I confess my sin to God – Resting in His Word.
- I release my anxiety to God – Confessing Jesus is my Lord.
- I command darkness away – Being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Finally, I make my best effort 2LAF more of the time.
Are you looking for more clarity…. here is where I am at:
The battle is won on our knees…
The spiritual truth is that our battle is not against flesh and blood and that spiritual realities are passed on through generational lines. “Blaming” does us no good. (Gen 3 & John 9 demonstrate that) Let me be clear the battle is not against same-sex relationships or persons of same-sex orientation. Spiritually, sin was overcome at the cross, but we remain under the curse of this world. This is why there is a call for repentance to enter the Kingdom – we all must change (repent) our ways from the pattern of the world and align ourselves with the Kingdom of God. There are long lists of sins we are not to engage, I have read both side viewpoints – the answer is not legalism and nor cheap grace. It is truly being yoked with Jesus… (Matt 11:28-29) We don’t need to march on Washington to change the current physical realities, (Jesus did not ask Rome to reconsider) we need to bow to our knees and cry out for we all have wicked ways. This is not a judgement to require of others, but rather a conviction that must rise up in every follower of Jesus. (2 Chron. 7:14)
Don’t judge, or you too will be judged….
For those who are arguing the hardest against the SCOTUS decision far too many are not proclaiming a spiritual reality, they are reacting to a physical reality, and repulsed by the physical acts of same-sex. (This demonstrates the spiritual root of self-righteousness and fear from redemption is possible as well) Even the call to “a biblical definition of marriage and sin” is based on physical experiences. As I cautioned earlier in this post – a physical reality does not directly indicate a spiritual reality. (Not all physically healthy people are spiritually healthy)
Therefore the physical reality of same-sex marriage does not necessarily follow that God designed anyone this way, nor does it declare that as long as it is “love” that God is on your side. In the image of God, humanity is designed (male and female) to be like God in righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24) The physical reality of maleness or femaleness is of no issue to God. (Gal. 3:26-28) It is righteousness and holiness as a spiritual reality which is the only criteria and it alone is found with Identity in Christ. Then and only then can we say God made me this way… prior to this we are a product of the flesh and this world. The fruit of this righteousness and holiness is peace and joy. Therefore – those who are made in His image carry with them true peace and true joy.
Sin is not the issue… Identity is…
Those churches/Christians (in general) which hold an “open and affirming” position see the spiritual reality as progressive in that the church of previous generations were misguided in their views and interpretations of Scripture. I hold that this new spiritual reality has been arrived at is based on the physical realities of “loved ones” demonstrating Christ-like acts and science (medical & psychology) indicating that same-sex attraction is normal rather than a “disorder or disease.” (This took place in 1973/75) From this reality, a new stance on Identity was formed – this is when the title “Gay Christian” was used to proclaim a new freedom. Identity is established in the actions of Christ, and sin no longer has the power to remove this spiritual truth.
Spiritually sin was taken care of on the cross – yet we remain in a physically reality that we fight temptation and sin daily. This battle (see above is not something to be embarrassed about, rather it the means by which we demonstrate power and authority over the darkness. Freedom comes not from controlling one’s sin, (I understand that those who support same-sex marriage do not view this as a sin issue) but rather being released from one’s prison. The prison I speak of is not homosexuality – it is any identity that is based on anything other than Jesus Christ. This is the stance that all sins are equal but the focus here is not to level the playing field, rather to elevate the hope for brokenness to no longer be viewed as weakness, but rather as strength.
Let me demonstrate how this works with a different “issue” – that in my opinion will soon move from “disorder” to “normal”
The number of Autistic persons continues to rise exponentially. Because it is not a “sin” in the eyes of anyone as far as I am aware to be autistic – there is no expectation for an autistic person to be healed for them to fully participate in the life of the church. Yet, I would say that some aspects of the life of the church are not fully “open” or available to an individual who suffers greatly under the limitations of autism. (I am not equating the two – just showing how the church can accept a person born a way that remains “a disorder” – based on a definition that autism is a disorder. Do people with Autism need to be healed – wrong question…. Is there healing and deliverance to be found from the limitations of the disorder. I believe that in Jesus healing is always found. Does that make me judgmental – if so I am trying to stand with Jesus – John 9:39,, being blind is not a sin – but healing takes place there as well, we all need healing and transformation. Bu that is not to arrive at heterosexual, or non-autistic, rather that is to have our identities redefined by Jesus. Again I see a spiritual reality behind this disorder of autism, (for me it is the spirit of control) My point is that for someone to be healed from autism would be a great deliverance and that it has nothing to do with their sin or their choice. But we all have choices with regard to how we approach our identity – one can choose to say I am first autistic, then add other labels – even such as Christian, or one can find their identity to be defined and rooted only in Jesus.
Finally – Choose the humble path –Jesus did provide all the answers…
I don’t have this all this worked out and my answers are still very difficult to articulate. I find comfort in that of the words of Jesus do not solve all my questions. The “Be-Attitudes and sermon on the mount” resolve this reality for me. You are the light of the world – and so is Jesus – which was my last point – find your peace with your identity being found only in Jesus. “Lust is Adultery”, “Love enemies”, “Give to the Needy”, “Pray & Forgive” “Don’t Worry or Judge” Put the words of Christ into practice….
I can humbly and honestly say that I may be holding the weaker position (Romans 14) and ask that you give me the space to work out my spiritual convictions. But where I am today – these are my spiritual convictions. I cannot and will not argue that your faith is weak or false, and I do know that anything that does not flow from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23) Therefore to those within the “open and affirming church” I see you faith and this encourages me to know that “WE” together shall find a way to overcome. We must seek spiritual healing and transformation, moving with confidence and conviction based on spiritual discernment and revelation. There is always more to come.