Putting Easter into Practice

Today is Good Friday.  Nothing “good” about it in a sense.  It was anything but good for the disciples, and for our Lord.  A dark day of death and apparent victory by the enemy, when all seemed lost.  But it was very, very good as it turns out.  Our Passover Lamb was sacrificed and this time, He was the end of all Passover lambs.  This Lamb was effective – His blood has made us as white as snow.  From our perspective, as we look at that original Good Friday through the lens of Scripture, we see that God was orchestrating the whole thing all along.  Every thorn in the crown, the very seamlessness of Jesus’ tunic, the nearby tomb of the rich man – the whole thing was a drama ordained in eternity past.  The will of the Father was done.

What did the enemy and his minions think that first Easter morning?  Stone rolled away, tomb is empty – with Jesus’ grave clothes laying there in perfect outline as if somehow the body they once enveloped had been suctioned right out from inside them.  I think that is what Peter saw when we are told that he went inside, saw, and believed.  The cross, as it turns out, was a master strategy from the Master.  The greatest surprise attack of all time.  Death was led captive and the enemy POW’s were marched on display.  He is risen.

As Christ’s people, we are raised with Christ.  Joined to Him by the Spirit of Christ, we are members of His body.  His death is our death. His resurrection our resurrection.  New life.  New Creation.  New mind.  New heart.  And a new destiny.  Paul wrote about it to the Colossians –

Colossians 3:1-7, If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (3) For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (4) When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (5) Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (6) On account of these the wrath of God is coming. (7) In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.

This blog is about the evil of abuse and the wickedness it effects upon its victims.  It is a cry for the evangelical church to wake up and repent of the injustice so often dealt to abuse victims who are sisters and brothers in Christ. But we hope that it is more than that.  We hope and pray that in the end, all that we do and write here is about the Lord Jesus Christ.   If we fail to point our readers to Him, then we fail.  Christ is everything, our all in all.  He is the answer to all of our woes, the Redeemer of all of our sins, the Judge of our oppressors.  He is our life, and our real existence and home is up there, with Him.

So, as much as we call right now for justice, we also must call all of our readers to set their eyes and their ultimate hope upon Christ Jesus.  Up there.  That’s where He is.  And he is coming, just as surely as He rose from the grave.  He is coming for us.  When He appears, what we really are will also appear.  “You will appear with him in glory” doesn’t so much mean that we will be in heaven (glory), but that we will be fully redeemed, glorified, having come into full possession of all that He has won for us.  The New Creation.  New, eternal bodies.  New.  Everything will be New.

For now, we are working on living as the New Creations that we are in Him. We once walked as earthlings.  Now we are aliens, and our Lord is working in us to teach us to live like the alien beings we really are.  Live out the resurrection.  Live like you are home already.  Because in fact, you are – for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ.

 

Abuse and the Wilderness Family Adventure

Colossians 2:20-23 ESV If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations– (21) “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (22) (referring to things that all perish as they are used)–according to human precepts and teachings? (23) These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

It doesn’t work. The wilderness family adventure is not an answer to our troubles. My first church was in the mountains of Montana, 70 miles from a store of any significance. I loved that place. Spectacular mountains, streams, fishing and hunting like you can’t believe. Firewood and woodstoves. The first snows in November. Saddle up your horse in the yard and ride out into the woods. I loved it and I miss it. We lived there for 8 years.

But the church there was hell. Constant infighting. Mostly unsaved people who got very low marks in “plays well with others.” Abuse? Ha! In those little picturesque cabins in the woods, you wouldn’t want to know what went on in many of them. That church persists to this day. I hope that genuine Christians rule there now. I hope.

People moved there, including many professing Christians, to pursue the wilderness family adventure. They built their own log houses and soon ran out of the money they had when they came. Jobs were scarce. Many of them home-schooled. And they tried. How they tried to follow “the plan.” Keep the kids protected from the world. No TV, today it might be no internet. Modesty, modesty, modesty. No “worldly” music. And numbers of them had their rule books all printed out and categorized by men like Bill Gothard. The wife was to submit, which meant keep quiet and obey.

And you had to tread very carefully around them lest you violate one of their rules. I once took a group of young people to a skating rink on an outing and caught it from one of the dads when they ratted me out and told him that there was secular music playing at the skating rink. His two boys did not turn out well, by the way. Not well at all.

Let me caution all of you that when the Word of God says that these programs and rules that men create which are supposedly going to lead us into a higher plane of holiness do not work, it means exactly that. If anyone truly wants to live in the mountains and have a large family and home school because they truly want to and love it, go for it! But if this lifestyle is one that is dictated by some kind of list that someone has come up with and equated with godliness, beware. Beware! Here is the pattern I am seeing from stories told to me over and over again by abuse victims/survivors:

  1. Move to an isolated place
  2. Return to a pioneer lifestyle in food, clothing, reading material, etc.
  3. The husband/father is the patriarch who decides. Wife/mother and children submit.
  4. Home school using very, very conservative materials.
  5. Train up the boys to be men/leader/warriors and the girls to be maidens/mothers/wives/submitters.
  6. Find the rule book for these things that some person has written (preferably a guy with a long beard or a woman who stands behind her guy with the long beard), and follow it.
  7. Have a very large family.
  8. Have a home church.

Now I know there is a ton of potential here in what I have said to be misunderstood. Boys for example SHOULD be raised up to be men and fulfill manly roles. The same for girls (only womanly roles). Our current public schools often SHOULD be shunned by Christians. There is nothing inherently wrong with having lots of children. Ok? Understand?

But what I am saying is that I regularly have abuse victims tell me that in this kind of lifestyle/philosophy/pattern, they ended up being very, very damaged. That the children grew up and still bear some of the damage done to them. Damaged by what? Legalism. By the religion of the Pharisees. They have not come to know the freedom every Christian has in Jesus Christ. They see themselves as rotten sinners deserving of hell, even though Jesus has redeemed them. They see virtually everything as a crucial, moral issue — right or wrong. Usually wrong! And they are shamed.

What a load! What a burden to put on ourselves and our families. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work.

Galatians 3:9-14 ESV So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (10) For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” (11) Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” (12) But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” (13) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”– (14) so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.