I read a list of 16 things this morning that a man by the name of Jim Palmer wrote. I picked out the ones that resonated with me, the one's I have experienced in my own life. I know for a fact that by following these prescribed ideals, I was destroying a truly open and free relationship with Jesus and real relationships with others in the world. Points are from Jim, thoughts in italics are from me.
- Begin with the premise that there is something hopelessly and incurably wrong with you.
Not only begin, but live your whole life under this premise. That you are somehow screwed up beyond repair and that God made a mistake when He created you. This inward view will dictate every action and decision in your life. It's not until you truly realize that Father loves you and loves how he made you that you will truly be free.
- Believe that your humanity is an affront to God, an obstacle to overcome, and an evil to repress or eradicate.
Yep, God is not surprised nor ready to beat us to death every time we mess up. He knows exactly who we are and how we are wired.
- Pin your hopes on the afterlife, and don’t get too interested in the herelife.
Oh man! This is a big one! Do I believe all the Bible says about the life after this one and about Jesus returning and reigning? Yes. Am I hopeful and full of joy when I think about what that day will be like? Yes. Do I let it those thoughts overtake me and be preeminent in my life so that I am utterly useless in this world and no good to anyone because my eyes are constantly fixed upward? NO! People that are hurting don't care much about the future. They are concerned about what's happening now. Jesus knew that, and he interacted with people according to where they were at that particular junction in life. Stop and look around, Jesus hasn't come back yet. Get busy helping and loving people until he does and quit trying to figure out when it's going to happen.
- Give others the power and authority to determine what your beliefs, values, opinions, goals, desires, and views are.
Jesus didn't try to control people he came in contact with. He loved them, helped them, provided miracles for them when they needed it, and THEN he gave correction as needed. It was all out of relationship and love. This life with God is a journey and a relationship, have conversations with HIM about it ... he's more than able to direct your path without the controlling input of others. There's only one mediator between God and yourself... and that's Jesus. You can hear directly from Him and let the Holy Spirit guide you.
- Focus on behavior modification, checklists, do’s and don'ts, obedience, and keeping the rules when it comes to living your life.
These things are a hindrance to a real relationship. It's ALL about relationship! God isn't about behavior modification... that's religion's M.O.. God is all about getting to know you on a personal level and helping change your heart. Heart change is what he's after; all that other stuff will fall in line when we know God on a personal level.
- Make sure everything and everyone in life is assigned a label or put into a box.
Just take an inventory of your life. This is something we all struggle with. Make a conscience effort NOT to do this and you'll start finding more freedom in your life and you'll be able to love more. Jesus HATED labels and didn't let them affect the way he treated people.
- Draw a line between “Christian” and “secular” and divide up the world accordingly.
- Divide humankind up into “us” and “them,” and stay away from “them” and judge “them” from a distance.
God loves, cares for, and will redeem anyone. This way of thinking is SO prevalent in the structured, four-walls, church system. Why do you think there are thousands of factions and denominations? It's because the one you are a part of thinks their way is the better way and they know how to live this Christian life better than the other structured, four-walls, church system down the road. Think I'm wrong? Approach your pastor about partnering together with all the other denominational churches in your region to change your city for the better and see how quickly you get shut down!
- Put forth a valiant effort to project and maintain an image that lines up with the expectations of your religious community, and hide the ways you don’t.
This sure does sound a lot like something religion calls "accountability."
The ONLY person we should be accountable to is God. If you have real, authentic relationships with people who love you, and in return are free to share your deepest struggles with them, that's called a relationship, not accountability! "Accountability" as used in the religious institution is ALL about control! They want to know what you struggle with so that, if it's too ugly, they have the power to kick you out, modify your actions, or ostracize you. "Accountability" is the opposite of love.
- Don’t ask questions, rock the boat, challenge authority, think for yourself, or listen to that voice inside… just keep doing or believing even if it violates something deep inside of you.
If you find yourself doing the above then trust me, it may be time to move on to a better journey with God. If you don't, you can become stressed out beyond belief and even become physically ill. Hierarchies hate when people question them or the systems they have built their identity around. If you do, you will find yourself in a very uncomfortable meeting in the "pastor's" office, not having a conversation, but facing a firing squad of other "pastors", "elders" "council members" etc. They'll put any ideas you have about how things can be done better to death in short order like shooting a beloved family pet and then command you to fall back in line. And remember, anytime you question the system or hierarchy, it's always an act of treason in their mind, and you are rebellious and have heart issues. They'll tell you that you need to get "right" with God and then you need to ask forgiveness from them. Only then can you go back to being a servant in their kingdom.