Read Time: About 4.5 mins.
It’s no coincidence that Jesus’ interaction with the disciples was marked by events, experiences, and teachings that absolutely turned their perception of things upside down. Jesus was constantly reframing what this motley group of 12 thought was possible, and all of the religious notions and traditions that they had been brought up in. With every word and action, He was lifting up the curtain of creation, and showing them a reality that had always been there, but shame had long since blinded them to.
One summer, I took the opportunity to help run a discipleship camp with an old friend of mine as part of a certain well known ministry organization. The idea was that 13-17 year olds would attend the camp for 3 weeks, during which we would teach them about Jesus, and life in Him. It took place in a beautiful setting in northern Ontario, an area dotted with lakes perfect for canoeing, and emerald green forest perfect for exploring. Weeks one and three of the camp was spent in a classroom and around a campfire, and two was a weeklong canoe out trip that gave the campers the chance to apply the things that they were learning amongst each other.
God did some beautiful things during that summer, but what continues to surprise me most looking back is all the ways that I now recognize Holy Spirit speaking through the campers to me that I was then deaf to! In particular, I remember a session one day on the subject of repentance. I remember it well because I was the one helping teach it! I had drawn a very detailed diagram to explain how every lie we had believed or wrong action we’d taken put us further from righteousness, and the only way back was to repent of and resolve each one, like steps on a staircase to holiness. Suddenly, a camper that we had affectionately nicknamed “Rascal” shot up her hand. Rascal was so named because from the moment she arrived at camp, she had been trying to playfully subvert the rules we set out for the campers. It was something she was about to do again. “Can’t Jesus just put us on his back and take us right to the top of the staircase?” she questioned. The class laughed at the seeming absurdity of the solution, and I smiled and said: “Sorry Rascal, I don’t think it works that way.” In fact, Holy Spirit was the one teaching us all through her!
Jesus says to us: “Guys, things are not the way you thought. Change your mind! The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! (Matthew 3:2 AMP) See these things I’m doing? You can do these things and more. You’re not separate from our Father, you’re one with Him, just as I am. Everything that you observe in Me, is also true about you.”
Jesus, just by being Himself and by living and dying on the earth, is the manifest declaration of reality. He’s the “New Lens”, and the opposite of the “Pillars of Shame”. First, that God is close. Really really close. (Colossians 1:27) Second, that you are like Him. You are just as expressive of the fruits of the Spirit as He is (Colossians 2:9-10). And third, that there is not a single thing you can do about it (Romans 5:8)! What a Gospel Jesus is!
What God says about Himself and about humanity is summed up in Jesus. He came to show humanity what He had always known about us. When we receive Jesus as that “true picture” of what we are like, all of a sudden a whole new world opens up. All the things that Jesus has capacity for, so do we, and more (John 14:12)! We get to consider ourselves the way that God sees us; anything else is rooted in shame. What incredible news!
Because of what the Trinity has accomplished, we now get to use this sentence about ourselves: “I am just as _________ as Jesus.” Loving, joyful, peaceful, self-controlled, kind. Take your pick of the fruits of the Spirit. As we acknowledge and rest in Jesus’ accomplishment in us, as we remain connected to this vine of Truth, the fruit naturally is produced, apart from any kind of self-effort. This is the Gospel! These days, my awareness of His Presence throughout the day constantly shocks me. I don’t have to engage in any sort of activity (although that’s still fun). I’m just increasingly aware of God, both in me and around me. Like Jesus is. Guys, it’s really the best. I have no one but Jesus to thank!
In subsequent blogs, we’ll dive into this incredible reality of living in Jesus, and all the amazing ways that God has made us like Him. My hope is that you all will begin to experience all of the goodness that I have and more, through the incredible faithfulness of our Holy Spirit. The best part of all, is that it’s not weird or pretentious. It’s normal life. A normal life that is better than we ever could have hoped.
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Take the opportunity to thank Jesus that he came to reveal the exact opposite of The Pillars of Shame, and for the reality that everything He revealed about Himself is also true about you! Allow Holy Spirit to wash you in this truth!