Love is to be the heartbeat of the Christian life. We have also seen that we cannot both love and judge at the same time. We either eat of the tree of life, which is made available to us again in Jesus Christ, or we continue to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. One is a life of freedom, transparency, openness, joy and truth. The other is a life of bondage and emptiness. This second way of trying to get life will drive us to pretend to be something that we are not. We are called to a life of love, but most of us seem to live in a pattern of performance and hiding.
We have seen that love is to be the heartbeat of the Christian life. We have also seen that we cannot both love and judge at the same time. We either eat of the tree of life, which is made available to us again in Jesus Christ, or we continue to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. One is a life of freedom, transparency, openness, joy and truth. The other is a life of bondage and emptiness. This second way of trying to get life will drive us to pretend to be something that we are not and to hide what we think will threaten our status with others. We are called to a life of love, but most of us seem to live in a pattern of performance and hiding. Rather than continue engaging in our constant “commentary on the world,” that is, a life of judgment we can be free of this and remember this important truth:
If you aren’t invited by a person to DO something to help them grow, you don’t need to hold any opinion about the person other than God’s opinion: they have unsurpassable worth as a person for whom Christ died. [This advice is biblical: see Titus 3:2, James 4:11-12, Eph. 5:2, Col. 3:14, 1 Pet. 4:8.]
When we believe the lies (discussed earlier in the series) about who God is and who we are, we take God out of the center of our existence and put ourselves there. But we cannot survive on this strategy, we need a source that is greater than ourselves to sustain us. We know we are not full, so we seek nourishment, sustenance from those around us. We assess the situation and try to find a way to get life from our environment and those we find there. We create a role for ourselves, we perform that role and we hide everything that conflicts with that role. This is what is referred to as “Life in the Flesh.” It is a game of performing and hiding. Greg used the example of a preacher who, rather than getting their identity and self-worth from Christ, tries to sustain themselves on the approval of the congregation. This preacher knows that the people want a symbol of holiness so he makes this his role. He then hides everything about himself that conflicts with the perception of “holiness” that the people have. Of course the preacher cannot truly be perfect and holy on his own strength. He needs God. But he has made the congregation “god” and his life a performance before them. Everything that conflicts with that performance must be hidden. Rather than love and serve the congregation out of a fullness rooted in his identity in Christ, this preacher has bought the lies, “God cannot be trusted” and “I can get life on my own.” This is the road to death which is so powerfully illustrated in Gen. 3:7-8 where Adam and Eve began providing for themselves (sewing leaves for covering which was not needed prior to their new “knowledge”) and hiding what they themselves have passed judgment on (their nakedness).
There are three things we need to be aware of with regard to this game of “living in the flesh”:
1. Trying to get life from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil means that we will live our lives attempting to “get the good” and “avoid the evil.” We pick some idol in the world and call it our “good” and judge all things that oppose it as “evil.”
2. Living in the flesh blocks love. We cannot get love or give love to someone we are performing for or hiding from.
3. Living in the flesh blocks healing. Rather than getting life from Christ, casting all our cares on him, looking to Christ for our hope and not to ourselves, we hide everything that Christ came to free us from. We facilitate our own death by refusing to allow our sins, wounds and every weakness to Christ for healing. As Greg said, “A wound that is concealed is a wound that can never be healed.”
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