Communion With God and Picnic in a Minefield
We must be regularly coming clean (confessing and repenting of sin) so that our antennae don't come down and our eyes become foggy and we lose fellowship with the Godhead. God highlights specific things in our lives to get our attention. Those with the mind of Christ can know His thoughts if they have not let attitudes quench the Spirit or built in shallow horizontal ways--Zoe life.
…I was wondering if you could talk about some of the things you were sharing at the picnic table last night?
Sure. This has come up several times recently. As a backdrop, we were discussing that it’s an unfortunate situation that the vast majority of people who call themselves Christians have very, very little communion with the Godhead: the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. When it comes to doing things, they do as many “Christian things” as they know to do, or are willing to do or can do. But for the vast majority, Christianity has become almost an alternate lifestyle built on God’s principles as opposed to what Jesus had with the Father, which was a relationship, a communion, a fellowship. Jesus’ intent was, by His own words, that we would be one with one another just as He and the Father are one. His earnest desire was that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost would come live in us so that we could dwell with Him and abide in Him. Our home would be in Him and His home would be in us. The whole process as Jesus defined it was that He had been with us but would now be in us.
The whole nature of the New Covenant—the thing that God wants to do on planet Earth—isn’t like the Old Covenant. In the Old Covenant, a man would say to his neighbor, “Do the right thing, know the Lord, obey this command, and live this way instead of that way.” That way of thinking is what has caused most of the frustration that people have gotten themselves into. They have taken the principles of the New Covenant and have tried to apply them in an Old Covenant way. “What’s the right thing to do? Someone please tell me what the Christian thing to do is. Don’t tell me about the compromising, lukewarm, denominational Christian thing. Tell me about the real Christian things and what the real church stuff is. Tell me what all those things are, and I’ll be a real gunner. I’ll be real ambitious and do all the real church stuff and not just the Sunday morning church stuff.”
But that is such a frustrating, empty way to live. It’s a life of confusion because you can never keep up. You’re never quite sure who you should please or what you should do. You end up in a frustrating cycle of “enhanced Christian lifestyle,” as opposed to communion with the Godhead, which is truly what the New Covenant is supposed to be. It’s fellowship with the Godhead.
So where do all these teachings come into play? What is the value of all these principles and things to obey and this certain way to live or not live and things to do or not do? Are they of no effect or value? Are they to be ignored because after all, “we live under grace and not under law”? Do we ignore all the teachings and commands of Jesus, even though He told us to go into every nation and teach them to obey everything He commanded? Do we say, “Well, there is no reason to obey Jesus and teach people commands because we live under grace and not under law. There is no such thing as a teaching or command in the New Covenant.”
That obviously can’t be the case. That’s ridiculous.
So it seems the alternative to ignoring the commands is to obey them in some Old Testament way. Somehow we’re supposed to live it out like in the Levitical Law that regulated how many steps people could walk on the Sabbath day. Only now I guess it would be, “How many people does it take to screw in a light bulb?” The enhanced Christian way would say, “It takes this many Christians to screw in a light bulb.” But that’s wrong and foolish, wouldn’t you say? That’s a superficial way of looking at the New Covenant.
So then, what do we do with all these commands and teachings in the New Testament? What do all these principals and guidelines of living by the Spirit and fellowshipping with one another and walking in the light mean? How are they to be worked out?
An excellent illustration can be found in a series of Star Trek episodes about an entity called “The Borg.” The Borg was essentially a big cube of floating junk of a spaceship for all the Borg people. These people had a fellowship with one another. They were all connected. Their thoughts and feelings were, as 1 Corinthians 12 would say, “When one part suffers, the whole body suffers.” It is an excellent kingdom parallel in many ways because there was a community consciousness among them. They being many…were one. They were all molded together and “one” in a sense. They were many members yet one body. That parallel was pretty strong.
That is God’s intent for us that we would rejoice together and we would suffer together. When one part suffers the whole body suffers with it. And the hand wouldn’t say to the eye, “I don’t need you” (1Cor. 12, Romans 12, 1Cor. 2). He wants us to be melted together as one in a collective consciousness of existence with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, as well as with the Body of the Son (meaning the true Church—those who are bought by the Blood of Jesus and led by the Spirit and who are therefore sons of God).
Your Spiritual “Antennae”
So what does all of that have to do with the commands of Jesus we mentioned and the attitudes we are to have? The Bible says, “Rejoice evermore.” That’s in the imperative—it’s a command. A follower of Jesus has no choice except to be a joyful person. There is absolutely no way you can obey Jesus and be a stinker with your attitudes. Being selfish, introspective, judgmental, lazy, ostentatious and boastful, or shy and withdrawn—none of those things are the personality of Christ. Therefore they are sin. But you need to understand what happens when you decide to be filled with self-pity or a whining heart, a lazy attitude or a judgmental, critical heart, or acting like a showboat or being flirtatious. What’s the problem with any of those things? The problem is that you are disconnecting from the Head.
Whenever you allow fear, lust, selfishness and other attitudes to come into your life, your spiritual “antennae” are coming down. The very thing that allows you to be one with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is diminishing. To borrow another example, it’s just like Pinocchio’s nose. Every time Pinocchio lied, his nose grew longer. Every time you lie or exaggerate, or become fearful or lazy or critical of another person, your nose grows. When you have an attitude or sin problem of any kind, your eyes become foggy. Your antennae come down to the point that you are no longer able to be one with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. You no longer have true community or fellowship with the Godhead. You are forfeiting your inheritance of being one with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Do you ever wonder why you are so lonely? Do you wonder why you are so powerless, or have so little wisdom, or so few deep relationships? Perhaps it’s because you are letting other things come into your life which are clouding your eyes and pushing your antennae down. When you let those things in, you can’t receive fellowship with the Godhead, whether it be an audible voice or community of heart and mind. Remember that Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2, “We have the mind of Christ.” Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and it’s not entered into the heart or the mind of man what God has prepared for those that love Him. Who can know the Spirit and the mind of God? Who can know the very thoughts of the Godhead except the Spirit of God? And we have that Spirit, according to Paul. The man disconnected from God knows nothing. Everything that is from God is foolishness to him. He doesn’t understand it, he doesn’t care about it, and he doesn’t like it. It bothers him.
But Paul said that those with the mind of Christ and the Spirit of Christ have their antennae up. They have made good choices about their attitudes and their thought-life. They have made good choices about how they relate to other people and how they relate to the things of the world and its possessions. Because they have made good choices, their antennae have gone up. They become one with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost in increasing measure. Therefore, they automatically become one with every other person who has done the same. That’s the purpose of these commands and decrees. They are not to be used to earn God’s pleasure or to earn salvation. They are for the purpose of being swallowed up into our destiny of having fellowship with the Creator of the universe and having the very mind and Spirit of Christ. They are so we can feel what He feels, see what He sees, and know what He knows.
Choices and Attitudes
All the revelation of God is in Christ Jesus. And that man, Christ Jesus, lives in us if we are truly His, and we are not quenching the Spirit of God by our selfishness, foolishness or preoccupation with ourselves and other things. He lives through us as we obey the command to rejoice evermore, instead of whining in self pity. Those decisions are very, very important if we don’t want to just die and become another statistic of someone who wore Jesus’ name for “x” number of years but never had anything to show for it. We don’t want to be another statistic of someone who knew about Him and did all the “Christian lifestyle things” but never experienced Christ. Why does that happen? It’s because of things that are barely discernible to most people. For example, it’s the snapping back with an attitude or a rolling of the eyes, or whining in our hearts because we don’t like something. Or knowing that God has something for us, but we have a better idea. Our preference is different from God’s preference, so we lock down on our preference and somehow justify ourselves in it.
When we do those kinds of things, we are withdrawing from a God who is extending His hands to us in love saying, “Come. Come away, my beloved. Come be with Me. Come be one with Me.” Paul told the Corinthians he wanted to present them as a pure virgin to the groom, Jesus Christ. He wanted to bring them to the place of communion, of oneness with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. That’s God’s goal for us. But when you choose to be erratic, unstable, selfish, stubborn, mocking, or whatever it might be in your case…. every time you choose that, hey, it’s not so much about hurting God. And it’s not so much about hurting anybody in communion with God. It’s mostly that you are going to hurt yourself really badly. Your antennae will come down, your eyes will become clouded, and things will get magnified way out of proportion. The one who has much will be given more. The one with little, even what he has will be taken away.
The choices we make about even the simplest things and so-called trivial situations in life will deeply impact our fellowship with the Creator. For example, how we respond to what we think someone has done to us is no small matter. Or how you view your possessions or how you view your children is no small matter. Whatever your “thing” happens to be, how you respond to it will have a direct effect on whether you go deeper into the presence of God and the mind of Christ or whether you drift away from a connectedness and become, like Paul called the Corinthians, “mere men.” That’s what Paul told them they had become in great measure, was “mere men.” He said that to them with deep anguish of heart and a great reluctance to admit it. But they had, because of their choices, become like mere men. How pathetic. How sad.
The invitation from God is to come into His presence. How might we go about that process? Is it some great experience where you stand up and someone slaps you on the forehead? A lot of folks have tried that, but if you check them out a month later you will see whether it added any value to their lives. The odds are 1 in 10,000 that rolling around on the floor or making noises or falling into a coma brought any value to their lives. Very, very few times do such things have any value in the long run. The few times they would have any value is only because that person decided to obey God in the small areas of life. Just like there is value for the person who chose to obey who never had some “experience” falling down on the floor.
The invitation is not to look for something dramatic but to look for the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Word that “became flesh and dwelt for a while among us.” Why is that? We look for Him so that we might come into the character and the personality of Christ.
“Let this mind, or personality, that was in Christ Jesus be in you.” He became a slave and made Himself nothing. He served with a glad heart. He loved those who persecuted Him. While they were yet sinners, He was willing to die for them. While on the cross, beaten beyond recognition, bloodied into a virtual coma of agony and pain, some of the last words He said were for others. While He was devastated physically, electrified with agony and pain, and almost comatose, He was able to care about a man on a cross alongside of Him. He was able to reach out His hand to the man and say, “Man, I love you. I see that humility and little speck of repentance in you. Welcome to the kingdom of God. This day you will be with Me in paradise.”
Jesus wasn’t whining about His bad situation. He wasn’t considering the fact that He was innocent, and these two men beside Him were guilty. It was He who had gotten beaten up ten times worse than the other guys but He wasn’t upset about that. He was busy caring about how He could be redemptive. Even out of His own pain, Jesus was still outward-looking. Before “I thirst” and “It is finished,” the last words out of His mouth were for others, “Hey, Mom, behold your son. John, behold your mother.” And from that day forward, John lived with Mary. You see, He was still outward-looking. “Mom, I want your needs to be met. John, this lady will do you good. This is going to be a good relationship. I want you to have each other for the rest of your lives.”
Let this mind, let this personality be in you…that you care so much about everybody around you, that you aren’t considering your cross. Rather than whining about your situation, you are always looking outward to see how you can love others and lay down your life for others. That kind of choice about what personality we’ll have and what mind we will have, will result in becoming more and more one with the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. It’s an invitation not only to wear His Name, but to imbibe and to drink in His Spirit, His Life and His fellowship with the Father.
A Picnic in a Minefield
Since it’s somewhat related to all of this, let’s explore a little more of what a few people have been talking about lately regarding this thought of “a picnic in a minefield.” The essence of what we’ve been talking about is that we are primarily spirit beings. If we function according to the flesh, we reap a whirlwind. If we function and sow according to the Spirit, we reap Zoë life… powerful life that always was and always will be. Our object as followers of Jesus is to live in and reap and breathe and have our being in Zoë life, the life that always was and always will be. We want to fellowship with the Godhead.
Now, if you see men and situations after the flesh and make choices based on your hormones, your selfish inclinations, and your hopes and dreams rather than God’s hopes and dreams…if you make yourselves gods by living that way, then the choices you make will bring you down to the plane of mere mortals. You will lack virtually any fruitfulness. You will only have earthly striving and wood, hay and stubble that will look good for awhile but will be burned up.
Understand that “picnicking in a minefield” is very closely related to having your Spiritual antenna up. What is required in both cases is that you see things after the Spirit, knowing that we only want to build with Christ. That’s the only way we are interested in building. The phrase “picnic in a minefield” came out of a discussion about what to do with your days and evenings. How do you build? God’s house is built with wisdom. “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders build in vain.” Unless you are functioning in the Spirit as you build relationships and spend time, you are building in vain. If you build any other way than by God’s hand with the stones that God is laying and the way that He is laying them, you’re building in vain. He is the Master Architect and He’s the one who should—if in fact we let Him be God—decide how our relationships and time stacks up. He’s the one, if He is God, that has to choose those things.
You can, however, choose in another way: after the flesh. What are some things that cause you to be attracted to a person other than their deep love for Jesus? What things make you comfortable with a person or situation or dinner environment or going on an errand or just hanging out? When you are outside playing with the children, what could draw you to talk to one person rather than to another? What are the external things that you plug into that really have nothing at all to do with Christ? Are you drawn to someone because of the number of children they have, or the age of the children? If everyone has 3, 4, and 5 year olds, or everyone has 12, 14, and 16 year olds, there can be this idea that we have something in common and something to talk about. Therefore, based on the children’s ages, they become my friend. There is perhaps very little concern for how deeply in love with Jesus they are. That thought may not even occur to us, as long as they are “basically a Christian” and not in any big trouble. “So, I think that’s how I’ll build my relationship.” That stinks!
We all know that’s bad, but it’s an inclination in your heart, isn’t it? It’s an inclination to build after the flesh based upon the number of children or the ages of children. You think somehow that gives you something in common. But it’s not something you truly have in common if you are a Spirit being. Those of the Spirit have a hundred fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and children and don’t consider physical number and ages. If you are seeing things only by the Spirit, then a “similar physical family situation” is not something you have in common! That’s not what will make you connect and be “bestest buddies” with someone. That’s silly and it’s flesh. That’s acting like a mere mortal, a mere man.
What are some other things that would cause people to “connect” over externals or flesh? Similar sports preferences, similar athletic ability, similar college education, and similar jobs are things people connect over. What if all the salesmen, all the engineers, all the medical kind of folks, or all the homemakers hung together, for that matter? Or all the “cool guys” hang together, or those with the cool clothes or cool cars? All of those are more examples of seeing men after the flesh. When you make choices to build a relationship based on those sorts of thing, what do you get? You get a whirlwind. You are bound to when you are building after the flesh. You are creating a problem.
More Examples of Seeing and Building Through “Logic”
While traveling in another state recently, we were five hours away from some people we knew who lived in the state. The thought was, “Obviously, if we are only five hours away and in the same state, we ought to drop in on them and say, ‘Hi!’” True or false? False! Even if we traveled a long distance from here, and were less than five minutes away from someone we knew, it would not be necessarily true that we are under compulsion to drop in and say, “Hi.” It’s not that way in the Spirit. Being compelled based on social ordinances is not spiritual. Absolutely anything can happen.
“Let Lazarus die!”
“No, no, no, Jesus, no!”
“Let him die. It’s a greater miracle to raise him from the dead than it is to heal his sickness.”
There is nothing “obvious” in the Spirit. The wind blows where it wills. Everyone born of the Spirit is like the wind. It’s absolutely essential that we not build around seemingly obvious things.
“But they live in the same state, and are only five minutes away from us.” What if this scenario happened in another country? I could, conscientiously, if I am in the Spirit, be five minutes from someone I know in Brazil, and not call them and tell them I am there. If that sounds impossible to you, you are not accustomed to being like the wind. You are not accustomed to walking in the Spirit. That’s not to say we would intentionally try to be weird or cruel or rude. But it is to say there are no givens and no automatic anythings in the Spirit if you are like the wind. You have to disconnect from the obvious, from the fear of men, and from the expectations of men. Don’t fear someone who can kill only your body for not saying hello. Fear Him who can throw your body into hell. Be aware of God’s presence, God’s commands and God’s leadings, and don’t just go with the flow of human expectations or comfort or anything else.
Other things that might draw people together are educational experiences or similar marital status. Boo, hiss! Wrong! You are “neither married nor given in marriage” in eternal realms. That’s not to say we don’t honor the covenants that we have with God and our covenant partners. But it is to say, as Paul said to the Corinthians, that those who have possessions should live as though not possessed by them. Those who are married, should live as though they are not. What did he mean? Should we not care for them? Of course not. “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church.” He wasn’t saying that you don’t care for one another or love one another. He was saying, “On earth as it is in heaven.”
The point is, don’t you make an idol out of anything. Not your physical children—because you have 100 children. Not your physical families because you have 100 families if you live in the spiritual realm. That is not to say you shouldn’t care for your physical family and shouldn’t treat them with special love and care. The person who doesn’t care for his family is worse than an infidel. You don’t disconnect from responsibilities, but you do see things in the Spirit rather than after the flesh. That is what kills idolatry. It destroys my little cubbyholes of comfort and preference. It kills my little hiding places of “us four and no more” or whatever it happens to be.
We now celebrate the Family of God. You were born a second time, and you were bought for a price. You are not your own and there’s a new definition for what “family” is and for your future. There’s a hope that God has laid out for you. It’s a vision from heaven to which you should not be disobedient. Before, your only vision was your own heart’s desire and your own fleshly preferences. Now, you’re “not disobedient to the vision from heaven.” Now we draw on, and are empowered by, driven by, and obsessed by only those things that are precious to God.
Similar age is another thing. Should a sixty-year old and a twelve-year old really be hanging out together? Would that seem weird for a sixty-year old and a twelve-year old to hang out together? Not if the Ancient of Days is living inside of both of them. They are the same age! They are exactly the same age. EXACTLY. A twelve-year old and a sixty-year old are exactly the same age, unless you happen to be seeing things after the flesh. And shame on you if you do look at things after the flesh because it means your antennae have come down, and your eyes have grown cloudy. You become of little use to God or man when you can’t see things after the Spirit.
Building Well, Voluntarily
So, what’s picnicking in a minefield? It’s when you don’t see things after the Spirit. The alternative is not a set of do’s and don’ts and categories and a caste system of Christianity. “This is a good person, and this is a bad person.” It’s not that at all. It’s a heart that voluntarily wants only Jesus and wants to build correctly. It’s someone who sees that there are such things as spiritual gifts and wants to build properly. God’s house is built with wisdom. Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders build in vain.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you are driving through some city. Do you think you should stop by and see someone just because you happen to be driving through their city without even understanding what’s happening in their lives, spiritually? You don’t even think to ask about it or to pursue and try to comprehend what is at stake spiritually? If you live that way, you are foolish. You will build incorrectly. You will cause a chain of events where affections are quickly formed, relationships get built improperly, and things begin to happen that lead to sin.
Alliances are built after the flesh because of circumstances or faulty, unChristlike reasoning. A union is formed based on something that is not Christlike. “Oh, I ran into them in Berlin last year and wow, that was so cool. I remember that. Wasn’t that fun?” No consideration is made at all for how they are doing in the Spirit at that exact moment. But since there is a bond or yoke or common thread of experience, that now has become an idol. It’s an idol because it has displaced God as the only measuring rod of how deep the relationship can be. “Picnic in a minefield.” It means we are building after the flesh. We are not seeing things in the Spirit.
An alternative to that in the flesh is something very superficial, “Do I have permission to go to Wal-Mart with so and so? Or is someone going to be upset with me? Oh, what a burden this is!” That is soooo shallow! That’s so chintzy, and junky! You deserve to feel miserable and legalistic because that is not how God builds! You deserve to be miserable, hostile and angry toward other people and to end up with no fellowship with anyone. If you don’t understand walking in the Spirit any more deeply than that and don’t want to put the energy in finding out, then by all means feel imposed upon. You should feel burdened, scrutinized and judged until you get all bitter inside and curl up and die or strike back. If you want to approach it like that, it’s your own fault!
What He wants to draw us into that we’re talking about is finding ways to embrace Jesus and finding the best ways to draw on His gifts and build only after the Spirit rather than after the flesh. We desire that because we only desire Christ. We don’t desire common age, common number of children, common education, or some type of personality. “Whoa! They sure have a sense of humor! Oh, I love a person with a good sense of humor. What a fun personality.” Or, “Oh, what a boring personality! I don’t like being with them.” See how it can work either way?
This pilgrimage we are on is to find a way to grow in wisdom and discernment, and to be led by the Spirit. It’s to let the Lord build the house lest we build in vain with wood, hay and stubble. We want to see things no longer after the flesh, though we once saw even Christ that way. An example of seeing Christ after the flesh is to live by a bunch of “do’s and don’ts.” How am I supposed to do this or that and how I’m not supposed to do this or that? Who am I supposed to be with and who am I not supposed to be with? All of that is nonsense. That is seeing even Christ after the flesh. It is turning Him into a set of do’s and don’ts, rather than going deeper and deeper into His heart and mind, to explore His personality and to build only with Jesus. You will freeze up and even paralyze yourself, or become embittered, by seeing Christ, the Anointing, after the flesh. That’s what will happen if you are not pursuing God’s desire with all of our heart. You’ve got to want to live and build that way.
Father, We Need Your Help
This is very important and I think it would be wise if we were to approach the throne of God in a very verbal way right now. I think we ought to ask Him to make it clear for us and teach us the application for our tomorrow mornings, and the next day and the next.
Our Father, it took You a week to make the sun, the moon, the stars, all the planets, all the animals and all creation. It took You a week to do that, yet You’re still working on us, so we must be really special. : ) If you can do all of those rich and complex things in just a few days, and it’s taking You all of these months and years of our existence to make us into the image of Your Son…then the end product You’re after must be really good. We are excited about that. We are grateful that tonight has given us a chance to look at some things. We invite you, Jehovah-God to show us how You intend to build. Show us that the way You build Your house in us, through us and around us, is only in Your Son. Show us what that means in a practical way. Let Your Spirit move us and speak to us. We open ourselves to be flexible, receptive and yielded to You. Holy Spirit, You are welcome in this place, in our hearts and minds.
We welcome You to teach us, and to groan with us. Please show us how to build in YOUR way, only according to Jesus, by Jesus, by the Spirit, and nothing after the flesh. Show us how to see no man or anything about Christ, after the flesh. Show us to see everything after the Spirit. We know that’s a lofty goal, but Jesus, You said greater works than anything You did, we can do. And this might be the greatest work of all. I don’t think walking on water compares even slightly to the ability to build only after the Spirit. Teach us to love only what You love and to embrace Your desire for our lives whole heartedly. That’s a bigger miracle by far than walking on water.
We don’t want to picnic in a minefield. We don’t want to sit down and spread out our blanket and throw out the picnic basket in a minefield where we could get our leg blown off while we are busy having a little bit of fun. It wouldn’t be worth it to see our children run across the place we have chosen to have as a playground and have their legs blown off because we weren’t careful in how we built. We also know that this can’t be a legalistic thing. It can’t be something that is based on externals or a checklist or caste system. It has to be built on knowing You and loving You and desiring things only after the Spirit with no care whatsoever for age or occupation or interests or athletic ability or any of that nonsense.
Father, open our hearts to see these things all the more and to live in them. Because we know that as we live and move and have our being in these things, we find a bit more of Your personality and Your character. We find the way You lived, and thereby we will certainly draw closer into communion and fellowship with You, which is our destiny. We don’t want to pass from this earth having done supposedly good things for You but not having experienced Your Life in us: rivers of living water gushing from us.
Show us when we are something less than joyful. Show us when we are something less than filled with love and yieldedness to Your desires for our life and our futures. Please show us when we are something less than appreciative or grateful, or when we are something less than patient or kind. Show us when we are building after the flesh. Show us those things, Father, and we promise to try to keep our eyes open and not turn our heads away from the things You show us. We want to not only be like You, but we do also want to be with You and in You and to celebrate with You in our hearts and in our spirits. We want to have the very mind of Christ and union with Your Spirit, which is what You want for us.
Father, we ask for Your interpretation and application of these things in the days to come. “We want to be a people that cause You more than shame. We want to be a people that do more than borrow your Name.” We want to be a people that are one with You in heart, mind and spirit. Please help us, Father, for Your Name’s sake, not for our own. We don’t ask so we can consume it on our own selfishness. We ask so that the testimony and goodness and wisdom of the Lord would fill the earth. We want to proclaim to the people of this earth the Good News through our living-epistle lives. We commit this into your hands, Father. Amen.