I have "moderated comments" on this blog -- which allows me to choose which comments to publish or reject -- and I just rejected for the first time. The comment was from the author of a book on going deeper with God to a place of spiritual intimacy, but the "God" was not necessarily the Triune God of my faith. The book understood that we live in a world that has a spiritual plane that is even stronger than the material plane (because the material derives from the spiritual, and not the spiritual from the material) but, like the author of "The Secret", this author used the appeal of the very-real spiritual world to call its readers to a journey of deception (although a journey of self-deception more than deception by the author or by evil spiritual powers outside of the reader.)
I am grateful for the gift of imagination and creativity that God has given to all of us. It bears rich fruit, and those who neglect their own imagination are neglecting one of the great resources God has asked them to steward. However, anything that that can be powerfully used for good can also be powerfully used for evil, and the use of one's imagination to create a "secret world" within themselves where they meet with the God that their imagination reveals to them is a use of the imagination that will spiral one's real life into grief and death. It is not all that different from injecting oneself with heroin . . . there is the emotional sense of safety and peace and joy, even if the reality is broken relationships, a filthy environment, and death.
Jesus offers us His Kingdom to live in now and for eternity. That Kingdom requires a specific King, and requires loyalty to Him that results in listening to Him and doing whatever He asks me to do. That Kingdom requires that I look at the home I'm in, the church I'm in, the relationships I'm in, the daily activities I'm in, and the whole real picture of my life, and requires that I seek to be His servant in turning all those realities -- bit by bit -- into the reality that His imagination sees and moves toward.
The writer of the comment I rejected has probably studied the Bible as well as the sacred writings of other religious faiths. (He would have had to, in order to have the credentials he holds.) His conclusions are very different than mine, but I do not mean to disrespect his ability to form a world-view that is intelligent and sound, based on the evidence that he has analyzed. If I could hand him a book to read to challenge his conclusions, it would be The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. I think this book does the best job of looking at Jesus in the context of reality, and examining His calls to each of us.
So I do delight in the ways that spiritual intimacy floods my life with all that a shot of heroin would give me . . . but I delight more in looking out from my "secret place" into the reality of my life and seeing the real God at work in real ways. He does not bring the fullness of His Kingdom rule and all its benefits until He brings the New Heavens and New Earth to us in our resurrected bodies, but He does invite us today to live in the reality of the fullness of His Kingdom as He begins the process of transformation.
One of my delights this last month has been the albums from the Christian rock/worship group Kutless, and the wonderful lyrics of their energetic songs. I have other songs by them I like more, but it is the lyrics of this song that I would like to share with the author of the book on spiritual intimacy. The song is "smile", and you can see the full lyrics here, but the phrase that has been running over and over in my mind regarding this subject is from the chorus:
"Though everything's the same
Inside there's something real
A faith which causes me to change"
And that is what I want! A real faith that changes me in the ways that the Real God wants to change me, and a real faith that uses me in the ways that the Real God wants to use me. This won't protect me from pain, or from mess, or even from failure (which is one of His most effective tools in molding us -- much more effective than success!), but it will let me live today in the reality of His Kingdom which is available for ever and ever! (And, you know what? Even 500 years into the New Heavens and New Earth, in my resurrected body, I will still only be able to live that one day that I am in that day. Eternity is just as available to me today as then.)
The Triune God -- Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit -- revealed Himself in creation and history, revealed Himself in the incarnation of Jesus Who Is Resurrected And Alive Today, and reveals Himself to any of His upon whom He pours the Holy Spirit (all of us who are believers!) His grace and love are fully expressed in TRUTH, and indeed, Jesus is THE TRUTH. We are called to use our imaginations to enter fully into a real relationship with the REAL GOD, lived out fully in the reality of our real lives of housework and bills and quarrels and tedium.
Spiritual intimacy with an imaginary God just won't cut it for me!
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