How Does God See Me?
As we move closer to our identity the question will become, “How does God see me?” That’s a great question and should become the basis for our actions going forward, but the first two questions discovered here in Primacy don’t go away. We must answer them repeatedly to stay on track for an abundant life.
Question #1 is: Can I really trust God? As I pointed out before, there’s the intellectual answer, “I’m a Christian, of course I trust God.” AND there’s the wholehearted answer:
“I believe he’s all-powerful. I believe His grace is sufficient to overcome my sin. I believe God desires a relationship with me so much that He let his son live the way I couldn’t and then die in my place so that He can ignore what’s wrong with me. I believe that He wants to spend the rest of my life training me to live in my new life. I really believe that He doesn’t even see what’s wrong with me, only what’s missing, and He only wants to heal me.”
Question #2 is: What is God trying to be for me in this season? That’s a crazy-sounding question, but if we accept that we are colanders and God’s grace pours through us, then we already share God with everyone in our broken state. God’s agenda for us is only that we would heal for our own sake. God’s abundance will continue to flow into us relentlessly, but we will begin to overflow with his goodness instead of just leaking it out. We get more experience of him as we are transformed from glory to glory. So in each season, God gently nudges us toward healing.
Man in Three Parts
We exist on three levels, Spirit, Soul, and Body. I go a lot more into this topic in my book, “On Becoming a Man.” I’ll also go into it a lot more in the upcoming book, “Walking the Path of the Postmodern Cleric.” In short, our spirit communes with God and drinks in the fullness of his Grace, but our soul is our willpower, emotions, and intelligence. It’s the level of our self-concept.
We often think of our soul as the deepest thing about us but that’s not true of the saved man or woman. It was true when our Spirit was dead (severed from God by sin). Back then our soul was the deepest thing about us, and we lived according to our own understanding of right and wrong.
While fallen, we became deeply wounded by the words and deeds of others. We built an identity for ourselves that worships our own intelligence or feels inferior to everyone because of our failures. Our daily actions were based on our scar tissue (experience) instead of real wisdom.
But as saved/born again/redeemed children of God our Spirit is restored. God has a spirit, yes, but so do we.
Our fallen nature/separation from God plays out a little differently on each level of our being. (To get a better explanation of this consider Psalms 32:5)
Definitions of Sin include:
- Galatians 5:17 Doing the opposite of what’s right.
- Proverbs 24: 33-34 Doing what turns out to be wrong.
- James 4:17 Failing to do what you know is right.
- Exodus 10:16 Sin against another person, not just God.
- Romans 3:23 Ultimately it’s just falling short of God’s Glory.
Transgression can be thought of as willful trespass. There’s a decision to do wrong. Still, we could have a reason. We can disobey an authority we believe has ordered us to do something immoral. We are deliberately in violation, but not necessarily trying to be evil. Like running a stop sign in a parking lot when there is no other car around to be harmed.
Then there’s Iniquity!
When David plotted to kill Uriah the Hittite in order to take his wife, the Bible describes this as iniquity. David calls it that himself when he writes his prayer of repentance (Psalm 51:2). He indulged in his lust for a woman married to a friend, plotted the man’s death, (it took two tries to make it happen) then he takes her as his own and doesn’t even repent it until he’s called out for it all by a prophet. That’s a whole chain of wrong!
A Symptom of Separation
Sin, for all the hype, isn’t even the deepest crime against God; it’s just a symptom. One reason the scriptures might make this distinction is that the problems occur at different levels.
Ask the world about levels of sin and you’ll get distinctions like it’s worse to do something that hurts another person than what hurts only you. Or, it’s less sinful to envy what someone’s got than to actually steal it.
Institutional Christianity also spends a lot of energy on what I call, “sin management.” Some sins get labeled redeemable and others, like pedophilia, are so terrible that you must be put out of fellowship.
3 Levels of Sin/3 Levels of Human, Coincidence?
I think sin levels match up to the different levels of a human. I used to have ringing in my ears. I went to the doctor and he said it was just a symptom of my hypertension. He gave me pills which treated that underlying disease, but he didn’t treat the real reason I had high blood pressure. The reality is that I had a high-stress job, I didn’t sleep well, I didn’t eat well and I seldom exercised.
Sin is a physical symptom of transgression, which is rooted in not knowing who we really are. We lack identity because we aren’t connected to God. That’s the root cause of all our issues.
The deepest place in us is the place of our spiritual connection to God and, when that informs how we see ourselves, it heals our soul. Then our physical actions (level 3) improve and eventually we steer a different course in our daily lives. It seems obvious, but when you think about it–we overcome sin from the inside out.
Am I Healed or Am I Forgiven?
It always drove me crazy that Jesus never drew a line between being forgiven and being healed. But there really isn’t a distinction. If you’re connected to God by accepting His forgiveness, then you just have to learn to accept His Love in every broken place until you become complete.
The path of the postmodern cleric is about walking with God, receiving his healing forgiveness, and becoming who we are designed to be. Then we’ll have abundance in our physical reality. The last part actually becomes less important to us as the inner reality grows, which is good because until Christ returns life will always have hardships.
So, “who is God trying to be for me,” is a pivotal question to pursue daily. The physical world is going to feel more real during a lot of this process. Things like pain–whether physical or emotional–tends to snap our attention back to physical reality. But staring at a wound doesn’t heal it, nor does ignoring it. What we can do is stand before God pointing at it and crying, “Daddy fix, Daddy it hurts.” We can take everything to God.
Adam and Eve had everything. As long as they looked at God they felt loved. When they shifted their focus to themselves they felt inadequate and pursued pain & darkness in order to gain equality. All it did was further open their eyes to their inadequacy. So they put on fig leaves to try to cover their own shame. Compared to God they were adequate, but who cares?
When the spies of Israel entered the Promised Land, ten of them compared themselves to the giants who inhabited the land. They saw themselves as inadequate, as insects. You can’t enter the Promised Land by seeing yourself compared to others, or even compared to God.
Where the Question Reverses
You enter the Promised Land when you receive your identity from who God says you are. Two spies who entered the Promised Land carried God’s presence with them. They existed in a state of grace where the work of delivering God’s gift to them was God’s problem. They saw the bounty God was trying to give them, not the boundaries between it and them. You can’t receive abundance from Christ by staring at what stands in your way. It takes grace. It takes KNOWING that God is trying to give you something from every perceived hardship.
Genisis assures us that God made Adam in His image (male and female he made them.) We are image bearers of God. The question, “who is God trying to be for me today,” becomes “how does God see Himself in me?” Every time a broken place is healed His image in us is further restored, and hardships have a way of revealing broken places. Places we’ve tried to heal our own problems.
Respond to every situation by asking God what He’s up to. Before you even start your day, God already knows what’s on the way: try asking Him what His plan is for you. Ask from a place of confidence that He’s partnering with you on your experiences. His goal is to shrink the holes in your soul so that you can experience more of His goodness in your life.