"What we've got here is failure to communicate", is a line from the US prison drama film from 1967, 'Cool Hand Luke'. But it could be about Christians who are trying to serve God but haven't learned a key truth - He doesn't think like you and I do, so we must change our thinking to think like Him. Many are trying to get Him to think like they do about their situation, which is the basis for the failure to communicate.
Words are containers for the content of the heart. As a person pours their heart into words, we get to know that person. Have you ever met someone and known by the earliest exchange of words you would become friends? Their words revealed their heart.
But even as we get closer to another person and begin to know the whole of their heart and character through their words, miscommunication often happens. It can happen by taking a single spoken word out of context, or maybe what we hear is not what their heart intended to say, but we take what we thought they meant and run with it, causing misunderstanding.
Our son, Chris, has been home from the group home this past weekend. Mentally he is a 4 year old, though he just turned 34 on December 23. Last night he picked up his Children's Bible which he 'reads', telling the story of each illustration. He started with Adam & Eve in the garden and told us what each animal pictured said, how the lion roared and asked "What's for dinner Adam?", with a chuckle to himself.
When he came to the picture of Jesus raising the widow's son from the dead, I asked Chris what Jesus said to the boy, to which he replied in his best deep and authoritative voice: "You disobeyed me dude!"
We all burst out laughing - Chris has such a sense of humor! But there are some Christians who might think Jesus actually would have said something like that to the boy, though we who know Him would reject that idea because we know Him and know He would not have said that.
That's what happens when people take 1 or 2 verses - words - out of context and elevate them above the rest, ignoring or not knowing His heart. They become convinced He said this or that when in fact He is quoted out of context or didn't mean what they think He said.
If we have a good friend and someone tells us they said this or that, or did this or that, we might respond 'That doesn't sound like them'. That is because we know their words and their heart. The same is true when someone says God says this or that - so much of what's out there just doesn't sound like Him.
Now to Him
How the Father thinks is revealed by His Spirit within us, and that Spirit inspired the pages of our New Testament. So the pages of the New Testament are how the Father thinks, starting with the revelation of His Son, who said 'If you've seen me, you've seen the Father'. As we read His thoughts we adapt and change our thoughts to be like Him, then apply those thoughts to our life, changing our lifestyle and habits.
It is therefore SO important we get to know Him by His Spirit and the Word, for they are always in agreement, just as we want our heart and words to be in agreement in life. (II Peter 1:21, John 14:9)
Jesus cast out demons by the Spirit, and though He is the Word, He does nothing except in teamwork with the Spirit - He said He only did what He saw the Father do, spoke only what He had heard. The Word and Spirit agree in all things. So we don't just pick a verse and 'stand on it', we first commune with the Father and by revelation let Him lead us to a verse that speaks His heart for our situation. (Matthew 12:28, John 5:19, 30)
Going to the third heaven- what Father thinks about it
In Paul's time the sky was 1st heaven, outer space 2nd, and where God lives the 3rd. Paul said he was caught up to 'Paradise' (heaven) or 'the third heaven' in II Corinthians 12:2,4.
A lot of money has been collected and ministries built on saying if you come to their meetings you will go up to the 3rd heaven or they will teach you how to do that, but here is what the Father thinks about it:
"Don't say in your heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (Or to bring Christ down from above)" Romans 10:6
Can you see Jesus or go to heaven by being in the Spirit as John was in Revelation 1:10 and 4:2? Of course. Can you see the Lord as Ezekiel did in chapter 1, or Isaiah saw heaven in chapter 6, Daniel in chapter 7, or John seeing the Father on His throne in Revelation 4 after being taken in the Spirit? Of course. But every example in scripture has a common trait - heaven initiates the experience, not man.
If He wants to show you heaven, fine. But we are not to initiate an experience. Can we pray and worship and get ourselves into place to receive from Him? Absolutely. But He initiates visions and experiences in the Spirit. He says we aren't to try to bring Jesus down from above nor seek to ascend to heaven. So that's what He thinks. Will we change our thoughts to agree with Him?
Think about this - if you try to communicate your thoughts to a person but they are so set on what they think you know it does no good to talk to them further, don't you end the discussion and just move on? Then why does so much of our culture try to change God's mind about our situations instead of us learning how He thinks? It's the only way to talk to Him because He is truth and He can't vary from that. As they say, if you don't feel as close to God as you used to, guess who moved?
Don't get me wrong - He will bless people who try to ascend to heaven or bring Christ down to the extent He can, just because He is good - He will take hold of anything He can to bring good things into our lives - but it doesn't mean He endorses someone or a teaching. He made a donkey talk remember.
But why would the Lord be thinking and then writing to us not to think we should ascend to heaven or bring Christ down from above (pray to see Jesus/have a visitation from Him)?
Now the choice
This is why - Christ is already in you.
"Do you not know you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" I Corinthians 3:16
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you...?" I Corinthians 6:19
"Christ in you, the hope of glory." Colossians 1:27
The truth is, God lives in you, so that is how He thinks and the perspective from which He speaks. You don't need to ascend to heaven nor bring Christ down to earth - Christ is in you already. So then you are faced with the lust for experiences rather than true faith and true solutions. Hmmm. Do you still want to think like Him, or do you want to stick to your thoughts, 'If only Jesus would appear to me I could ask Him...'?
The choice - do you believe the drab old, mundane Word of God you have 10 versions of on your shelf, or the flashy advertising from the TV preacher who appeals to your ego and need, and who manipulates money out of you? Or will you change your thoughts to agree with Him?
The real failure of the body of Christ and most preachers, is that they don't know Him. They are believers, but not knowers. If they knew Him truly, they would know the garbage they say He says isn't true. To know the Word without knowing Him who first spoke the Word, leads to error and an anemic and weak body of Christ.
If you want to commune with the Father, if you want to learn to fellowship with the Father and Son and know the Spirit in you and know that peace 24/7 every moment, if you want to walk through life with Him, you must realize He is in you and start to think like Him.
Next week we'll pick up with the 'open heaven' teaching and what the Father really says about it. Blessings,