Christ-Sensitive

I’ve been desensitized.

The image fills my mind of a newborn foal, seconds old in the world; it is being toweled off and rubbed down–imprinted on and desensitized to human contact.

It is the only way I can explain the realities, and the unrealities of my world. And you, I think, have been desensitized, too.

You see, I’m beginning to wake up to a bold state of things: if I believe the Gospel then I cannot deny that the incarnation means that God in Christ is in all; that in being birthed into our world Yhwh Elohim baptized himself in our human existence; that at the cross the Son spread his final, eternal “No!” to the Fall across the universe and redeemed Adam. I cannot deny the writer of the book declaring that this Son ascended to the right hand of the Father–though never having truly left the great trinitarian dance even at the last–carrying all of humanity with him, seating us in heavenly places.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. -Ephesians 2:4-7

I cannot deny this Son’s own word declaring that anyone who believed in Him would never die, or that He is the source of a wellspring the drought of which he who drinks will never hunger or thirst again.

So why does my experience disagree? Somehow Yhwh Elohim himself lives inside of me. Somehow I can never die, even though the evidence surrounds me that one day–barring the ever-nearing coming of the King of Glory–I will die.  Somehow, God is in every person and every person is in God and still evil persists in the world. Somehow.

I’ve been desensitized.

The True Reality is that since Jesus took me into himself, I’ve never gone a day without him. And the truth is, that didn’t happen within my lifetime or at my choosing; it happened within his, and by his choosing. I’ve never lived a day outside of Jesus.

“But if the Spirit were literally in me, wouldn’t my life be radically different?” You may ask. Your life is radically different; you’ve been desensitized. 

And on any given day I can touch it, too. I can peel back the layers of callous and feel something awakened within me. The playful breeze, the joyful birdsong, the billowing clouds and the trees rushing and creaking in the wind suddenly all has the breath and voice of Yhwh in a moment, I get goose pimples and I say I’ve “experienced” God. But the True Reality is I am always experiencing God. I’ve been desensitized, but the glory goes on; the Bush always burns, and the glimpses of what we might call ‘glory‘ are fleeting touches to sensitivities intentionally honed by religion to make a God who is powerful enough, but with a short attention and largely uninterested.

Some time back I was asked the question, ‘How do you practice the Presence?’ And my answer then was that I have been learning to see the Presence in the mundane moments–in the boredom, in the empty. The Bush burning in the middle of the desert.

My answer now is I don’t need to practice the Presence any more than I need to practice breathing; sure if I think about it I can breathe better in certain high-energy situations–jogging, for example–but the reality is that I am breathing every minute of every day without a single second’s thought and so too the Presence. I didn’t decide to begin breathing.

So too, the Presence.

He’s around me constantly,” as the song playing in the background declares.

I have been desensitized. And so have you.

Because you see, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you have come from; you are in Jesus. It does not matter your ethnicity, your gender or your political position; you are in Jesus. It does not matter whether you identify as a Christian, or what particular brand of Christianity you cleave to; you are in Jesus. And it doesn’t matter what religion or the church has told you about prerequisite prayers and human nature – you are in Jesus.

And you are not in Jesus as a sinner saved by grace; you are in Jesus as an heir of the Second Adam. You can’t even identify with the first Adam because his lineage and the curse thereof was redeemed in Jesus before you were ever a twinkle in your momma’s eye. You can’t identify as a sinner saved by grace because you were not born in sin but in righteousness. 

Can you believe that? Or am I getting too fantastical for you? You’ve been desensitized. You’ve been desensitized to the Wonder of the Gospel, to the Eternal Mystery of Eternal Christ in you, the hope of glory. You’ve been desensitized to the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world to the definite and complete perfection of all.

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. -Hebrews 10:11-14

You were born into the lineage of Jesus–Yhwh in the flesh–not because of a choice you made to follow Jesus later in life–not because of a choice your parents made–but because of a choice Jesus made 2000-some-odd years ago; ‘I have come to do Your will, oh God’ (Hebrews 10:7) You were born into the fate of the Son of God because He placed Himself into your fate, and in-so-doing He overcame your fate and wrapped you and all of the rest of humanity into His fate; ascending to Father’s right hand.

But you were born and from the moment you took your first breath you were rubbed down with a broken philosophy, a broken religion and a broken reality that told you one thing: “God” is too distant to be the life flooding your lungs, imprinted on a false reality. But there is better, and He is all around you. You do not have to look for fantastical things, for all you must do is look: there is nothing you can see, feel, touch, taste or hear that is not bound up in the fate of the Incarnate Christ. Good, or bad; and that possibility should resound with nothing but joy and peace if you can see the bigness of the Risen Jesus. All creation groans waiting for its redemption in the revealing of the glory of the Sons of God–not the adoption, but the revealing; yes the adoption–the redemption of our bodies–is ahead of us, but the glory is now; it is the mystery–Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1) We’ve been desensitized.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. -Romans 8:18-25

And you see, I grew up with a faith taught me that said that Yhwh was only present in those who made a conscious decision to follow Christ, and that additionally Christ himself would only benefit those who lived a faultless life before the scrutiny of his eventual judgement, the atonement for sins remaining incomplete till the end of His righteous judgement–the scrutinisation of those worthy of salvation by merit. And you might laugh but the organized Christianities I have seen elsewhere are all underlied by similar mythology. “You must do this to be saved! You must be this kind of person to enter eternal life!” And for a first-century world born under the curse of a recently deprecated Law, a firm and definite transition had to be realized and cemented in memory, and this is why there is so much instruction written in the Bible to people ‘born in sin’. But post-cross? You were born free.

And you were born into Jesus, the Last Adam. You were born in his freedom, not into the first Adam’s bondage. Ishmael was born into slavery, but Isaac the child of promise was born in freedom, and he was the promise of the Promise, the Son risen in freedom with all humanity in tow with no ‘if’ or ‘but’, not up to you or me or any one but Him, the Preeminent Christ. So what then are the requirements?

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven …  -Colossians 1:15-23

Believe it.

Believe Him. 

Believe He did it, and believe it is true.

And now, I am re-sensitizing. I’m seeing slivers of the glory in everything around me – it brings me such immeasurable joy to know the all-encompassing bigness of Jesus. And it gives me such peace to know that I have always been secure in Him; it gives me such peace to know that all humanity is secure in Him. And it gives me sorrow amidst great expectation because every single human walking the face of the earth has Yhwh God knitted into the fabric of their being literally and they have been born in freedom but… they are desensitized. And Christianity gives me the most sorrow–especially the brand I came from–because Christianity professes sensitivity. It professes knowledge of the Gospel. But so great a crowd yet live in bondage to the un-realities of religion which are so easily debunked by the Biblical record, because they are desensitized; how could it be true?

Do you want to be free? You already are.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i]against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

-Romans 8:31-39

Detoxing Bad Culture

[Why I’m Not Going to Watch Deadpool]

 

I don’t think it’s any secret to the Internet that the Deadpool movie just came out – we’ve been bombarded for months on facebook by expectant fan posts. And up until a few days ago I was among them; even after finding out about the R-rating and what to expect content-wise, I had planned to go see it – the trailers were promisingly funny and, well, why not?

I’m not sure when exactly I changed my mind, but I decided not to go see the movie in theater and eventually, not ever. And here’s where I’m coming from. I can remember right off the top of my head when I consciously made a decision to allow less filtering in what I watched; I asked to go to a movie night with my older siblings and my parents basically left the decision up to me with the stern and unheeded warning that the movies I chose to watch would influence me. I’m paraphrasing from memory, of course. I was somewhere in the vicinity of 10-12 at the time, and still thought picking up bad language from a movie was the worst thing you could have happen to you (and was pretty sure I was too good to have my vocabulary influenced by movies anyway). Ten years later, I wish I would have chosen differently then, and continually.

See back then the very worst swear word I knew was ‘damn’ or ‘shit’ and they only came once in a sentence. Back then I didn’t really know what people looked like under their clothes and while getting hooked on pornography is a totally different story, the kind of movies that are ‘okay’ now for someone like me are chalk full of at least soft-core porn. ‘Okay’ because I’ve seen it all before – it doesn’t matter the fifth, twentieth, hundredth time anymore. Violence, gore, things that shouldn’t be celebrated or made light of. And once I decided to say one thing was okay it was just a downward spiral through filthy, senseless language, horror/thriller, increased blood, gore and violence, and soon enough pornographic content everywhere. We’re desensitized. am desensitized. And my condition hasn’t remained only within the limits of what I watch.

And I’ll tell you something else. Being desensitized to pornography–and maybe nudity in general, but namely pornography–is a serious deal. Your body doesn’t (can’t) physically react to normal, real sex the same after years of being trained to react to pornographic sex. I don’t think anybody makes a big enough issue about real affects of this kind of stuff because we’re so busy trying to prove things on moral grounds and reasoning. When I was thirteen and drowning in a newly-discovered pornography addiction I never thought that there would be a time when I would be more concerned about the affects of pornography saturation on my marriage and how I view and think about women in general than my moral condition or what God thought of my addiction, but now is that time.

And I’m shooting at probably the most obvious target more than anything, but when I was making that decision to step outside my parents’ filter system and get some dirt on my own filters, if I had heard one sentence from present-day me, I don’t think I would’ve believed it. Because words are such a little thing and I never would’ve thought then that eventually I would include such completely useless and derogatory words in my vocabulary, but I’m desensitized now and hearing more is just ‘okay’ and another day at the office. And I can just hear what some people would say – “That’s just the way society is, you’ll go to work on any given day and hear all the things,” (and I do) “You may as well just get used to it; people aren’t going to change and you should accept how they are; don’t be so sensitive!”

That’s not okay to me anymore.

It’s not okay that I go to work and it seems like every third word out of almost anyone is a swear word. It’s not classy or cool and frankly it makes a gross atmosphere. It’s not okay to me that so much null and negative energy is socially acceptable in the way we talk to each other. And I’m not making this a Christian or even moral issue on purpose; anyone can argue against Christian or even moral arguments and when it comes down to it, your filter is your own. I’m just not talking about what’s right or wrong; I’m talking about what makes me a more creative, productive person in every single thing I do or say naturally. I’m talking about real issues that I know I am not the only one to have because of being desensitized to false experiences.

And I’ll just talk to Christians for a second to say you’re so over-saturated in critiquing teachers. Every Christian teacher has a whole crowd of people vehement over even just one idea, and you’ll argue and debate till the second coming. I can’t believe how vicious Christians get toward people who teach something even a little different than what they believe personally. Someone I sincerely suggested a book to wouldn’t touch it–because they didn’t agree with some of the things the author said. But who’s getting vicious about today’s ‘entertainment-only’ books and movies? Why does it take a few words to send you ballistic over a Christian teacher, but you can go to the theater and watch any movie without batting an eye at the most obscene suggestions? Can I tell you something? You’re giving grace to the wrong things. 

So back to Deadpool.

For anyone who thought I was just being prudish, I didn’t just decide that the movie content was ‘not okay’ for me to watch. I didn’t decide not to watch Deadpool because I thought it was too high on the scale of wrong. Instead, I decided not to watch because I realized I don’t want to be desensitized to cinematized sex, violence and filthy language. I decided that I don’t want the kind of content you’ll find in Deadpool–and so many of the movies that have come out over the last decade and more–to be ‘okay’ anymore. I imagine a world where sex is too sacred and powerful and pure to show on a movie screen – where words mean enough to be used with tact – where negativity in any form isn’t mass-produced, wrapped in plastic and put on a shelf to share with everyone.

I want to detox all this bad culture.

I want to re-sensitize. I’m not saying that I’m giving up on the 99% of TV and movies that include obscene content. But I’m not saying I won’t. I want to say, “Well, there could be exceptions if the movie is good enough…” and maybe I could justify that against re-sensitizing. I mean come on, I’ve got a long way to go and everyone knows you can’t just go cold turkey on this stuff.

Or maybe all these pre-recorded tapes going off in my head are the reason everyone is still going along with it. Maybe it’s time to totally restructure how I think about the content I choose to saturate myself in. Because it’s still my choice what I let through the filter, and it always has been.

And I won’t judge or look down on you for what you choose. Yes, it makes me really sad to see my younger siblings over-saturating themselves in all this crap and becoming so desensitized. It makes me sad that what I never would have dreamed you could see in a movie ten years ago is ‘totally okay’ for teenagers to go to the theater and watch. But even at that, your filter is your filter. It’s your choice. But I’ll still be here to make sure you know what it looks like not to be saturated in the toxicity of what’s socially acceptable. I’ll still be an example to my future kids, because I’m the generation in my legacy where being desensitized isn’t okay anymore; this ends with me.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.    -Philippians 4:8