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August 01, 2007

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traveller

Yes, this is true! Sorry for the very long posting but I want to share with you an excerpt from a fiction work entitled The Shack by William P. Young. You can obtain a copy at www.theshackbook.com

To set up the scene you need to know that a man named MacKenzie is spending a weekend with the Trinity who have taken on a human form for this time with Mac. Papa (Father), Jesus (Son) and Sarayu (Holy Spirit.) The excerpt is a conversation between the four of them over dinner.

“Let me answer that by asking you a question. Why do you think we came up with the Ten Commandments?”
Again Mack had his fork halfway to his mouth, but took the bite anyway while he thought of how to answer Sarayu.
“I suppose, at least I have been taught, that it’s a set of rules that you expected humans to obey in order to live righteously in your good graces.”
“If that were true, which it is not,” Sarayu countered, “then how many do you think lived righteously enough to enter ‘our good graces’?”
“Not very many, if people are like me,” Mack observed.
“Actually, only one succeeded—Jesus. He not only obeyed the letter of the law but fulfilled the spirit of it completely. But understand this Mackenzie, to do that he had to rest fully and dependently upon me.”
“Then why did you give us those commandments?” asked Mack.
“Actually, we wanted you to give up trying to be righteous on your own. It was a mirror to reveal just how filthy your face gets living independently.”
“But as I’m sure you know there are many” responded Mack, “who think they are made righteous by following the rules.”
“But can you clean your face with the mirror that shows you are dirty? There is no mercy and grace in rules, not even for one mistake. That’s why Jesus fulfilled all of it for you so that it no longer has jurisdiction over you. And the Law which once contained impossible demands—‘Thou Shall Not…’—actually becomes a promise we fulfill in you.”
She was on a roll now, her countenance billowing and moving. “But keep in mind that if you live your life alone and independently, the promise is empty. Jesus laid the demand of the law to rest; it no longer has any power to accuse or command. Jesus is both the promise and its fulfillment.”
“Are you saying I don’t have to follow the rules?” Mack had now completely stopped eating and was concentrating on the conversation.
“Yes. In Jesus you are not under any law. All things are lawful.”
“You can’t be serious! You’re messing with me again,” moaned Mack.
“Child,” interrupted Papa, “You ain’t heard nuthin’ yet.”
“Mackenzie,” Sarayu continued, “Those who are afraid of freedom are those who cannot trust us to live in them. Trying to keep the law is actually a declaration of independence, a way of keeping control.”
“Is that why we like the law so much—to give us some control?” asked Mack?
“It is much worse than that,” resumed Sarayu. “It grants you the power to judge others and feel superior to them. You believe you are living to a higher standard than those you judge. Enforcing rules, especially in its more subtle expressions like ‘responsibility’ and ‘expectation’, tries to create certainty out of uncertainty. And contrary to what you might think, I have a great fondness for uncertainty. Rules cannot bring freedom; they only have the power to accuse.”
“Whoa!” Mack suddenly realized what Sarayu had said. “Are you telling me that responsibility and expectations are just another form of rules we are no longer under? ¬ Did I hear you right?”
“Yup,” again Papa interjected, “Now we’re in it—Sarayu, he is all yours!”
Mack ignored Papa, choosing instead to concentrate on Sarayu, which was no easy task.
Sarayu smiled at Papa and then back at Mack. She began to speak slowly and deliberately. “Mackenzie, I will usually take a verb over a noun anytime.”
She stopped and waited. Mack wasn’t at all sure about what he was supposed to understand by her cryptic remark and said the only thing that came to mind. “Huh?”
“I,” ¬ she opened her hands to include Jesus and Papa¬ “I am a verb. I am that I am. I will be who I will be.¬ I am a verb! I am alive, dynamic, ever active and moving. I am a being verb.”
Mack still felt like he had a blank stare on his face. He understood the words she was saying, but it just wasn’t connecting yet.
“And as my very essence is a verb,” she continued, “I am more attuned to verbs than nouns. Verb such as confessing, repenting, living, loving, responding, growing, reaping, changing, sowing, running, dancing, singing and on and on. Humans on the other hand have a knack for taking a verb that is alive and full of grace and turning it into a dead noun or principle that reeks of rules. Something growing and alive dies. Nouns exist because there is a created universe and physical reality, but if the universe is only a mass of nouns, then it is dead. Unless ‘I am’, there are no verbs, and verbs are what makes the universe alive.”
“And,” Mack was still struggling, although a glimmer of light seemed to begin to shine into his mind. “And, this means what, exactly?”
Sarayu seemed unperturbed by his lack of understanding. “For something to move from life to death, from verb to noun, is to move from grace to law. May I give you a couple examples?”
“Please do,” assented Mack. “I’m all ears.”
Jesus chuckled and Mack scowled at him before turning back to Sarayu. The faintest shadow of a smile crossed her face as she resumed.
“Then let’s use your two words: responsibility and expectation. Before your words became nouns, they were first my words, verbs; the ability to respond, and expectancy. My words are alive and dynamic—full of life and possibility; yours are dead; full of law and fear and judgment. That is why you won’t find the word responsibility in the Scriptures.”
“Oh boy,” Mack grimaced, beginning to see where this was going. “We sure seem to use it a lot.”
“Religion must use law to empower itself and control the people who they need in order to survive. I give you an ‘ability to respond’ and your response is free to love and serve in every situation, and therefore each moment is different and unique and wonderful. Because I am your ability to respond, I have to be present in you. If I simply gave you a responsibility, I would not have to be with you at all. It would now be a task to perform, an obligation to be met, something to fail at.”
“Oh boy, oh boy,” Mack said again, without much enthusiasm.
“Let’s use the example of friendship and how changing a verb to a noun can drastically alter a relationship. Mack, if you and I are friends, there is an expectancy that exists within our relationship. When we see each other there is expectancy of being together, of laughing and talking. That expectancy has no concrete definition; it is alive and dynamic and everything that emerges from our being together is a unique gift shared by no one else. But what happens if I change that ‘expectancy’ to an ‘expectation’—spoken or unspoken? Suddenly, law has entered into our relationship. You are now expected to perform in a way that meets my expectations. Our living friendship rapidly deteriorates into a dead thing with rules and requirements. It is no longer about you and me, but about what friends are supposed to do, or the responsibilities of a good friend.”
“Or,” noted Mack, “the responsibilities of a husband, or a father, or employee, or whatever. I get the picture. I would much rather live in expectancy.”
“As I do,” mused Sarayu.
“But,” argued Mack, “if you didn’t have expectations and responsibilities, wouldn’t everything just fall apart?”
“Only if you are of the world, apart from me and under the law. Responsibilities and expectations are the basis of guilt and shame and judgment and provide the essential framework that promotes performance as the basis for identity and value. You know well what it is like not to live up to someone’s expectations.”
“Boy, do I!” Mack mumbled. “It’s not my idea of a good time.” He paused briefly, a new thought flashing through his mind. “Are you saying you have no expectations of me?”
Papa now spoke up. “Honey, I’ve never placed an expectation on you or anyone else. The idea of expectations requires that someone does not know the future or outcome, and is trying to control behavior to get the desired result. Humans try and control behavior largely through expectations. I know you and everything about you. Why would I have an expectation other than what I already know? That would be foolish. And beyond that, because I have no expectations, you never disappoint me.”
“What? You’ve never been disappointed in me?” Mack was trying hard to digest this.
“Never!” Papa stated emphatically. “What I do have is a constant and living expectancy in our relationship, and I give you an ability to respond to any situation and circumstance in which you find yourself. To the degree that you resort to expectations and responsibilities, to that degree you neither know me nor trust me.”
“And,” interjected Jesus, “to that degree you will live in fear.”
“But,” Mack wasn’t convinced. “Don’t you want us to set priorities? You know¬: God first, then whatever, followed by whatever?”
“The trouble with living by priorities,” Sarayu spoke, “is that it sees everything as a hierarchy, a pyramid, and you and I have already had that discussion. If you put God at the top, what does that really mean and how much is enough? How much time do you give me before you can go on about the rest of your day, the part that interests you so much more?”
Papa again interrupted, “You see, Mackenzie, I don’t just want a piece of you and a piece of your life. Even if you were able, which you are not, to give me the biggest piece,¬ that is not what I want. I want all of you and all of every part of you and your day.”
Jesus now spoke again. “Mack, I don’t want to be first among a list of values; I want to be at the center of everything. When I live in you, then together we can live through everything that happens to you. Rather than a pyramid, I want to be the center of a mobile, where everything in your life, your friends, family, occupation, thoughts, activities, are connected to me, but move with the wind, in and out and back and forth, in an incredible dance of being.”
“And I” concluded Sarayu, “I am the wind.” She smiled hugely and bowed.

Larry

"It just does not seem possible that 42 years of lessons deeply ingrained into my soul could be so wrong."

Those lessons were learned, in your formative years, in a world that denies Jesus' reality. I believe our time in this world is mainly to allow us to grow into the knowledge that, while God needs us not at all, he does live for us and want us to live. The ramifications of this take time to understand, and lead to deep, Richter 10 soulquakes. Good enough reason for believing the lie that God just wants us for tools.

Lu

Larry, "...deep, richter 10 soulquakes..." AMEN to that. Good thoughts you shared. Thanks. I agree completely with your assessment.

Traveler - Hey thanks for stopping by! I've seen your comments on other blogs; its nice to have you here. Thanks for the story. I admit, it took me several readings to get through, but its got good stuff within. Thanks for sharing it.

Steven

If you're ever feeling unsure about anything you read, the answer is simple - turn to the word. Stop puzzling over whether an author's words are true in your life, and to you, but rather concern yourself with God's word. After all, his is the only one that matters.

Mark

What a blessing to stumble across this blog!! I attend the church that Bill Thrall founded, where John Lynch is currently the teaching pastor and Bruce McNichol attends. I had misplaced Bruce's business card and so searched "Truefaced" and came across this reference.
I too am amazed at how these truths can at the same time free me and anger me. Anger at my wasted efforts and lies that I embraced. Freedom to now enjoy scripture, to enjoy my standing (or curling up in his arms) in Christ.
From time to time, I will try to drop in and celebrate with you.

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