The Church: We Got It All Wrong

Much of the traditions a church practices are someone’s idea of what metric is appropriate to measure progression or right and wrong. People often ask, “Why is the Church so divided?” We don’t know the real metrics. We don’t know the standard.

“This will be quick,” is what I tell myself every time I begin writing a blog. I’m wrong a lot of the time. But, we’ll see.

So! I just had the most enlightening and encouraging conversation with my sister and so many things were brought out that I’m sure I’ll be meditating on for some time. I’d like to share one of them to challenge our perspective and encourage us on our journey.

The two major questions posed by my sister and I were:

  1. What is sin?
  2. What if it’s (life) not about maturity, but about humility?

Today, I’ll focus on the second one.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed a change or shift in perspective– especially in the last two years. Almost two years ago, I left the church and Christianity behind with no idea as to where I was going. What I’ve experienced in my time since leaving has been monumental and incredibly life changing.

As a Christian, unknowingly, I would create big and tiny metrics by which to measure my success or failure at living right or pleasing God. This process is something I see Christians do all the time. It is the general foundation for religion in general. Honestly, I’m still in the process of unlearning and challenging these metrics because there are moments they still have authority or influence in my life.

Much of the traditions a church practices are someone’s idea of what metric is appropriate to measure progression or right and wrong. Some churches emphasize baptism, how you dress, operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, consistency in disciplines like praying, fasting, reading the Bible, outreach, or going to church. Most, if not all, emphasize the appearance of a thing and make inferences about what that indicates about your spiritual maturity (i.e. purity culture, your excitement for the “things of God” vs. the “things of man,” your profession, etc.).

It gets even more convoluted when you observe what metrics each individual has set up. “Did I curse today?” “Ooh. I’ve been tithing regularly!” “I’ve been serving diligently at church.” “I haven’t listened to any secular music in a while!”

People often ask, “Why is the Church so divided?” The picture I’ve just painted is precisely why. We don’t know the real metrics. We don’t know the standard.

Another way to say this is: we have no root. Because we have no root, we have to make up (manufacture) fruit and a process (religion) by which to attain it. Christianity is a rootless tree. Its participants spend time validating themselves one to another with their various metrics and live with an uncertainty/anxiety about how God feels toward them. “My metric is better or more important than your metric” — hence all of the infighting.

In all my time in religion, I never found rest. There was always someone to whom I could compare myself and make myself feel more mature or someone I’d feel inferior to. This is the continuous cycle that religion aids in. It arms you with the tools to make fig leaves, to seek and reject validation, and to go against the grain.

We are uncertain of who God really is. We know the God we’ve made up for ourselves. And because we’ve made Him up (or others have done so for us), we have all of these made up ideas about what it takes to please Him.

We are afraid to find out what does please Him because we’re afraid we’re not enough. This idea of us being born sinners and being undeserving of Christ is keeping people bound to a vicious cycle that will refuse to release us. It keeps people believing, “I don’t deserve it. He’s so much greater than I am.”

Aside: It makes me wonder about the relationship between a parent and child. No parent living from light desires to always be greater than their child. They desire for their child to elevate and surpass their level. God is no different. “Greater works shall you do…”

We are afraid to face Him.

We are afraid to truly know Him and be known by Him. So, we create processes and milestones that make us feel worthy to be associated with Him. We seek maturity, spiritual mastery, knowledge, accolades and such to validate ourselves to Him.

This is where the second question comes in.

What if it’s (life) not about maturity, but about humility?

There are many quotes that seek to define humility. I’m sure there is a precise way to define the word, but I’d like to look at the picture of humility. It involves ‘light.’

“God is light and in Him is no darkness” (1 John 1:5). Scripture also refers to Jesus as light. “Therefore יהושע spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall by no means walk in darkness, but possess the light of life.” (John 8:12). The Torah is light as well. “For the command is a lamp, And the Torah a light, And reproofs of discipline a way of life” (Proverbs 6:23).

There are a few important precepts to understand about light.

Light gives life. This is to say it is the only Source/Provider.

Light challenges. This is to say, light will expose what something is or isn’t. It will call it to its highest self or truth.

Light reflects. This is to say that light provides identity.

Light is authority. This is to say that light is foundation, seed, root, and dictates the identity of someone or something. It IS the standard.

As a child of Light, we can expect: for God to be our provider, to show us who we are, to challenge and remove what isn’t Him, to be the authority by which we function in this world, and to reveal His standard. Doesn’t this kind of sound like Jesus? “I only do what I see my Father do.” Jesus was called a Son of God because he learned from (submitted to) Light. He’d gone through the necessary process/cycle by which light becomes the only standard.

We often see life as a process by which we are growing to maturity. This is true. But, maturity and humility do not cancel each other out.

Humility is a state of being in which I am submitted to light. Humility is vulnerability. It doesn’t matter if I think or others think I’ve matured if I am untrained in vulnerability. Humility is a picture of trust. If I have not trusted God to provide for me, to show me who I am, to challenge and remove what isn’t Him, to be the authority by which I function in this world, I have simply reached a level of “mastery” in the eyes of society/world.

To describe this humility: I’m not worried about tomorrow and the alleged milestone that may be waiting there for me. I’m not worried about what metric I’ve set up to feel like I’m progressing. I’m not worried about my wants and needs. I’m not worried about giants. I’m not trying to pave my own way. I am present today resting, trusting, open before Him so that He may show me Him.

My sister said this and it drove it home for me. “A child isn’t worried about being able to walk. A child isn’t worried about what they sound like. A child isn’t worried about how to eat or where their next meal will come from.” A child trusts. A child is surrendered. A child rests. A child explores. A child has no care of danger.

In the Church, they talk about having child-like faith. This is a description of it. I am vulnerable and open before my Father. I trust my Father. I see He is good. I see I am good. I am not concerned with getting to a place where I no longer need help of a particular kind. That time will come naturally. It is not my concern the appointed seasons in which I’ll develop this or that. My only responsibility is to stay connected to Him through vulnerability and trust. The connection is what signifies real maturity.

Considering these ideas, my perspective shifts when I think of popularly quoted verses. “I know the plans I have for you.” “Trust in the LORD with all your heart.” “Come boldly to the throne of grace.” “Do not worry about tomorrow.” “Does he not feed the birds?”

Every day, I’ve begun to wake up with the expectation that God will provide for me. God will show me who I am. God is the authority by which I navigate and learn. God is my Father. God knows me. God loves me. God thinks I’m worthy. God knows.

The system and surrounding systems of religion ask us to bear responsibility that isn’t ours. Again, my only responsibility is to stay connected to Him through vulnerability and trust. The steadfast connection is what determines and signifies real maturity.

The Torah, Sin, and Me

The Torah is the foundation for all Scripture. A lack of understanding the Torah leads to a lack of understanding Scripture.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about sin as it relates to injustice and it got me thinking. Many have come to understand the usual ‘lie, cheat, steal’ set of “sins” does not include ALL sin. Christians’ interpretation of sin is expanding. (I specify Christians because they largely subscribe to ‘a set of sins’ ideology and other cultures already have a more nuanced perspective about “sin.”)

We think sin is something you do or neglect to do. It is very black and white. With this expansion of interpretation, Christians are understanding sin to have a bit of nuance.

See, Christian theologians have greatly influenced Christianity practiced in Western culture.

Western culture is influenced by Greco-Roman culture and ideals. This is not to say that it is bad. It is to say its foundation from which all ideas come is in direct contradiction of the foundation of Scripture. The Torah is the foundation for all Scripture. A lack of understanding the Torah leads to a lack of understanding Scripture.

Many believe the Torah is “the Law.” Due to Christian doctrine that says, “the law is done away with,” many avoid this portion of Scripture and unbeknownst to them — avoid understanding.

The Torah is not the law; though there are translations of the Hebrew word that mean law. It is best understood as “instruction, way.” When the psalmist David writes and asks YHWH to instruct him (David) in His ways, THIS is what he’s referring to.

The Torah is the instruction given to all who would come into covenant with YHWH. It does not instruct us with rules and regulations to follow in a “black and white” manner. It is a picture of the way YAH would desire us to walk. It is a guide for anyone to understand how life works. The Torah is the WAY.

Being raised in Torah teaches you how to submit to a process of healing so that you may always produce at your optimum level. The Torah teaches you that the wholeness of Israel is YAH’s desire and anything that does not bring about that is a failure to walk in the way. Thankfully, YAH, the beloved Father He is, teaches us in our failure.

The Torah does not apply the usual negative connotation to the word “failure.” According to the Torah, sin is failure to walk in His ways. This isn’t as black and white as we normally perceive it. When we see YAH respond strongly by giving certain consequences like “they shall be cut off from their people,” we assume it must mean “this sin is worse than others.” According to the Torah, it is not so. Granted, the Torah does not teach that all sin is equal. It is not. There are levels to this and responses from humans to help make the failure right (that’s for another day).

The Hebrew word for “sin” is חטאה (chatah, Strong’s #2403) and literally means “miss the mark.” Sin is when we fail (miss) to walk in His ways (the mark). His ways are not rules and regulations. His ways are based on identity. His ways are based on who He is.

In my recent blog post, You Don’t Owe God Anything, I allude to this. Have you ever asked, “Why does God do things a certain way? Why does He not like this or that? Why does this matter to Him?” It all comes down to identity. It all comes down to nature. It all comes down to his function. The same is true for us.

Every instruction given in the Torah is for a purpose. Every instruction is YAH revealing to us who He is and who we are as a result. This is to say that He does not give instructions expecting or hoping for us to fail. He gives commands (instructions) that reveal who we are. His standard says, “I have made you to function this way; therefore, function this way.” One of the best examples of this is The 10 Words (what Christians call The Ten Commandments).

Everything YAH opposes in the Torah is due to it being an incomplete picture of Him and how He intends for us to live. YAH operates a particular way. He is a living being that engages with life about Him. Anything that desires to exist in fellowship with Him will be called to a particular standard of function and He has every desire to teach us how. He does not place a weight on you that requires, “First, you do this and then I’ll approve you.” Relationship with Him is process. It is a becoming. It is an undoing from one experience to the next.

This is the freedom I have found outside of religion. At the core of religion is the idea that “I must ______ to be approved or validated.” In YAH, I am truly validated. Meaning: He is my Provider. He is my Source of identity — not the “success” of my efforts to be right. He is intentional about ensuring my healing. He is intentional about ensuring my oneness. He is intentional about ensuring my wholeness.

This intentionality is a picture of Love. He does not give up. He did wait for me to choose Him. He chose me and continues to pursue relationship with me.

To see sin the way we’ve been taught endangers my ability to receive love and therefore function in an intimate relationship with Him. For, I will always see what I do or do not do as something that puts me at risk of being rejected by Him. So, I would not live from a place of vulnerability allowing Him to be light and teach me His ways. Instead, I would run, hide, and create fig leaves. Much of our ideology and practices are modern versions of fig leaves.

YAH is not interested in us pretending to have an intimate relationship with Him. I’ll say it another way. YAH is not interested in us providing for ourselves. He is not interested in us providing identity for ourselves. Without Him as light, the identity we provide for ourselves is incomplete and therefore could never be perfect (whole, complete). That’s where much “sin” comes from — a need for identity and our response to this need. Much sin is a response to lack and our best efforts to cover it.

In YAH, there is no lack. There is fulfillment. There is completeness. There is wholeness. There is healing.

Would you be made whole?

For further study on this topic:

Click on the links found in this post for further reading and study.

On Sensible Fool: Repent: More Than a Word, Religion: System Failure, Religion: A Twitter Rant

Understanding the Law: https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/studies-nt/understanding-law-in-romans-and-galatians.htm

Repent: More Than A Word

We don’t repent because we’ve failed miserably. We repent because we are destined to hit the bullseye.

REPENT.

It doesn’t mean what we think it does.

By now, many of us understand that there is quite a bit of nuance in the practices of confession, forgiveness, and repentance. They’re not the same.

Many of us have heard that the true meaning of repentance is the “turning away from.” To an extent, this is true. However, it moreso lends itself to our Western way of thinking. The Hebraic perspective offers a different angle and foundation altogether. To understand this, we have to visit the meaning of sin.

Many would define sin as any of the following:
unrighteousness
– the opposite of perfection
– doing bad stuff
– falling short

The basic definition of sin in the Hebrew is “failure.” This moreso aligns with the definition that has circulated many churches today — “missing the mark.” Picture a bullseye. Sin is to reach every point but the bullseye. (Even within the bullseye, there are places of greater accuracy).

The problem with our Western thinking is, we see everything in life very polarized — either you’re sinning or you’re not. Either you’re perfect or you’re not.” When you consider an entire target, you see there are many “gray” areas.

The Hebraic perspective offers a more nuanced perspective. There are levels — levels of accuracy, wholeness, maturity.

To “miss the mark” is to fail to be whole or complete. YAH is complete. YAH is whole. YAH is confident. YAH is sure of who He is. His power rests in His ability, nature, and inclination to be accurate.

What does this have to do with repentance? Short answer, everything. We see repentance as a means by which we stop going in the direction we were going and to start going the OPPOSITE way.

Repentance, simply, is “adjusting.” Turn away from the way you were doing, seeing, or thinking about it and re-aim. Recalibrate. We don’t repent because we’ve failed miserably. We repent because we are destined to hit the bullseye.

The importance of seeing the difference lies in the goal. It lies in understanding how YAH sees us. If I am practicing hitting my target, the goal is to hit the bullseye.

YAH has a perspective of His children that says, “You are made to hit the target. So, hit it.” That’s who you are. You are perfect; so, be perfect. I AM whole, so be whole. I am accurate; so, be accurate.

He does not see it as either you hit it or you didn’t. He’s not expecting you to not hit it. YAH doesn’t set us up for failure. YAH is not assuming you will fail. YAH is a good Father that is present in teaching us how to be exactly who He made us to be. A father can only reflect what He already is. Our Father is perfect and reflects perfection onto His children. He sees us as capable. So, when YAH prunes you, He is helping you shed what is hindering you from hitting the target.

Many teachings in Christianity teach from the standpoint (unknowingly) that you are doomed and inclined to fail. “We are all born sinners. We have a sin nature. We are inclined to sin.” (This is not biblical). It is believed that YAH commanded us things because we’d failed. This is untrue and counterintuitive.

YAH’s commands are declarations of who we are. “You will not have any other gods before me. You will not covet your neighbor’s possessions. You will not steal.”

What if you realized YAH saw you as a success rather than a failure? What if being whole wasn’t wishful thinking? What if all you needed to do was believe?

Stop striving and rest.

The Way Pt. 1

Truth doesn’t change, but Personified Truth is always moving. We must be prepared to follow Him even if it doesn’t make sense.

I often write notes in my phone using an app called Inkpad Notepad. I’ve been using it since 2015 and have access to all of the notes I’ve ever written.

I like being able to go back, see what I was thinking, and compare it to the way I think today.

One habit I’ve had in my time of writing notes is writing what YAH (God) says in parenthesis. Oftentimes, I’ll find myself ranting, complaining, and crying out in such dramatic emotion. Then, I’ll hear YAH insert Himself absolutely on cue. My thoughts are suddenly interrupted, YAH speaks, and I must stop and adjust my perspective. I don’t adjust my perspective out of fear, frustration,  or indifference, but the reality of Truth.

This is a picture of life.

When we walk with YAH, we ought always be ready to have our ideas interrupted and to forfeit them. “Make me walk in the path of Your commands, for I have delighted in it (Tehillim (Psalms) 119:35 TS2009).”

As we are going, we’re taking on new ideas embedded in our experiences and interpretations thereof. We often become hardened or set in a particular way. Life with YAH was never meant to be that way. It was never meant to be, “let’s build a house that we never leave.” Instead, I would liken it to setting up camp and moving as He goes.

Truth doesn’t change, but Personified Truth is always moving. We must be prepared to follow Him even if it doesn’t make sense. Even if it goes against all our former ideologies, we must lay them down and adjust our direction. He can be trusted to guide us. “and your ears hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the Way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right, or whenever you turn to the left (Yeshayah (Isaiah) 30:21 TS2009).”

In many of the Prophets and other portions of the Bible, we find them using the word “righteous” or “righteousness.” “Be glad in יהוה and exult, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Tehillim (Psalms) 32:11 TS2009.

In modern society, this is often translated as “right acts” or “right-standing with YAH.” These two interpretations have relation to the word/idea, but fall short in representing it solely and properly.

The word “righteous” refers to “walking in the path.” True righteousness is a picture of you  constantly walking with Him. If we remain still, we’ll get stuck in religion (comfort). Then we’ll bring in idols to replace YAH. Our works can quickly become our idols. Our positions, our ideas, our jobs, relationships, etc.

In contrast to righteousness, “wickedness” in the ancient Hebrew refers to “walking off the path.”

“Those who leave the paths of straightness to walk in the ways of darkness; who rejoice to do evil; they delight in the perversities of evil; whose paths are crooked, And they are perverted in their ways” (Mishlĕ (Proverbs) 2:13‭-‬15 TS2009).

Wickedness in His eyes is to not be connected to Him. It is a choosing to walk in your own path (idolatry, sin). This is death. “A man who strays from the way of understanding, rests in the assembly of the dead” Mishlĕ (Proverbs) 21:16 TS2009).

Wickedness is saying you don’t need to be guided by Him because you are/know enough to guide yourself.

It is you finding your own way of righteousness instead of accessing the Father through The Way (Messiah).

“יהושע said to him, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Yoḥanan (John) 14:6 TS2009)

 

 

 

 

What We’re All Missing

A lot of the time, when we see sin, we slap a morality bandage on it to “cure” it. This won’t do. Where there is sin, there is a need for healing.

This may be the shortest blog I’ve ever written. You’re welcome.

Where there is sin, there is a need for healing. A lot of the time, when we see sin, we slap a morality bandage on it to “cure” it.

Ideologies like, “if I do enough good stuff, then I won’t feel so bad about the bad stuff I used to do,” and “I can do enough to be holy,” and “God doesn’t love me because I’ve done something bad,” or “God loves me more because I’m on track,” indicate we are addressing symptoms, but not root issues.

Sin is an illegitimate means to fulfill a legitimate need. The Most High desires to provide for every need. Love, intimacy, relationship, etc.

Sin is when we go outside of God to fulfill the needs we have. Lying, fear, doubt, worry, murder, stealing, lust etc. are all outward expressions (evidences) of an inner problem.

The Most High desires to heal us so that we see Him as our Source — so that we don’t go to what kills thinking it’ll heal. Without an intimate relationship with the Most High and others, we will not have the proper perspective. We’ll continue to believe we can fill GOD-shaped holes with temporary satisfaction; but it’ll never address the true issue.

This is why we seek and serve the Most High. So, make a decision today to pursue intimate relationship with the Most High. Be vulnerable before Him. Take everything to Him.

He won’t let you down.