Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Do Good. Get Good. Right?

Spending my teenage years with a mom entrenched in prayer, enthralled by rebuking, binding and casting out demons, I’ve always sat on the fringe of inner healing and deliverance ministry.

As a young married couple in church leadership, our pastor asked all cell leaders to go through Issue Focus RTF (Restoring the Foundations) and be trained in it so that we could use it for crisis situations in our small groups. Great idea. Perhaps not so much if you, the leader, are still very much broken and fractured yourself, but a great idea nevertheless.

As life evolved for me and I encountered the love of my Heavenly Father, I found myself being constantly challenged by Truth (Jesus, see John 14:6) to allow Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Truth to bring Truth to every area of my heart and dismantle the stronghold of deception that I had ensconced myself within.

In my quiet time, He would set before me lies I believed. Some I’d formed on my own.  Others I’d swallowed like a catfish along with every other word a pastor spoke from his pulpit, taking his theology and making it my own without ever examining it with Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit to discern if it was actually true or just what the person speaking believed to be true.

Finding great freedom and liberation through RTF and other inner healing and deliverance modalities, I began to study and then implement several tools in my own inner healing ministry.

In the past few years, one common thread I saw in many of the ministry receivers that sat before me was this notion of transaction. I know for a fact that it’s subtle and most, if not all, do not even realize they have placed this condition upon their relationship with God but it exists all the same. And I believe it is wreaking havoc in the very foundation of trust and our ability to receive the love of God that transforms our hearts and lives.

I’ve seen many clients longing to have a baby, hoping to get married, dreaming of being a world changer, a Heidi Baker, a Bill Johnson….you name it. The dream, the hope, the desire of their heart is huge, weighty, lofty. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that.

Until the client begins to say, “I’ve kept myself pure. I’ve followed all the rules. I’ve given up my life to serve Him. I’ve done everything He’s asked of me and then some. I’ve did this... I’ve did that… I haven’t sinned. I’m not out there whoremonging.” And so on and so forth.

At the root of that diatribe of the heart lies an injured expectation that I did this for God so I expect Him to do that.  Tit for tat. You pay for my lunch today. I’ll buy your lunch tomorrow. You scratch my back. I’ll scratch yours. You do for me. I’ll do for you. This is a transactional relationship based on conditions. 

I did this...now you do that. I gave myself to your rules, to your service now you give me my heart's desire. It's how most people do life, tit for tat. And then we project that way of life onto God - full of transactions and conditions. Only, when God doesn’t respond the way we think He should, we end up mad, bitter, offended and angry at God. Determining in our hearts that He’s untrustworthy or we bury our true feelings under a whole bunch of verbose Christianese while we live in an absence of peace - discontent and discouraged.

When hope fades, it's because we are believing a lie or because we've placed our hope in an object not the Source. He is the God of hope who fills us with ALL joy and peace in believing (Romans 15:13). If there is no peace or joy, it’s highly likely we have misplaced our hope from its Source onto an object. 

Am I doing good because I expect to be rewarded for my performance? Am I doing this because I want something in return? Often, we say no with our mouths.  But at the root of our motivation to do good, the answer is yes, we do. I do good. You do good by me. Conditional. Transactional.
Is it wrong to expect good while doing good? Should we not have any expectations?  I think the more valid question would be, what is motivating my doing good? Is it love or the expectation of reward? Am I choosing to do good because it’s the right thing to do, the good thing? Did I make this choice based on the fruit of the knowledge of the tree of good and evil or the tree of life?
Every choice from the tree of life is rooted in love, motivated by love. Every choice made from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil takes a side. I’m choosing to do something based on whether it’s right or wrong and often I have equated my being blessed or favored to my choosing the right thing (the good thing).

In my opinion, expectations lead to performance and control. Paul Young, author of The Shack, says it best, “Expectations are one of the dominant ways in which we attempt to control life, relationships and God. Expectations are largely disappointments waiting to happen. Expectations are all about doing...about performance.”

As one friend pointed out today, even as children we are taught, “Do good and get a reward.” 
So the logic follows, I’ve done good. I’ve kept myself. Now I should be rewarded with marriage, with children. Then for whatever reason, that doesn’t happen.  Or a woman keeps herself pure, gets married with the expectation that her arms and quiver will be filled with little ones. But for whatever reason, that doesn’t happen. Or someone gives up everything to embrace the call of God on their life. Then for whatever reason, nothing becomes of it – at least in their mind or by their standards. 

Think back to the initial poured out complaint before God that I listed as a diatribe when I began, it’s full of I statements which reflect self-righteousness, self-effort and done/did/doing/didn’t verbs which reflect performance. This is what we were taught as kids, but it is steeped in a performance theology where I have to perform for love, perform for acceptance, perform for rewards. We have learned to live conditionally or transactionally which eliminates the need to live relationally. And sadly, many adults today are still living by rules, conditions and transactions in lieu of relationship – with God and with each other. 

When our choices are rooted in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, our inside world feels the fruit of those choices. If the outcome is good, we’re happy. If the outcome is not what we expected, we live in the discontentment of negative emotions. Being swayed to and fro based on the outcome of what we expected to happen, coming to ill formed conclusions such as, “well since good isn't happening, God must be evil ... or at least He's evil towards me. He doesn't take an interest in me...He isn’t for me. I can’t trust Him.”  Up and down in our emotions like a roller coaster ride. 

On and on our negative emotions swirl and roar within us bringing us to a place of agreement with the evil one and handing over our power and the victory Jesus has won for us to him.
Discontentment will always cause us to see what we don't have. Living through the tree of the knowledge of good and evil creates corrupted wisdom. It is not pure. God never meant for us to eat of that tree and yet the fruit of it still provides the very substance of our meals thousands of years later. 

The truth is...He has brought you to His banqueting table and His banner over you is love. He came that you might have life and life to the full. Constancy only exists in Tree of Life living. Tree of Life living says, “What would love do? How do I love myself? Where is Love (God) loving me right now? How is He showing up in my life?” Love is so full. It overflows with life. It's too big for us to see cracks and voids...

Abba loves us unconditionally. He gives to us because generosity is a part of His nature. Truly, He does not withhold good from us. Delay and unfulfillment doesn’t mean He is punishing you. Hebrews 11:13, “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…” Romans 14:23, “...and whatever is not from faith is sin.”

Many heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11 died before they received the fulfillment of their promises in this realm. But don’t miss the fact that they saw them and even welcomed them into their hearts. So why do we, when delay happens begin to live as people with no hope getting angry and bitter, giving up on trusting God? Why do we believe that promises, destiny and prophetic words die if we are people of eternal life?? We go to sleep here in a world where we are strangers and exiles. We don't die. I so want to give this truth away to others in way that restores hope and brings life and joy and peace. 

Dear friend, your delay is not only heart wrenching to you, it is also heart wrenching to Him. He is not in His sovereignty blocking your heart’s desires. Even while serving Him on the surface, many have pushed Him away in their hearts. It is indeed just that, a life of servitude like master to slave living as a useful tool in the Kingdom of God. This is not your destiny. You have been summoned by the King to feast at His table and His banner over you His love. 

I bless you today to not lose heart while doing good. I bless you to not grow weary of doing good. I bless you to be like Jesus, to go about doing good and healing all who are oppressed of the devil, for God is with you. I bless you to do good from a place of wholeness and love. May your heart be at rest in Him today.