Continued from Shunning and Social Legitimacy – Part 1.
Tension and shunning have always existed between the religious elite who remain within Second Temple traditions, hierarchy, religious values and power versus those who choose, embrace and live out Jesus’ mission, values and lifestyle. The same dynamic is in effect with ‘family elite’ in dysfunctional families. God sent his Son to restore us to Him without ALL the law and duties and the need for human mediation that goes with it.
History is full of valiant stories of apparent troublemakers who grew in stature with God by daring to walk in their freedom, strong and confrontational to the social and religious status quo. These ‘clone rebels’ were hailed centuries later, held up as examples and celebrated as saints simply by staying true to God’s original plan. Most walked free of the need for praise, affirmation or social acceptance. They were intense individuals who stayed in step with the heavenly economy of motion and they found courage, knowing that Jesus’ commission had already qualified them. They understood that Jesus broke the exalted mold of religion right down to the fibres of entrenched family protocol. It was not only the religious forms that He came to free us from but the bondages of other’s expectations of what it meant for Him to be pleasing to God. We too must deal with the life decision as to who we will allow to influence the pattern of our spiritual DNA. Whatever our choice, we know through Jesus that mediation was not God’s original intent and only came in after the rebellion of Adam and Eve. Jesus is and was God’s final mediator between God and man. This place is where the decision to follow Jesus in ALL His ways comes into play. The masses have chosen to drop His invitation, opting instead to follow man made mediation (pastor/apostle/prophet as head of the church or designated family authority) for social inclusion and legitimacy.
If you are tempted to turn me off as an extremist, please now remember the much revered Joan of Arc. She was simply walking in a personal, face-to-face relationship with God but was marked as a heretic. Don’t forget that it was the ‘holy Catholic Church’ leaders that the people set up in partnership with the political kings of the day that tried to deny her of this God given right. Should you be tempted to say to yourself, ‘but we are not Catholic’ you are most mistaken. Every church on the planet throughout history from just a few generations after Jesus is of the Catholic Church because Protestantism is a shoot off of this system. In the 4th century the Roman Emperor Constantine adopted Christianity as the religion of the empire. This effectively ended persecution but entrenched Roman ideas of hierarchical leadership, one speaker to many listeners and physical temple based worship, forming what became known as the Catholic Church. Even though the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century opposed or ‘protested’ many of the practices and doctrines of the Catholic Church and proclaimed the priesthood of ALL believers, it did not deconstruct the hierarchical, temple based ‘Christian’ religion that began with Constantine. Both the Catholic and Protestant streams of Christendom follow this same error and continue to propagate it. Not knowing this history of our faith is no means of excuse. The entire foundation is false. As in the days of Joan of Arc or William Wilberforce or Martin Luther King it is the people in the majority who empower the oppressive system by setting or conforming to the social religious status quo. It takes a steadfast, intensely loyal lover of Jesus who knows their God and understands it may cost them their life to break the pattern. It most surely will cost them everything they once held dear to gain heaven’s favor while appearing as a fool to society.
This practice of shunning and shaming remains intact and religiously practiced not only by religiously run families but also by the body of Christ. This harshness is executed by the group with the intent to starve out or crush the spirit of any individual who dares to receive the freedom to become a son/daughter of God WITHOUT hierarchy’s claim of mediation by church or family leaders. These are illegitimate claims of authoritarian loyalty as we are to follow Jesus’ example not man’s as the first apostles did:
“Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than God. For we will not stop speaking of what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19 or
“We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29
Sadly, the very ones that have given up their soul for legitimacy from a group or surrogate family are the very ones that then turn on those who have laid down their lives for them and claim they are illegitimate.
Jesus most clearly disregarded social demands put on him by the ‘religious elite’ of his day as well as the expectations and attempted manipulation of his family. He modeled God’s heart for us and His Father’s value system, showing how we were to conduct ourselves and interrelate with those who tried to claim our allegiance in ways that are contrary to heaven’s ethics and morals. Our social legitimacy is found only in walking in unity with the One who created us as we conform our thoughts, ways and desires to His, not from the social acceptance of people groups or their leaders. As we align all our ways with His lifestyle, we are freed of the need for acceptance from religious priests and from demanding family members. He truly is the way, the truth and the life.
To live and speak God’s value systems will always marginalize the true followers of Jesus from the religious pretenders. When we self preserve and seek the vote of the crowds instead of living and boldly proclaiming right from wrong as Jesus did, we lose our social status and maybe even our very life. Jesus warned us of this and then asked ‘And what will it profit us if we give up our own soul?’ (In other words turncoat and sell out.)
But lets talk now about that other type of Jesus follower, the one who chooses to walk with Him free of the fear of rejection and emotional torment. Intense people are beautiful and a shining gift to the world. Though they are God’s loving reminder to the body of Christ, they are despised and rejected, for it seems that they are the very conscience of God to the people. Most assuredly they pay a high price to live and proclaim this but do so as bondservants of intimacy with the lover of their soul. This is not a half way, wish-washy, two-faced, hypocritical lifestyle, nor the lifestyle of one who lives in cognitive dissonance. It is rare amongst the people of God in the West but prevalent in countries where it is understood that to boldly speak out and identify with Jesus as He lived and spoke is to die.
Perhaps you are a passionate Jesus follower dedicated to working out your salvation by emulating His practices and teachings. Do people keep trying to silence and remove your individual personhood and conscience? Are you only tolerated in a family or religious group if you will conform to their hierarchal rulership or their mediated and monetized religion, which calls itself ‘the church’? Maybe you are so intense that you aim to love Him by joyfully conforming to ‘His image’ and not religion’s while those who claim to be ‘family’ disappear. They might tolerate you in secret at a small gathering, but on social media or in public they shun you. They are ashamed of you. Why? Because their conscience is pricked and they are divided and double-minded. Intense lovers of Jesus cannot keep quiet about incongruencies of relationship. Your very existence as an intense person exposes them.
For the most part, religious people want to look good to the crowds. They love to acclaim the ‘perfect family’ and live by an entire set of dysfunctional rules of conduct that have nothing to do with honouring God’s nature. And for this no doubt you have already experienced much shunning. You reflect the diversity, awesomeness and wonder of the priceless treasure of His masterpiece through your uniqueness. He is most honoured by your devotion and fervent loyalty to express Him. Lift up your head and know that heaven has its eye on you.
Group think and cultural cloning is a manifestation of a degenerate heart. It is defiling to the nature of God and a direct offence to His magnificent creativity. When others excommunicate you because you will not conform to their two-faced conduct and un-Christ like character of religious or social conformity, be glad. If you are on the quest for freedom and seek to liberate others, watering holes of refreshing are imperative. Wherever you are on the discovery of the origins of the Christian faith please know that you are welcome in Back To Eden Group. You are welcome to participate or even step closer to our small community for a day, an hour or a year or more. Your unique design should be celebrated, so join us in discovering your incredible worth. Your intensity is a gift and is part of your God-given DNA. For excellent spiritual food and encouragement, listen to these amazing free teachings called “Blessing Intensity” by Arthur Burk. You can download these from Sapphire Leadership Group at:
Katherine and John Matthews