Lists – When we first get saved, the message most of us receive is, “This is what you have to do to please God.” We say we have a personal relationship with Jesus, but that often translates to a list of commandments for our obedience – read the Bible, pray every day, memorize verses, tithe, get baptized, attend services, take classes, obey the leading of the Holy Spirit, lead others to Christ, find our ministry to serve in the church, go on a mission… Maturity is defined by the level of sacrifice one is willing to make for Jesus. It’s a list of works that disconnects us from our hearts and puts the focus on our mental ability to stay on a diet. Our unwitting message to the unsaved and new believers is that Christianity is an invitation to an eternal diet with a wry smile that says “isn’t this fun?” Once inside the church, we maintain our diet of religion with weekly exhortations, and we learn to make sure others maintain their diets with a slight dose of judgment. It’s not a particularly loving atmosphere and it leads to shallow relationships with God and with people. Obedience works in a hierarchy, but not in a relationship.
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, “Here I am, I have come — it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” Ps 40:6-8 NIV
The product of our heartless, religious tradition is that we create disciples who quit or trudge on in fruitless self-sacrifice and become superficial, uncaring, and consumed by the purposeless void in their own heart. Real discipleship is helping people connect with the desires of their hearts… written there by God (Heb 8:10, 10:16). Christianity is having fun, making money and loving people.
From servant to King – Learning the Kingly, entrepreneurial mindset and coming out of the poverty of a servant mentality is an amazing journey for all of us. We all come from a theological paradigm that places a premium on obedience and service, and we don’t have a practical grasp of how to be God’s friend.
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other. John 15:15-17 NIV
Servants know how to obey. They are great candidates to have a job, do what they are told, and never learn to embrace a personal dream or to create wealth. They view God as a “guidance giver” and themselves as faithful followers who are good at hearing revelation and obeying all the rules. They resist their own will as carnal, and have little room for exploring the desires their own hearts. They are left without personal initiative, which is a major key to the Kingdom and being Kingly.
Friends or Kings “relate” to God in a way that makes them comfortable exploring the desires of their own hearts. That’s where they find the will of God and personal creativity. Instead of revelation and obedience, they have a better balance of revelation and wisdom. They are willing to make wise decisions and take initiative without requiring a revelation from God. They are in touch with their own hearts and able to help others get in touch with their hearts. Kings are simply more relational than servants.
The Kingdom view of sin – Our tradition is that sin is a one-way ticket to fire and brimstone. That’s true; hell is real and it will be populated with people who don’t want Jesus. There is another dimension of sin that is even more relevant in this life for believers. It is “missing the mark” of the Kingdom. The first consequence of sin is missing out on a portion of your promised land. Believers fall short of the promise of God fairly frequently, and forfeit some of their role in the Kingdom. Notice that these verses emphasize the result of sin in terms of loss of inheritance in the Kingdom… now, in this life.
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor 6:9-11 NIV
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal 5:19-21 NIV
Do Christians sin? – Brace yourself! The answer is yes. Why do they repent and turn toward God? Well, it’s not because they have a list. It’s because they have a dream in their heart for their destiny in Christ. Jesus endured the cross because of the party that was waiting for him. Our motivational ability to endure challenges and setbacks and temptations is our land, not our list.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb 12:2-3 NIV
Hitting the Mark – Christians do “miss the mark” (all have sinned and fallen short), but the reason they try again and hit the mark is because of the dream embedded by God in their heart’s desire. The first foundation stone for new believers is this list:
1. I am created in God’s image. I’m prone to be like Him.(Gen 1:26-27)
2. God has already written something on my heart. (Heb 8:10, 10:16)
3. Maturity and ministry happen when I find that desire, connect with it and do it.
4. When I find It, it will be like a treasure… so much fun and so satisfying to my soul that I will trade everything else (including sin) to possess it (my land and inheritance).
5. When I operate out of the desire of my heart, instead of the list in my head, life works. I find divine appointments, finances flow, the work is fun, and the fruit is amazing…spiritually, practically, and financially.
Most of my ministry to people, regardless of the setting or the person, comes through two questions: 1) “What’s your dream?” and 2) “How can I help you take the next step?” God has written on the heart of every person. Find that desire, and you will touch the will of God for that person. If you help them to implement those desires, you will build the Kingdom and lead that person into the Kingdom and into the Life of Christ.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices… You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Ps 16:9-11 NASU
Can I trust my heart? – Is it possible that the desire of our heart could mislead us? Yes, but those desires are fairly easy to discern. We’ve written a newsletter that you will find helpful on that topic, The Limitations of Obedience (Pt 2). “Human depravity” is a theological heritage for nearly all of us. Many of us view our hearts as “desperately wicked” (Jer 17:9). We say to ourselves “His ways are not our ways” (Isa 55:8-9). And we say that all our righteousness are as filthy rags (Isa 64:6). These verses, and others like them, describe a specific person or group at a specific time in history. The doctrinal mistake we make is that we take these verses out of context and ascribe them to everyone, everywhere, all the time. It’s not true! Read the context for yourself – it’s easy to see when you look for it. The concept of original sin, or babies being born sinful, is also without scriptural support. Augustine understood Romans 5:12 to support original sin because of a mistranslation in the Latin vulgate. What it actually says in the Greek is that sin came into the cosmos or world, not into man. There is no such thing as an Adamic nature contrary to 1700 years of theological tradition right down to the present. You can read much more on the specifics of this topic in chapter 8 of Releasing Kings or in Precious in His Sight by Harold Eberle.
You were created in God’s image and He has written on your heart’s desires. Yes we all need specific forgiveness because we have all sinned but we we’re not born sinful. You should not fear exploring the desires of your heart. That’s where you find the specific will of God for your personal life.