There are SO very many clues in scripture that the Kingdom is a topsy-turvy experience...! First is last, last is first, serve to lead, weakness is strength, those who self-exalt fall, humility lifts up, down is up, and in dying we live...!
What we cling to we lose ... what we let go of we gain.
And we're all, in various ways, dying to live ... to really live, to abundantly live. What if we're going about it backwards? What if the traditions of man (those collectively-egoic teachings) nullify the word (urgings/promptings/whisperings) of God?
During Jesus' ministry years, two men came to see Him, and here was Jesus' answer to them:
24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Jesus talks in parables ... He teaches us how to see the unseeable, do the undoable, and know the unknowable.
Here's what I'm getting out of that passage:
"Be willing to let go of your present/current understanding of life, of God, of yourself. Let go of the egoic desire to preserve your own status quo life ... be willing to live in such a way that fulfills the purpose for which you have been created: to display the Life of God - the Abundant Life. Be willing to let go of what you think you know, no matter how compelling it may seem to be, appear to be, and let the Author of Life define Life to you ... die to the old ways of thinking, so that the new can emerge and LIVE."
This is not about behaving into a new way of being ... religion does that -- it seeks to control behavior, through shame, through fear, through group-think pressure, as if that actually changes someone on the inside (look at history, and see for yourself whether that actually *works*). This is about changing an awareness, a consciousness, a way of seeing, believing and thinking, that cannot HELP but manifest in a way of behaving.
God doesn't want better-behaving people ... God wants a people who sees with His eyes, thinks with His Mind, and responds out of His heart.
And the way we get there is by dying to what we think we already know.
Let's look at how this message is being announced to us, loud and clear, through nature. We can see a clear pattern, if we look at it ... every day, the night covers the land, and we are plunged into darkness ... flowers fold up, birds cease to sing, all life seems to suspend ... fears increase, crime flourishes, nightmares ensue, shadows are turned into menacing appearances, by our imaginations. Even pain and disease seems to take on a more intense presence, in the dark. And YET - without fail, Light appears each morning ... and night recedes without a bit of resistance or struggle ... it's absorbed by the Light, effortlessly.
Every fall and winter, life seems to cease, as the world goes to sleep ... plants stop production, nothing grows, birds fly away, and animals go into a deep coma ... the entire land seems to go dormant. Days grow short, nights increase, the climate turns violent and harsh. And YET - without fail, Spring appears after winter, days increase, Light floods, life bursts forth from its slumber, without a resistance or struggle. Winter gives way to the power of growth.
Caterpillars appear to die, even being "buried" within the cocoon, and the insect turns to "goo" while it's in there ... but it is reformed within, and emerges as new life.
And so it is with the seed ... the seed falls from the plant, to the ground, encased in a hard protective shell that keeps out light ... that protection has to fall away, to die, and the seed appears to die, to go dormant, to be hidden in the ground, seemingly dead, for a time.
But there is a Life Force within that seed that cannot be denied, and from within, it breaks free from its enslavement, and emerges up, led always up, toward the Light, toward breaking free from all that would keep it down, toward its Source. It does not rest until it appears.
That seed had to let go of what it previously knew (the mother plant), to plunge into the unknown, to fall to the ground ... if it had remained on the plant, it would have whithered uselessly ...
That which appears to be dead, that which falls to the ground, gives way to new life ...!
Do you see...?
Let's look at some scriptural examples of this principle:
- Abraham took years to come to the end of his own attempts to fulfill God's promise of a son ... it wasn't until he quit struggling that the new life came.
- Moses spent four decades in the wilderness (dark thinking) before he received his revelation in the burning bush -- truth from God -- that transformed his life, and gave him purpose.
- David lived in isolation, letting go of what the world defines as success, learning that in God is his power and strength and wisdom.
- Jesus lived for 30 "normal" years, until he was able to say, "by my own self I can do nothing - I do as I hear, as I see the Father doing."
- Paul spent 3 years in isolation after his blinding conversion, letting go of what he'd been taught, having his mind renewed.
There is no "Book of Dena" (though it seems I'm attempting to write one, LOL!), but in my own life, I spent 21 years trying all that medicine and religion told me to do, in order to overcome bulimia ... but when I finally gave up (exhausted!), God met me where I was, changed my perspective with truth, and set me free.
Now, it's interesting to me that when Jesus raised folks from the dead, He told everyone that the dead were "sleeping" (as the night sleeps? as the winter sleeps? as the animals hibernate? as the butterfly and the seed sleep?)...! And it's interesting that Elisha *saw* (spiritually saw) Elijah being taken away "by a chariot" ... it seems to me that we have much to question about what we call death ... if the nature of life is God's life, which is eternal, then what we call death isn't really death -- it's not the end -- it's a transition from one form of life to another (just like the seed doesn't really die, it is transformed).
If we cling to what we think we know, we forfeit the Abundant Life ... if we die to what we think we know, we live the Abundant Life ... for it emerges out of what has died. Out of what appears to be death -- life always comes forth!
Death where is your sting?
There must be a death to our old way of thinking/seeing/believing/behaving, so that real life, God's life manifested in ALL that is, can emerge to our awareness. His life is in and all around us ... but we have to have eyes to see. Our old ways prevent us from seeing.
22`The lamp of the body is the eye [the perspective], if, therefore, thine eye may be perfect, all thy body shall be enlightened,
23but if thine eye [perspective] may be evil, all thy body shall be dark; if, therefore, the light that [is] in thee is darkness -- the darkness, how great!
24`None is able to serve two lords, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to the one, and despise the other; ye are not able to serve God and Mammon.
(Mammon is defined as the "god of this world" ... or our own egos, and the collective ego of mankind.)
If we see through the evil-perceiving lens of the ego, we will experience evil (including dis-ease, disease). If we see through the lens of Light (God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all), then we experience all that comes with Light: wholeness, harmony, abundance, goodness, peace, joy, love ...
We have a choice.
We need to die to those thoughts/teachings that tell us that God sees us as a failure, as someone who needs suffering and punishment to "fix" us ... if we cling to those, we are the seed clinging to the tree, whithering away. We can take the plunge, fall to the ground and "die" ... so that real Life can emerge and grow.
God is asking us to look, REALLY look at our lives ... at the consequences we're experiencing, at the fruits we're displaying (fear? love?), to take stock of how we're living.
God asks, "Do you WANT this, which you have chosen by your beliefs?"
If the answer is "no," then God says,
"Then choose again."
And THIS is what repentance really means: to choose again.