2- The Cosmic Blockchain

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I’m merging two seemingly unrelated topics: spirituality and blockchain technology. Last week we examined the definition of crypto (hidden) as it relates to God, this week we explore the blockchain.

Spirituality and technology are two camps that are both hoping for the arrival of a new world. The more we focus solely on technology, the more blind we become to that which is beyond it. On the other hand, many religious beliefs are embedded in doomsday narratives and evacuation strategies which distrust technology and progress.

If we diminish either side, the bigger picture is lost. There is a cosmic “Blockchain” from which blockchain technology has unknowingly emerged. Blockchain in integral to humanity.

Blockchain in it’s most simplest form is a peer-peer network not centrally managed by any governing body. According to Jacob William, blockchain is an anonymous, group of transactions that are a part of a common ledger entered in a database and verified by multiple sources.  Think of each user is as a link in the chain which has a unique “hash” (code) which encodes a precise sequence that is verified by other “links” in the chain. Thus the longer the chain, the more resistant to corruption.  Since no one person or group governs the ledger or controls the data, all participants share both the benefits and losses of anything offered on the platform. It decentralizes power.

Bitcoin is synonymous with blockchain but is not the only blockchain. It’s the blockchain technology that allowed a global currency such as Bitcoin and other crypto currencies to emerge without the oversight or intervention of a government or bank. Currency is based in trust, not gold, and the blockchain is more trustworthy than any government or bank, because everyone on the blockchain is a stakeholder, not just bank CEO’s.

Crypto is not a fad or passing trend. It’s a rising tsunami of disruption to the status quo. It’s power is subversion . This doesn’t mean it comes without risk. Volatility has made investors nervous, thus regulation is emerging which can either help or hinder progress depending on how well these play together. Nonetheless, institutions of power such as banking are nervous. Crypto will do to banking what the internet did to newspapers, or what online streaming did to Blockbuster video.

Blockchain is a platform that can empower the powerless. In the typical system, the cost of regulation prohibits the poorest or the “unbankable” from participating. Blockchain currencies receive all comers who then share the benefit and risk with everyone else. The more that enroll, the more secure it gets undermining institutional control or regulation that disproportionately disadvantages the poor. 

Blockchain is technology that will decentralize and revolutionize the worlds biggest problems such as smart contracts, healthcare, and all business transactions.

Those things that separate us now such as race, geography, governmental controls, income, education could possibly be eradicated by blockchain technology. Without governing bodies taxing, charging, and manipulating the masses with institutional politics, power plays, and threats, all the constituents move from solely being a consumer who funds the top few percent, to a consumer who is also the investor and benefactor of everything. The only people who lose are those who won’t participate, or who try and corrupt it.

Blockchain has the gravitational pull to create a world economy which is governed and verified by everyone in the chain. The New world is coming, in fact, its already here (Mark 1:15). This is not to say that corrupt people are not trying to corrupt the blockchain for the benefit of the few, or that it’s without flaws. While has the potential to radically transform our world, those in power are already trying to control access to it.

Don’t miss this vital thread of spirituality: blockchain technology could potentially be the rails upon which the promised New World emerges (Isaiah 65:17, 66:22, 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1). To miss the spiritual and prophetic trajectory here would be catastrophic. To view the blockchain through a flawed eschatology (study of End Times) would be even worse. Cryptocurrency is NOT the Mark of the Beast

Mark my words, well-meaning but misinformed people will say this is a count-down to armageddon. They will see the blockchain as a one-world currency (Revelation 13:17) that is limited to only those with the Mark of the Beast. I just spent eight weeks talking about what the prophetic kingdom would look like and its primary means was via subversion . Also I detail this in my series on End Times.

I view the Blockchain as Good News. It’s one aspect of the incarnate gospel.

  • The blockchain is “Good News to the poor”: It gives everyone a equal seat at the table.
  • The blockchain is the “Liberation of the Captive”:  It decentralizes the powers that oppress and control.
  • The blockchain “opens prison doors”:  It creates opportunity from the bottom up, not top down.
  • The blockchain can “bind up the broken hearted”: It can subvert corrupt powers that oppress and can usher in a world without such horror.
  • The blockchain will “declare the year of the Lords favor”:  We can be hopeful about our future again. We can actually see the New World on the horizon.

For those without a bible background, I just quoted the Isaiah 61:1-3 from Jewish prophesy about the Kingdom of the Christ (messiah). It’s the same verse Jesus read in Luke 4:18 where he says “…today, this has been fulfilled in our hearing.

The blockchain revolution is another unconscious expression of the revolution of the Gospel.  The story of God and creation makes everyone of us the original blockchain. Blockchain technology is the physical manifestation of the cosmic blockchain within us all. It’s the philosophy behind every effort at unity, restoration, and human rights. It’s a part of each one of us, as we link together, inviting us into a new kind of humanity which is bigger than any of its individual parts.

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,  I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:22-23

Jesus’ prayer exposes the original blockchain. It’s one of connection, unity and based in love. It’s ingrained deep within all humanity. It’s heart cry of us all and why this new “phototrophic” technology is so attractive to us. We must steward the blockchain with wisdom for the benefit of everyone

 

 

 

 

 

1- Crypto God

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Where is God?

The skeptic asks this when he or she sees our suffering and unjust world. A believer asks this when their life doesn’t line up with the promises from the pulpit. Jesus himself asked this question (Matthew 27:46).

Anyone who has delved into the recesses of their soul, either by religion or by some other practice of self-awareness, has no doubt wondered; “Where is God?”

In the sobriety of this stark, arid moment, many have resolved this question by avoidance, simply concluding; “There is no God.” Which is another way of saying, “If there was a God, life would be other than what it is.”

What does this have to do with Crypto currencies and blockchain technologies? My job over the next few weeks will be to elevate your sight horizon so that you can connect these dots. It would be enough of a task to simply illuminate the implications of Blockchain technology. To go wider still is a tall order, but one that I think is worth the effort.

Back to the question, Where is God?

Perhaps you default to a theological construct about omnipresence that comforts your mind. Most religious and spiritual people do. My next question is: “Does a mental attestation to “God is everywhere,” actually satisfy everything your eyes see? How exactly does it resolve human oppression, child abuse, or war?

I invite you to sit a little longer within the tension of this moment. Do you summon up another theological token which deflects the spotlight examining your soul? Can you explain all suffering away as human sin? If so, then how do you reconcile the token that Jesus has taken away the sin of the world (1 John 2:2)? All world religions are propped up by dancing around these existential moments. We go to Priest, Imam, Pastor or Yogi and they reassure us that our chosen framework ultimately answers everything,  if…we believe and obey.

I became an obedient, doctrinal dancer too. I gained a lot of knowledge and my ego became puffed up and certain. I mastered the skill of the dancer, but rarely made it to the actual dance. Like most, I thought God was in the religion, framework, or theological construct. Until I took off my tap shoes, I couldn’t see that God was hiding in plain sight. It was the exile that gave me eyes to see beyond everything.

If God cannot be associated with the horrors of life, then I wonder if we have a grasp of God at all.  If God fits within our theological box, then we don’t have God. I find the Christ story so compelling because it depicts a God as the architect who ascribes meaning to it all.  Suffering exists because beauty is diminished without it. This God writes himself into the human story as his most beloved who participates in every form of human suffering, sorrow, and loss (Isaiah 53:3-5). This breaks the two-story mold of God up there, and we’re down here. God is Emmanuel (with us), as us. God hides in us.

Suffering is not the lack of God’s love, but the gateway to its very depth.

Those who apprehend this have been given a gift that much of the world has yet to possess. This connection isn’t made only intellectually, it’s made primarily within inner experience. We get a sense that God is hiding somewhere within us.

For many people, life is a detached, unhappy, and meaningless existence. Most fear Hell unnecessarily because they are already living there. The correction is being found by what we thought was a hidden God. Colossians 3:3 tells us that our life is “hidden in God“. The Greek word kekryptai (Crypto) means hidden, kept safe and refers to an unchangeablefactual state of BEING. Crypto is Ontological. Hidden is our true GPS coordinate, hidden in God, by seeing the suffering Christ story written into our life. In 3:4 Paul tells us that our life IS Christ and WITH Christ.

The Christ story is hidden in our story!

Christ is hidden. We are hidden. Together we are kept safe (Crypto) in God. Our life is hidden in plane sight. The Crypto God is closer to us than we are to us. Hidden is who we are. This reframes all theological tokens.

Sit with this. Let it marinade.

Believe it or not, this is the starting point of everything. For this series, it’s the starting point of the new horizon of blockchain technology and crypto currencies. Yes, these two topics are connected. In the holy moment everything is connected. The Jews call this the Shama (The Lord is ONE). We are talking about unity. A power to bond disconnected things into a single thing. On the widest plane of spirituality, there is only one thing (1 Corinthians 8:6).

I’m starting with the Crypto God because if you idolize the Blockchain, then the promise of decentralization, and healing the world can never be realized. It may be that Blockchain technology inaugurates a framework that restores the world, but how would you know if we shrink it down to investment opportunity. We must steward Blockchain with wisdom.

I won’t be talking about how to get rich, rather how to bring riches through the blockchain. I’ll offer you a lens to see and pursue the Kingdom and its righteousness. Wealth is always a byproduct-sometime it shows up as money. If wealth becomes the goal, it’s become an idol and we find ourselves trying to master yet another dance while missing the dancer.

If our life is hidden (crypto) in God, and our life IS Christ, then our world outside our doors is the promised kingdom. There is no doubt that the New world is arriving, the question is will we be ready (Matthew 25:1-13)? The arrival of the Blockchain means a kingdom with an entirely “other” set of rules is now a global reality. Everyone is invited, but not everyone will come (Luke 14:6).

Can you see what is hidden beyond the Blockchain?

Lepers and Liberty

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I like stories. Stories are the only containers that can hold expansive truth. All great spiritual teachers use parables because they allow us to see beyond what is true for us and glimpse what is ultimately True.

Today’s story is found in Luke 17:11-19.

As an online pastor, I don’t fear offending donors or my core base. I’m free to teach the scripture without a filter. By God’s grace, I underwrite this ministry entirely, so like Paul says: I preach God’s gospel to you free of charge.”  I hope you find this model of ministry as refreshing as I do. Modern people are right to be skeptical of preaching that comes from hired clergy. Fear of the herd usually governs the message, and Paul’s “tent making” model eliminates pandering.

I say all this because todays story was never taught to me the way I will tell it to you.

The story tells of ten Samaritan lepers. Samaritans were considered “dogs.” They were not viewed as true Jews because they lacked the genealogy and heritage since they were half-breeds. Thus Samaritans were seen as foreigners, and were always outcasts within the Jewish culture. Jewish prejudice prevented them from even associating with those kinds of people. Samaritans were second class citizens to the devout. (Luke 10:31-32)

On top of being Samaritans, the ten were also lepers. This meant that they were  relegated to the very fringe of society. They lived always outside the security of the city walls and usually in or near the city dump. Scavenging was a way of life for obvious reasons. Our term for Hell (Gehenna) is the name for this burning dump. It is where the fringe of the fringe lived. Wild dogs were a part of the scenery as were terrible human conditions as they lived among the smells of burning and rotting waste. This is where we get the ideas and imagery of Hell. This is the context for weeping and gnashing of teeth. Luke 13:28 depicts this reality of how some people dwell outside the city.

Back to the lepers. One day they see Jesus coming into the city and they cry out to him to have mercy on them. Jesus knows they are Samaritans and gives them the command to “Go show yourselves to the Priests.” This was the Jewish law of Leprosy found in Leviticus 13.

Jesus is offering the foreigners the Jewish system for purification. It was a sort of test of their true motives. On their way they see they are healed. Nine continue to the priest and one goes back to Jesus (more on him in a minute). Most bible teachers never say much about the nine beyond the fact that they call them ungrateful. But I don’t think this is the case.

The nine are grateful. So grateful that they get to go and be a part of THE SYSTEM for once in their lives. If the priests deem them clean, they get to live under the Jewish system and within the safety of the walls.  The nine lepers actually depict what most modern churches would call the faithful converts. These are those that happily take all the rules, regulations, dogmas, and exchange their life for the life provided and molded by the institution (Romans 12:2). They were happy to embrace systemic acceptance, and based on where they were the day before, this was certainly a base form of deliverance. This is a key point that is often missed.

The former leper went back to Jesus and was praising God along the way. He simply fell at Jesus feet. Jesus asked, “Were not ten cleansed?” (key distinction) Jesus tells him that his faith has healed him and to “Go your way.”  This is huge because he didn’t say, “Go to the priest.”

Jesus offered all ten lepers his love and mercy and cleansed them all (the priest didn’t do it). All were cleansed, but only one was healed. Remember healing always means liberation.  All ten were offered enrollment back into the social status and religion delivery system and for nine of them that was more than enough. One leper remembered being an outcast a day earlier by the elite system and refused to do that to others. Going back to Jesus meant not enrolling in religion. His gratitude produced mercy.

What about you? Is the system more than enough for you? My last series illuminated for me just how many people settle for the system instead of the liberty offered by Christ.  We are often short sighted and can’t see the bigger picture. People hide within religions that distinguish members from everybody else. Insiders are proud to look down on others and keep them outside unless they sign away their life like they did. Meritocracy replaces mercy, and once in, they cannot see that the Messiah they claim to follow is nowhere around.

I know this sounds a bit harsh. The story is so much bigger. The story exposes the unsafe Truth.

One in ten can see that which is beyond everything. One found the contents, nine got the container. This leper was not only cleansed, but was healed. He was delivered into his own life and was free to bypass the priest and the system’s identification. He was not only free from the oppression and suffering of his disease and from being a social outcast, but now he was free from the burden that religion would now require of him. He was free from the binary of being stuck either an insider or outsider, he was liberated to the middle way.

In one sense, he became another outcast again, since he remains a cultural and religious outsider. This is the exile of liberation. If you don’t need the system to give you an identity, then you are free from it.  Institutions may have value, but they can’t liberate  anyone. His community is now with those who are free.

In my experience, this ratio is about right. Maybe one in ten people can see beyond their delivery system. Few can even recognize their own impulse to defend it.  All of us lepers are free to live within the safety and protection of the city walls, but through healing, a few can go back and forth between where we were and where we are. Only one has the freedom to no longer separate himself from any others. This is what it means to find The Way. Liberty is the hallmark of healing and salvation.

8- Subverting the Government

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Jesus told his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod” (Mark 8:14-15). They didn’t understand what he meant. Today, most of us don’t either. Every institution offers us a pseudonym in exchange for our life resources. Today we arrive at the institution which holds the most power over people: The Government. Though it both plunders and provides, government corruption has brought our trust in it to an all-time low. Yet scripture tells us that all government is given by God (Romans 13:1).

A key differentiator in the Government’s power from last weeks look at Religion’s power is that the State criminalizes non-compliance. In other institutions like the family, a teen can run away. In the community, we can find another group. In Religion, we can walk away. In the State, opting out is impossible without being a fugitive. Because the State can criminalize noncompliance, fear of one’s well being is inevitable . This creates a dire, adversarial relationship against personal freedom.

Of course the State doesn’t work alone.  According to Stefan Molyneux, the seduction of the State’s power brings many accomplices, which add layers of institutional corruption and power plays against personal liberty. Politicians are the ruling classMilitary and Police are the enforcing class, Religion, education and Media are the propaganda engines while Business and taxes are the economic engine paid by “serfs” or working class.

It’s a system of competition for resources and power which thrives on creating distinctions (enemies). Government is necessary to all citizens, but divisions are created based on whether government resources are given to you or taken from you. All governments grow until they collapses under their own weight.

This series has shown that the Gospel liberates us beyond a spiritual baby wipe. The Good News is that physical, financial, and bodily liberty is possible (Isaiah 61:1-3) by subverting the seduction of all institutions to which Paul says we ultimately battle (Romans 6:12). I’ve shown how Jesus subverted these same institutional power plays and we all know the price he paid to do so. John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you.”

Jesus reveals that the path to liberty is NOT rebellion, anarchy, nor blind compliance.  Remember, Barabas was the zealot who thought the promised kingdom would come by resistance to government (Mark 15:7). Resistance isn’t the path, but IT IS the awakening from the anesthesia imposed by the State. Overpowering is not the path. Jesus said, “Do you not think I can appeal to my Father and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). The path to liberty is ontological (being), thus subversion occurs by de-identification. Jesus didn’t oppose or avoid death, he subverted it.

Subverting the government is not leaving the country, going off the grid, or going postal. Each of those is the caged animal injuring itself. Subverting the government is an internal revolution of de-identification. This occurs the moment you realize that if government likes you, it’s not because it likes you, rather what you can do for it.  “Herod was glad to see Jesus… and questioned him at some length, but he made no answer.” (Luke 23:8-9).

Jesus models for us how to be “in the world” even though we are not “of the world” (John 17:14). Jesus said to the State (Pilate) “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36). This is the kingdom we’ve been talking about for two months. This means that the principles of government operate on something more powerful than institutional power plays. It’s powered by love, sacrifice, and self emptying, not pride, oppression and self promotion.

The government and all institutions need to possess us for their own promulgation. They make a simple trade with us. The bestow upon us some form of identification as proof of belonging. In return, they get to index us and draw from our resources. If born in America, we thoughtlessly index ourself as “American” as if that is who we are. This is how identification goes through all the institutions of life. “She is an American, Californian, Democrat, Feminist, School teacher, who is a Lutheran Christian, married, mother of two, who is a scuba diver.”

These indexes are NOT who we are. They are only GPS coordinates. Indexes are used to power institutions by creating distinctions and placing a value on a person to each institution. Each citizen is valuable to the government as a tax payer or as promotion of its propaganda. If we take the identification of the institution, a pseudonym, (number of the beast– Revelations 13:18) then we lose sight of our true name.

Subverting the government is trusting in an alternative narrative beyond what the State propaganda tells us we are. It’s being indexed by an alternative system. If we go back to the first post/broadcast of this series we learn that the forerunner of forgiveness meant that ontologically speaking, we are all “BELOVED.” Love is who we are. Beloved of God is who we are. Beloved is our true name. Beloved is where we all start and where we will all end.

Being is not easily believed. It’s easier to believe we are our choices, behaviors, citizenship, job title, W-2,  hobbies, family, religion, or our preferences. These indexes are a disorienting anesthesia that when believed, create a dreamlike illusion, that there is nothing more to life. Will you fade into the backdrop of institutional power and lose your very self? This series is a call to WAKE UP!

May we each wake up to our true name. I am Keven, Beloved of God. You are … Beloved of God. They are … the Beloved. We all share the same last name, that of Beloved. Nothing is more subversive than that. This frees us to work and live and thrive within every institution of life, small and large, and since we cannot be named by the institution, we are free and empowered to bend any institution for the good of all humanity. That is the Gospel of the Kingdom! That is the work of redemption.

We don’t join this family, we awaken to it.

7- Subverting Religion

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By now you can see the progression in this series. The yeast that emerged in the forerunner John the Baptist has spread throughout the loaf now and the biggest story of our lives enlarges right before us. Today I’d like to share a bit of my story to illuminate the challenge before us.

There is a reason I’m an online pastor and it’s not rebellion, it’s mercy. Don’t get me wrong, I tried climbing. How many twelve year olds do you know who have a life goal of serving as a pastor? That was me. Something big happened in my heart and I wanted to do something big. I wanted to save the world through religion. I’ve given everything to this pursuit. I have a BA, MA, and PhD that prove my skin in the game.  Like you on your journey, my path was also that of assimilation and rejection.

I entered Bible college at age eighteen. Within months I realized I was already being marginalized. When it came to rock music, Stryper was allowed, but Metallica was not. I was fined countless times for integrity to good music, but told that I lacked purity. It’s insane that a tangential issues became central to my college’s character assassination. I figured it was the college, so I left and went to another.

My twenty-five year career pastoring in countless capacities was the same process of assimilation and rejection. Every church wanted to grow, none wanted real change. My jet ski could not tow the ocean liner. My pithy influence meant that our points of disagreement became the fuel to resist change. It wasn’t a matter of denomination, theology, church structure, or any external thing. In each case, leaders were fearful that change would cut off their economic engine.

And what change was i seeking?

Jesus told his religious authorities to “Go and learn what this means… ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'” (Matthew 9:13). 

I was simply pressing this truth into the system. We needed less structure, less control, less external measuring. We needed inclusivity, and an open handed posture. We needed to rewrite our bylaws, make theology tangible, make worship meaningful. Mercy to the poor, mercy to the gay, mercy to the divorced, mercy to immoral, impure, drunk, hateful, or proud.

When Jesus met the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11) and the religious people were going to stone her, his correction was to address those who would condemn. When faced with their own need for mercy, they dropped their stones and walked away. Mercy led the way. Mercy sent the woman on her way. Mercy didn’t send her to church. Mercy instructed her to start life all over again with better choices. Mercy didn’t leave her dead under a pile of rocks.

 Mercy subverts religion.

Religion must be subverted because it cannot be overpowered. Jesus never established an alternative religion, his teachings and life chart the path of subversion and freedom. Freedom is not the absence of institutional involvement. The goal is not commitment-phobia. It’s freedom from institutional identification–unto–identification in God. Freedom isn’t having no captors, it’s choosing your captor.

Mercy liberates, sacrifice burdens. Mercy compels us, sacrifice obligates us. What seems so obvious becomes muted among rising egos within institutional power. On the inside, those who wield the scripture are those endowed to induce the most ethical violence on others. I know because in my last post I had exchanged mercy for doctrinal precision as if God desired mental attestation to theology instead of mercy. When I left, I forfeited my entire career and vowed to relearn what mercy means.

Perhaps the greatest irony in life is that Religions that promise a path to God or heaven actually reject the idea that anyone can find God without them. All the great figures of our worlds religions were all able to find God without religion. Then those coming behind the founding fathers entombed us all within an institutional framework.

What does an institutional framework based on mercy look like? Is it even possible?

Religion runs deep. It’s a tabu topic at dinner parties because it breeds contention and insides division as we compete to prove our cinnamon roll recipe is the only one that counts. Religion is so long standing and steeped in tradition, that very few will ever break free from its grasp. Our scientific world is increasingly rejecting historical religion without realizing that science is but another version to replace it. “Meet the new boss–same as the old boss.” -The Who

Even if we were to build a religion based in mercy, there are too many can’t or won’t compete in the marketplace that see institutionalized religion as their ticket to full-time vocation. Ministry of mercy compels us to serve. Ministry as vocation puffs us up and creates distinctions.

Religion is so steeped into our human experience, it’s power cannot be understated. We will create a religion out of everything. Imagine running a sports team based on mercy and not sacrifice. The hallmark of religion gone bad is competition. If it threatens you, or convinces you there is another team for you to hate, then you are in deep. Religion based in sacrifice will try and reabsorb you through works, but if it can’t then it has the power and the ethos to kill you. If religion can’t kill you physically, it will kill you socially, racially, and economically.

Embracing the identity of Religion is precisely Jesus’ definition of losing our true self and dying in ones sin (John 8:24). Unless we see beyond the light show, we will die imprisoned with a pseudonym instead of our true name.

I know it sounds like I’m suggesting that we all leave our religions or stop going to church. I’m NOT. I am asking you to evaluate whether your religion is a framework of mercy or a tradition of sacrifice. You might be in an organization for the good of humanity or you might be imprisoned in an egoic power structure that is plundering your life.

Does your religion sees insiders as better than others? Then it’s puffed up and not following love (1 Corinthians 13:4). Are your leaders sitting at the top or serving at the bottom? If you can’t access them, then it’s not love (Mark 10:43). Does your religion creates distinctions between insiders and outsiders? Then it is not mercy (Romans 10:12).

Mercy doesn’t wear religious clothes. Mercy doesn’t wield power over others, it subverts the powers over others. Mercy sees oneself in all others. Mercy doesn’t keep score. Mercy doesn’t judge your behavior. Go and learn what Mercy means…

Why would you spend another day being defined by such an organization? Mercy frees you. Perhaps the best test of all is to just walk away. Take six months off. During that time, your organization will reveal itself to you. Mercy frees you into your life, sacrifice will coerce you to stay.  Stay only where you are compelled by love, not obligated by duty. 

See how mercy is subversive? If enough people follow mercy, then institutions of sacrifice will crumble and fall. This was always the goal of Jesus. He offers a replacement that is based in love and free to all comers. Perhaps one day, only that type of religious organization will exist. Until then, mercy will continue subverting institutional evil.

No wonder religion wanted Jesus dead. Religion leveraged its power on Jesus, now its our turn to leverage his.

6-Subverting the Community

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We are going to paint with a wider brush today. I’ve elected to combine the institutions of friendship with a host of similar institutions such as: academics, athletics, the arts, local community groups, hobbies and other interests.

Just like the institution of the family, these institutions of community play a very positive role in our world. On the surface, subverting a healthy functioning community seems like the wrong thing to do.

We must grasp not only the definition of subversion, but it’s purpose. I’ve shown that subversion means to turn from beneath or to undermine an authority. Why would we want to do that to the local scouting troop, marching band, sports team, or our closest group of friends? My thesis is that institutions of community are important and we need them for growth, but it’s imperative we don’t derive our identity from any of them. Subversion is required to prevent captivity to any system.

Institutions of community are not bad or evil, in fact they are vehicles for much good. Nonetheless, each comes with an elixir that anesthetizes us to our true self. Each institution only succeeds if it’s able to keep us “in.” Institutions grow by assimilating outsiders into insiders, and the trade off is that they give us a pseudonym, an quasi-identity, but not our true self–which comes only from our Maker. If we accept the trade, and settle for the identity of an institution, then our masquerade begins as we lose consciousness (doze off) of who we are. The illusion is that we are our activity, our title, our contribution, our participation, as if such things defined us. It’s wonderful to have our passions, interests, hobbies, or pass-times, but it’s another thing for them to have us.

Paul says “our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, rulers and authorities…” Romans 6:12. Institutions offer us a surrogate self, it gives us something but then imprisons us.  Paul tells us that when these go wrong, the power is not the people in the institution (flesh and blood) , but the “present darkness and spiritual forces of evil.” This is why in the story of Jesus in the desert, the Devil was able to offer him all the kingdoms of the world, their authority was actually his to give (Luke 4:6). This doesn’t mean that the world belongs to Satan, rather that institutional evil is all his.

While this may be a thick pill to swallow intellectually, it isn’t difficult experientially. Go back to Junior High or High School. Recall how it felt to be excluded, diminished or forsaken. Why did it hurt to the core? Recall your friendships and other groups. Why do you think it was so great to be the captain of the sports team? Remember all the cliques? Cliques provided us an identity as we transition out of institution of family.  We conformed by trying to be someone. It felt good to belong (identity) and horrible to be excluded (isolation). Some adults never get over this and spend all their lives, money and time, trying to prove themselves to some group or maintain possession of a fleeting existential sense of belonging. From where does MOFO come? Most people call this a living hell, that is precisely the bibles’ definition.

Institutional power emerges everywhere. It’s the opposite/(adversary/Satan) of a life of liberty and love. Institutional evil exchanges love for control. The solution is not abandoning our community institutions, but subverting institutional corruption with love and inclusion. Jesus called this being Salt and Light (Matthew 5:13-16). This is impossible if we derive our identity from the community.

Our communities do not define us. They are not our home. The big story of the bible is that community cannot provide true ontology (being). This is why Jesus says we can gain the whole world and lose our self (Luke 9:25). Jesus had friends but they didn’t define him: “faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to bear with you? “ (Matt 17:17). He had local community but it didn’t define him: “A prophet is not without honor except in his home town and among relatives of his household.” (Mark 6:4) Scholars believe Jesus was a carpenter, but never once does he identify himself as such. Undefined.

The correction is supposed to be the Church.

  • It’s a living organism, not a dead institution.
  • It’s a group of extremely diverse people who serve one another, not a group of conformists who plunder others for gain.
  • It’s a collective that lives by one rule, that of love, that infiltrates every nook and cranny of the world like a virus. It’s not an angry mob locked in arms, governed by many rules and oppressive leaders who wage war on the world.
  • The Church is any person whose life compass is True North, not a corner building, or social club that employs ethical violence on people to gain conformity.
  • The Church is supposed to be all people, entering their favorite communities, and influencing them with love for one another. As such it’s the invisible fragrance (2 Corinthians 2:15), not the annoying contender who gets offended easy at every meeting.
  • We don’t GO to church, we ARE the church.

The message then is much bigger than we see at first. Subversion is the hallmark of the Church, it should make everything in the world better. Instead we have institutions that call themselves the church that scare and threaten people and much violence, hatred and pain is left in its wake.

If you understand what I’m saying, then you know at a very deep level that showing up in your very life every day with love, patience, kindness and gratitude is the path of true friendship and the redemption of all things. You, by whatever framework you define yourself, are The Church. Only those who are free and empowered to leave such communities have the ability to bear light and repair them.

“A tree is known by its fruit.” (Luke 6:44). So is the Church.

Consider the driver who lets someone cut in front of them. Consider the leader who isn’t climbing for a title, power, or benefit, but is willing to risk exposure for the sake of others. Consider those who cannot settle for the status quo but courageously seek incremental change. Consider the clerk, maid, or worker who truly serves others from the heart. Consider those who suffer under the tyranny of institutional power and hunger deeply for things to be set right. To all of you who are tapping into the heart of this message, you, all of you, are displaying the greatest power in the universe.  Your are the church whether you attend one or not.

You are embodying the power of all human evolution, transformation, progression, and hope for the future. Do not lose heart. Do not quit. And as James Finely would say; never ever brake faith with your awakened heart. Go out and live YOUR life from the center of love. Make your incremental difference. Our world is counting on you and because of you, it will never be the same.

 

5- Subverting the Family

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In this series we’ve been learning that subversion means to “turn from beneath” or to undermine the authority of an institution. Subversion presupposes a radical change in power, but too often our only framework for a change in power is to overpower something by might. We look at subversion because the gospel is subversive.

Subversion overpowers not by might. It’s not a display of power, it’s a transfer of power. As we saw last week, the path isn’t to go around, it’s going through then rising up. The gospel is the repatriation of personal power of which institutions lay claim. Thus entering the kingdom of God is not merely an event after we die as it’s commonly taught. Rather it’s following the voice of truth out from over-identification with institutional power into the exile of a new identity and personal freedom (Isaiah 61:1-3, Luke 4:18).

One could subvert the institution of education by truancy, or by graduation. Truancy leaves you with none of the benefit of the institution, while graduation allows you to extract everything from the institution prior to leaving. Through this lens we can see how mere opposition or rebellion doesn’t take us to a new level, while transcending and including takes us beyond the institution itself. This is the framework of the kingdom that Jesus promoted.

You might think subverting the family sounds wrong, but it’s actually the design. Every adult was born into some institution that enabled us to survive. Some were barely able or willing to take care of our physical needs, others were loving, nurturing and empowering. At some point every bird needs to leave the nest. It’s tragic when children leave to early or when adults stay too long.

Jesus reveals the architecture of his subversive plan:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.  Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:34-39

In other words, family is fine, important, and necessary, but it’s not the most important thing there is. If we under-identify or over-identify with our family, it’s impossible to find our true identity in God. The power of a family to imprison people cannot be understated. Most people destroy relationships and their lives because they cannot rightly leave their family. Scripture tells us the design is to leave and cleave (Mark 10:6-8). If we get this right, the family is a springboard for abundant life, get it wrong and it’s bear trap around our ankle or worse.

I’m sure Jesus’ parents were initially confused when he transcended the need to differentiate his family of origin from the greater family of all others.

“And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him.  And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.”  And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”  And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:31-35

Let’s think about our own family dynamics. If the gravitational pull is too strong, then we will live in a prison that allows the institution of family to control our life. We tolerate horrible things and behave at low levels all in the name of “family.” If the gravity is too weak, we lack the connective fibers that allow us be vulnerable and available for deep friendship or love. In both cases we forfeit life for the sake of the institution. We trade who we really are for the pseudonym offered by “the family.

The Gospel of the kingdom calls us out. Heaven is not a place we go to escape the prison of family after we die, it’s the place we live from that allows us to live in liberty along side of those we call family. I can’t count how many Christians who say they believe the gospel but have never experienced its power to free them from family. I believe much of modern Christianity has made an idol out of the institution of the family.

The gospel is the power to subvert the family by going through and rising up from it. Those who break free of its institutional grasp are the only ones free and powerful enough to pull others in their family up to greener pastures. The subversive gospel keeps us from being lulled back to sleep by the anesthesia of family drama.

Does this idea of subverting the family seem threatening to you? If so, you may have gained your identity or personal power from the institution of family or the family has made you a dependent. You’ll need a transfer of power if you are ever to leave and find yourself. Only by gaining the power to leave, will you gain the power stay and be helpful.

It’s a scary proposition at first, but if we follow the voice of liberation we’ll discover that the family we gain by leaving is much greater than the family we leave.