Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ruach El - God's breath

The above Hebrew term is normally translated "the Spirit of God" - but ruach in the Hebrew means breath. That breath is warm, loving, true, gracious, good, lovely, pure, and kind. 

I have noticed something disturbing when I spend time on social media (and I spend more time than most people my age on social media!)  Whenever someone posts a story of something they have experienced or of something that someone else has done that is truly inspirational, and makes the average person smile and believe that there is some goodness in the world after all ... and that person does not mention God in his or her post, there will invariably be that one person (or more) who will judge the person who posted the story for not "witnessing" or pointing the conversation to eternal things.  

In the comments that follow such judgmental comments, there is always a backlash against the person who so commented.  Usually those folks who react the most angrily are those who have been wounded by Christians before (big surprise, huh.) That should tell us something right there.  We often do more harm than good by our insistence on hijacking someone else's story to promote our own agenda.

Here's the thing.  God isn't looking for watchdogs; He's looking for worshippers.  He's a big boy and He can defend Himself, and He can do what He wants whenever He wants ... without our help.  He is not looking for people to jump all over someone (who has been kind and considerate to the less fortunate) just because they weren't "missional." (By the way, my blog's spell-check does not even recognize the word 'missional.')  Jesus said, "He who is not against us is on our side."  And frankly, people who are down and out have had lots of experience with self-appointed prophets who have to turn every conversation into something about spiritual things.  Usually those experiences have not turned out very well for them - they have left every encounter like that feeling condemned (and definitely not encouraged to seek God).  

I speak to born-again believers in this blog because that is my chosen audience.  I don't post my Christian blog on social media to all of my friends, just to believers who are among my friends. (I'm sure I will get some flak for that, but do you really want unbelievers to hear something intended only to wake us Christians up and smash our preconceived notions?)  If you are the kind of believer who feels a responsibility or a compulsion to steer every conversation toward the Lord because He will be displeased or ashamed of you if you don't, this message is for you.  If you take nothing else from what I say, take this:  You are not the Spirit of God.  So, stop trying to do His job for Him.  

I know that we have been given the great commission; I am not disputing that.  However, I would rather live a generous and joyful life, being kind to people, and have them come to me and ask what it is I have because they want it (which has happened occasionally) rather than to shove God down someone's throat who is not ready to hear about Him.  The Hound of Heaven will not renege on people; people are His passion!  He loves everyone (not just the Christian!)  He is not willing that anyone should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  And it is HIS Goodness that leads to repentance.  His goodness.  Not our arguments and programs and posters and videos, some of which use extreme shock-value to condemn this or that practice (did you catch the word condemn?)  The Spirit of God is not about that.  He is about being good to people.  All people.

He reminds us - all of us - that He loves us.  No matter who we are, or what we've done,  He loves us.  Deliriously, unconditionally.  If your concept of Him is any different, remember that Jesus loved people - and He was only frustrated by those who were religious and who condemned others by insisting that they obey some set of rules.  

Photo: "Homeless Man" by
Mantas Ruzveltas at
If Jesus walked the earth today, He would be spending time with the homeless, the pimps, the addicts, and the mentally ill far more than with the churched.  The reason is clear - they need Him! (The truth is, we ALL need Him, but it appears that some believers have forgotten that.)  He would not be engaged in spreading panic, hatred, and prejudice the way I have seen some believers do.  He would welcome the refugee, accept the cross-dresser, and listen to (and cry with) the pregnant girl who thinks her only option is abortion. 

When I see believers "standing up for righteousness" (which is the way some of them have chosen to veil their hatred for people who are not exactly like them) by posting condemnation and judgment all over the social media, I cringe because I know that they don't see how damaging their comments are to the cause of Christ.  I wonder - when THEY see a homeless person - whether they would spend time with that person and listen to his or her story, and buy them a coffee and a muffin, or whether they would not be able to get past their own nose (you'd smell bad too if you couldn't take a shower very often) - and even avoid looking at the homeless for fear of getting hit up for money (which they assume would be spent on booze). Or (as is often the case) whether they would prefer waiting until someone does something good, and then criticize the way that person does it.

I also know that it does no good to complain about something if you don't have a suggested solution.  So here is mine, for what it is worth; it might surprise you!!

Let yourself experience God's unconditional, passionate and accepting love for you.  Realize in your innermost being that it comes with NO conditions, NO rules, NO judgment.  Fully embrace that.  See Jesus on the cross as God's rescue operation for the whole world: past, present, and future - every person.  The more you experience His limitless, no-holds-barred love, the more you will automatically love as He does - and the less appearances, rules, and 'being right' will matter.  

No programs. No shoulds.  No musts. Just Him.  God's breath - Ruach El - surrounding, permeating you ... warm, loving, intimate, and generous.  Live from that perspective, know that He loves, and love does not judge ... and see your relationships transform, watch how God revolutionizes your attitudes.  It's amazing - and so freeing!  

Real change happens from the inside out.  In you, in me, and in them.  He's got this. So we can shed those heavy I've-got-to-carry-the-weight-of-the-whole-world shackles. It's so unnecessary.  I'm just saying.

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