What the world needs now is……………….

Have a serious question for my readers today. Feel free to answer from wherever you may notice your own mind going as you follow along here.

Is it more important to believe in God’s existence or in God’s essence?

And a follow-up to boot: can one deny the existence of God and still affirm the essence of God?

Oh, I know. Some of you will have a mind’s eye that has already turned green and set to go with this, while others will have already turned red and slammed on the brakes. Either way is fine. As is that yellow light that tells you to proceed with caution.

So here’s where I’m coming from. Quite literally, I’ve been praying this early morning. (You may or may not believe in prayer. Makes no difference to me.) In my prayer I was expressing to God my sense of global doom as triggered by the American election of 11/8/2016. I noted its comparison to my sense of global doom ahead of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the impending crisis I then knew in my own mind would follow that gigantic blunder.

So I’m asking God this morning if, as in the ancient days of the Hebrew prophets of Judah and Israel, there was any oracle or message that could come at all close to being accurate enough for me to share with other people today. I often regard myself, some of you may having already suspected, as some lowly and even reluctant prophet who may or may not be gifted in that area by God’s Spirit. I’m never quite certain which it is.

Now you may not believe in prophetic oracles, whether old or new, and that’s okay. But in my prayer letter this morning, these are the words I wrote that did speak an actual answer to my question. I will leave it up to you individually whether you deny or affirm the actual oracle. Either way will serve to answer my earlier stated questions and invite your own comment.

“I, the Lord your God, do not care who gets the credit or blame. I’m the opposite of a selfish and jealous Donald Trump. I have never been a jealous God. I only care that love wins out over fear. If the American people cannot trust in me, that’s fine. Americans can experience good consequences without trusting in God. Or even without trusting in my Son, Jesus. Rather, they and the whole world will have good consequences if Americans choose to trust in love.

If Americans will permit themselves to doubt their fears and to instead trust in love, to doubt their ancient and outworn myth of redemptive violence and to instead trust in enemy-love for their redemption, then I don’t care that my name is even mentioned at all. You see, it’s not about me.

I, the Lord your God, don’t need your praise or crave your compliments. I sent Jesus so you could see first-hand, in concrete example instead of abstract theory, the good and redemptive consequences of enemy-love alongside the bad and destructive consequences of enemy-violence. Most people who first followed Jesus got that message. Most who claim to follow him today have long ago lost the plot and now are some distance past even being clueless about my message.

So forget it. Don’t worry about it. It’s not even about Christianity. It’s about humanity. It’s about human survival with blessing on earth as it is in heaven. It’s about the choice to trust in love instead of fear. And right now America is headed toward a self-fulfilling doom for having chosen to trust in fear instead of love.

America can still turn things around for herself and for the whole world that depends so much upon her. Or America can remain on this present course and receive a self-fulfilling prophecy of hell on earth that will be of her own making.

Either America will trust in love or it will continue to trust in fear. I, your God, am fearless. I am all about love. Trust in love and you will have trusted in my very essence even if you have doubted my very existence. If necessary for your sake, America, just leave my name out of this. I’m fine even with people denying my existence, so long as they rightly trust in my essence which is love. Choose enemy-love, instead of enemy-fear and armed conflict as you do now, and you can still bring about a very different self-fulfilling prophecy. You will have then finally trusted in my true essence and, with that truth, will finally receive your own freedom.”

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The Lesson of King Abimelech

I don’t have the greatest memory when it comes to the Christian Bible.

Which is why I have to read it many times over in order to grasp the lessons of its many stories and parables throughout its 66 books dubbed scriptural canon.

So this morning in my private time of daily devotions, as I still call them, I’m reading the story of Judge Gideon and his son, King Abimelech of Israel. And I find in my mind this little hole or blank spot where I had long ago forgotten that Israel had a King before Saul. Yep. Abimelech was successor to his father, Gideon, yet not as Judge but rather by assent of the governed he was named King. King Abimelech. Long before King Saul ever assumed such power.

How could I have forgotten that?

Well, therein lies a lesson perhaps not just for me today but for you upon reading this, or upon re-reading Judges 8-9 if you are so inclined.

I wonder, dear friends, if there are not two types of power in this world that we humans are capable of drawing from.

First is the power of fear, which leads us to take control over other people or situations by either “fight,” the choice made by such biblical heroes as Judge Gideon and his son, King Abimelech, or by “flight.” The Hebrew parable tellers and later biblical writers remembered the ones who chose to “fight” for control. They were called heroes. Those who used “flight” were forgotten and not remembered at all. They probably outlived the heroes and died a peaceful, natural death for all they knew or we can ever know.

The lesson of King Abimelech is that the power of fear that leads one to choose “fighting” for control over others is a power lasting all the way to the grave. But beyond the grave is most easily forgotten. Among those who chose mostly to fight out of fear, we find Judge Gideon who, despite his life of heroism before the grave, left Israel to live on as a nation that worshiped Baal-berith as their god (see Judges 8:33). Men like Gideon and his son, Abimelech, achieved a fair amount of control during their earthly lives. But they bore no lasting influence. They become forgotten figures in the long run. Meaning I am probably not the only one to have forgotten King Abimelech.

The power of fear to help us gain control over other people and situations, whether by means of fighting or fleeing, is short-lived. It is easily forgotten. It has little lasting influence.

But there is a second power we humans are capable of drawing from.

In my mind this power comes not from the body but from the soul.

This power bears lasting influence well beyond the grave and is never to be forgotten, unlike King Abimelech. It is the power of love.

Unlike fear, love always seeks influence and never control. If you doubt me on this, think of two different people you have known in your own life, one who sought always to control you and speak for you or decide for you or manage your life from morning to night, and one who sought never to control you but always to influence you by first understanding and then informing you in ways that added to your own understanding. Now you choose: which of those different people loved you most?

Love is what Jesus is remembered for. Fear is what King Abimelech, who lived and then died by the sword, is forgotten for. Love carries lasting influence forever, well beyond the grave.

Each of us has this important choice to make in this life. Do we want to be remembered or forgotten beyond the grave? At the risk of over-simplification, there is from scripture this critical lesson about power that is later forgotten because it came from fear and led to “taking control.” This was the consequence of King Abimelech’s own choice, but a noteworthy lesson for ourselves as we still live on to make new choices for ourselves.

Love was, and still is, the lesson of Jesus’s own choice and one we can still learn from if we prefer the consequence of lasting influence beyond our own grave. His is the lesson of power that is never forgotten because it used love that led to giving influence, in total opposition to the forgotten power of fearful control.

Each day………….yes, even today……….each of us will have a choice to make. Which source of power should we use to get through this day and the night to follow? The power of fear that will lead us to take control in the short run, whether by fight or flight? Or the power of love that will lead us to give influence for the long run, by helping someone out even today in their own time of hurt?

Today will we choose to be more like King Abimelech? Or more like Jesus?

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