By Paige Hunt
Today I want to share with you something freeing and transformative; a truly lovely truth. I want to release you to be authentically, unreservedly who you are today, with all of your untamed passions and desires, by sharing with you how ‘the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ already broke down the sacred/secular divide. I am currently living quite a busy lifestyle, because I am studying for a degree in Theology, and co-pastoring Married to Majesty and Limitless Life Church* with my husband. We have also started a business in the health and wellness industry (Pure Life) under the umbrella of a global company called Forever Living. I am thoroughly enjoying every minute of these, although if it wasn’t for the truth which I am about to share with you, I think sometimes I would feel overwhelmed with a sense of demand from it all.
Let’s start by asking a question…what inspires you? Is it sport, cooking, walking in nature, painting, or some other fun hobby? In ‘religious circles’ we tend to feel a sense of guilt if we’re not finding our greatest (or maybe even only) inspiration from church services or prayer-and-fasting meetings. But let’s look at the kind of life that Jesus lived. He was a carpenter, and he loved to create things with his hands. He probably ate more meals with rebels and crooks than he gave ‘sermons’. He loved to tell stories using natural imagery and seemingly boring everyday objects. Jesus loved to live life as a human being!
In Matthew 9, Jesus tells a story in response to the ongoing criticism that his lifestyle just ‘didn’t avoid the appearance of evil enough, brother’. His parable is one of breaking out of conformity. It is one of setting us free to be truly and naturally who we are, without limitations, restrictions or inhibitions.
“…And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.” – Matthew 9:17
What a glorious truth that we cannot be contained within the rigid pressures of other people’s expectations. Likewise, we cannot fit into any philosophical, introspective systems with their walls of performance-mentalities. The revelation of our identity in Jesus is one of creative freedom. As we begin to understand our authentic essence, revealed and reflected in Jesus ‘as in a mirror’, we outgrow religion and ascetic practices as our main source of inspiration.
Let’s look to Jesus: He came and lived within the confines of this old wine skin (Galatians 4:4), yet, at the right time, his spirit of beautiful freedom broke through that old wineskin on behalf of all of humanity, and rendered the old way of defining ourselves, and those old restricting patterns of religion, completely useless (2 Corinthians 5:15-17). His blood, the wine of the new covenant which ushers us into the experience of true inebriation and freedom from inhibition, reveals to us that God is completely comfortable flowing through our heart-inspirations. Christ is comfortable with your humanity! He is comfortable hanging out with you even when you’re wearing your bad temper and your dirty, threadbare jumper of your own personal experience of hell on earth. That’s why he spent time in relationship with ordinary people, such as James and John, who he lovingly referred to as the ‘sons of thunder’.
So once again, what inspires you? For J.R.R. Tolkien it was being out and about in nature. He comments that his renowned fantasy writings and the detailed descriptions of Middle Earth were the result of this very inspiration:
“If you really want to know what Middle-earth is based on, it’s my wonder and delight in the earth as it is, particularly the natural earth.”
I have read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series hand-in-hand with Jesus, and discovered heaven in many of his scenes. There is inspiration frolicking through the forests as the joy-filled Tom Bombadil, and there is bliss bathed in iridescent moonlight as the mysterious and elegant Galadriel.
So let’s look to Jesus, and realize that we have permission to relax in the goodness, creativity, and beauty of very mundane, very human activities. Jesus was as comfortable at parties, and walking in nature with his buddies, as he was doing explicitly ‘religious’ things. God loves seeing the world through your eyes – he discovers wonder in unique ways as you live life being simply and honestly who you are, with no pressure of pretense.
There is a scene in William P. Young’s beautiful book ‘The Shack’, which articulates this wonderfully. Mackenzie is sat eating dinner with the Godhead, and in the normality of conversation about his family, he realizes that they already know everything he is saying, yet they are engaging with him in such an interested and human way that he finds it baffling. He asks them why, and their response is one that reveals the Trinity as Love: Love which enjoys wrapping itself in the daily patterns and rhythms of humanity; Love which finds great pleasure and fun in expressing itself in human ways:
“We are not bringing to mind, as it were, our knowledge of your children. As we are listening to you, it is as if this is the first time we have known about them, and we take great delight in seeing them through your eyes”
With this in mind, even prayer should not be viewed as a religious, ‘churchy’ activity. Prayer is our natural internal dialogue. It is us enjoying the awareness that God is viewing life through our own consciousness, as we engage in daily activities and all of our little pleasures. He is sharing with us in our natural joys and inspirations, as we fish and watch the television, as we read and dance and even sing in the shower (!).
Let us remember that Jesus is the word made flesh, and within our daily lives he is that resonance of God within our very own flesh. He is, to use the terminology of Song of Solomon ‘peering through the lattice’ (2:9) of our lives, and asking us to be truly authentic – not limited by religious pressures – but unhindered and free in the fun and laughter, the beauty and camaraderie of life.
“My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” – Song of Solomon 2:14
As we have fun with our family and friends, and enjoy our idiosyncrasies, the Trinity has fun within us. They love to hear our voice and see our lovely faces – not the voice and face of religious packages! We are after all created in the image of this playful Trinitarian family, from whom all inspiration, goodness, and beauty flows sweetly, like musical notes. They love for us to express our unique resonance of divine thought by being unscripted us.
Christ within you is your confident expectation of glory – you will find yourself waking up in the morning with that familiar presence of wonder as you go about your daily activities! (Colossians 1:27)
*Married to Majesty is our online ministry, and Limitless Life Church is our headquarters in Rotherham, where we meet on a Wednesday evening for communion and discussions about grace, and relax with some encouraging grace resources. We have our main meeting on a Sunday, which includes a positive message, a free café, prophetic prayer, and uplifting worship. Email us at: Limitlesslifechurch@hotmail.com for more details and information.
Wm. Paul Young, The Shack (London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd., 2007) – in particular chapter 7, ‘God on the Dock’.