The Bible as we know it

Here’s a post I wrote for Church Set Free. Please have a look-see. Note: the site is still under construction.

Church Set Free

How do we see the Bible? Is it a love letter, historical record, rule book—all of these?

Why do we strive to prove our view of the Bible as “right?”

Are we really in love with Father, or are we just paying fire insurance premiums by our rituals and traditions?

Love or Fear?
First, it’s beneficial to consider—Are we viewing the Bible from the perspective of God’s love for us or our fear of him?

If we’re afraid of God, we may see the Bible as a rule book, full of threats if we don’t comply. If we choose to fall ever more deeply in love with God, we may see the Bible as a companion guide through which the Holy Spirit can guide us in growing spiritually.

Digging a little deeper into this, in a church service during my teenage days, the pastor asked the congregation a question—Are we serving God to avoid hell or because…

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Continuance

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks. I’ve been much busier at work and exhausted, though in a good way, when I get home. On top of this, I’ve felt God prompting me to decrease, and maybe eventually stop all together, caffeine consumption. I was having some headaches that seem to have stopped with the stepping down of caffeine lately. Also, while scatter-brained, I’ve been more physically productive. I suppose I know I have to keep moving in order not to pass out asleep.

On top of these things, God has brought me to some realizations. Basically, I’ve written the majority of what I needed to “get out in the open” through my blog. Questions I’ve had since as early as I can remember have been answered by the Holy Spirit while writing. Things like hell, death, suffering, prophecy, and free will—God has given me answers to in light of his love, grace, and power. He’s also taught me a crucial lesson from this journey—I can’t take others where they’re unwilling to go. Some people will hold stubbornly to what they’ve been conditioned to believe until, if ever, they are willing to allow the Holy Spirit to guide them. I know, I was that person until one day I prayed, from the depths of my being, that I had this relationship with Jesus—no matter the cost. And it has cost me—but it’s a price I gladly pay and would pay over and over again.

Many seem to assume these views, these hopes to help others see a way to freedom in Christ, are an attack on “the church,” God, religion, etc…This is not an attack on those things specifically. Rather, this is an attack on the chains that bind instead. Anything, any doxology, and religion, any view of God, Jesus, or the Spirit, that binds instead of liberates, is what I can’t propagate.

Systems that are based on fear and/or obligation are not part of the Kingdom Jesus established and built, regardless if God’s name is attached to it, regardless if a building is constructed and a steeple erected. Obligation may grow out of love, but it can’t produce it. Obligation only produces a need to continue to be obligated. Without obligation or fear, man-made systems just fall apart. These are poor substitutes for a real love relationship with God and others.

So where do I go from here? God has laid so much on my heart, I honestly don’t know. These are things I can’t necessarily write about, at least at this time, because it seems counterproductive (I don’t know a better way to explain it). I have a lot of material I wrote prior to my blogging days that I may go through and retool. However, everything I wrote was by God’s prompting as he beckoned me deeper into his love. I’m unable to write much of anything unless it is by the Spirit’s prompting. In large part, this blog seems to have served God’s purpose.

God seems to have hinted towards some ventures, but I never know where those hints may lead, and my assumptions have proven wrong often in the past :D. Not really knowing what the next steps are can be a good thing! To be totally at God’s disposal when he directs, not forcibly walking a direction I, or others, might desire, is a beautiful state of relationship to exist in with Jesus.

This is the state of being that these writings have brought me to the edge of (but I ain’t there yet)—a state I couldn’t have imagined over a year ago when I started writing here. This is the place I hope others can begin to find also—the freedom in Jesus to be who we are, to fall in love with Father over and over again every day, and to be guided completely by the Spirit in this amazing journey we call life. This is my hope in everything I write!

Good and Evil

A Personal Note
Lately, I’ve been in a state of sadness, not for me personally, but for those I use to be bitter against. Truthfully, knowing I was bitter towards certain people helped some, but actually having that bitterness removed was impossible by my own means. I had to just let Jesus work in me to slowly wither it all away. Now it seems all that bitterness has been, unexpectedly, replaced with sadness. I feel like my heart is broken every time the though crosses my mind of people being misled and misleading others by the ways they present God. This has been a large part of the burden on my heart lately. However, this does place me in a better position to love those same people instead of the bitterness I use to have towards them.

Good and Evil
Sometimes it feels like we’re looking at things from the wrong angles. The Holy Spirit has to continually nudge me on this personally. We continue to define good and evil by our human viewpoint instead of trusting Father. It seems we categorize every action as good or bad, black or white, without ever stopping to consider the hurting, confused, and/or angry people caught up in these situations.

We’re still eating from the Tree of Knowledge.

We even categorize God’s actions, who is pure light, into our human conceptions of good and evil. We use all kinds of references to justify our stances. “God’s love and wrath are two sides of the same coin.” We scramble together words that only confuse to attempt to defend God as good. In turn, we don’t trust that all of God’s actions are good, because they come from the source of all goodness. If we try to justify why God did “bad” things, we defer to a humanistic view of good and evil.

We continue to eat of the Tree of Knowledge.

God is good and all that he created is good. Therefore, any action he takes, or seems to allow, is for our good. I know this can be a hard pill to swallow because we still want to define “good and bad.” Somehow, if we can categorize the two, we can justify our stances. We can then, based on these good/bad things we witness, determine who is good and going to heaven, and who is bad and going to hell.

We continue to eat of the Tree of Knowledge.

How do we know what to do? Maybe we just follow the Holy Spirit.

How do we know who is good or bad? Maybe we just follow the Holy Spirit.

How do we know who to trust? Maybe we just follow the Holy Spirit.

Maybe, just maybe, we stop eating from the Tree of Knowledge, and we start eating from The Tree of Life—we start partaking in the life and love of Jesus.

Truth

I’ve seen a common theme lately. Possibly, this has always been around, but God has only recently called my attention to it more implicitly. It seems many use the word truth, whether speaking of the capital “T” Truth that is Jesus, or the truth as related to what the Bible states, as evidence that what they believe is factual.

Much of what I’ve seen is the repeating of a common concept, sometimes at length. When we consider why we believe what we do, it most often results in tradition and popular opinion—“this is what we’ve always believed.” Likewise, the Bible is often pointed out as the source. Jesus dealt with the same kind of culture—popular belief (John 12:42) and tradition (Matt 15:3, 8-9). As well, he redefined what the scriptures meant (Mark 12:30-31).

With respect to the Bible, if we are going to even attempt to uphold a concept as fact or Biblical, we first need to test our beliefs to see if they are indeed true. If we just repeat what we’ve been told, we could easily end up guilty of alienating others from Jesus. Everything I’ve written here, especially recently, has been considered and prayed about with the Holy Spirit to see if it holds truth. Am I always right? Nope! But, I make sure I’ve dug for all the facts as relevant to what I’ve written about instead of just repeating what another human insists I believe.

Often, even if I point out Biblical concepts that don’t sync with a specific stance, my thoughts are either ignored or the subject is changed. Sometimes, though I’m use to it now and have come to expect it, I’m threatened with damnation, heresy, blasphemy, etc…However, repeating cliches about a subject that hasn’t been tested for truth can easily cause stubbornness, stagnation, and/or self-righteousness.

I welcome testing of my beliefs because it’s a win-win for my spiritual journey. If I’m wrong, I’m led to understand the truth. When I get comments that challenge or threaten me, my faith in Jesus only grows. However, it doesn’t matter how well I can back my beliefs—if I fail in love, and instead attempt to force my views, no amount of “correct” doctrine will help.

I don’t write any of this to chastise anyone. I’m just tired of seeing God blasphemed to “outsiders” by those professing to following Jesus (Romans 2:24). Then, the blame is shifted to “the world” though it’s the Christians not following Christ propagating the society in large part.

Until we actually start following Jesus instead of just extrapolating random phrases from the Bible to condemn others with, the world will continue to get worse. Until we stop using threats of damnation and finger pointing, we will never reach those in the world that we cast blame on.

Think about it—who did Jesus’ ministry reach the most—the insiders sitting in a church…synagogue on a Sunday…Sabbath or the outsiders who soaked up his love and mercy like a sponge? Who is it that enters the Kingdom first—us with the slick looking morals or the ones we condemn with pointing fingers (Matt 21:31)?

We can go around in circles debating among ourselves what the “truth” is, or we can start living in the Truth and reaching out to a hurting and broken world we’ve traditionally condemned. Our words of obligation, threat, and condemnation continue to fail and alienate. If we truly lived and loved like Jesus, our impact on the world would be unimaginable.

More Pieces of the Puzzle

I’ve been contemplating a lot of differing thoughts and experiences over the past week. As I stated in a prior post, there are some lessons I’ve learned the hard way, as we humans always seem to prefer. These had me at somewhat of a standstill of what to do next.

As I prayed more over this, God said, as he has oh so many times before—just follow the Holy Spirit. I’ve been learning to do this more and more, just go where the Wind takes me though I don’t know where it’s going (John 3:8).

Over the past several weeks, many good things have been happening in my personal life. This isn’t so much because God is specifically blessing me. It seems God is always pouring out his love on us, it’s just that we want to do things our way and often end up hurting ourselves and others in the process. When trusting him, though the journey may be rough, we find he always has our best interest at heart.

On a similar note, I was talking with a fellow Christ follower this week who I know in my personal life. While there is much I wanted to say in regards to the faith, I kept feeling the Holy Spirit holding me back. I could have still said the things I wanted, but it most likely wouldn’t have been productive. In the end, I remember only saying one sentence that I felt the Spirit leading me to say—just a hint of words and nothing more. In this approach, I’ve felt a huge burden lifted of trying to lay out, in conversation, everything in my head. This approach seems to have made him contemplative, and, in these scenarios, I can go as deep as a person is willing to at any given moment.

The Assembly
There’s another couple of topics that have been on my heart, however.

I still constantly see a bombardment of obligated “church” attendance, laid out as rules of conformity.

Our gatherings have become about control, mandates, submission to the “leaders” (those that have been ordained by men), etc…

We see the early church coming together for fellowship under the most dire of circumstances because of the joy and intimacy of those relationships. Today, however, we mandate attendance under threat to maintain our kingdom—worse, we state that is the way God wants it.

Many churches today have become the same as the synagogues and temple during Jesus’ ministry. Though, because of the ineffectiveness of that system, Jesus came to establish a New Covenant. This isn’t because of the system itself, but because of the human stranglehold that had ensnared it.

Jesus even tried to teach in the synagogues and temple but was often ran off and threatened (John 8:59, Luke 4:28-29). The very sheep he came to rescue from that system instead rejected him (Matt 15:24, 21:42).

Today, we repeat the same things. We’ve rebuilt synagogues and call them churches. We view the Bible as a set of rules to run our churches and seize control of others—the same way the religious leaders imposed their view of the Old Testament, though Jesus redefined that also. Likewise, we continue to miss out on the main point—the Bible is to help us draw closer to Father, with Jesus, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Note, in a “healthy” congregation, the fellowship can be stellar. Unfortunately, I’ve not been privy to witnessing any, pursing the obligated approach, that are truly growing spiritually as the early church was.

For example, the early Christians were known to be singing praise to God when dragged into the Roman arenas for execution. That extravagant love that is joyful even in the face of death eventually broke down even the most powerful empire on earth.

We don’t see that in much of Christianity today.

Instead, we see churches pushing political agenda in an attempt to strengthen their control over others—not at all what Jesus’ intent was for the Church. That same type of agenda seemed to disturb him greatly (Matt 23).

I know, I’ve probably said these things before in one way or another, so I won’t go into any more detail here. Maybe I’m prompted to say it again so that one day that freedom and life Jesus promised (Matt 11:28-30, John 10:10) might start being truly pursued, if only by one person that is tired of being bound by endless mandates and man-made traditions.

That singular hope alone is worth any and all effort.

Depressing Lesson

It’s been a busy week and now I’m finally able to take a breather and type out a few words. Apologies to all those I haven’t been able to contact yet.

There’s been something God keeps laying on my mind, but I’ve been stubbornly refusing to believe. It seems no matter the evidence, some people prefer to be bound to, and spread, fear-based religion instead of the love Jesus exemplified. Many don’t even realize they’re doing it. I keep seeing the same things Jesus disliked about the religion of his time repeated in Christians today. Yet, despite how much I try to prove God is love, many still hold adamantly to their fear-based views.

The hardest lesson is knowing that I can’t convince most people no matter what I prove through the Bible or otherwise. Many seem dead-set on following a set of rules they’ve extrapolated from scripture—scripture that was meant to help us fall deeper in love with Father. I don’t have much of a problem if people want to live out their self-imposed rules while shunning everyone else. It’s those rules being forced on, and threatened over, others that irks me. I don’t think I’m alone in this—it seems to have irked Jesus also.

I don’t want to delve too deep into this as I’ve already written much along these lines in other posts. Three times recently I’ve shown other Christians evidence in the Bible that they could be viewing our loving Father inappropriately. All three times the evidence has been ignored and the conversation redirected. For some reason, it seems people just don’t want to believe Father is love. Many would rather live in fear and spread that fear to others. But how can we love that which we fear? For me, the more I fall in love with God, the less I’m able to fear him. When I was stuck in fear, I couldn’t love no matter how strictly I followed a set of rules.

I write this because I’m depressed in my spirit with how adamantly people insist on living by fear and spreading that to others. Whether it is fear of hell or fear of Jesus showing up like a divine police officer, it’s still a fear-based relationship. I’ve been prompted more and more to just go to those God leads me to and quit worrying so much about those who insist on being bound by fear. If they want to live that type of existence, love won’t force them to change.

Perhaps seeds were planted. Perhaps one day a few more will wake up to Father’s love. Perhaps I need to learn to stop playing the game and just walk with Jesus. Maybe more will see him through me then instead of any logical discourse I could give.

Do we have to go to church?

I think the better question is “What is the Church?” Only the Holy Spirit can define that for us. It’s interesting how often only 1/2 of Hebrews 10:25 is quoted while ignoring the rest of the verse—“and all the more as we see the Day approaching.” It would seem the 1st Century Christians were seeing something approaching. What could that have been?

On top of this, the theme then wasn’t “Do I have to go?”—it was, “should we risk getting killed to meet together?” Attempting to retrofit this verse to a Westernized culture with a persecution complex doesn’t quite work.

In addition, Jesus seemed to define the church as where 2 or 3 are gathered, not where a “group think” is prevalent, and/or there’s one speaker directing his thoughts with no recourse for discussion. We’ve made something that doesn’t resemble the way Jesus did “church,” and then insist that our way is right and everyone has to do it like us or they’re not really Christians. As subtle as this can be presented, it’s still a form of manipulation to have others do what we say, or follow an earthly leader, instead of following the Holy Spirit.

Jesus stated that he came to remove our burdens and set us free to live abundantly. The “church” of the Western world, in large part, wants to re-shackle us to their agenda so they have a larger base for their politics, funding, and general aggrandizement. All the while the world around us is hurting and we only point an accusing finger at them as the problem so we feel better about our own spiritual state.

The Church, as I see her, is us. We can no more “go to church” than we can “go to our self.” The Church is us, where we are, with who we are with. Can there be representations of the Church in the traditional meetings? Absolutely. However, when we prop up these meetings as the way to life in Jesus, we can, in turn, stand in the way of people being free to follow the Holy Spirit wherever that may lead—-even if it’s away from our congregation to help others.

I don’t say any of these things to patronize anyone. It just seems we keep asking bad questions that only seek to prop up reliance on an institution instead of Jesus. Then we use threat, manipulation, condemnation, and guilt to bind others to what we state is the truth. Jesus, though, was all about love. If our approach isn’t in love, then we’re not very good representatives of him, regardless if we gather 7 times a week in a building or never.

All or Nothing?

Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill. For most certainly, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from the law, until all things are accomplished.—Matt 5:17-18


There are some very interesting statements Jesus makes, in these two verses alone, that have long been the source of much confusion for me. I began getting the gist of these verses a couple years ago, but there were still some blind spots. For the past couple of days, God has been prompting me to more deeply consider these verses in the overall context of the sentiment Jesus seemed to be expressing. Yet again, he has shown me a whole new layer of understanding in my personal journey.

Is Everything Fulfilled?
We may readily acknowledge that Jesus was speaking of the old laws given to Israel, but he was also speaking of the prophets—stating he didn’t come to destroy, but fulfill. Even further, heaven and earth would have to pass away first and all things would have to be accomplished before even a letter or pen stroke would pass away from the law! This seems to be quite a pointed expression.

In this sense, it would seem we only have one of two scenarios: Jesus has accomplished everything…..or he hasn’t.

If the first scenario is valid, we are completely free from the Old Testament law as an obligation, though there is still much we can learn from it. If the second scenario is valid—that is, if Jesus hasn’t fulfilled all the law AND the prophets—then we are still under the Old Testament law, and we look forward to a future event in which heaven and earth will pass away and Jesus will finish the unfulfilled portions of prophecy. It’s important to note that much of the prophecy of those such as Daniel and Malachi were the same prophecies reiterated in Revelation. In other words, either Jesus has fulfilled all the law and all the prophecies, or he hasn’t. We can do theological gymnastics to justify our positions, divide up the law and prophecies, or otherwise ignore these scriptures, but the more I study such passages, the more the message is clear—Jesus has already accomplished everything.

If he hasn’t, then everything Paul and the other N.T. authors taught about, such as no longer being under law, is invalid—we’re still responsible for every iota of every character of the law if we are claiming to follow God.

When did heaven and earth pass away?
In passages such as Isaiah 1:2, we see who God is referencing with this terminology. This is a Biblical way of speaking of Israel, God’s chosen people meant to be the salt and light of the world, that all nations would be blessed through them. How well did they keep their calling?

Here, we see some of the pieces of the overall puzzle starting to fit together: The old kingdom would have to completely pass away for the new Kingdom to fully come into being. This is where Jesus returns to fulfill the curses of the law to those whom the law was given to (Israel). Those who refused to turn to the New Covenant, instead, binding themselves to the Old, were in turn delivered those very curses (Deut 28:15-68). When this was completed, the old kingdom was delivered up to the Father (1 Cor 15:24). This was the end of the age (aion), not “the world” as is commonly thought. Compare a few verses from the link (emphasis mine):


Matthew 12:32
NAS: in this age or
KJV: in this world, neither in
INT: this the age nor in

Matthew 13:22
NAS: and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness
KJV: of this world, and
INT: care the age and the

Matthew 13:39
NAS: is the end of the age; and the reapers
KJV: the end of the world; and
INT: [the] harvest [the] completion of the age is


Here, we see the often misrepresented concept between age (a period of time) and world (the earth as we know it). This one word has served to throw much of prophecy and the Bible off of its axis.

Summary
It short, Jesus seems to state that all the words of the law, as well as the prophets, would have to be fulfilled before the old law, every character and mark, would be fulfilled and pass away. We readily acknowledge, for the most part, that we live under a New Covenant. However, we often disregard the completeness of Jesus’ fulfillment. It would seem that the only way we can honestly view this passage is that Jesus has already fulfilled all the law and prophets. Otherwise, we are still bound to every single mandate of the Old Covenant.

This indeed goes much deeper and there are many other passages that correspond to these conclusions. For the sake of brevity I will stop here. I encourage any reading this to research these things individually as relevant to your personal walk with Jesus.

Dehumanization

I was given the privilege of witnessing something quite awesome this week, a major step that would seem but the most minor from many perspectives, or perhaps a step in the wrong direction for some. Someone with whom I’ve had the opportunity to walk along with in our journey, made a small statement in speaking for a group that doesn’t have the opportunity to speak, in that forum, to those people, for themselves. They didn’t do this because the guilt of “I have to.” They did this because their heart has become so full of love for all of God’s children, that it hurts to remain silent while these others are condemned and shunned.

A group was stating their bias against another group of people. This person, respectfully and meekly asked if that was the best way to view an entire group of people without knowing each individual and their unique circumstances. While this might not seem huge to many, it was a major step in this person’s life. I got to see the fruit of just walking alongside another in Christ.

In the past, this same person would have been in agreement with these Christians. Instead, they stood as a shield of love for a group of human beings that had no voice in that conversation otherwise. While this person was “politely” ridiculed for voicing their thoughts, I was brought to tears in their bold meekness of being guided by the Holy Spirit in their life.

It’s truly beautiful when we start living in the approval Father has already given to us instead of seeking approval from others as to how that relationship should look and unfold.

I’ll admit, I’ve done more than my fair share of dehumanizing others. At one time, it was because those others were the enemy, and I was told I should stand against them, though I knew little to nothing of their personal journey and struggles. On the other hand, when I began to enter into those others’ lives, I began to see the vitriol and hatred of the stances I had supported, and my dehumanization methods turned on those I use to be in league with. This wasn’t necessarily the “right” approach, but it was a process of detoxing I underwent in order for the Holy Spirit to lead me to where I am today. I’m beginning to try to embrace these others again, but it’s difficult to say the least because I won’t conform to their performance metrics. If I don’t conform to their rigid stances, they in turn withhold relationship from me as an attempt to force my compliance—love abuse. The most powerful gift God has given us, we in turn attempt to abuse others with for our own gain or in belief that we have to assume control over another’s salvation. The Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of leading if we allow him, both in our life and others.

It often saddens me that our relationships have come to such a state. Though, I’m starting to realize that many will only see this if they are willing. Otherwise, I can only step back and allow them to take the journey they are on if they are adamant about placing contractual terms on relationship. It’s a complicated conundrum to say the least.

My point in all of this is that we often dehumanize entire people groups that won’t conform to what we insist they should. We’re adamant that we have the correct formula and bitterly refuse to enter into their lives.

Even if we do enter into their lives to some extend, it is under the agenda of conversion. “We’re going to get them saved,” is a phrase I often hear. What I really get from this, though, is self-righteousness, “We’re right, they’re wrong, and therefore we have to convert them to our ways.” When we approach others in this manner, many can see our motives dripping with agenda. No one wants to be another notch on someone’s belt. In turn, when our methodology is thus, many are repulsed. We then condemn and dehumanize “those evildoers” because they won’t conform to our “gospel.” Subtlety, without realizing it, our approach becomes more about making disciples of our agenda instead of helping others as they become disciples of Jesus.

The Spiritual and the Physical

There’s a lot I’m learning personally that is helping in my walk with God, but it can all be pushed aside if not helpful to others.

Lately, it would seem God is showing me more emphatically, the overarching purpose of our physical existence. These are questions that have been on my heart lately:

Why would God create us into such a painful existence if he loves us like he claims? Why not just create us in a better existence, especially knowing what we would go through?

There’s the issue of man’s free will and at the same time there’s the issue of God’s sovereign will. How can both be true without conflicting with each other? Perhaps this is part of the reason we exist as we do.

Cultivation
For some reason, God keeps nudging me back towards gardening concepts. In my last writing, I mentioned how Paul seems to intimate, in 1 Cor 15, that our mortal body is but a seed, planted in the physical realm. Inside, we grow spiritually until the time of our passing, in which our spiritual self emerges in what we know as the heavenly realm. Creation of the seed is a very intricate process, undoubtedly fearful and wonderful. How beautiful, then, would the cultivation process be from Father’s perspective?

I know beauty is a hard word to associate with the pains of this life, but I’ve noticed, as I rest in the Holy Spirit, as I keep my eyes of Jesus, even the most painful times are only temporary. Jesus is always there pouring out Father’s love on me.

In this, I’m beginning to see tidbits of the process. As we draw closer to Father, we become more shunned by those holding the worldly views of success—and even many of those holding views of what it means to be a good Christian. However, this has only seemed to help me grow spiritually by not trusting in such systems, but trusting in Jesus instead.

It’s like soil. Without it, cultivating a seed becomes much more difficult. The soil supplies nutrients that a plant needs to thrive. Without the “dirtiness” of soil, we wouldn’t have plants. It’s not the seed itself that grows and develops, it’s what is inside the seed. The seed eventually “dies” so that the plant itself grows and blossoms. The product of this growth has many similarities to the seed and can still even be considered the seed itself, yet the seed has given way to the birth of the plant.

We may consider the seed important, and indeed it is. In context, though, I would consider the physical as minute when compared with the spiritual. A grain of sand is to the beach as our physical body is to the potential of our spiritual one.

Likewise, it seems the dirtiness of this physical existence contains the essential nutrients for our spiritual growth. While we often attempt to avoid and push these circumstances away, it can greatly impede us. We need the living water Jesus provides as well as the Sonshine :). This isn’t to say that God causes our situations for our growth. He, indeed, weeps along side us in those growing pains. However, he’s planted us in the dirt in order for us to grow for him. He allows us to grow, or not, as we choose, regardless of how painful the process may be for us….and him. This brings me to another point – correcting our growth, or lack thereof.

Kolasis (κόλασιν)
This word, in the form kolasin, is used twice in the Greek1 John 4:18 and Matt 25:46.

The classical Greek concept of this word refers to the horticulture term we know as pruning (ref). While the Koine Greek doesn’t directly translate like this, we can see the inference. The word takes on more of a meaning of corrective punishment (pruning), for the benefit of the one being punished—not for the one doing the punishing. In this case, all the dead trapping that weight down one’s spirit from growth can be cut away (pruned) so that new growth can take its place. While this process was painful (and still is when I need it again), it is something that I’ve come to be grateful for—that Father is always seeking to help me grow spiritually and not stagnate and wither.

Conclusion
I often wondered why I had to be so shunned and feel so accursed. Now I’m beginning to know that it was all just steps in the process of spiritual growth. I couldn’t grow further until those dead trappings I’d been inundated with from birth were cut away. However, it doesn’t seem that God will correctively prune us, in this physical world, until we are ready. Likewise, we can’t take others where they aren’t ready to go. We can, however, walk alongside them in love, in hopes that spiritual awakening will being to transpire by the Holy Spirit’s nudging of their heart.