This is the second half of “The Unplugged Gospel”; To start from the beginning, click here.
I don’t want there to be any confusion about the central theme of this work. I don’t want to somehow downplay the other parts of Christ’s message or His atoning work in the earth, but again, I must focus on the mission at hand. The reality is that without Christ’s redeeming work on the cross as the sacrifice for our sins, the rest of my discussion is moot! Without the suffering of Christ, we would all be hopelessly lost in our own suffering. Without Christ’s conquering of death through the resurrection, then the kingdom would have died when He died! So just let it be known, the totality of His priceless gift to humanity is beyond even our best intellectual pursuits. But the fact remains that Jesus has invited us into a spiritual life and not another religion! He wants us to discover the true way to live from the inside-out, He implores us to enter into a spiritual relationship with Him and the Father through life in the Spirit, and the real mission of Jesus can be simplified into one statement: He came to reunited God with man and to destroy the gulf between us. God is spirit. God made man in “His own image” with a spirit. To know God means you have to know Him spiritually. Religion and theology can tell us a lot about God, but never introduces us to Him personally. Jesus invites us to stop all the knowing about God and enter into a real relationship. If that isn’t good news, then there is no such thing as good news! We stumble around this life wondering what the meaning of life actually is; Christ tells us that, “I am the way, the truth and the life!” and the only way to really know God is through Christ and by His Holy Spirit. It is almost too good to be true and for that exact reason, many do not believe. They are locked into the religious notion that they must somehow continue to “work their way back to God”. Some discard the message of Christ as a “fairy tale” because they can’t get past their blindness to another reality. And there are others still that accept the gift of Christ’s redeeming work but never enter into the spiritual life. It is like getting to the gate that enters into unspeakable beauty and never entering! Even Christ Himself compares Himself to a gate.
Jesus is not the end of our relationship; He is the beginning! He begs us to enter through the gate of Himself, and urges us to begin to move down the path of eternal life that can start now. But we stand there and scratch our heads wondering if it is worth the price or never take the time to get to the bottom of His complete gospel. We have settled for half of the truth! We accept eternal life and the forgiveness of sins, but never walk in the newness of life that the Spirit offers. We wonder if it is really worth the price. Well, Jesus paid a very high price for the honor and glory that awaits a person willing to enter the kingdom and never look back. Jesus never intended us to stop with accepting the gift of forgiveness; He wants us to move past forgiveness and into a new life full of blessing and fellowship with God. The spiritual life of intimacy with a God that loves us unconditionally is breathtaking to say the least; so why do we hesitate? The temporary things in this world will never satisfy the hunger to be who we were created to be, mainly, the children of God! A child of God reaps the benefit of freedom, joy, peace, love beyond expression, and an abundant life. Let us decide today that His sacrifice was worth it; let us decide today that what Christ died for is worth any sacrifice we can make; and let us decide today that nothing in this world is more precious than truly knowing the only One that will never leave us nor forsake us.
Let me warn you from the outset, no matter where you are in your life, no matter where you are in your walk with Christ, no matter how your intellectual grasp of the Bible, the following pages will challenge you and most likely destroy the box you have built to contain your understanding of God. This journey will cause you to question everything you thought you knew. How do I know this? I know this because it wrecks me daily. The cost of the spiritual life is great. It will cost you everything. If you allow God to do His work in your life, you will have to “die daily” and “take up your cross daily” to borrow some of Jesus’ words. It is a pathway of enlightenment that will destroy all that is the status quo, it will obliterate everything you thought of as “business as usual”, and this choice will open up to you an existence that very few people today truly understand. I am often asked what a life unplugged is like. My answer to most folks is simply this: “When everything you can’t see becomes more real to you than everything you can see…you are on the right track!”
Jesus states it in a way that causes many to back away from living an unplugged life:
“Most assuredly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but, if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:24-25
You see, Jesus wants you to die to self. He wants you to die to self so that you can truly live. Just as He died on the cross and rose again; so must we choose to die so that we may rise again as born again spiritual creatures. Paul puts it this way when discussing the spiritual life:
“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4
So the question is this: do you really want to walk in newness of life? Or are you happy with the life you are already living? Are you O.K. with knowing about a living God, or do you really want to know Him on an intimate level? Jesus tells us, or rather warns us, that we must count the cost first. He tells us that if we put our hands to the plow and look back that we are not worthy of the kingdom yet! I know in my life I have had to count the cost; I know in my life I have put my hand to the plow and looked back; I know that in my life that I was unwilling to crucify my earthly desires and dreams and goals. God had to bring me to brokenness to show me the magnificence of letting go completely. It is out of love that God breaks us. Are you willing to be broken? You don’t have to be a theologian; you don’t have to be a “good person”; you don’t have to go to seminary; you don’t have to be super-Christian; you don’t have to even feel worthy; you just have to have one thing…willingness! Willingness to be broken, willingness to die to self, willingness to pursue the “narrow way”, willingness to unplug from the desires of this world, and willingness to commit to a life plugged into the Spirit. There are no half-measures; if you want to “try it out”, you will fail. You cannot make the spiritual life a part-time job; God is a full-time job. You can’t test the waters so to speak by dipping your toes in the “living waters”; you must at one point or another decide that you will take the plunge head first and never look back. God expects us to grab onto Him with both hands; you can’t have one hand trying to hold onto God and the other grasping the world and its pleasures. One of my favorite quotes from Jim Elliot is, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Sometimes I wonder if anyone out there besides a select few actually “get it”. I know in the coming days that the Holy Spirit will call many to the kingdom life; for if the Spirit does not call many more to the kingdom, then we are in danger of losing the essence of what it means to be truly Christian. The Church will simply die as a powerless religious institution if the Spirit does not breathe life into it. People are leaving the church in droves because the life and power of the Holy Spirit are simply not present. There are some bastions of strength and outposts of Spirit-filled disciples, but they are few and far between. The purpose of this book is to remind us that there is so much more that God wants to do for us. He wants to bless us with His glory so we may give Him glory! I have faith that many will be touched by not only this book but also the message of others. I don’t want you to give up your religion or your denomination; I simply want to invite you to allow God to breathe life into it! God can and will sanctify and purify His Church and His temple (you) through the incredible fire of His Holy Spirit…we just have to be willing to let Him in and place our lives on the altar to be consumed by His fire. “For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29