Month 1:8, Week 1:7 (Shibi'i/Pesach), Year:Day 5939:8 AM|
2Exodus 1/40, Messianic Countdown 72/22
Gregorian Calendar Friday 27 March 2015
The Great 2015 Dedication VIII
Cleansing the Temple of
Tresspasses VIII & Transparency
Continued from Part 7
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el on this the 8th and last day of the cleansing of the courtyard of the temple. It is in Yah's purpose that this is a sabbath day - a day of rest and not of striving. Some of us may still be at the Brazen Altar still hestitating to offer up our all or in the process of doing so. Some of us may still be at the Brazen Laver hestitating to apply the washing of the Davar (Word) to our hands and feet, and may be in the process of doing so. And some of us may be standing at the Temple Door awaiting our call to enter. Wherever we are in the process and whatever we may be doing, today - on the seventh day of the week - we are pausing to find shalom (peace) in body and spirit.
What Message for Today?
We have talked a lot the past seven days and we have certainly had a lot of assemblies - about 16, I believe. Some have been uplifting, some have been neutral and some have - at least for me - been very draining indeed. The highlight for me was yesterday morning having enjoyed a wonderful communion with the Father. I went to bed last night utterly exhausted, worn out, without a sermon for you today. I wasn't sure if I would have anything for you today. When I woke up I didn't either. I came downstairs and asked Yahweh what it was He wanted me to share with you or to encourage you to do. In my minds eye I saw myself standing before the door of the Sanctuary waiting to be called in, assuming that I would. I thought to myself, maybe now is the time for quiet contemplation, but that's hardly something we can do together unless we plan a Quaker-kind of meeting. Tomorrow we are called to turn completely away from self and its needs and wants - we have had seven days to do that, and we have today too. I felt like waxing poetic and wondered if I could share a poem that reflected where I was standing. I felt no inspiration to write one and could think of none I knew that I could profitably share.
The Call for Transparency
It only took about five minutes for me to know what Yahweh wanted and when I knew it was about something we had already spoken about briefly, one or two dipped into it, unsure, with the rest remaining silent. He gave me a single word: TRANSPARENCY. I sighed because I know how people react to this, especially when they are coming from the flesh. One commentator said, in quite strong language for a believer, that "transparency is the bastard child of Christianity". What he meant by that is that everyone is willing to talk about 'transparency', and its near relative 'accountability', but once it becomes clear Yahweh isn't interested in us just talking about these things but in actually talking, most people pretend it doesn't exist. It makes a lot of people nervous and uneasy perhaps because in their church, messianic assembly or culture it isn't done. Or maybe it's because it's done so much that people go away afterwards feeling stripped naked without ever being clothed again.
Nervousness at Opening Up
When this topic is raised by a pastor there's usually a long silence while he waits for someone brave enough to 'dive in' and start opening up. It can be extremely embarrassing for that brave person if all he or she is met with is continuing closedness. Some may take it as a cue to start spilling out their most intimate secrets, often inappropriate for a public assembly, which can make people even more uncomfortable and silent. I was reading about one prayer circle where the pastor was waiting for someone to take the plunge. You could feel that the people were having difficulty breathing naturally, particularly the men - women tend to be more open to this sort of thing. Then someone broke the silence and started to talk. The pastor heaved a sigh of relief. He was thinking to himself: "What an amazing and remarkable display of vulnerability - how uncharacteristic for a man!" only seconds later to be disappointed to hear this man start talking about his back pains. The pastor was annoyed - since he was a lot older and had far worse back pains - and then started feeling guilty for being so judgmental. By that point, he was so concerned about himself that, to use his own words: "I tucked my little old sin right in the back pocket of my Levi's and that's where it stayed."
Psychotherapy Doesn't Fix Things
Now I understand the motive of this pastor. It was a good one. His aim was to challenge the freedom we exercise to hide inside and use it to open up instead. And we do absolutely have that freedom to hide if we want to and nobody has the right to force you to open up. Group therapy, popular in secular psychotherapy, produces a mixed bag of fruits. If you haven't encountered that, you might like to see the movie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Quite aside from the fact that it isn't centred on Yah'shua (Jesus) making proper healing impossible, just sharing your problems and sins without a salvational event in mind is no guarantee that they will be solved. All that tends to happen in that situation is that the sin nature just gets redefined to make it more palpitable. And talking simply because talking is expected is unlikely to yield the results people want even if talking about something to sympathetic ears can be a huge release itself.
Help Walking Through the Darkness
Bottling things up and having no one trustworthy to share thoughts and feelings with is a bit like boiling up a pressure cooker, leaving it cooking for days, weeks, months or years, and hoping you can unscrew the pressure cooker lid safely while it's still boiling hot. Yah'shua (Jesus) is for sure the Healer and we can get healed in the privacy of our prayer closet. The trouble is, the Enemy can so blind us sometimes that we don't even know what the real issues are, and so nothing gets resolved, particularly when two people are having a disagreement and they are viewing a particular issues from two different universes. It's then that having someone metaphorically 'take your hand' and lead your through the foggy murkey terrain of your inside world becomes essential - and I have known, as a deliverance minister, several believers who thought they were communing with Yah'shua (Jesus) and thought they were getting healing and salvation to actually have been talking with a demon posing as Messiah and giving them a 'feeling' mimicking salvation. It's very common, actually. It's here that the washing of the Davar (Word) - Scripture - becomes essential to maintaining a proper foundation. It's why we must declaring to our souls its foundational truths. That way a deceiving Enemy can be exposed. But you often need help to do that.
Walking Toegther as a Body
This is why in the Messianic Community (Church) - the Body of Messiah - is so essential. We can't do it alone. We start alone in the Court of the Temple and we walk together in the Holy Place as a corporate entity until we are able to stand alone in the Holy of Holies before the Creator. Three-sevenths of the annual festivals are about our one-to-one relationship with Messiah but fourt-sevenths is about the corporate walk together in Messiah.
Transparency is so much more than baring your sins to others. Sometimes it's letting the most raw emotions come to the surface, whether you're seen by others or not. I think of all those poor souls experiencing rape and torture in the Middle East who manage to get out alive. There is so much hurt and damage inside that they have to have a safe and nurturing environment in which to work all of this out. And it will take a long time. Many will bury it all and try to suppress it but this works its own destruction leaving them shadows of their former shelves. When you've been in the ministry a while you can tell who are transparent and who are hiding within.
Then there are those who like being all emotional for emotion's sake because they enjoy the attention but have no intention of working things out or who want to be in control of the healing process. That isn't transparency either. And yet outward displays of emotion made people feel weird which in trun can make the one opening their souls to feel even more alienated. So how is this to be done? As we discussed the other day, some things are best done one-to-one in private, others in community. Here there must be discernment on the part of the Elders and Eldresses, particularly the more mature and experienced among them. Certainly I think it is always good to open up for the first time on a one-to-one basis or at elast in a very small group of people with whom you feel safe to be intimate.
The World's View of Sin
The bottom line - the picture, if you will, that I am trying to paint, is the importance of not plastering transparency with religiosity. Often times people have little idea of what it is to be a sinner when sin has been the default of a whole lifestyle. How do you suddenly see it for what it is and not how the world views it - as essentially something harmless and acceptable, where there are no absolute values, where there is no moral code or morality at all. We know that something is wrong when pains and hurts surface into our consciousness. Moments of transparency can be helpful but sometimes they can just amplify the problems that already exist. This is mostly due to a desire to have a concrete answer as to how to fix a problem and the other party's desire to tell how EXACTLY to fix it. In dealing with a subject such as this you can get lots of advice on what to do and how to act and if a minister or counsellor, particularly, isn't careful, he or she can instead become the problem instead of solving the problem.
Psychotherapy solves nothing because what is ultimately needed is the sweet aroma of the forgiveness of Messiah. The Grace that says you’re a mess and you're still loved can easily get drowned in a tumultuous sea of ideas and steps and internet filters crashing all around it, drowning out its effectiveness. Keeping busy, darting your eyes, praying, reading, standing on your head, this is how you overcome, can so easily get in the way when what's actually needed is an encounter with that divine ahavah (love). The waters of transparency, I venture to suggest, are a bit more shallow than those seas of theology we sometimes like to throw in, hoping it will help, but which actually causes the one seeking help to flounder. We need to feel the bottom with our feet. Among the 'do more sermons' you often hear - and I know I can sometimes be guilty of this - you’ll be lucky to get a leaky drip from the tap (faucet) of forgiveness, which is sad, because if anything should be preached like a raging waterfall, it's that! Forgiveness.
I think also there are also ways to be truly transparent without a word being uttered. A pastor tells this story:
Those Yah'shua Came For
"We had this one guy many of us came to know from the neighbourhood where the church was located. He was a scary looking, older biker dude. He had tattoos across his face, was a heavy drinker and on occasion displayed a bad temper. Make no mistake, if you didn't know him, you might just take the long way around if you saw him. We would share the gospel with him, sometimes when he was sober and sometimes when he was drunk. Eventually, he would pop into church on a semi-regular occasion, sit way in the back and usually stay just long enough to hear the worship. Many times when you glanced at him, you’d find him weeping. Sometimes before he left, he'd make his way to the front of the sanctuary to leave a few dollars at the front. It was an odd thing to witness. In hindsight, he seemed to have a good idea of what a broken sinful mess he was. I think he also knew, by leaving a few dollars (maybe all that he had), how expensive that price was for his sin. I think this man showed more transparency in his actions then most of us do on our worst day." 
Yah'shua (Jesus) came for these kind of sinners - the kind of sinners that sometimes beat their chests outside the doors of a church and cry, "have mercy on me!" (Lk.18:13) and we never get to see that and and up making make false assumptions about his inner state and attitudes to end up wrongly judging. We can't always know, and some things really are between Yah'shua (Jesus) and the sinner alone. But Yahweh does know. That kind of transparency goes beyond the specifics of which kind of sin was engaged in, when it occurred and how often. It says that there is a part of me that is still utterly wretched. It stands back-to-back with its saintly counterpart. All of us - because of that sin-nature - have the capacity for the worst of sins - murder and adultery, even it's just in the deepest parts of our hearts. Those circumstances have a way of drawing the worst and deepest buried sins out of people. That is why we have 4 days dealing with the sin-nature and not just specific sins. We're still gathered here today to deal with is, to make sure it is treated as dead and never allowed to resurface. But make no mistake, it's still there, and even the greatest saint has the possibility to taking his eyes off Messiah and reverting to it to become a betrayer like Judas or an adulterer and murderer like David.
That's why at the end of any time of transparency, even a very flawed or failed attempt at transparency, forgiveness must be found! Not, '7 steps to be sin free'. I've 'bounced' my eyes from sinful glances enough times to know it’s a stopgap action at best. Forgiveness is the lifeblood of the believer. We need to hear it as often as possible. We need to hear that Messiah has been crucified and there is no condemnation as a result. That's why the Brazen Laver has no dimensions because the supply of mayim (water) is inexhaustible. We all want to be like Yah'shua (Jesus). We talk about it all the time! And we all want to be in the Sanctuary. And what is the best way to do that? Forgive! Forgive daily! Forgive outrageously! Forgive unconditionally. Forgive because we've been forgiven of SO MUCH MORE!
We still don't love Yahweh with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength or our neighbours as ourselves. Thankfully, Yahweh forgives us in Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) for it regularly. Yah'shua (Jesus) is our advocate, perpetually whispering that forgiveness in the ear of the Father. And for this we ought to be thankful! Amen.
Continued in Part 9
 Gospel Transparency
Comments from Readers
 "It might be worth adding that the foremost setting for a woman to be transparent for the sake of cleansing and purification, is with her husband, according to Ephesians 5:25-33" (SP, Ireland, 27 March 2015).