What's happening up there?
IN Red Run I discussed the new birth that comes through trusting and receiving Jesus and how it is better translated as being 'born from above' which is a bit more specific than being 'born again'. The terms are both correct, but 'born from above' emphasises the heavenly connection, and the connection between our life in this earthly realm and what is being enacted spiritually in the heavenlies.
If you are having a bad day – this could be a conversation with a friend who is struggling – you can be sure it's a pretty ugly kind of day in the unseen spiritual realm. When we realise that what is happening has that invisible counterpart in the heavenlies, suddenly there's a whole lot we can do about what is visibly happening around us. A fresh submission to Jesus and acknowledgment of His Lordship and His goodness may be the new start – the renewal from above – the kingdom realignment – that is what is needed today.
"From above" emphasises the connection being made with the heavenly realm that is the unseen parallel to our life and times on earth.
Connection with the heavenly realm
So there are two things going on here. A 'renewing' connection with the heavenly realm, and a change from our old nature to a new nature.
We need to spot the friends who are in a spiritual rut – who are so preoccupied with the pressures of the earthly realm that they have begun to lose connection with the heavenly realm. Then we are well positioned to encourage them – not try to control them or manipulate them or assert our spiritual superiority over them. That's opposite to the Way of Jesus.
What people need is encouragement that comes out of the Father's grace and love. Encouragement that speaks gently to the inertia which exercises an unhelpful rule, and gets in the way of the rule and reign of Jesus.
What happens when someone has that experience of new birth, the birth from above? It is a salvation experience. It is also an encounter experience where the lordship of Jesus is asserted once again.
A lot of the spiritual and emotional confusion we see (and experience) and a lot of the dysfunction we see in a church context is a lordship of Jesus issue. We don't like having another lord. We take back control little by little. We may be deceived into exercising an ungodly control of others, or of situations we should let go of and submit to the Lord. Our friends might be struggling with this. Let's make sure that what we model is radically different.
Control and power and manipulation are human, flesh tendencies, and they start to grow where the Lordship of Jesus is allowed to wane. Where faith weakens, fear can take root and the controlling behaviour that is so damaging is closely related to fear.
We all need to come back to Him often, to bring areas of our life or relationships, or our hopes and aspirations, and especially our fears and anxieties, and invite Him to be Lord again.
Questions to ask yourself honestly
From a perspective of helping others, questions are what we work with. Questions like:
- Where do you need a new start today?
- What might Jesus want to do in your life, that you are blocking for Him at the moment?
- We all have a tendency toward controlling behaviour – it is a flesh thing. What do you need to give back to Jesus?