Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Of my need for public repentance for truths I ignored in practice

I am only now beginning to recognize the depth of my need to repent for much truth that I have been shown, understood, and even proclaimed, but have not lived out thoroughly because of my fears. Most of my fears have been economic fears, and fears of rejection and reprisal if I did not do as my world expected me to do. Some of them have arisen also from the feeling that creditors owned me, so that I wasn’t free to do what God said until they were satisfied (as I have described previously in this very blog). Because my transgression—frequently not doing what I preached—was public, my repentance must also be public, and in a forum as similar as possible to that in which I sinned.

Understand that I first became aware of God’s calling on my life in about 1974, but expected him to make it possible in some way that looked &quo;practical” to me. I tried to “help” Him find my way for me (a very foolish thing to do) through 13 years of college, including the years of law school that led to this blog. I was made aware of my calling again in 1991, but was told by church officials at that time that I must be mistaken. The awareness of my calling has never departed since then, but I have continued to insist that God must bring me into it in a way that resolves my debts and satisfies everyone that I’m really worthy of it.

In the meantime, I’ve been pursuing what I believed I could of my calling, largely through my writing—including writing for several websites and co-authoring one book. And God has largely honored this attempt to pursue Him in the intellectual arena with understanding and even visions. The problem is that most of what he has shown me has been directly applicable to me—either directing me to abandon my fears or directing me to work within His Body. I’ve lived out the part of these instructions that pertained to the Body much better than I’ve abandoned my fears to follow Him!

The events with my Bar applications were more or less an overlay to the events pertaining to my calling. I understood (or, more likely, misunderstood) my employers to be encouraging me to apply for the Kansas Bar examination in 1992, so I applied. My employers supported me fully, but the application was rejected, as described briefly in earlier postings on this blog. I took this rejection to Federal court, and lost in both the district court and the court of appeals. The Tenth Circuit’s decision against me was entered in early 2006. At that point, I gave up on the Bar. At the time in 2000 and 2001 that I wrote the web pages referenced below, I was not even thinking about applying for the Bar again, because I believed success there to be impossible. Starting in about 2003 or 2004, I understood that one or more judges of the Kansas Supreme Court had been inquiring about my welfare and (incorrectly) took this as encouragement to apply again. I applied in March 2006. Once again, my employers fully supported me; nevertheless, in September 2007 I was rejected, again as previously described. I spent the next 5 years, until this the original date of this post, fighting that decision.

I can point immediately, in this post, to four items that I have published on my websites over the years that pertain directly to what I have been complaining about on this blog, that should have warned me not to let my life be taken up by my complaints about the Bar, if I had listened to my own teaching.

My “Warning Concerning Idolatry,” dated October 8, 2000, warns that we should not trust in government or corporate human institutions to provide, because this is God’s job. We should certainly not put the interests of such institutions above what God tells us to do. I applied this mostly to our nation, and the Church collectively. But I continued to be guilty of the very idolatry it denounced in at least two ways: 1) I often “prudently” refused to move forward with what God wanted me to do unless I could see how human institutions were going to provide for it; and 2) I continued to make major decisions based on what I thought my student loan creditor would think or how I thought they would respond if they knew.

The short piece “God Says: Trust Me with the Frightening Future,” written in 2000 just a few weeks after the Warning Concerning Idolatry, really hit it right on the head:

All you need to know about the future is that I am already there, and I am good. I am the End, the destination to which the whole Creation is going. I am already seated at the end of time, with the victory in my hand, looking back at you. I control the outcome, tomorrow as always. Do not worry about the future or attempt to manipulate it by worldly means. Do what I've told you to do and trust me with the future.

Yet I have been attempting to manipulate my way into a “better” future—one in which I could see how I was going to repay my creditors (as I was sure they expected me to do). This blog is the most notorious example of this attempted manipulation of the future!

One of the conclusions of my series of web pages entitled “The Radical Rejection of Politics as a Means of Accomplishing God’s Redemptive Purpose,” originally written in 2000 a little before the Warning Concerning Idolatry, was:

God generally does not accomplish His work by changing the behavior of the masses through the worldly political system. Instead, He establishes relationships with people one at a time and uses them to influence those around them. God works with and through individuals created in His image, not political entities.

The most political action can accomplish, in the long run, is maybe to prevent or delay evil that the political system or its individual leaders might otherwise do. Because the political system itself is futile, it cannot accomplish any lasting good:

When the political system expands its powers over its people by attempting to fulfill other functions, any effectiveness it enjoys will be but partial, incomplete and temporary. There is futility built into its efforts. Politics outside these purposes is futile because it has gone outside its ordained realm to approach spiritual problems with physical force. Its solutions are temporary because political "victories" always generate opposition which ultimately limits their effectiveness. Moreover, it presents only a false hope because the political system must keep problems alive in order to have an excuse to maintain and expand its powers.

Nevertheless, in spite of this understanding, I have deceived myself into trying to do “good” through political action several times over the last 12 years, and I have championed a number of causes: for instance, student loan reform or private debt reform, health care reform, and, on this blog, reform of attorney admissions.

I should have learned from what I wrote in “God Says: Keep it Out Of Court:”

If you cannot find wise counselors in the church who will help you restore your relationship, you must bear the wrong that was done you, pray for the restoration of your enemies, and trust Me to do justice. Indeed, your relationship to others in the Body is so important to Me that I have also commanded you not to wait for a brother who holds and offense against you (rightly or wrongly) to come to you, but instead to go to him immediately seeking restoration.

But you have perverted My instructions. You find excuses to sue your brothers in secular courts, to enforce your "legal rights." You have no rights against your brothers! Any rights you hold against your brothers, you hold against the Body of Christ, and I will not permit you to hold rights against Me! I am Lord!

I’ve spent all of this time fighting to get into a profession which keeps people in court!

During the four years before I wrote the web pages I just described,—i.e., during the years 1996 to 2000—I had started to write my own online systematic theology (which, in a version edited and mildly rewritten by two other contributors, is now posted as “About God”). With God’s help, I understood a great many things about Him. But I failed to properly put some of these into practice as well. I was too afraid!

For example, I understood God’s timelessness. This was alluded to in “God Says: Trust Me with the Frightening Future” which I discussed on the last page, but I developed my scriptural support and reasoning for it in the chapter “God Is.” It is, as I quote from the letter to the Hebrews, impossible to please God without believing that He is and He is the rewarder of those who seek Him. But I have often failed at this in practice. God is. He is the only One who exists in Himself, independent of any other. I am dependent. I only exist in, and because of, Him. He is above time. My times are in His hands. I cannot, by my worry and manipulation, achieve a better result than the one He already knows—indeed, the one He is already looking back at from the end of time as we know it. I can only trust Him to reward. But, when I manipulate, I don’t trust.

I also understood that, as the title of one of my chapters states, by nature “God is Love.” Everything He does is consistent with His love, even when it doesn’t seem so. God really has revealed His love by sending Jesus, His Son, to die for me. He really has revealed His love by adopting me as His child and bringing me into the Church, His Body. And, in the end, His plan for us together will be accomplished and will be the best for me. Perfect love casts out all fear; trusting God's love leaves no room for fear. Yet I have often feared my creditors, and the opinions of others, more than I have trusted that love.

Then again, I understood that, God’s kingdom is where God is recognized as King, its operation is usually the opposite of that of earthly kingdoms and that what is important in His kingdom is usually the opposite of what humans and their rulers value. (See the chapter “God is King”). Thus, where earthly governments exert force outwardly and collapse if their ability to visibly exert power against their subjects diminishes too much, God’s kingdom is presently growing within His people and will only become fully visible later. Even more relevant to this discussion:

Earthly kingdoms belong to the self-reliant, who boldly seize them for themselves. God's kingdom belongs to the poor in spirit. Matthew 5:3. Earthly kings are wealthy, powerful men. God's kingdom is given to those who know they are poor and weak. James 2:5. Indeed, the kingdom belongs to those who become like little children, totally dependent. What is important to earthly kings is their subjects' outward acts of service and outward obedience to their laws. To God, it is his inward rule which matters rather than outward compliance alone. Matthew 5:17-48. In the world, victory comes from strength and kingdoms are made through works of strength. God's kingdom is entered by doing his will, and in it victories come from God himself as we are weak. In the world, needs are met by putting oneself first and increase is obtained by keeping what one has and seizing more. In God's kingdom, increase is obtained by putting the Kingdom first, giving up all one has and letting God provide. In this world, the way to become powerful is to first serve the wealthy and powerful, to become a trusted part of their organizations. The kingdom of heaven is given to those who serve the poor, the sick and the prisoner. Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 12:31-34. In this world, the way up is up: the way to advancement is over other peoples' heads, making them servants. In the kingdom of God, the way up is down, becoming the servant of all. Matthew 20:20-28; Luke 12:24-30.

Even understanding this, I spent years trying to become a trusted insider, deceiving myself that I was trying to do God’s work in this way. This was foolish!
God, in His severe mercy, prevented this from occurring. (Details, though unnecessary to my expression of repentance, may be found in the attachment to this public docket comment; I'm certainly not trying to be deceptive by hiding them). God has something else, something greater for me.

(Clip art courtesy Christians Unite Free Christian Clip Art.)