Only when I stopped supposing something that was the case was not so, did I understand that whatever Jesus is, was not made out of whatever God is not: that his seen goodness and mercy were not—could not be—made from any but the invisible source and Father of goodness and mercy.”
Despite what anyone might believe, pretenses and concepts exist purely in the visible realm; which is to say sprout purely from the mind of man.
To pretend is to make so that which is not; making what is seen merely appear from what was already visible. Whatever one pretends to see is no less visible for appearing so only to him. Whatever one pretends to see is no less visible for being a lie.
A concept, on the other hand—but no less a sleight of hand—is making what is seen invisible. It is to make a field of bluebonnets a field of mere necessity or mathematics rather than a sky looking upward to the ocean waiting for the glory of God to cross. Whatever is a concept is no less visible a thing for being a poor concept; for being conceptual. Neither of these, one a lie, one a merest fact, has anything to do with faith, which is understanding that what is not visible makes what is seen.
Jesus obeyed the law to death—which is where it goes.
He used the law to kill him; letting it spend every last ounce of its self-righteousness on him; turning it into a crusted thing with curling fingernails stained with grass; driven insane by every last drop of its bleached sanity; thereby killing it forever. A law’s—any law’s—most righteous command kills righteousness: for the truly righteous obeys nothing at all; which is as much to say he obeys love. He obeys unto salvation, not judgment, not condemnation. He obeys the Spirit of Righteousness. He acts right, not because he must, but because he can.
There are so many cool things happening in that section of Galatians.
One Way (covenant, commitment and relationship to life, mode of being, view of existence) travails ever from bondage into bondage—seen unto seen—things unto things—blindness unto blindness. The other way rejoices; screams in her barrenness—in the impossibility—as if in labor, but her sound breaks forth in joy. Because what is born in her is born by promise. Alone! Nothing else.
Paul says that not only is he a child of the promise, he is the mother of it. He is Sarah—the mother of all—to them. They, the gentiles were his promise. He labors over them; not in the flesh, not from Mount Sinai, not from lower Jerusalem; but in the Spirit—he simply waits for and believes the promise will come true.
In former times he was like Hagar and her child—of the flesh, infirm, injured; persecuting and injuring the Spirit. Each of us as well, depending, is both. The Galatians, like Isaac, like Jesus, are not born from flesh, but by promise. They are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
He says: “Don’t budge an inch in your freedom!”
I love that. That freedom in Christ is the type of freedom that allows you to never be moved again. You’ve made it! Your are in the One place: the will and love and goodness of God. It’s good to be this way. It’s good to be good. Zealously. Always.
What is practical to a prisoner is impractical to the free. We are the free.
It is anything but practical for man—a prisoner all his long life—to break rocks and make improvements to his own prison. What is the highest practicality for him is to break free—to break walls and break chains and at the last, in the middle columns, with his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, to bow himself with all his might and fell his house—to break free—to set others free.
“How shall we escape?”
The infant church, the students of God, having learned what an unusual thing a church and a student of God is from Paul, suddenly became more concerned with where he got his resuscitation techniques than whether they, as his survivors, were truly alive. Paul was saying very specifically:
“I was not taught the gospel by men. I was not taught it by the apostles. I was not taught it by anyone. I was taught it by Jesus. I received it directly from Christ Himself.”
Paul the arrogant, Paul the genius, dared not receive it any other way. He intuited this. This was the critical lesson for him: not to rely on his intellect; his “learning.” He had learned enough from other men. He had learned enough from himself—and his own self had outsmarted him. So he went away to be alone with His savior and unlearn everything so he could learn anew. He was taught by a new Teacher; commanded by a new Master—not Gamelial; not Cephas; not any of the apostles. Paul learned the blazing gospel of Life from the scorching lips, under the flaming eyes and at the bronze feet of its bearer.
“I don’t think I got but this one thing: that I should get more—should always be getting more Christ—His righteousness.”
v11-12: to get righteousness from God IS to get running after more righteousness. Receiving this type of righteousness—true righteousness—is bound up with the pursuit of it. It is not, however, getting any other type of righteousness—which is false righteousness; which is the righteousness of law; or any system, phrase or three step doctrine through which one which gets something—even if the thing is what many call righteousness. As if opening the door of Salvation is the goal when Salvation unto righteousness is the place one begins to live when he walks beyond it. The other is inherently a kind of self-righteousness because the moment one gets it, he got what he wanted—he has it and so has the luxury to pause and go to lunch, or go back, or go anywhere else but back there. But the moment one has Christ’s righteousness, he doesn’t have something as if he has a thing—he has something rather like he has a beautiful motion or a golden horizon—the righteousness of Christ beckons to him, calls him forth because it is alive; as alive as Christ is alive; because Christ’s righteousness is Christ himself. It speaks to his soul. It is something he may have freely because (and only because) he must have more! Any other kind of thing one calls righteousness—if it ends at the beginning, stops where it starts, allows for catching even a breath of unrighteousness; for a time of “study” and pursuit of other things; for lazily wandering around denominations; for taking his soul out for an occasional weekend 5K the seminarian calls Sanctification, but at a pace only the most lazy, inexperienced, or false could believe is an actual race—is not the righteousness from God. It is not what Jesus Christ was up to. Jesus was running a dead-sprint of goodness.
Once anyone has a thing as boring as a doctrine he never intends to keep; the fire he warms himself by he soon forgets.
Jesus says it just like that!
“You don’t have to be wrong anymore. Now go.”
Everything; all the failures of the universe—of man and men—of their life and lives. All their great darknesses and swift demons and Mamons and Molechs and asherah’s and short-sighted visions and shallow gigantisms and legendary weaknesses; all the forces of hell itself arrayed in splendor all, all, all—all of these and more banished with a word; a great and simple kindness. An earnest thing; not advice; not a parable; not a miracle; far more difficult than a miracle—a truth. A truth he believed. Not only that, but one he believed man could believe—if only he would!
The essential question is not man’s question to Jesus: “Good Teacher, what must I do?”
This I claim by the two-footed logic that the question is man’s and it is practical. For Man is always questioning what is his practice when what he means to ask is what is his essence; confusing what is essential to his nature with what is practical in his environment; confusing what is behaving with what is being.
Whatever is essential cannot be practical. The essence of anything is as impractical as a hug on a horse. Yet it is precisely because it is impractical, that a mother’s hug is no less than absolutely necessary to a child--either at home, on a horse, or in a hailstorm. The practicality of a thing comes out of the essence of a thing. Not the reverse. In practice, being attempts to return to its essence. As when hugging, mother and child attempt to return to, which is to say remember, which is to say practice, that love is oneness. The practical may reveal and call back to the essential, but it does not cause nor does it give birth to the essence of a thing. Because essence has no cause—can have no cause. It is a thing’s origin. It is the solid ground that action crawls, then stands, then walks upon. And because man is eternally confused of his essential need, it is never met.
It is not practical.
Man’s essence, therefore his essential need, is goodness.
It is never essential that man have the answer to what he must do, but instead what he must be.
The essential question rather is Jesus’ singular one to man, “Why did you call me good?”
Jesus’ answer is to ask how it is a man knows goodness when he sees it. Jesus’ answer is that he doesn’t have any questions to answer—man does; that he can’t answer what only man can; that neither he, nor anyone, should give someone what he already has, but has only forgotten; that he can’t and shouldn’t answer what man must surely already know: that he has eyes, and must simply open them; that he is asleep in his bed and must wake up.
Dude. Digging Galatians. Besides the fact that Paul seems to be like, “Cephas? What Cephas? What do I care that he is highly regarded? I met him a few times and besides getting a friend in Christ didn’t get much out of it—certainly not any improvement of my gospel—because I had met Christ.
So besides shrugging at the “pillars” once he surveys them, he says this amazingly cool thing at 3:22—this crazy beautiful image of sin and law and promise:
The promises of God are not locked inside the Law. The promises of God are locked inside Sin.
“…., so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.”
Everything is locked up inside Sin: law, promises, Jesus, ourself: our Jesus-self; our only true self; the child-self I am always meant to be.
These are the same. To have Jesus, to receive him, is to have them all.
Using the law to get at righteousness—which IS lawfulness; which IS obedience to the law of God; which IS believing in the Jesus who best loved God’s laws—is like using wheat to harvest wheat, or using a silo built of last years’s seed to store this year’s. It is inherently inefficient and breaks what it was meant to keep.
Laws do not rid anyone or any world of wrong. Laws, in fact, increase them.
A child who knows no laws, knows no wrong. Because what he does or does not do is not based and bathed in conscious morality. He indeed has an unconscious morality—one below his intellect in a land flowing with milk and honey; a land without reason but full of sense; a land free of logic or concepts or doctrine or theology or philosophy but full of love--therefore truly free. What the child ignorant of law does is bathed and based in a great mystery. A child smiling at a flower and bringing the little blossom-thought of God to his mother to look into somehow, without knowing it, knows goodness. As soon as he becomes aware that he may break the laws in his kingdom and chooses thus—he somehow shuts his eyes.
Life is this:
You start in a room with only two doors. You choose one and go in—not out. The room you go in is bigger than the one you left and has more doors. You choose one and go in. This room is even larger with even more doors. You choose again and again. You continue on this way: into larger rooms with more doors, at first enjoying the look of so many doors, until at last you are in a vast room of infinite doors. And suddenly you realize the room is not at all vast with infinite doors. Rather it is that you, being divided by infinity, have merely become very small. Many rooms and “in’s” ago, there was a door. The one in the first room. But you can no longer find it among all these doors. It went to a place with no doors at all. It is a door you must not choose, in order to find it—to go out and go home. It is the door of faith.