“They”

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We live in a society driven by the concept of “they.” When a problem arises, it’s “their” fault. When disagreements occur, “they” are wrong. When we feel insecure, “they” are oppressive. When we don’t get what we want, “they” are selfish. When dangers appear, “they” cause them.

Certainly there is fixed right and wrong, good and bad, so “they” seems to most a given separation. The problem with “they” is a deep desire for control born just after the beginning of time. “They” must believe what I believe, make me feel safe, give me what I want, do the same things I do, like the same things I like. If “they” are different from me in any way “they” must be immoral and immorality must be eliminated. “They” can’t have choices if “they” choose differently than I do.

God, the Creator of all things, gave us the ability to make choices. He also made each of us unique. That same Creator called for unity among His people, but that unity wasn’t to come from within ourselves. Because of His design, unity from ourselves is impossible.

At the beginning of time, when His children still had intimate connection with His spiritual realm, He imposed only one law: don’t eat from that tree. It wasn’t imposed to control His children; it existed to remind them to trust Him, to appreciate His love and provision. During the years following their failure of trust, His inspired writers recorded no laws set for humanity. Rather, those who longed for the intimacy that had been broken were rewarded by direct communication with Him, and sincere efforts at humility and commitment were accepted with great love.

Eventually, God set His people up as a physical nation, a country with physical boundaries. For them He set a system of laws, a structure. Most of those laws protected innocent life and property, and provided for the health and prosperity of the people. Although it was intended to be a theocracy, laws were even provided to govern the behavior and power of a king, because God knew humans would not be able to hold onto the idea of a King they could not see. The provisions made for worship rituals were not laws in the way we think of laws; they were instructions, provisions for the people to be able to approach a King who was beyond their reach. Indeed, all of the laws given on Sinai were for the purpose of education, a means of demonstrating the character of God for imitation by His people.

Throughout the history of that physical nation God continually spoke with grief of how its citizens misunderstood and mistreated that law. Instead of learning its deep principles of character, they treated it as arbitrary and inconvenient, even when they outwardly followed it. At times they even weaponized it against each other and against non-citizens of that nation, adding specifics and ignoring depth in order to gain power for themselves. When God Himself came in human form He broke the human misinterpretation of His law often, repeatedly emphasizing the lessons it was supposed to have taught. Then He performed the self-sacrifice that had always been the intended end of the physical country and its system of laws.

That sacrifice reinstated the intimate connection enjoyed in the beginning. It tore the curtain between the physical and the spiritual, allowing anyone willing to see the truth to participate in the spiritual while bound to the physical world. Such faithful individuals became citizens of a spiritual nation, a nation that exists as part of God Himself and therefore above the need for physical boundaries and laws. It simply is what it is, and it’s citizens are purified by it.

Sadly, the concept of “they” pervades the human organization perceived as the nation of God. Just like the citizens of the physical country, people today desire control, our own idea of order. Like children, and with a similar lack of experience, we organize a fictional world that makes us comfortable and assume that God agrees with us. Then, in our mistaken fervor, we weaponize our construction against “they,” and weep in confusion and frustration when our weapons backfire.

God addressed the concept of “they” throughout scripture. From that first breach in relationship, He told humans that one day He would restore it for any who wanted it. For the hundreds of years of the physical country He established, He told them over and over that His purpose was to restore true unity of purpose between Him and all of His creation. Even after He had torn the veil, He had to remind confused humanity that in His nation “they” does not exist. He is the unity, and all those who seek Him honestly and long to be a part of His character become citizens of His spiritual nation. These individuals reflect His perfection, the immutable Law of good without need of laws or rules. It is beyond our human understanding, a nation built on complete trust in Him and complete surrender of our own childish worlds.

When we surrender and step into that unity, we begin to understand the love God has for humanity. His children have never been “they,” an enemy to be destroyed. The only enemy is evil, the confusion that Satan seeds in us to pull us away from God and from each other. “They” is simply anyone who succumbs to confusion and forgets Him. “They” could quite easily be “me.”

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