God this back and forward conversation with you is fantastic! I NEVER want to go back to my old sort of Christianity. NEVER!!
Mark normal Christianity is not how Christianity is meant to be. It’s how you all want it to be, and for that reason I accept it. But seriously Mark? How could a God so obviously enthusiastic about life and living that he thought up the complex beauty of a tiny ant – who invented and thrills at a raging, tossing ocean – how could that mind possibly be focused on a list of ‘dos and don’ts’??
God that’s a bit offensive! Modern Christianity isn’t really a list of dos and don’ts anymore is it??
Yes it is Mark. Sure your dos and don’ts have changed, but your focus is still very much on behaviour. There’s absolutely no doubt that ‘Normal’ Christianity’s core belief is that the right behaviour gets you closer to me. It’s not so much about the ten commandments anymore, you’ve changed the goalposts a little but you’re still focused on doing things the right way. “Read this, pray that, sing this, listen to that, behave in this way, go to that meeting” and so on. You all think it brings you closer to me, and yet the truth is quite the opposite; – your busy pursuit of ‘normal Christianity’ stifles your spirits and prevents you from hearing me.
God arrrgggh!! Will you NOT talk like that please.
Come on Mark, honestly? Do you honestly think that the one who invented the universe and who is speaking to it constantly to keep it functioning – do you honestly think he is focused 24/7 on how you behave?? A clear thinker can see that the connection between a Creator/Lover/Friend God and these religious systems you have invented is, at best weak.
Really Mark?? The mind that conceived the human race, who threw planets into place, who designed dinosaurs and invented flight – do you honestly think I have now been reduced to hoping you’ll sing three songs, have a friendship break, another song or two and then preaching? Or that I’m most focused on which meetings you attend, which Christian books you read and which Christian works you support. Or tithing? Do you really think I’m picky about and judge you by that? Really??
Oh oh… God tithing’s in the bible for goodness sakes. I don’t know how to answer when people question this stuff.
Yes it is Mark. BUT; I don’t need your money, your meetings and your songs. I. JUST. NEED. YOU.
If you said that to your own kids Mark, what would YOU mean?
I guess I’d mean I’d love to spend time with them.
I don’t know – umm, talking, doing fun things, just being with them.
Exactly. So does it matter to you so much if you see them every single week at a certain time? Or that they read your book? Or that they help the people and causes that you think need supporting?
I’m the same Mark. I just want to be your friend – I don’t need your systems or the habits, beliefs and customs you’ve developed to structure our relationship. I’d like our relationship to be a little more real, to have a little LESS structure, a LOT less actually. You think you are enjoying the ‘fullness of joy’ but you have no real concept of what the term means. What you have built is a very controlled and hamstrung experience. It feels powerful because I AM so powerful, but your systems and conditions and focus on behaviour have you and I so boxed up that we are not able to relate freely.
If I truly do exist, if I truly did create all of this complex beauty; if I truly am holding it all together then obviously I am the champion of life and all the things that make being a human so enjoyable -- and yet your religion is the champion of foregoing so much of what is fantastic about life. It stultifies and constricts, it demands you are always on your best behaviour, always a bit worried about what I’ll think of your behaviour, always feeling the need to ask me to forgive this or that.
That’s not me Mark, that underlying fear of not being acceptable, of having to do enough praying, read enough bible, sing enough songs, think enough good thoughts? Where do you REALLY think that idea comes from?
I’d rather not say God.
Because I suspect this conversation is for publication and I also suspect you want me to say that our religious Christianity is the brainchild of The Accuser?
Well Mark it certainly didn’t come from me – I came to set you free, not to tie you up in all these religious knots. And it didn’t come from you humans either – it’s too brilliant for you to conceive – the subtle way it makes you think you’re focusing on me, and yet at the same time draws you to focus on systems and on your own unworthiness. No human mind is that devious. Here’s a hint – you could do with reading Galatians 3 and asking me what it really means.
That great and cunning spirit Religion has been working on controlling you humans for thousands of years. Your enemy has humans bound up in religious systems of every type imagineable – Pagan, Judaism, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and of course Christian. It doesn’t make a lot of difference to him which religion, the aim is not to destroy a particular belief, but rather to destroy a particular people!
He has fooled you humans into thinking that God is a God of rules, that I am first and foremost a judge, focused on behaviour, rather than relationship.
But God that’s not true - us Christians talk about ‘relationship’ with you all the time.
Yes. And yet what you think constitutes a relationship with me is actually the opposite of what you would consider a good relationship with another human.
What do you mean?
Mark do your good friends require that you confess to them every bad thought, every slip of the tongue before they will sit and talk with you. Come on, be honest?
So how is it that you think I’m a good friend, and yet you also think I require your ‘sins’ are confessed before we talk? And that in a nutshell is Christianity. The ‘non-Christians’ can see it clearly, but those of you enmeshed in the system cannot. Those you are trying to save would actually like to save you.
They are genuinely concerned for you – they can see that you don’t look very saved at all. You look bound up in rules, regulations, and systems and although you fiercely deny it, they’re right. They can see your Christianity denies so many of the truths of the Christ it tries to represent. Where is this God of life they ask. Where is this God the friend? They can see that I am sadly lacking in the system you have set up.
But God there are two key reasons Christians will tell me you didn’t say that at all!!
Good, what are they?
Well first what about all those verses that say we need to confess our sins!?!
Mark is it important that you keep short accounts with your friends? That if anything comes between you, that you discuss it? So some ‘confession’ is needed?
But how would it be if EVERY time you talked you went on and on about all the ways you felt you’d let them down??
Not so good, I guess we’d end up believing we were bad at being friends?
Yes. In fact your closest friends often tell you not to be silly when you apologise for something you feel you’ve done wrong. They turn a blind eye, they know that you’re imperfect. So let me ask you a question, do think that I don’t know you’re imperfect?
Well no of course you do.
Yes. And am I more forgiving than your friends?
So if your friends forgive without even having to discuss your supposed trespasses, is it possible that I might be like that to? Not focused on your mistakes, but much more interested, like your true friends are, in a conversation? Is that at least possible??
Mark I am the father who ran to the son while he was still a long way off. I’m the dad who almost ignored his confession I was so busy hugging him. The Pharisees wouldn’t have a bar of it, and the spirit that motivated them is alive and well in Christianity today – this constant need to focus you on what you’ve done wrong. Even Paul made it clear that he had a lot of trouble doing the things he knew he should.
God us Christians HATE being called Pharisees!
And so you should. Nevertheless you OFTEN revert to their behaviour. The same spirit that motivated the Pharisees is powerful among you Christians. You have often been guilty of the following Mark.
‘They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.’ MATT 23:4
Ok, but what about all those verses that make it clear our behaviour is very important to you. You’re always talking about sin, and setting us free from it.
Absolutely! Let’s talk for a minute about what the bible says that sin really means and then let’s talk about your behaviour. But we’ll be sticking to what the bible says Mark - not what popular teaching says.
In John 16:9, when introducing the Holy Spirit I made it clear what sin really is – and just to be very clear, I explained that your real sin, which then eventually leads to bad behaviour, is that you do not believe that I am actually God. I explained to the disciples that the Holy Spirit would teach you the truth of that, but instead of letting him do so, you expect him to be constantly telling you off for little sins. ‘Sin’ grows up because you don’t really really really believe that I exist, or that I will respond when you seek me. Your enemy Religion has taught you so many customs that make it difficult for you to have a back and forward conversation with me – because he knows that when you hear my living voice your faith increases, when you don’t it reduces.
“And faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word [a spoken word made by the living voice].” ROM 10:17
And then Mark, when your faith reduces sin steps in.
“…and everything that does not come from faith is sin.” ROM 14:23
See God!! Our behaviour IS important to you!!
Of course it is Mark, but let’s get it in correct perspective. Would your close friends like it if you behaved in ways that hurt you or your family, or them?
But are they constantly talking to you about your behaviour? Are they constantly looking to see if, once again, you’ve acted in ways that aren’t the best?
Me neither Mark. I knew the things you would do before I created the universe. I am not such a shallow God that I do not forgive, overlook, turn a blind eye to your mistakes. Where do you think the ridiculous idea came from that I do not forgive sin unless you ask me to forgive them one by one, and grovel in the dirt? When I taught the disciples to pray I suggested they ask God to forgive in the same way as they would forgive others, their friends. You don’t expect your friends to grovel to you in the same way you think you have to grovel to me.
I guess not.
Good, let’s focus then on relationship shall we – on talking, not on what you’ve supposedly done wrong. Relax Mark, and think about how you would relate to me if you didn’t have to use all your systems and correct behaviours to relate to me. Now there’s a novel idea!
PRAISE FOR THE FREEDOM DIARIES
The Freedom Diaries will stretch you. It describes Mark’s real life struggle with Doubt as he discovered that he could hear God’s voice every day.Dr Mark Virkler. Author of 4 Keys to hearing God’s Voice. Buffalo. New York.
Like a child on Christmas morning, I was delighted to discover how simple yet wonderful it is to place my hand into the hand of God and listen to his whispers and enjoy his affection. I could only ask why no one had ever told me he was this good and this close. I wish I had read this book a long, long time ago. Daniel Walker. Founder and Executive Director of Nvader. Author of God in a brothel.
This is new and exciting. It’s not the idea of hearing from God that’s new, it’s having conversations back and forth, question and answers. That’s new for most of us. Now I am enjoying my own conversations with God, which always leave me with hope. David Garratt of Scripture in Song. Hawaii.
You can purchase your own copy of Mark Holloway's book, 'The Freedom Diaries - God Speaks Back' on this website.
IF YOU HAVE TROUBLE THINKING IT'S YOUR OWN IMAGINATION WHEN YOU TRY TO HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH GOD - read the 'Practical Tips' section. How to have your own conversation with God in The Freedom Diaries.