23. High Regard Is Freedom
Freedom is holding one's neighbor in the utmost respect and regard without thought of any human differences.
23. High Regard Is Freedom
We, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.Romans 12:5
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body… and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
That they all may be one, (just) as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. John 17:21-23
Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us. Romans 15:7 — Love one another with a pure heart fervently. 1 Peter 1:22
Here is the greatest power in the universe unleashed upon this earth. Here is the focal point of all the intention and purpose of God coming down onto one tiny point. Here is the transition between the two ages. Here is the foundation and the birthing of all that is the age to come.
Everyone assumes they “know” what this love is; few have ever tasted it. We know that none have practiced it because the ages have not changed. So long as this level of love and relationship is not our continual way of living, we remain in darkness and deception.
Inside Christian community we came close. Close, but not close enough. Looking back now, I know that we had erected a mighty and impassible barrier between us and this level of love. It was there, and we could glimpse it, but we never tasted it because of the barrier of separation we ourselves had built.
That barrier, that concrete and steel wall, was the order and the hierarchy of relationship in which we moved – apostle, elder, body member. Because that order was fierce and to this day remains inviolable in that same group, we related to one another on the basis of place and position in the pecking order – Always. Yes, there was love in our midst, but pecking order always trumped love – Always.
Everyone, elders under apostles and body-members under elders, always must “know their place.”
But I must say this, those who live in a free-for-all form of Christian relationship are further from knowing true Christian love than we were, even in our in-part expression of church order. Sorry, such a church-order is even worse.
The last community in which we lived, Blair Valley, was too small to profit from such an arrangement, and by someone’s wise counsel, they had removed the elder-body member distinction, and all six of us adults, Kars and Minnie, Rick and Shirley, and Maureen and I, sat together in the elder’s meetings. To exclude the two wives who were not elders made no sense.
What a world of difference that made. An entire spirit of difficulty that always plagues the communities in the move vanished as if it never existed. Every adult was treated with full respect in government. There was no shadow of “us versus them” as sits upon move communities to great harm. I knew it was harmful before I sat in the elder’s meetings, but there I saw that “order” had done the most damage to people’s hearts, in those weighted down with pretending to be “elders.”
But still, at Blair Valley, although there was a closeness and a caring for one another that was wonderful, still, there was something that stood between us. I now know what it was. It was “the move” as a sect and the “covering” of the apostles. I believe in apostolic covering, I am just convinced that in the move we did not know what a pure apostolic covering was – ever. We could not know it because of the wrong definitions of separation and “place.”
It was when my wife and I left that community and the move, that I tasted of the love and heart relationship that had always eluded our reach. I want to carefully describe what happened. Not to condemn anyone, but to reach for this most precious of truths — Members One of Another.
As I have shared, we were three couples at Blair Valley. Kars and Minnie were older; Rick and Shirley Annett were closer to our age, but they worked in town to earn some necessary money and came out to the farm only on weekends.
Because I had not sought the witness of the apostles when we left, we were breaking a spiritual definition. Maureen and the children were already gone when I drove our van with our belongings out the long dirt road to the highway. Kars and Minnie accompanied me in their vehicle. Along the way we stopped to do something to my van, Kars helping me. In our exchange, he spoke something harshly against me. I replied, “Brother Kars, I’m still a Christian.” His words were to the effect that all spiritual relationship between us was severed, regardless of any fellowship we had enjoyed before. I had received many hard and painful blows all the years I was in the move; that was one of them.
(I am not speaking badly of Kars; I walked with him every day for a year-and-a-half, and my heart is filled with the pleasant memories of goodness.)
But I want to speak particularly of Rick Annett, who was already in town. He and I had enjoyed a growing relationship of trust and walking together over the years. He had been an elder all the years I had known him, but different from most. He was one of those few (three among a hundred, to be exact) who had always treated me as an equal in every way. He gave me some of the keys of what it means to highly regard and respect one another even before we left Blair Valley.
But once we were living in town, Rick and Shirley, though they remained in the move, continued to relate to Maureen and myself at the same level of spiritual love and fellowship as before. All the definitions and masks of the move were gone. All that was left was the presence of deep friendship, the anointing of Christ, and the utmost regard and respect for one another.
We left the area a year later, moving hundreds of miles away. I am not good at maintaining relationships over distance, but the closeness of heart between Rick and myself remains to this day at the same level to which it had come.
And understand this, community is a glass house. Once you have lived with people in community for some years, you know them and they know you. There is no hiding of anything. Most church gatherings are filled with smiles and exuberant “love.” That’s better than nothing, but it is still an outer facade only. But those whom I know from community, I know. And they know me.
We all wear masks. We all present to other Christians the face we want them to see. You do it as much or more than I. How do I know that we yet hide behind masks? Because we’re still in this present age. If we had stepped away from pretending, the fabric of the universe would already be changed.
And much of our wearing of masks comes out of our creations of the definitions of place and order found in the tree of knowledge, definitions of place and order that we so carefully maintain.
The Quakers defied that whole concept of place and order. They threw it out as nothing more than a masquerade instituting “pride” as the order of society. And that’s all it is and all it will ever be, a masquerade of pride, the wearing of faces.
I want to go on a rabbit trail, here, but I have a specific purpose for this rabbit trail. I want to enlarge our understanding of what this means — Members One of Another. I want to make our understanding as specific as I can.
There is a belief here in the United States that we gained our freedom by fighting and winning the revolutionary war against England. Those who believe this are lied to and lying. The belief that freedom comes from killing people is a LIE! But it is a lie that wraps itself all through the warp and woof of this country and every part of the consciousness of most Americans. It is a lie.
If you want to know for certain that the American Revolution had nothing to do with freedom, just read the first three chapters of Oliver Wiswell by Kenneth Roberts. The American Revolution opposed true freedom in every way. In reality, it was little more than an excuse to kill one’s neighbor and to burn down his home.
Yes, the American Revolution brought independence from England, but it did not bring freedom. Freedom in America came from an entirely different source. The American Revolution was a mighty blow against true freedom, but freedom at that time was too strong in America to be so easily destroyed. It would take a far more subtle approach.
The Civil War and its aftermath was an even greater blow against freedom in America than the Revolution had been. The hatred and violence that Lincoln engendered in the hearts of Americans one against the other is incomprehensible. But freedom did not die completely in this country until 1913. From that day until now, America has not known freedom.
The United States of America is NOT a nation of freedom and has not been since 1913. Many other peoples on earth know freedom more than most Americans today. The US is an oligarchic dictatorship that pretends to let us vote, and we pretend to chose the face of that dictatorship every four years. It is all a mighty masquerade of pretending. It is all a lie.
Americans say, “Thank God we’re free,” all the while imagining their chains to be nothing more than emblems of “freedom.” Never before in history have a people so clung to the masquerade as tightly and as falsely as Americans do today. And the very statement, “Thank God we’re free,” is part of the forge upon which those chains are hammered. It is all a mental game.
So what is freedom and where did it come from? It is true that it was tasted here in America for a time and those of us who are older carry a remembrance of that freedom. We no longer know what freedom is, but we maintain its emblems. People mistake the emblems of freedom for the thing itself.
What is freedom?
In the American colonies through the years 1775 and on, the people were split into three nearly equal parts. One third of the colonists chose to take up arms to fight violently against King George. One third of the colonists chose to take up arms to fight violently for King George. And one third of the colonists refused to join either side or to participate in any way in the violence.
If separation from England had been put to a popular vote, the colonies would never have separated. I doubt if the separatists would ever have gotten more than 45% of the vote. Now here is something you were never taught. If the colonists had been allowed to vote for greater FREEDOM completely divorced from the thought of separation from England, the vote for greater freedom would have been more than 95%. Most of those who fought FOR King George and against the rebels were also fighting FOR freedom. They were convinced that the rebels were a greater threat to freedom than King George. They were not wrong.
But those who picked up guns to kill their neighbors, either those who fought for “freedom” by fighting for King George, or those who fought for “freedom” by fighting against King George, had nothing to do with freedom in this country. In fact, all those who chose violence against their neighbor, all of them, were fighting against freedom, no matter how they justified their actions.
Freedom as it was experienced in this country for such a short time in the history of mankind came entirely from the middle group who refused to participate in the murder of their fellow man.
That middle group was an incredibly unique combination never seen in history before or since. Because that large population of peculiar people does not exist anywhere in the world in any size large enough to affect the course of society, the reality of freedom cannot be known again upon this earth. Mankind had one window of opportunity. Only one. God purposed to give us this one taste of freedom so that some of us would understand what freedom is and thus bring freedom to the entire world.
Who was that middle group that refused to kill their neighbors? Inside that middle group was the largest minority of Quakers and Anabaptists that any place on earth has known before or since.
May I suggest to you that the only taste of freedom that this world has ever known came to us from the Quakers and the Anabaptists, and the Iroquois, as well. This middle group with a huge number of Quakers and Anabaptists lived in the Middle Colonies in proximity to the Iroquois. The hotheads who led the violence were New England “Puritans” on the one side; the leaders of the southern colonies were mostly slavers on the other side.
What is freedom? Freedom is holding one’s neighbor in the utmost respect and regard without thought of any human differences.
Government within many of the Indian tribes in America was based fully on the principle of utmost respect. If you want to see such a thing in action watch Dances with Wolves with Kevin Costner, a worthy education. I suspect that the kind of government you see there was the closest to what God had in mind for the children of Israel.
Only the Quakers treated both Indians and African-Americans with utmost respect as people equal in every way to themselves. That respect is freedom.
There is a movie and book of a Quaker woman, named Mary Draper Ingles, who is captured by the Shawnees and eventually escapes. The movie, The Captive, is not on Netflix, so if you want to see it, you have to buy it from Amazon. The reviews that I read all miss the main point of the story. Mary, as a Quaker believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, treats her captors, no matter how savage they appear, with the utmost respect as fellow human beings. Her fellow captives cannot do that. She escapes but must leave her children with the Indians. At the end of the movie, she is back home with her husband when those same Indians appear again on the edge of the clearing. Only this time, they are returning her children to her.
Why? Because of the respect that she showed to them as fellow human beings in spite of her own fear and suffering.
That respect, that high regard for all others as full and equal human beings created in the image of God, IS freedom.
Let me continue. I am getting at the very bottom line of “Members One of Another” and how it must overthrow the darkness that grips this world.
Out of this respect and high regard for others found among the large Quaker and Anabaptist minority in the colonies freedom flowed to all others.
Let me place this definition of freedom on a firm foundation.
The Ten Commandments carved on tablets of stone by the finger of God is the LAW of LOVE and the Foundation of Freedom in disguise. Now, a people who live separately from God, claiming, “All that the Lord says we will do,” can only turn those “commandments” into death. And all “Christian” use of the ten commandments in an outward manner is also nothing more than death.
The Ten Commandments are all expressions of property rights. Property rights are the foundation of freedom, but not in the sense of my “fighting others” for my rights. Rather, in the complete opposite sense, my laying down my own life and interests so that I may regard the property rights of others with fullest respect.
What are property rights? “Property” is what I possess as an individual created by God in His image, an individual whom God loves, an individual for whom – alone if there were no others – Christ died to have for Himself as His companion and friend. “Property” is my integrity. “Property” is the value of the blood of Jesus paid to purchase me.
My most important property is my conscience, that is, the integrity of my own personal choice to follow that particular inner light that I choose to follow. This is a right God never violates. The first phrase of the first amendment is not freedom of “religion,” it is freedom of conscience. Conscience is the most essential right and property that any human being possesses. As I stand before God nothing stands with me except my conscience, the determination of that “light” I chose to follow. Freedom of conscience is the very first of all freedoms.
And that is why Paul’s statement, “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God,” is the most revolutionary political statement ever uttered. That statement defies every argument of “power over” in both church and state in history, that the authority that guides every individual man, woman, and child is that Spirit which is inside of them.
Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt… But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more. Jeremiah 31:31-34
This Covenant promised by God is political anarchy from the human point of view. This is the New Covenant; it is the Kingdom of God. And it is how the Quakers alone of all Christian sects understood God’s order for His church. This understanding and practice is the source of the measure of freedom that was tasted for a short season here upon this continent.
Consider the Ten Commandments. All the commandments are different ways of saying, “Thou shalt not steal.” The first and second commandments are about stealing from God that which belongs to Him. Killing your neighbor is stealing his life, second only in importance to stealing his conscience. Lying about your neighbor is stealing his reputation, his good name. Committing adultery is theft of the worst kind. And the tenth commandment says, “Don’t even want to take for yourself that integrity, that honor, that regard that belongs to your neighbor.”
But it is my life that I hold as one of my possessions that is second in importance to my conscience. My body comes third (that is the place of habeas corpus in the American Constitution and in British common law.) Both Habeas Corpus and the 14th amendment protect my right to the possession of my own body. My right to speak what is in my heart, my possession of a voice, that sharing with others that which is inside of me, is placed second after freedom of conscience in the Bill of Rights. Whether my voice or my life is more important, I do not know.
God considers my possession of my body to be second to my possession of my own spirit (conscience). For my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and belongs to no other. If I do not possess it fully, I cannot give it to God. And God accepts only that which is freely given.
Do you see how all this works? Americans used to understand these things, but since 1913, almost no one still does.
So why was the Bill of Rights written? Again, this reality is not known, even though it is supremely important.
Many Americans who loved freedom were horror-stricken when the “Constitution” was presented to them to ratify in the legislative assemblies of each newly-independent state. They saw in that Constitution the creation of the awful BEAST that the American government is today. They saw in that Constitution the license to create a monster a thousand times worse than the government of King George ever could be.
There were too many people who opposed this betrayal called “the Constitution” for it to be ratified. Those who had written the Constitution sent out papers giving their reasons why the new government created by the Constitution could be trusted – they lied. Those who opposed it gave their reasons at the legislative assemblies and they wrote those reasons down on paper. History has demonstrated that government today is far, far worse than their darkest predictions. It is a Beast.
The Bill of Rights was written by those who OPPOSED the constitution and who OPPOSED the creation of the Federal Government. It was written as a final attempt to wrap chains around that government, to somehow force it to respect people. Those who wanted the Constitution accepted the Bill of Rights only because it was the only way the states would have ratified the Constitution to create the monster that did not stop growing from then until now. By the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, that Constitution and the Bill of Rights restraining it were nothing more than a worthless scrap of paper.
Please bear with me, because the only thing I am interested in is “Members One of Another.” But we must understand exactly what that means.
The Shawnees in their savagery had the same reasons why they should kill the whites as the colonists had to fight King George. If it was “right” for the colonists to kill the British soldiers, by the same argument, it was more “right” for the Shawnees to kill the Europeans and drive them into the sea.
Those Shawnees who kidnapped Mary Ingles and slaughtered her neighbors were truly terrorists. But not as bad as the white terrorists who had done the same and worse to the Shawnees.
To Christ in Mary Ingles, the actions of the Shawnees against her and against those whom she loved had no bearing on the regard and respect, the love of Christ in her towards them.
Would we have had the same regard and respect for Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein while they were still alive? Do we really know the One who loves inside of us, the One we call Savior? More than that, if you or I had the opportunity, would we place our bodies in between the American soldiers and the Afghanis they are shooting right now because of our deep respect, our high regard, and our love for that Afghani man, bearded, dirty, and smelly? Would we place our bodies there to take the blow and the death in his place?
If we would not, then we do not know God, we have never experienced Love, and we do not know the Christ who is inside of us. He is there, we just don’t know Him. We still don’t see Him.
You might say, “Well, Daniel Yordy, that’s a tall order, what would you really do?” And my answer would be, “I don’t know that I could do that either.” And my answer would also be, “Yes, Jesus lives in my heart because He says He does, but I do not know Him, not really; I still do not know Him as He is.”
There was a Man, once, who saw it differently. There was a Man, once, who refused to participate in the vicious satanic cycle of “dog eat dog,” of beast devouring beast.
They threatened Him with death, and He laid down His life. They cried, “If you were truly the Son of God, you would come down off that cross.” He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
He is the only Man who has ever lived on this earth.
And that one act, of standing between His enemies and the destruction they so richly deserved, broke the curse. That one act redeemed you and me. We were His enemies when He died for us, and in dying, made us His friends. We were His enemies, terrorists against all that is holy and good, when He responded to us with utmost respect, with careful and tender regard, with life-laid-down love.
And now, that same One, the only Man ever to live, the Holy One of heaven who lives now in our hearts, though we know Him not, that same One says these words to you and to me:
Receive one another, just as Christ also received us — Love one another with a pure heart fervently.
I want to explore more deeply this high, holy respect and regard for one another, this tender care for one another’s heart, this “going out of our way” to make sure each tiny member of Christ knows how highly we respect and regard their heart and the integrity of their person.
And I want to show you how it is that this massive overthrow is the only thing that will transform this world and change the ages forever.
To think that it will happen because “Jesus” shows up in the sky is as contrary to the nature and determination of God as one can get.
That they all may be one, (just) as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
This is the revolution that will overthrow all darkness and transform the entire universe as God purposed from the beginning.