When I read this term, paint-by-number Christianity, I had an aha moment of connection with this writer. That best communicates what troubled me in church for decades. The programs and boxed in formulas just didn't cut into my pain and needs. When I experienced the Love of God and came to know Him personally in my heart I had the power within me to live vibrantly.In an interview with John Palmer conducted by Bill Dahl of "Next Wave Ezine" I discovered this wonderful article on Chrisitanity that is lived adventurously, yet with peace of mind. (Be sure to read the rest of the article: http://www.the-next-wave-ezine.info/ ).
More from Palmer, "John wrote, 'God is love.' This means much more than God chooses at times to do loving things. God's love is not a spigot that He turns off and on. It's always on because God IS love; love is the personal or intimate essence of every act, every motivation, and every thought, God is offering himself as Perfect Love. If knowing God as Perfect Love was the foundation or cornerstone of our spiritual or religious beliefs, our understandings would be radically altered, and we would be set free."
"What is God's best? It is Himself! Knowing God and being one with God, as Jesus prayed we would experience, is the key to our fulfillment and freedom. This is what God desires for all humankind. In every moment, Jesus was fully conscious and totally awake to His relationship with the Ultimate Source or God, which He called His 'Father,' a relationship of communion and love. To become rooted in and transformed by this Divine Love, to be this Love, as Christ is, is the heart of a proper Christology. I capitalize the word 'Love,' because I view it as Ultimate Reality of God. Love is not some flighty,sentimental, self-focused human emotion. Love is the Creator and Source of all that is real. Humans were made in the image of Love, and so Love is the ground of our being, and our natural inheritance. When someone is awakened to Love, they are awakened to the most transformative reality there is."
" Its power heals, sets people free, makes whole, and puts one at deep peace and joy. One way I experience it is a deep knowing that in every moment I am held in unconditional acceptance. When I allow myself to dwell there, all sense of separation form God is extinguished and I experience oneness with God. Free at last! Jesus prayed we would share in the communion of Love He experienced with the Father. "
Jim Palmers' website is terrific: http://www.turnloveinsideout.com/
I recall when the call of God on my life caused many of my friends to back off. They were church goers, but it was critically important to them to keep appearance in perfect order. My call involved hands on ministry to the needy, prisoners, women in crisis pregnancies, and others in great need. When I would get with my old friends we didn't have so much in common. I sensed that many of them thought I had settled for a life of faith that they perceived as a quiet and dull life.
Oh, my how wrong they were. I have never known such life in living color as the life I live in Christ. At times it takes my breath, and oh, how I long to have the skills to express my joy and sense of fulfillment. So I love Palmer's paint-by-number Christianity analogy. Until we break out the easel, the canvas and dare to "paint" with the leading of the Holy Spirit with the colors, design and technique He directs we are not really living the life Jesus Christ died to release to us.
Peace depends on the sense of being fully equipped, empowered, and lacking nothing. May every Christian give up the paint-by-number religious entrapment that holds them back from a full life connected to Holy God: Who is Love and Life!!!