The Illusion of Invulnerability

The conservative Christian church contributed its solidarity, its endorsement, its resources, and its numbers to power the successful election of this presidency. They say Trump represents them, that he represents God. They say God endorsed him.

Those of us who also call ourselves Christians but disagree with the growing voice of American Christianity have a choice to make: join the crowd or not. We could have safety in numbers if we join. We could immediately alleviate the criticism we are enduring if we do.

“Join in, and you’ll be accepted. Don’t join in, and expect our rejection of you. Expect our chastisement of you. You are out of line with God. You are out of line with the Church. Our beliefs are right. Your beliefs are wrong. Let me correct you with scriptures. You are clearly wrong.”

(Have you noticed the increased use of that word “clearly” in the church in recent years? It’s an effective word in addressing dissenters –- it leaves no room for disagreement; they are clearly right and others are clearly wrong … end of discussion.)

“So acquiesce to us and do it now. Or not. But if you don’t, be prepared for God’s judgment upon you. We are certain of our rightness. Our growing numbers increase our certainty. Our victory by our candidate of choice validates us.”

But, I wonder, should they be so certain? This particular branch of Christianity has blended the waters of politics and the waters of God, called it correct, and recruited others to jump in. The resulting river of blended waters is historically unique and especially potent.

The numbers of people within in it have swelled, and the 2016 presidential election hastened the current. They move along swiftly, focused on each other, on their victory, on their momentum, on their common beliefs, on their perceived correctness.

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They give no ear to those on the banks who aren’t among them. Land-based warnings aren’t welcomed; by the time a word or two reaches them, the current has moved them beyond range to be heard anyway.

The isolated river they created that causes them to feel safe and empowered, is the very river that discourages personal responsibility and accountability. It gives an illusion of anonymity and unanimity. It gives a false sense of invincibility.

The very river that causes them to claim endorsement by God causes me and others to feel alarm. Christians who are planted on the banks of that river, who never joined the Group Think River, are observing and pondering.

I wonder about the vast numbers of people in the river. Do they realize safety in numbers is deceiving? I imagine it must feel good to be in that river assuaging their perceived correctness and empowerment, but from where I watch, I don’t trust it. More accurately, I strongly distrust it.

Based on its steadily intensifying qualities, I wonder where that river is headed. Is it possible for it divert to righteousness, love, peace and truth? Will it please God? Will it serve humanity?

Does God endorse them, as they claim, or …

Does He abhor their river? Has it drowned out His voice? Will He silence its clanging gongs of discord and pride so that His voice can once-again be heard?

Has He allowed the river in order to ultimately flush wrongdoing from His Church?

20190904_113503-1Will he turn to the scattered remnant on the banks to gather together in His name? Will He ask them to represent Him? Will he find those who are willing, sanctified, prepared, trained, and who have sacrificed self for Him?

Will He find those who have become less, so that He can become more? Will He find those who will let Him use them according to His will, direction, and leading?

 

We each have to answer to God for what we do in His name. We have access to His Holy Spirit to teach us, to give us eyes to see and ears to hear.

Will we let Him warn us? Will we let Him instruct us?

I Will Tell Them Plainly

If you haven’t spent time alone with Him to know Him …

If you haven’t heard directly from Him what His thoughts are …

If you haven’t studied His eyes and heart until you understand His feelings …

yellow animal eyes furIf you’ve only consumed theologies and teachings about Him …

No matter how many weeks and months and years and decades you spent feeding at the table of your religion …

If you learned the scriptures that support your existing opinions and ignore the ones that would disrupt them …

Then … 

You only know man’s interpretations and beliefs about Him, or …

You know your own “truths”.

You know mission statements.

You know your specific group’s theology.

You know your specific church’s or denomination’s culture.

You call “true” what your people tell you to call “true”.

You call “right” what your people tell you to call “right”.

But is it what God would say if you would but listen to Him? 

You may not know God well enough to fuel that confidence in your opinions …

You may not know God at all.

And yet you are sure you are speaking for Him.

Don’t be fooled …

Pride and self-righteousness and power feel good in the short term …

But pride comes before a fall.

No matter how brazen or angry or certain or large your tribe …

Majority thinking does not equate to an endorsement by God.

There is no substitute for knowing Him. 

Matthew 7: 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

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All Kinds of Sheep

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  John 10:27

There are sheep who don’t listen to nor follow His voice, sheep who follow everything but the Holy Spirit. They go the opposite direction entirely, or run a somewhat parallel course. Until that road diverges and they end up miles and miles from the watchful eye of the Good Shepherd.

Some follow not God but people, especially leaders who sound sure of themselves, or who present a “feel-good” gospel such as legalism. Doesn’t it feel good to be always right? Doesn’t it feel righteous to never need to go through those refining fires you demand of others? Doesn’t it feel set-apart to be morally superior to everyone who doesn’t conform to your belief structure?

Stop and ask yourself:

Did you shop around for same-breed sheep so that you can all affirm each other in your “rightness”? Do you view “outsiders” as all wrong without turning that same critical lens on yourself? Do you think, “They are wrong, they are lost sheep” without seeking God’s insight on the heart of each and every one of those people you so cavalierly lump together? Do you put on your “good Christian” costume, complete with a forced, compassionate smile, say “God loves you,” and then inflict corrupt laws, guilt, shame, or manipulation on them? Do you force-feed Koolaid — pollution, poison, cyanide — all in the name of Christ, in order to gain others’ conformity or to position yourself as their guru? Do you corral those who are insecure and vulnerable, or lower people in your eyes so that you can lord over them? Do you look for and play to people’s needs, lavish compliments and gifts, or amp up the charm to obligate them to you?

Do you silently and shamelessly communicate, “I have conformed. I do what is expected. Now you conform to me or to us. Do what we demand and expect of you. It is the Great Commission of which we fastidiously participate. It is love. It is freedom. It is The Way”

Is it?

Or is it this?:

Doing what is expected will produce a splendid Pharisee.

(“The Taproot of Religion and Its Fruitage”, by Charles F. Sanders.)

Stop and reflect:

Who are you following? If it’s a person or group, are you denied the right to think for yourself? Because that doesn’t happen when you are in relationship with God — He is a Counselor, a Teacher, a Friend who confides and shares insight and who listens and understands. He is a Helper, a perfect Father, a fiercely-protective but astoundingly-gentle Shepherd.

flock of sheep with shepherd, free image

Maybe it’s not a false shepherd that you are following but YOU that you are following. Check your motives. Inspect your heart. Do you find yourself rationalizing your distorted theologies? Are you sure you ever stood on the solid rock of truth of Christ and Christ alone? Did you at one time and have since drifted from it? Has it gone on so long that you are no longer aware of the distance between you and God? Did you refuse His help, direction, and discipline He so lovingly offered in the past? Have you expected His long-suffering patience to last forever while you knowingly, habitually, pridefully reject His interventions on your behalf?

Are you looking for an easy ride on the shirt-tails of someone who is doing all the work? Do you plan to use them to reap the benefits and rewards of their hard labor? Are you too important, too proud, or too dishonest to lay yourself bare at God’s feet and let Him do what He wants with you? — however painful it may feel or long it takes? — regardless the loss of some part of yourself that you know is wrong and yet refuse to give up? Do you follow after anything BUT the Holy Spirit of God because you want a shortcut? Is it because you know at this point you may be left behind to go through His consecration process while others who already did that hard work over long years move on ahead?

Remember:

Matthew 7:13-14

The Narrow and Wide Gates

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Many Christians think that applies to “non-believers”.  They are exempt from any concern. But there’s this:  

Matthew 7:21-23

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

My prayer is:

That you press on to find the narrow gate and enter through it. Nobody can find it for you, it is between you and God. Do you genuinely search for the gate? Do you sincerely want Him or not? Do you seek Him? Yield to Him? Desire Him? Do you actually love and obey Him? — You can fool people and deceive yourself that you do, but not God, of course God knows. So seek Him. Sincerely. He guarantees to you that you can find him. It’s never too late to start, or too hopeless to begin again.

Gate, field free

Jesus said:

John 10:9

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.

Jeremiah 29:13

13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.