Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Coda

I want to tell you a personal story that illustrates why I get so angry that we’ve allowed ourselves to become known by the spirit of pride and condemnation.

Before I get there, I should recognize that I’m often critical of the church in my writings. People may get the impression I hate it. I don’t. I actually love the church. And like I said earlier, I recognize there are multitudes of us who quietly go about our lives being merciful, showing charity, and being a real light in this world—the whole world, not just our own little Christian circles. I’m fortunate to know lots and lots of you like that. My friends at Journey saved my belief in this.

But like James says, teachers are called to higher accountability, and when it comes to those who don’t follow Jesus, we are all the ones in the role of teacher. Most people in your life will form their opinion of Jesus not by logical, rational contemplation but by watching the news and watching you.

That’s quite a responsibility. And it leads into my next point:

I strongly believe that the most dangerous threat Christians in America face today is not not gay marriage or Democratic presidents. It’s the spirit of the Pharisee within.

Our greatest peril today isn’t them. It’s us.

Now on to my story:

There’s a man I’ve known. I first met him about fifteen years ago when I started working with him. I spent a lot of time with him, and whether he knew it or not he was one of my most important mentors. One of the things I appreciated most about him was that he never mindlessly accepted the Christian party line but was always struggling to be genuinely faithful. He never just followed prevailing Christian groupthink and he wasn’t content with mere Sunday-school Christianity. I learned how to ask myself hard questions from him. I learned how to test everything and hold on to that which was true. My faith in Jesus today is authentic and vital and flesh-and-blood real in no small part because of this guy.

I also learned so much about fatherhood from him. Watching how he loved and related to his baby boy taught me more about being a good dad than he’ll ever know, and today my own son is blessed through his example.

Every single day of my life as a dad and as a follower of Jesus is influenced by what I saw in him.

And then life happened. He moved on and I moved away and I didn’t see him more than once or twice over the following decade. A couple years ago I reconnected with him through the social network. And I learned that in between the time I last saw him and today, he’s turned his back on the faith and become filled with cynicism toward the church. There were multiple factors which contributed to this, but can you guess what one of the big ones was?

That’s right. Other Christians.

Now, yes he is a big boy and he’ll ultimately stand responsible for his own decisions, as we all will. To our own master we'll stand or fall. No one will be able to say “hey it’s not my fault, it's Bob’s” or “it’s because of Sally that this happened.”

This is all true, but how would you like to be the Bob or Sally in a person’s life? The person whose actions provided someone the rationale to give up the race? Woe to him through whom evil comes.

Ultimately we’ll all stand (or fall) alone before God, but the fact remains that at some point in his life my mentor, a precious, valuable child of God, was wounded and needed love.

Instead he was gunned down by his own brothers.

And that’s not even the worst part.

Do you know what the worst part of this is? He’s got two sons now, both teenagers. Instead of learning about the incredibly amazing and exciting rescue mission God undertook in order to win them back, they’re learning cynicism. They’re learning that if there is a God, he’s certainly not the one Jesus believed in.

This man is still a good man. He is still trying (as we all are) to be as genuine as possible. He struggled greatly with giving up his faith in Jesus and he didn't do it lightly. I hope and regularly pray that God would reveal Himself to him all over again and break through all the barriers that have gone up.

He's also still a good father. He’s full to bursting with love for his kids, and I’m sure that he would honor their beliefs if they decided to follow Jesus. But the tragedy is that, instead of living with an example of how a real man of God walks with Jesus, they’re learning that Christians are hypocrites who honor God with their lips but have hearts far, far away from Him. They’re learning that Christians are today’s Pharisees.

Friends, always strive to be a centurion or a Samaritan to your friends and neighbors around you. Be a friend of sinners, not a protestor of sinners (and remember you’re a sinner too). Don’t be a Pharisee.

Brothers and sisters, your actions matter. They have weight. And consequences…even unto the next generation.

--Jeremy
Truth poorly defended loses not its truthfulness;
likewise Falsehood aptly defended loses not it's falsity.


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Further resources: There are some great books that deal with this subject with way better words than mine. I can’t recommend them highly enough for your reading:
Web articles:
  • And of course you can always try my own book =)

7 comments:

  1. I understand where you are coming from...Yes, it is tragic that your friend allowed hypocrites to sour his relationship with God. But I do not share your sentiments concerning how we are to react to Christian Pharisees. First, there is no compatibility between darkness and light. Such folks are enemies of God even though they pretend otherwise. All of that is beside the fact that, in my case, God asked me directly to confront such folks and not be very polite about it. There is no hope of redemption in such folks, at least, not regarding most of them. They were born children of the Devil, and so, naturally tend to be what they are. Unfortunately, their ranks have inundated the churches. That is why nations dominated by so-called Christians are not nearly as wonderful as they should be. God and the Son are not the least bit amused. Their disgust and anger toward those nations has begun boiling over. Thus, such nations are headed for dire consequences. Beware of what shall visit us in April of 2014 as well as what shall come in the months and years to follow. None of the churches will survive the tribulations, woes, and ravages lurking in our collective future. But that will not end the involvement of God and the Son in humanity. Rather, it shall pave the way for them to establish civilizations of enlightenment, righteousness, and wisdom....

    In conclusion, I should add that no child of God should advocate or perpetuate violence against anyone, even Christian Pharisees. Words of rubuke are sufficient. God will punish the wicked. Furthermore, the children of God should divorce themselves from politics and nationalism. The Kingdom of God is their nation. They should also do their utmost to exemplify Yeshua's (Jesus's) example. That means shunning materialism and hedonism, while becoming paragons of love, charity, tolerence, compassion, and wisdom. Continuing to cling to the American dream and helping perpetuate Americanism's insidious ways and means are unacceptable....

    Ps--Do not be fooled by those who do so-called good works. In some cases, such do come from good hearts and souls. But some of the most evil individuals that I have ever encountered have seemed wonderfully nice in various ways. But they were still wicked....

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    1. Hi James, thanks for commenting. I cannot agree with you that it's your job (or ours) to 'name and shame' other Christians as "enemies of God." Jesus Himself directly tells us not to do this in Matthew 13:
      ---
      "The kingdom of heaven is like what happened when a farmer scattered good seed in a field. But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and scattered weed seeds in the field and then left.

      When the plants came up and began to ripen, the farmer’s servants could see the weeds. The servants came and asked, “Sir, didn’t you scatter good seed in your field? Where did these weeds come from?”

      “An enemy did this,” he replied.

      His servants then asked, “Do you want us to go out and pull up the weeds?”

      “No!” he answered. “You might also pull up the wheat. Leave the weeds alone until harvest time. Then I’ll tell my workers to gather the weeds and tie them up and burn them. But I’ll have them store the wheat in my barn.”
      ---
      Even if you are correct in your judgment of who is and isn't an enemy of God within the church (and you better be correct each and every single time or you will unintentionally end up being an agent of the evil one yourself), the collateral damage you cause will be far greater than any "purity" you preserve. Indeed, this is *exactly* the type of action which contributed to my friend abandoning his faith.

      When we take it upon ourselves to judge which believers are true and which are not, we are putting ourselves in the place of Jesus. Is this not a form of idolatry?

      Judging people's spiritual condition is THE LORD'S job, never man's. NEVER man's. Of course we should judge people's *actions*, but whether someone in the church is a "false believer in disguise" or not is none of your business unless they are actively working to destroy a community.

      If God has placed this passion on your heart, then I believe He would want you not to condemn, but to *exhort* your fellow believers as a whole to exemplify Jesus' example as you so eloquently stated: by radiating love, charity, tolerance, compassion, and wisdom. Focus your energy on that and leave the results to Jesus. He's the one who will worry about who are the wheat and who are the weeds.

      Grace to you.

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  2. It is my fault that you seem to view me as if I were a wild-eyed crusader. My duty requires me to do my best to correct and remain respectful, though being direct sometimes requires saying things that offend. In other words, I am not supposed to play political games whereby I wax too polite to wield the truth unvarnished. Nonetheless, I do not run around denouncing this or that person or telling people that they are going to Hell because they are wicked hypocrites. Rather, I reply to their assertions and rebuke them. Even so, I do not hunt them. Usually, I find them whenever one attacks me and whatever I have to say. Now and then, I encounter one espousing nonsense or bashing other folks with the Bible or whatever nonsense that they happen to champion....

    I did not seek the mandate to confront Christian Pharisees. As I pointed out, God asked me to do so, which amounts to Him asking me to officially add that task to my duties. Believe it or not, God still interacts with some individuals just as He did during the days of the Old Testament. The Son, in turn, interacts with some individuals much as Yeshua did during his ministry....

    Nonetheless, the amount of damage that Christian Pharisees and other agents of the Devil have done to the Church over the years cannot be calculated by mortal means. They have subverted Christianity so thoroughly that it has largely become a travesty. To be sure, that is not something that occurred in the past generation or two. The process of turning Christianity into a mockery of what it should be began late in the Church's first generation....

    Perhaps, you would be surprised by how many folks who claim to be Christians object to anyone being truly charitable (being lenient in judgment toward others), tolerant, compassionate, or wise. Their spiritual toxins and viruses have much to do with why America has far too many hellhole prisons overflowing with inmates, why America bullies and badgers other nations and hunts reasons to go to war, why America acts so asininely toward nature and our fellow creatures, while championing a sociopolitical religion of pride, vanity, greed, materialism, idolatry, and hedonism, why certain minorities still live under repression, why native Americans are still treated as if they were subhumans, why homosexuals and Moslems are demonized, why churches have become entangled in politics, et cetra....

    As part of my duties for God and the Son, I have long promoted something that I call the Tribal Challenge. It is a sociopolitical philosophy based on what I call the Ways of Life. The core elements of Christianity (such as love, humility, charity, compassion, tolerance, wisdom, and anti-materialism) serve as primary ingredients of such. The funny thing is that it seems to interest non-Christians (agnostics, atheists, Moslems, Buddhists, and Hindus) far more than it has interested any Christians that it has challenged. In fact, the only folks who have attacked it are those who claim to be Christians. Alas....

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  3. Anyway, I feel compelled to emphasize something that I mentioned in my first post. You inadvertently touched upon it in your reply. The son and the Father have already initiated a process that will separate the wheat from the weeds....

    Not to be an alarmist about it, but time is running short--though not nearly as quickly as many false prophets of our age would have you believe. Things will not exactly turn out as most folks who lean on Revelation suppose. Daniel offers greater insight as to how things will progress, and its forecasts are not as comprehensive as it might seem. The bottom line, however, is that very bad times are headed our way....

    Unless I have misinterpreted what God and the Son have told and shown to me, America will not be around for the final stages of this age. That is also true concerning various other nations. Yet some nations will endure until this age ends--but not afterward. Due to all sorts of sociopolitical, cultural, and financial/economic follies, humanity will suffer a drastic loss of population during the next decade plus. Meanwhile, God will preserve some righteous folks and spare them from the brunt of what is coming....

    Christian Pharisees and other species of false Christians are largely to blame for the calamities and cataclysms headed toward our world. I cannot speak for how anyone else handles such folks. My mandate is only for me and whoever else God might have enlisted to do likewise. All I know is that befriending them is a dangerous practice--one which is more likely to lead to compromise and contamination than to changing them for the better. But do as you see fit. Just keep in mind how Yeshua reacted to the Pharisees and other malicious hypocrites that he encountered. From what I recall, he was seldom very nice to them....

    Despite prevailing thinking on such matters, love, charity, and tolerance have limits on what they will abide. Now, I do not support witch hunts or violence of any kind. Yet I realize there are times when one must defend oneself or others. Even so, it is not right for the children of God to employ violence to subjugate, eliminate, or arbitrarily punish other folks. Far too many who call themselves Christians seem to disagree. Beware of such folks. My advice is to refrain from associating with them lest God count you unworthy of preserving....

    Nonetheless, prepare for what is coming and pray that God will spare you and yours from the brunt of the tribulations, woes, and ravages stalking us. Do not be fooled by springs of false hope, such as those that have arisen during the past few years. The ride to the destruction of civilization as we know it is much like a roller coaster. Its undulating trajectory, however, will soon begin descending. Even if god spares you and yours from the brunt of the troubles to come, it will take all of your spiritual strength to hold onto your faith before the ride concludes. My April of 2014 warning is not a prophecy. Rather, it is a prediction based on many factors. According to such, I suspect that things will begin to sour in big ways for our world in general and America in particular at that time. The Son once told me that Americans will suffer more sorely from what is coming than will other peoples on our world, especially concerning those tribulations, woes, and ravages that will devastate our reality during the first few stages of the ride that I have been describing. Then America will perish and very few of her inhabitants will survive her calamity. But, as I implied, God will preserve some righteous folks in her. I hope you and yours will be among them....

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  4. Thanks for your in-depth clarification James. I appreciate it. There is a great deal that I agree with in your last 2 comments, especially as it pertains to American Christianity.

    I'm not sure I share as bleak an outlook as you on the immediate future, although with the way things are in the world it wouldn't be a complete surprise to see things unfold as you predict. In any event, your admonition to take faith seriously and trust in our relationship with Jesus is well-heeded so that we may all be prepared no matter what occurs.

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. I removed your last comment James, as our discussion is getting quite far off of the topic of this blog post. However, I'd be happy to continue discussing it via email if you like. You should be able to find my contact info by clicking on my profile page. Cheers!

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