Sep 02, 2009
The Choice of Death
I’ve had more than a few people rebuke me for not spending hours trying to explain the essence of New Testament life to a person who just doesn’t get it. I usually just dismiss such a person and walk away. I’ll admit that I am sometimes even a bit rude and short with them. I’ve been told that I should show more patience and gentleness with them and be willing to spend however long i t takes for them to finally get it. One woman told me that my rude response to her blind husband nullified the very message that I had preached. Others have expressed that they feel that my shortness makes it even harder for a person to “get it” because it comes across as being unloving. The belief is that if I love them genuinely from my heart, they will suddenly get the New Testament revelation because my love for them would open their eyes.
I’ve also been told that I purposefully throw out stumbling blocks in front of people that make it even harder for them to get it. I won’t deny that one. I actually do, do that.
I’ll be totally honest with you. When I encounter someone who obviously doesn’t get it because they reject it, I am immediately angry. Something inside me, doesn’t even want to be in the same room with that person. I find myself rolling my eyes and shaking my head when they ask their stupid questions and everything within me wants to fire back and make a public spectacle out of them. I’m sure that hearing this will turn a lot of people off from me, but it’s just the plain truth of what’s inside me. I feel this way because I know that people who don’t get this message are deciding not to get it. They don’t get it on purpose!
Understanding this message or not understanding this message is a CHOICE.
99% of the time, their questions are not asked for the purpose of finding answers. They don’t want answers because they don’t like what this message exposes in their hearts. They hate it in fact. The message infuriates them because it reveals the ugly truth about whatlives inside of them. Jesus talked about this when He said, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” These people’s questions are there to trip me up, and hopefully trip up others in the room. I see it coming a mile away and my response is almost always short and rude, because I want them to just shut their mouths and leave. I’ve come to a point in my life where I have zero tolerance for people who reject this.
This isn’t a matter of someone just not understanding something that’s really hard to get. Even a child can understand this! It’s also not a matter of someone being raised with wrong teaching or bad examples. Rejecting this message goes much deeper than that. There are many who haven’t got this because they haven’t heard it. When they do finally hear it, their eyes pop open and they embrace it immediately. Others won’t get it no matter how many different ways it’s told to them because they don't want it. It's not so much that they don't know the truth; it's that they are intentionally rejecting the truth. These are the people I’m talking about.
The problem is that many Free Believers still think it happens by accident. We talk about it like we think it’s a random revelation that just jumps on people out of the blue and opens their eyes. If someone hasn’t received it yet, it’s because the revelation bug hasn’t bitthem. It’s not their fault. They’re just an innocent bystander waiting for their turn. In the mean time, it’s our job to coddle and dote over these poor overlooked people until God gets around to opening their eyes like He did ours.
I think we convince ourselves of this because it makes it easier for us to not get angry when folks outright reject this message. We've been taught to feel bad if we get upset or angry at someone who closes their heart to it. By making it not their fault, we are less likely to blame them and more likely to feel sorry for them. Many Free Believers also blame themselves if their friends don't receive this message. They feel responsible for not communicating it properly or not being convincing enough. Some of us put the revelation part of this message on OUR shoulders, rather then on the individuals shoulders we are speaking to. If we're not careful, we start to think that someone else might be better equipped to spread this message than us because we judge our ability to deliver it by the amount of people who believed it after listening to us.
I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it. Not understanding the New Testament essence is a CHOICE! I also don’t buy the popular mentality that says, “They just haven’t come to it on their journey yet.” Let me tell you quite clearly; if they don’t get it - THEY AREN’T EVEN ON THE JOURNEY. The journey doesn’t begin in anyone's life until they choose to enterthrough the New Testament gate.
I understand that this all sounds so harsh and unloving. I’m sure about a thousand people reading this are thinking to themselves, “This doesn’t sound like the way Jesus would act,” but I beg to differ. In fact, I’m amazed at how flippantly people say such things about Jesus. I’m convinced that the average Christian has either never read how Jesus acted towards these people, or they have read it, and have completely forgotten.
Every single place in Scripture where the Pharisees and Sadducees confronted Jesus with questions, He publicly rebuked them. In fact, I can’t recall a single time where Jesus was anything but rude and short with people who were spiritually blind. Jesus made a habit of embarrassing them and making a public spectacle out of them every chance he got. He instructed his disciples to literally kick the dust off of their feet and walk away when someone refused to receive their words. Not only that, He also purposefully spoke in a way that kept the message hidden from them. When the people asked Jesus why He spoke in parables, He literally told them He preached that way so that they wouldn’t get it. He said, “Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him” (Matt 13:10)
Jesus understood that receiving this message was a choice that people had made in their hearts. When people decided not to get it, Jesus purposefully hid it all from their sight and made them even more blind than they were before they had encountered Him. He literally made them become stupid. He threw out stumbling blocks in front of them so they couldn’t receive it and believe it or not - Jesus took great PLEASURE in the fact that these people were blinded to it and couldn’t get it! At one point, He stopped what He was doing, looked towards heaven and said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”
What I am telling you goes completely against what the majority of Christians think about Jesus. I wonder sometimes if we haven’t just held our breath and closed our eyes when we came to these verses because it seemed so unloving and “Un-Mister-Rodgers-like” to us. The “Christ-like” picture that is held up in modern day Christian circles, bears little or no resemblance to what Christ truly acted like. Most Christians would openly tell you that we need to be leading people towards this New Testament essence, and we shouldn’t do anything at all to hinder anyone from getting it. We should take our time and continue loving people into this message until they get it. Most of us believe that God would never purposefully trip up men from coming to Him.
I have found that He did and He does, because grasping the New Testament essence is a CHOICE, and when people don’t get it, it’s one hundred percent their fault. The gate through which they must enter into that revelation is always opened, but they purposefully choose to not go through it and because of that choice, they are stricken with blindness and tripped up over and over by God Himself. Amazingly, God even referred to Jesus as “A stone that causes men to stumble.” God says, “But to those who do not believe, the stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, and a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall” (1 Peter 2:6).
I said all that, to say this.
What is the gate through which we become aware of New Testament essence? What is the entryway that causes people’s eyes to open and their hearts to beat with understanding? What is it that causes spiritual blindness to those who willingly choose against it?
It is hideous and disturbing when a person doesn’t get this message, because their decision is to NOT love. That is completely in their power. This isn’t a matter of them just being in a different place in their journey. This is a matter of purposefully closing off their heart and refusing to love. Their blindness is not by accident, it’s on purpose.
Seeing the Kingdom
When I was a teenager, I used to go to Disney Land with my friends twice a year. I used to tell my buddy that someday when I had children, I would bring them to the MagicalKingdom. As I walked down Main Street and through Adventure Land, I would dream about how wonderful it would be to experience this place with my future kids. I couldn’t wait.
Fifteen years later, I was married with children and I planned a family vacation to California. My dream was about to come true. I stayed up late at night telling my kids about all the sights and sounds of this wonderful place. I described the rides and the decor. I told them about the characters that walk around the park and the overpriced food. My kids were so excited they were buzzing.
The moment we entered the park it all changed. My eyes were suddenly opened. As we walked throughout Disney Land I was horrified at how much of it was based on FEAR. Every single ride has something scary and evil on it. There were witches and dragons at every turn. I saw it so clearly now and I wondered how I could ever have thought that this was a place for small children. We spent the rest of the day avoiding most everything, and we finally left early.
My eyes were opened because of the love in my heart for my children. Because of the fact that they were the center of my universe, I immediately saw the world from their perspective and it became astonishingly clear that what I thought was the most wonderful place on earth, was really a nightmare-come-true in my children’s eyes.
This is exactly what happened when I was a pastor and fell in love with the people. The moment they were the center of my universe, my eyes were opened to the awful thingsthe church had been telling them about God. I honestly never saw this before I loved them. I was amazed at how stomach-churning some of the teachings that I had held to for years suddenly became. I felt embarrassed that I ever said those horrible things to anyone.
The other thing that happened is that the entire Bible took on a whole new meaning. Verses that used to scare the hell out of me, exploded with an entirely different meaning and came alive in the most wonderful way. I realized that I had been viewing everything from a death perspective. I literally saw everything upside-down before I loved. The Bible went from being a series of chapters and verses, to becoming a life force within me. I no longer lived my life according to verses and memorized passages. I became a walking, talking living Bible.
I used to preach that if you give, God would bless you, and now, because I loved I could see clearly that giving WAS the blessing! It was never the blessing before I loved, but when people became the center of my heart, I was excited to give to them. I never once waited for God to bless me after I gave to people because I felt the thrill of blessing that very moment.
I used to preach about instances in which God would turn His face from us or not hear our prayers. Once I loved the people, my eyes were opened to just how horrible and nauseating that sounds. No one who loves, would dare to say such a thing to a Father's children. It’s despicable to intentionally cause an unsureness in the hearts of children in regards to their relationship with their parents.
My love for the people became a lens through which I could see the New Testament Kingdom essence in every instance. I no longer needed someone to explain why something was a New Testament principle. I saw it clearly because I loved. I could also see the amazing lack of love throughout our entire religion. I was devastated. I began to unravel an entire unloving religious world with its upside-down teachings and mutilated mind-sets. Over time I discovered that almost everything I had been taught in Christianity was absent of love, and completely wrong.
People who don’t get this message are like parents who willingly and purposefully take their children on terrifying rides at Disney Land with little or no concern for their well being. They’re like wicked people who convince a child that his or her parents will abandon them if they do something wrong or make a mistake. When a person doesn’t get this message, they are making a decision to be self-centered. It’s a terrible decision.
My purpose for writing this is not to try and convince people to be mean and short with folks who refuse this truth. That’s the last thing on my mind. I am writing this to clear the air as to exactly WHY a person isn’t getting this and to relieve people from the guilt feelings associated with getting angry at calloused hearts. I feel like we have been peer-pressured into not getting upset with closed-heartedness. We’ve been told that it’s not Christ-like for us to “dismiss” or respond rudely to a person who is blind to this truth. I honestly feel like we are not allowed to be honest with ourselves about the exasperation we feel when we encounter such a person. We’ve been made to feel like we should never get annoyed when someone rejects what we tell them, and I’m here to tell you - don’t feel bad, because getting annoyed IS CHRIST LIKE!
I have found that exasperation is love's natural response to the choice of death.
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