Monday, April 26, 2010
CALLING ALL FAILURES IN THIS LIFE
©2010 Narrowgate Publishing
If I judged by what I see and what I have experienced personally in my life over the past 57 years, I would not follow Christ, or have anything to do with those who claim to follow Him.
Why should I? I have been part of what I consider a monumental failure—my own life, the lives of those I know within the churches, the lives of those within my family who claim to be Christians, and the self-satisfied smug lives of those successful people around me who think they are God’s gift to others because of their success. The whole charade has made me sick, and caused me to break away from the churches, which organizations and institutions make me physically ill with their pompous, showy worship, and pride of place, and lust for looking good in the eyes of the world.
I know who I am. I am a sinful, flawed person, with a deep need for change. God knows that I know this. He is not like men—seeing only the surface problems, the hassles, the outward manifestations of my life—but He is the One who knows me, and that is my only comfort. I certainly receive no comfort from people who claim to know God. They are so caught up in their frantic activities, even their so-called service to God, that they have no time or energy for me, or for anyone else who isn’t perfect like they are.
I was born and raised in the churches. I was a Pharisee of Pharisees, in the sense of having a spiritual pedigree, with ministers and earnest spiritual people down through my earthly bloodline. My father studied for the ministry, but never made it as a pastor. My uncle became a very successful pastor/businessman, and pastored large churches, with alternate periods in the corporate world. My grandfather on one side was a circuit preacher in a prominent evangelical denomination, and was there when it was started. One of my great-great grandfathers was a Baptist preacher.
I started out well, in the eyes of the churches. I was always zealous for the Lord, in my quiet way, and I wanted to serve Him. I loved the Word of God, and studied it, even as a boy. When I hit my teens I was active in every part of the church that involved our age group. Doing quiz team, youth group, music groups, special events, not only attending, but becoming a leader. I started traveling with significant music groups before there was a Christian music industry, and was involved from almost the beginning with prominent names and groups in its formation. I traveled all over the world as a Christian musician. I went to a Christian college, and began studying to go into the ministry, either in music, or as a pastor/teacher.
Then it all began to unravel, because I was a typical modern Christian. I knew a tremendous amount about God, and His Word, but had not deep, tough roots, having grown up in our comfortable, easy church world, sheltered from the real difficulties of life.
I broke on the rocks of sex, marriage, kids, career, divorce, sex, marriage, more career, money, possessions, running away from trouble, avoiding hard times, chasing after the world, worry, fear, anger, rage, doubting, and disappointment—the deep disappointment that came when I found out that struggling together to find the answers to these things was not something other so-called believers in Christ wanted to deal with. Not even pastors, or teachers, or leaders in the churches seemed to love Christ enough to help me. They were uncomfortable when I confessed my sins, and quickly sent me to counseling—under men who had some degree or other, but had little or no understanding or compassion, and no lasting answers. Brothers in Christ would hem-haw around and tell me they’d pray for me. In their eyes I could see their fear, their discomfort, even their annoyance that I was having trouble. The Christian life wasn’t supposed to be this way, and I was out of the box. There was no sympathy, and having lived many more years now, and gone through enormous upheaval, and worked through many of these things with God, I have realized that these leaders and fellow brothers were unable to help precisely because they were going through similar things, but were not honest enough to admit it.
The man who steps forward to confess his sins in the churches of today—the slick, modern, fast-paced, well-ordered, professionally-run, programmed, performance-based churches of our society—will be shunned, ostracized, and shunted off onto a side-rail in the rail-yard. You will be hidden away, the group not wishing to taint their wonderful worship and service to God with failure. This or that brother might agree to meet with you privately, and will spend some time trying to pray you through the problems. They might offer a Bible study, or ask why you haven’t been more active in the church. They might give you advice, from their own personal store of wisdom. They will never obey Scripture, and confess their own sins to you. They will never consider you an equal in the Body of Christ, helping you with great love, and laying down their lives and time and energy to help you get through. They will never weep when you weep, and rejoice when you rejoice. With great kindness, they will finally explain apologetically that their real duties in the church, and their family obligations, will necessitate them bowing out of your problems. After all, the churches aren’t made to solve problems, but to be a place of refuge from problems. That will be the unspoken reason.
And whatever you do, and I speak from experience, don’t publicly admit your failures and sins in a group situation at the church. Whether a church service, or a class, or a study group, or a prayer meeting, you’ll upset the apple cart so much, you won’t believe it. You will be treated politely as a weirdo from then on, and even if it gets you some attention, you will be offered options and sent to see the pastor, or a counselor, and never, never will they stop what they’re doing, admit their own struggles, and get down on their knees in humility to love you and hug you and pray for you.
You will eventually have a choice—either get with the program, or find someplace else. After all, isn’t that what private counseling offices are for? Doesn’t the government provide programs to help? Aren’t there poorhouses, and gospel missions, and ministries to those with problems? For financial problems, don’t we have a small allotment from the benevolence fund? Why should the churches be sidetracked from their mission—worship and praise to God, and bringing more people into the churches—to love and help a sorry, broken, sinful man?
Whatever you do, don’t expect anything, my brother in trouble. Don’t trust yourself to the churches of today with your sorrows, your trouble, your failure, your financial needs or your sin. You will be severely embarrassed and disappointed. Like I did, you’ll eventually get wise to the situation, and either fit in, or leave.
This is all happening for one reason.
God is not abandoning you. People are. People are not connected with Christ, and so they act like this. No matter how religious they appear, and how many Christians are on their bus, God isn’t buying their falseness.
To the extent they don’t love you, and help you, is the extent to which they have ignored the Word of God, and the extent to which they don’t know God at all.
Read the Scriptures. From beginning to end, it’s all about love. The love of God for each man and each woman born on this earth. The love we’re to have for each other. Community, warmth, affection, sharing, being together, giving, working together, loving one another, sacrificing for one another. The Word of God, Christ Jesus, came to bring that love visibly to us, and to fill us with His Spirit of love, and to example that to us. We are the ones who ignore His Word, His life, in favor of our religious activities.
The problem is us. Unregenerated man. Unrepentant, unloving, unkind, unspiritual, ungodly us.
At is at this point in your life, when you are down, totally disappointed, totally gone, and without hope, that you will have to make a choice.
You will abandon God, or you will stick with Him, and with His Son Jesus, and decide that He is bigger than the temporary, worldly, sinful church system we see, and that He, as Lord over the true ekklesia of God (the ‘called out to be together’ people of God) will prevail, and that He will somehow bring you into fellowship with other true disciples of Christ who will exhibit a willingness to show their imperfections, to love, to grow together in the Body of Christ you read about in Scripture.
My plea is this: don’t abandon the Lord!
But would you do me a favor? Would you look for me? Would you cast around to find others like yourself, so that we can come together and not be so lonely and have so much heartache? Would you commit yourself to others like me, so that we can love one another through the messy process of becoming Christ to the world?
I am sick and tired of seeking the Lord day and night, finding Truth so wonderful, and His love for me, and yet not finding brothers who can share it together.
Oh, true brothers in Christ, where art thou?
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