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An Appeal For Love

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An Appeal For Love

The call came through during the second half of my radio counseling program, "Let's Talk About Jesus." A man's voice, despairing and full of inner torment began, "Wayne, I've got evil thoughts in my mind. Satan's in my head and I can't fight him any longer. I think about suicide all of the time."

l asked him how long this had been going on and he replied, "For six years now." He added that he was currently seeing a professional counselor and, while this seemed to be helping a little he really wasn't seeing any true change in his condition.

My heart went out to him. Imagine, six years of incredible inner suffering. Six years of thinking that Satan had been in control of his mind, and that God must have rejected him because he hadn't been able to get his victory over the devil. What unspeakable anguish this man had been going through.

However, my sympathy quickly turned to anger. I asked him how this had started in the first place. His answer was that as a new convert to Christianity he had confessed to some in his church that he was having a struggle with evil thoughts. Their immediate response was to pounce on him with the argument that Satan was trying to take over his mind. "You've got to rebuke the devil, brother" they told him. "Don't let him tempt you. If you give into him, he'll walk all over you."

Instead of putting him in touch with God's all powerful love for the situation, they filled him with fear and guilt. He was made to feel that he would be unfit for the kingdom of God unless he could purge every single evil and worldly thought from his mind.

This was a classic case of the blind leading the blind. The issue was not where these thoughts were coming from. To just focus in on the problem at the expense of ignoring the solution was a pure disaster in this man's case.

Instead of being told that everyone has evil thoughts and that it's just a part of the fallen nature we each possess, instead of being told he was perfectly normal and that God's love was big enough to take care of this small of an issue, he was made to feel as if his problem was unique, one of a kind, and deadly serious. He had better get rid of the devil in him or else!

The result of this ill advised and amateurish counsel was that instead of helping this man to wholeness, these Christians had actually compounded his problem. What was once a question of where do evil thoughts come from was turned into a six year battle with depression and suicide. By the time this man called me he had come to a point where he was convinced that Jesus had rejected him and no longer loved him, for why else would God allow him to undergo such severe torment?

As we shared together on the phone about God's true love and acceptance of him, a tangible sense of relief became apparent. I told him that I have evil thoughts sometimes too and when they come, instead of making a full blown spiritual conflict out of it, I just accept the fact that these things will happen and at that point the thoughts usually just fade away because I have chosen to trust in God's love and care for me rather than get entrapped in the guilt producing snare of thinking that every thought in my mind must be 100% pure all of the time.

Our talk together on the phone was good. I asked him to write to me for some further material that I would send to him. His problem wasn't over by any means. Six years of emotional crises would require a lot of time for inner healing, but at least he was now able to see things from a new light; the light of God's committed love in his life which would never leave him or forsake him.

When I read the Gospels, I see that there was only one thing which made Jesus angry, and that was when He was confronted by doctrinally-oriented religious people who thought they knew it all and had God in their back pocket. Their heads were crammed full of rules and laws which they rigorously patterned their lives after, but that in the final analysis did nothing to foster a true heart-knowledge of God or a genuine love of man.

These people followed Jesus, criticizing Him at every opportunity, while their own lives reeked of conceit and of a dead self-righteousness.

Jesus referred to these people, these Pharisees, as "a brood of vipers," "hypocrites," and "white washed tombs." Why was Jesus so angry with these religious leaders?

Because they, who claimed to know God's Word better than anyone else, were actually the ones in the greatest need of healing and they refused to see it. Their view of knowledge had made them narrow minded and hard-hearted instead of open, accepting and loving. In their pride and arrogance they had made doctrine their God and had left the love of God in the dust.

The keeping of rules and external appearances was more important to them than having a simple heart of compassion for people. I am angry. I find myself having less and less patience with Christians who inflict such unnecessary and cruel suffering on their fellow man all in the name of higher knowledge.

I am tired of people who refuse to grow up, who, by their actions, apparently hold with the thinking that doctrine is more important than love. I'm sick of spiritual cliques, groups claiming they are the truly faithful and that everybody else is spiritually inferior because they don't have the "total truth" as they have it.

I'm weary of people knocking on my door, treating me like a statistic, a potential convert to their persuasion, but who couldn't invest one second of their time in trying to get to know me as a real person.

What good is knowledge if it keeps you from becoming a fully alive and loving human being? What good is doctrine if it makes you hurt the very people you are supposed to be loving and laying down your life for? I'm fed up with immature Christians who are so in love with their own importance and spiritual gifts that they don't even look back to see the persons in genuine need that they have run over with their own insensitivity.

Cranking pat answers, formulas, and impersonal one-liners down people's throats, without even attempting to listen with the heart to the need, seems to actually be regarded as an attribute in these circles.

Even though I am in a media ministry myself, I sometimes get so tired of all the phony and manipulative fund raising practices which so many corporate ministries use that I often feel like chucking the whole thing and going someplace far away where Christians have real values, priorities, integrity, and know how to live simply in the love of God.

I am altogether weary of the guilt and condemnation tactics that are used against believers in order to control their lives. Pastors who are quick to condemn their parishioners for not making it out to all the meetings, equating their missed attendance with spiritual backsliding. I think it's time to call a spade a spade and to stop being intimidated by a minister's accusations of rebellion just because you question a position of his.

Too many pastors are hiding their immature ego trips under the guise of spiritual authority. A true shepherd of God is told to lead his flock gently, by way of personal example, and not by lording it over those in his church (1st Peter 5:2-3). I've seen many a congregation torn apart all because the minister had some grand illusion of how his church would grow and become the leading body of believers in his area. At the heart of the matter was lustful pride and not an honest and humble desire to be a servant of the Savior.

I'm tired of the preconceived notion that Christians should never have any problems and that if they do then this means that they mast not be believing God. How many more innocent children are going to have to die because their parents believed they could just confess their way to healing without the need of any "worldly" doctors?

How many more people, like the man I spoke with, are going to have their lives wrecked all because some overzealous and insensitive Christian shoved his or her own fears and superstitions down their throats when what they really needed was for someone to put their arm around them and tell them that God loved them and would bring them into wholeness through His genuine love and acceptance?

How long will Christians continue tearing each other apart because of doctrinal differences, while the world perishes before their eyes?

I have no apology for my anger. I talk to thousands of people every year over my radio call-in program who have been repeatedly trampled upon by Christians who thought that their own opinion was the only one that mattered. I am continually encountering the damage done by those who have been caught up in a dead letter of the word theology. Enough is enough. There is something seriously wrong with our basic understanding of Christianity if this is what is being produced.

Oddly enough, this has challenged my own faith and has made it grow. Through my experience with all the foolishness that goes on within the body of Christ, I have been brought to a deeper and bolder commitment to try as much as I am able to really accept people as they are and to extend to each one the unconditional love of God. I want to see people made whole and not stack into a cookie cutter Christianity that ignores their needs and deprecates their God given individuality.

I'm not perfect. As a matter of fact, if you meet me and get to know me, you may discover that I have more problems than you do. But one thing I know. If we do meet I can tell you that I will be honestly dedicated to your own happiness and experience of God's personal love for you.

I've seen a lot over the years. I've experienced fundamentalism, the charismatic renewal, Pentecostalism, and liberalism. Each group tends to have the same unspoken, and sometimes verbal, belief that theirs is the higher way, the way closer to God's total truth. But, in the final analysis, I don't think these things are the issue. There is something far more important than having our theology in letter-perfect condition.

When you approach God on the last day and look over the life you have lived, are you going to want to say, "Lord, I dedicated my life to figuring you out and I didn't let anything or anyone stand in the way of my doctrine," or would you rather say, "Lord, maybe there is a lot I didn't know, but one thing I did do. I tried with all my heart to love you and love man in the best way I knew how; seeing their hearts and meeting their needs as an expression of your love through me for them?"

It's my belief that God is going to be far more interested in how we treated and loved the people in our lives than He will be in how much we were able to figure out and formularize in our doctrine.

Jesus spoke about this once. He said that on the last day there would be some who would approach Him, claiming entrance into His kingdom on the basis of the miracles they had performed in His name. "Lord, we healed people and cast out demons in Your name" they would say. To these Jesus said His reply would be, "Depart horn Me. I never knew you."

He went on to say that what God was really looking for would be found within the hearts of His followers and not in their external actions. "Visit the prisoner, care for the poor, the orphan, and the widow." In other words, "Live out of a heart of love for all those around you."

This is the sign of a true knower of God. The point of what Jesus said was simply this: let us not be so preoccupied with having all of our theological facts straight that we miss the opportunities all around us to touch His creation with His message of love.

Some seem so intent upon making the doorway into God's kingdom as narrow and selective as they can, and they seem to believe that the narrower they make it, the more spiritual they must be. Invariably, the particular doorway they espouse is defined by their doctrine. At this point, conversion becomes a matter of obeying the formula rather than that of a personal encounter with the living Christ. It becomes a clinical issue rather than the cry of God's heart to His creation.

Why is it that when so many enter into the Christian life they become emotionally stunted and develop a hard and insensitive heart to the apparent needs around them when they should be blossoming into the compassionate lover of God and man that Christ intended for them to become?

Why do people so quickly trade in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ for a legalistic approach to God that revolves around their actions and understanding rather than the power of the cross of Christ? Why do so many believers think it a credit to their faith that they throw their mind, intellect, and compassion out the window as if ignorance and superstition were a gift of God? Why won't God's children see that love is the way?

Sometimes I feel like I just have to accept the fact that things will always be this way. But deep down inside I know I can't roll over and play dead while thousands around me continue to be emotionally and spiritually damaged by Christians who act like they have more in common with the self-righteous Pharisee than with their Savior. I can hear God crying out to His church saying, "Stop hurting those I have died for. Come out of your childish ways and dedicate yourselves to a life of servant love for My world."

We must begin acting as true brothers and sisters. We have to repent of the tendency which lives within each one of us to love only those who fit into our own doctrines and spiritual lifestyles. This mentality has only cut us off from being able to receive, understand, and give out the life-changing love of Christ. We need to ask God to forgive us of our self-righteousness. Let us each renew within our spirits that original dedication we so joyously felt at our new birth to becoming true lovers of God and of mankind.

If we will only begin living from our hearts instead of our heads, in a true love rather than a superficial spirituality, then we may very well see the body of Christ become experientially one in our day; full of healing life, love, and power for all. If we will be courageous enough to let go of the formulas and doctrines which have historically only divided and hurt God's children and instead commit ourselves to loving with God's love at all costs, then we will indeed realize the coming of His kingdom among us.

"By this all men will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Amen. May it be soon.

-lovinggrace.org
 
Member
We must begin acting as true brothers and sisters. We have to repent of the tendency which lives within each one of us to love only those who fit into our own doctrines and spiritual lifestyles. This mentality has only cut us off from being able to receive, understand, and give out the life-changing love of Christ. We need to ask God to forgive us of our self-righteousness. Let us each renew within our spirits that original dedication we so joyously felt at our new birth to becoming true lovers of God and of mankind.

If we will only begin living from our hearts instead of our heads, in a true love rather than a superficial spirituality, then we may very well see the body of Christ become experientially one in our day; full of healing life, love, and power for all. If we will be courageous enough to let go of the formulas and doctrines which have historically only divided and hurt God's children and instead commit ourselves to loving with God's love at all costs, then we will indeed realize the coming of His kingdom among us.
Great article Coconut, this oneness can only happen apart from religious institution as the author has explained in different words. The religious system only fetters or restrains us from becoming all that God has intended- a loving Family.
 
Member
I need to clarify something here when it comes to "thought"...

"I have chosen to trust in God's love and care for me rather than get entrapped in the guilt" ...the author is not contradicting the need for bringing every thought into subjection to Christ, but rather I trust, trying to emphasize 'thinking problems' are common to each and everyone of us and "God's love is big enough to take care of this small of an issue" ...in other words, whatever the problem is, God`s grace is sufficient, and He does by His Spirit enable us to overcome even in our thought life as written in Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh, and again 2Co 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; It is a process, and not something to condemn another for, or suffer self condemnation over, but we recognize that each one of us must proclaim..."it is not by might, (personal virtue or strength) nor by power, (our own ability) but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Glory to God!

You are right jf, God tells us to "Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits." and "if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Religion says conform to a standard, (wether it be the Word or not, and or not in many cases) Christ says, be conformed only to me, and this will be your salvation, and where you will find freedom
from the fetters that seek to bind your soul!

Eph 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

2Co 3:9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
 
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joy

Coconut

I was really encouraged by your post. I have recently encounterd some Christians elsewhere who donot accept that God allows people to be used even though though they remain physically unhealed, and lately I been accused of not having faith etc to be healed. And although I know this is wrong this kind of attitude really hurts and causes damage to those who are weak.

I do believe God can heal but he does not always choose to in the way we expect or demand.

These people who say God always heals then turn round and say that they could not serve this cruel God who make them suffer. God does not make anyone suffer, He is the God who gives us His power and strength in our weakness.

Joy
 
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Amen Joy! God allowed His own Son to suffer for the sins of this world. That says it all.

Go back and tell these people it takes more faith to carry a cross, than it does to walk thru this world with none. amen. God bless you sister!
 

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