Fooling Ourselves

 “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” –James 1:22 (NLT)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an updated version of the article; “What More Can I say?” Originally posted on September 10, 2014

With so many of us “believers in Christ” spewing forth our thoughts and experiences on the Internet and elsewhere, I really can’t help but wonder about the efficacy of such a practice. That is to say, are we not — for the most part — simply “preaching to the choir”? Are we truly reaching out and truly ministering to the lost? How do our Internet activities actually meet the needs of the poor? How are we helping to shelter the homeless and feed those who are wondering where their next meal might come from? Are we not — in all truth — simply feeding our pride and our ego (self-esteem)? Are we not simply giving ourselves nice “strokes” and/or “pats on the back” when we come up with an online blog entry or eBook that garners lots of likes and perhaps even a ping-back or two?

Do we really think and believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit reach more people over the Internet? Are we truly as effective online as we are when we minister to others in person? In all honesty, is it not easier to string together some nice words and thoughts and then send them out into cyberspace, than to bravely and boldly step out of our comfort zone and personally deal with people we would normally prefer not to come in contact with? Isn’t sitting in front of our computer the more preferred method of sharing our faith in Christ?

Isn’t it true that our heart is more focused on meeting and satisfying our own needs and desires than it is on meeting the needs of others with the love and compassion of Christ? Is not our life already taken up with caring for our family and friends? Isn’t the church we attend and give money to supposed to take care of all that difficult and unpleasant work for us? Are we not – in all truth – merely fooling ourselves?

It has been suggested that America began losing its dominance in the world when we ceased being a nation of producers and became a nation of consumers. I would suggest that the same holds true for American Christians. Instead of serving others, we seek to be served — and we desire to dictate exactly HOW we wish to be served. We desire to be spoon fed on Sunday mornings (and sometimes on Wednesday evenings) and we want lots of sugar with little to no salt. We prefer milk because solid food is difficult to chew, swallow and digest. We want to leave our houses of worship feeling good about ourselves. After all, that’s why we go there in the first place, to get pumped up; to be told what good boys and girls we are. No one should dare tell us the truth of how wicked we really are and remind us what the consequences of our wickedness will be. If they do, we will find someone to replace them… or simply stop attending.

And when it comes to what we read, we prefer “inspirational” books that make us feel good and ask little of us. Those books by those old-time preachers and teachers are not for us today. We are more enlightened in the 21st Century, and today’s culture is so very different from what it was back them. All that old-fashioned preaching and teaching is simply that… OLD and outdated! It is no longer relevant in today’s society. Right?

You see the world through your cynical eyes
You’re a troubled young man I can tell
You’ve got it all in the palm of your hand
But your hand’s wet with sweat and your head needs a rest
And you’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it
You’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe it

“Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” lyrics

If anyone is still reading this you might be thinking one of these two thoughts…

  • Amen Brother!

OR…

  • Man this guy really is really bitter and has a poor outlook. No wonder he doesn’t have a large number of people following his blog.

Perhaps this isn’t a “Spirit-filled” article. Then again, perhaps it is! Perhaps convicting messages that speak the truth have become “a hard pill to swallow” these days. Or perhaps it is as used to be said;

Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.

When I first published this article back in September of 2014, I got some serious push-back…

Hello Karl. I think that the Internet is an important outlet to reach the masses. God is working through the Internet. God has position each of us where He wants us to be serving. Yes there are many Christians out-and-about, witnessing publicly, and that’s a good thing. It is also good for those of us that love the Lord and writing. All of us are not after followers, we are writing to encourage each other and to reach the lost! So lumping us all together is not a good ideal. And yes there are many problems in every Church but those cannot stop God’s will or His word from going forth. God said His word would accomplish all He has in mind, and it will, how ever it’s passed out. God is faithful and his will is being done.

The following was my response. I hope it helps those today who might be thinking along those same lines…

From your comment, I’m not sure you fully understood the point of my post — and you would not be the first. A friend of mine called me to talk with me about this post as well. He thought I was down in the dumps and needed encouraging.

The point of my post was to bring home the fact that there is much more many of us can and should be doing, but are failing to do, for one reason or another. I believe that for us to sit back and think that there is nothing more we can do or should be doing is akin to “leaning on our own understanding” and is the epitome of spiritual complacency.

Neither do I believe that “God has positioned each of us where He wants us to be serving”. [I say this because] There are many people doing things in the name of God that are not according to His will (see Matthew 7:21-23 for example). There are people in the pulpit that do not belong in the pulpit. They are not there because God has put them there; they are there because that is where THEY want to be. Then there are people that are not serving God that should be — usually because they are afraid and/or no one has encouraged them to apply the spiritual gifting God has imparted to them.

We grieve God’s Spirit when we go against His will for us. We go against His will for us when we do only what we feel comfortable doing. We grieve His Spirit by refusing to trust in Him fully and step out of our comfort zone to do the work He has called us to do with people we would prefer not to deal with.

The purpose of the article is not to lump everyone together under one umbrella, nor to condemn people for failing to fully respond to God’s call upon their life. The gist of the article is that it is up to “those who have an ear to hear” to examine themselves and see if what has been said applies to them.

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to your faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” –2 Corinthians 13:5 RSV

I realize this has been a lengthy article, and if you have taken the time to read all the way through (and not just skim the article), then thank you for giving genuine consideration to the point brought forward in this article.

In closing, I would like to share a Paul Washer video. It, too, is lengthy; but like this article, worth taking the time to consider the topic with an open mind and heart. In this video, Paul expounds on how and when “the church” ran away from home and started it’s own little commune.

Paul Washer is a Baptist preacher, but he is not a Calvinist per se, nor does he agree with everything the denomination upholds as essential. So I guess one might be tempted to say he is a Baptist preacher who has gone rouge, but in a good way. He is all about getting back to basics and leaving behind all the “Church-ianity” and “Christian-ease” that many churches in America have come to embrace over the last twenty-five or so years.

10 Indictments Against the Modern Church in America – Paul Washer

2 Comments

  1. Well, you certainly don’t beat around the bush….and that’s great. I agree with much of your perspective and I actually appreciate a provocative message. For myself, I never thought I’d write online, hardly knew how a computer worked. I loved my job (where I often shared the Gospel), loved my husband, and traveled with a ministry in Asia. Then, seemingly in one day, God took away my career, revealed my husband’s dark secret life, and exposed corruption at the head of that ministry. After other betrayals and losses I began to suffer anxiety attacks and depression. I had to really shut in with God. Don’t think that brethren are always running to the devastated sister or brother…everyone is too busy OR they will shoot Bible verses like bullets – “Anxious? “Be anxious for nothing!” I was so oppressed. Although I still involved in a ministry, I had no idea how starting a blog came to mind but somehow it happened…www.crushedbygod.com

    God truly walked me through this. Forgive me for taking too much space but my sites have 1. Ministered to me as I seek God and pray about what to write, study scripture and and pray more. When the Lord no longer inspires and encourages or if this ‘season’ ends, it is over. 2. The Bible says, “As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another”. I truly find edification in hearing how others may have suffered but gained victory in the Lord. The Epistles were written to believers to encourage, exhort, correct and rebuke…we can sharpen each other likewise. My readers and those whom I read have ministered to me in many ways. Thank you Karl for your honest and provocative articles – we need them! (If this is too long to post I totally understand, just wanted to share with you). P.S. I love Paul Washer

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lisa!
      Thank you for taking the time to share with me your experience, strength, and hope.

      Yes, their is much gain in our writing and sharing with others over the Internet. Like yourself, God put it on my heart to start Focused and Free. When He did so, I thought it was a mistake. Yet it proved to be another way for Him to work in and through me, on my journey of healing and restoration — just as you wonderfully described in sharing your experience with me here.

      I’m not knocking blogging, etc. I’m just encouraging those who think that is sufficient and have never done any leg work (like you and I have done and hopefully will continue to do as long as the good Lord provides and allows), not to think that’s all God has called us to be and do.

      It is not simply the distributing of a tract; it is not the preaching of a sermon or the teaching of a Sunday school class. It is something far deeper: a life saturated with love, a life that has learned the principle that David learned when he was being pursued by Saul (see 1 Samuel 24, 26, 29) — to love not merely your friends, but also your enemies; and a life that has learned, also, to wait upon God.
      –Alan Redpath from his book, “The Making of a Man of God: Lessons from the Life of David” page 119

      As the old adage goes… “If the shoe fits, wear it.” If it doesn’t, then there is nothing to be concerned about.

      The only ones who have reproached me about this topic, have been those whose heart was pricked by the Holy Spirit. To me, that makes perfect sense, because that’s exactly how I feel when I read something or someone says something to me that makes me feel uncomfortable.

      Grace and peace to you and yours,
      kdr

      Like

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