Keep Your Eyes on Christ or You Will Despair
Heb 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Just when I think I have pretty much heard everything there is to hear about the condition of so-called Christianity nowadays, I pick up another book and find still another mess. This time I was looking at the terrible book we reviewed earlier (and which there are going to be more posts about soon), Sexual Issues by Harold Wahking and Gene Zimmerman. I read its account of an interchange between a pastor and a counselee who claimed to be a Christian and yet who was habitually walking in rank sin. Key word = habitually. I will have to save my review of that account for a later post, but let me just say here that what these authors are teaching pastors and future pastors is absolutely non-Christian, totally unbiblical, and notoriously protective of the wicked. And of course it is all done under the guise of “the love and compassion of Jesus.” It is putrid stuff I can tell you and it largely explains why our churches and pastors are not only being duped by the wicked, but protecting them and enabling them. I mean, if this is the stuff they were taught then we are in big trouble. Hey wait. We ARE in big trouble!
This not only angers me, sometimes it makes me want to just say something like Jeremiah did in his day regarding the professing “church” that persecuted him. He says he decided to try to just shut his mouth and not speak any more in His name because it only got him hated and into more trouble. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t hold it in:
Jer 20:7-10 O LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me. For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. For I hear many whispering. Terror is on every side! “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” say all my close friends, watching for my fall. “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we can overcome him and take our revenge on him.”
Evil is all around us. The wicked hide in the pews of our churches. They oppress the weak, and soooo often the shepherds of the church enable them:
Jer 23:14 But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.”
As I will prove in a future post concerning this book, Sexual Issues, written as a textbook for pastoral counseling classes, what Jeremiah describes is exactly what these authors do. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that none of them turn from their evil, and continue right on oppressing their victims. What are we to do in the face of all this? We feel like just being done with it all sometimes.
But then there is Jesus.
Jesus is our real Shepherd. He is our Lord and Master. And He is perfectly righteous and true. The Apostle to the Hebrews tells us to set our eyes on Him as our example. Doing so will mean that we catch our breath and find the encouragement to keep right on keeping on. We must not set our eyes on men. Not on pastors. Not on celebrity theologians. Not on those who seem to be the most eminent Christians in our churches. If we look at people we are going to stumble and drop out, muttering “what’s the use” or something similar. Jesus is the real deal. His true church is real even though it is pretty hard to see sometimes behind all the hypocrites. Remember, the blind man healed by Jesus (John 9) found Jesus outside the Temple building. That “church” had grown so corrupt that it expelled true believers, and the Messiah Himself! So it often is today.
This old hymn verse popped into my mind, and I will just close with it:
Jesus calls us over the tumult
Of our life’s wild, restless, sea;
Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,
Saying, “Christian, follow Me!”