Question About Religious People's Hearts
Wednesday Afternoon, January 20, 1999
Question: “My husband and I both have an observation that we’re wondering about. The last e-mail about small beginnings, and the fact that others around the world seem to care is really neat, and it really is excellent and encouraging. But something you’ve implied has left us wondering. You’ve basically implied that most folks in the institution would follow Jesus wholeheartedly if they knew there was a better way. Most hearts are good, it’s the environment that’s bad. Maybe that’s not what you meant, and we’re misunderstanding. But, a lot of good, open, loving disciples of Jesus, hungering for His Word and desperately wanting Him to be pleased with His Church: this is clearly not what we’ve found in our city. From our relatives, to the neighbors we moved near to for Kingdom reasons, all the way down to the homeschool group, we have found that MOST of these folks are building their own kingdoms and God quite frankly needs to accommodate them, from their point of view. When we’ve tried to show a better way, we’ve been met with the most vicious and hateful accusations possible. Honestly, it’s left us, or at least me, disillusioned.
For my own sanity, I cannot embrace the idea that most folks are goodhearted and just need a better environment. I know we’ve made mistakes, but looking back at every situation, which we have done many times, the bottom line was none of these people, so far, love the light. And they have one, if not many, idols clear to be seen that they love more than God. The more honest ones, instead of putting up a make-believe Scriptural argument to defend worldliness and lukewarmness and leaven, will admit it. They just are not willing to position themselves to change. Is our city unusual? Is this a cursed place and we need to get out of here? If your implication is true that most believers would change if they knew any better, then our town is clearly an exception. The anger, hate, accusation and evil we’ve seen from professing believers has been unbelievable, consistent and even predictable. Your encouragement to pass out books, teachings, and get to know people—we’ve done all of that. OF COURSE that’s the right thing to do. But we have gotten creamed royal in the process. The best response our attempt to labor for Jesus has borne is that many people hate our guts. Maybe that’s okay, and certainly we need to grow Spiritually, too. No doubt we can “do things better.” But that doesn’t seem to be the ROOT problem, as much as most people really don’t seem to CARE! I know I’m being a bit emotional here. SORRY! Any thoughts?”
Here’s my thought, as requested. “ALL MEN, EVERYWHERE!!!” coming to repentance is always the heart and mind of God. He didn’t say, “A few men and women, here and there.” He said, and is still saying, “ALL MEN, EVERYWHERE!” I think you must know that I’m fully aware of what the religious landscape is mostly made up of at the moment. That isn’t going to keep me from having the largest possible heart, and the largest possible vision, every day that I can. Jesus almost seemed surprised when he wept, “I would have gathered you! WHY wouldn’t you come??” (Mat. 23:37). Now, we all know that He was not surprised, but it was His heart to try, and to have hope. If, in the end, they “would not,” it wouldn’t be because He was skeptical all along anyway.
Even the Jews (one would surmise from Paul’s letter to the Romans) are unthinkably and illogically going to have some turnaround as we get near the End. Some will be grafted back in by conversion to Jesus, and in great enough numbers to warrant Paul’s prophecy. Why not a few religionists, too, while we’re at it? Sure, many are in bad shape. Just like the Jews. Sure, those in denominations (huge numbers of “house churches,” too) are hopelessly lost in worldliness or detours and obsessions away from Jesus—in many, many of the cases that anyone could find, experientially speaking. But why not elevate to God’s Way of thinking? He still calls ALL MEN, EVERYWHERE, in spite of what they’ve done to Him in the past. Always hoping, always trusting. Never making their current situation look better than it is (it is terrible, no mistaking it), but still hopeful that they’ll escape the trap of the devil. If they prove they “will NOT have this Man Jesus to be the KING over them”—so be it. But we can’t enter in skeptically or sarcastically. Let them decide, rather than assuming. Offer your cheek to be kissed, and if it’s Judas, he’ll hang himself. You won’t have to hang him. We just want to help as many as will come. Can you See it?