Disillusion and disappointment are normal for anyone who has the courage to be a follower of Christ. Spend time in the machinery of any local church expression, and you will face disillusionment sooner or later. Disillusionment can be mild or debilitating. It is often accompanied with despair and loss of hope. When we are in the middle of it, it can be so difficult to see any of God’s goodness. How can it be redemptively processed? It helps to understand what Father is up to when we feel our rug being tugged.
If people are happy with the rug on which they are standing, they will not appreciate you or I trying to pull it out from under them – even if we really have a better rug for them! Even if we tug ever so gently and try to convince them of how loving we are for tugging, we will be resented and resisted! “This is my rug. I like standing on my rug. You are making me lose my balance! Quit tugging and leave me alone!”
As long as people are happy with the religious horse they are riding, they won’t get off. (That includes the horse you and I may be riding!) It can be a terminally ill horse, and the kindest thing might be to put it down. But if they like the horse, and it is the only one they have to get to market, they will never shoot it. The kindest thing God can do for them is kill the horse. Only then will they be interested in an alternate ride. When the horse finally gives out, and drops from under them, leaving them in a heap of disillusionment, confusion, and despair, then they are ready to listen. The same dynamic applies to all of us. Not just “the other.”
Unless you realize you are sick, you will never appreciate the cure and the one bringing it. That is one reason why Jesus was crucified: “We’re not sick, we don’t need a cure, and we don’t need you telling us otherwise. For your efforts, we want you dead!” We should not be surprised when we experience resistance trying to introduce people to a better kingdom way. If we feel we are the models of perfect spiritual health, Father cannot get through to us with unfolding depths of the experience of the life of Christ.
The point is . . . ?
In a very real sense, the thing in which we are and have been emotionally invested must exhaust itself–prove itself to be of no use–before any of us makes a change. You cannot reach with reason alone that which is guarded by other powers of the human soul. Folks with a “Bible teaching” sort of bent think a better presented argument or a more consistently presented argument is all that is needed to persuade someone to make a change. That is not so. We have had 500 years of striving for better arguments and neither our churches nor our culture are any the better for it.
Those things only work after the Holy Spirit has granted the faculty of sight to someone who then volitionally abandons the bankrupt point of view which had previously aborted the power of reasoned argument. The prodigal son was not brought home by a better argument. He was brought home by the bankruptcy of his own beliefs and practices and the memory of His Father. How well-said the Scriptures: “He came to his senses.” No better argument accomplished that. His own beliefs and practices exhausted him. That resulted in regaining the faculty of sight. His rug was tugged. His horse was dead. He knew he was sick. He recalled his father.
This is ALL NECESSARY for fruitfulness:
- Except a grain of wheat dies, it abides alone. But if it dies it brings forth much fruit.
- He that loves his life will lose it. He that loses his life will find it.
If we are unwilling to lose what we perceive to be today’s precious thing, we will short-circuit the progressive work of the Cross in us. When the horse finally drops out from underneath us and the rug begins to look ratty, then the things we have been trying so hard to try to persuade others about for so long–discouraging ourselves and annoying them along the way–will finally be recognizable for what they really are: obstacles to the deeper knowledge of Christ. Until that season arrives, love prevails. Don’t tug on their rug.
Folks will defend those things in which their soul is emotionally invested as being valuable with death-grip passion—until the moment of Holy Spirit grace is activated in them. No one comes to the Father except the Spirit draws them. Our good intentions for them will be viewed adversarially until that moment: you and I will be the enemy. After all, to them, their rug is pretty and their horse is a fine ride. We will never convince them otherwise. There are some things beyond our reach to accomplish. Only the Holy Spirit can do this. Our job is to tug when He is working in someone’s soul and love when He is not! This is also why we should never burn bridges with folks. People are who they are where they are. We meet them at that moment. We can’t force them with reasoned argument to be other than who they are at that moment. We can bait a hook, dangle food for the hungry and see if they bite, but we cannot mandate folks take what we might be dangling. There is no room for coercion in the kingdom. Much well-meaning evangelistic passion simply misses the mark in human relationship dynamics. We simply do not know what processes the Father of lights might have for folks tomorrow, so love prevails until that day.
Disillusionment is God’s most faithful servant. He uses it to get people off their rugs and horses. He uses it to motivate kingdom progress in our souls. When everything is great we are not too motivated for change. Let greatness shift into “not-so-greatness” and it is amazing how open we can become to His plan to move us on. Our job is to be available to folks when the Holy Spirit starts to work dissatisfaction into their soul. We need to learn the Holy Spirit-led, season-sensitive art of knowing when to pull the rug out from under people! They must be willing to step off their rug, or bury their horse. That includes you and me. The experience of disillusionment and despair is what happens when we bring unrealistic expectations to our human relationships, in church or out of it. Jesus’s good wishes for humanity cost Him His life. It is unrealistic for us to think our good intentions for others are going to be “warmly received.” God help us all to learn the art of timely rug-tugging and horse burying.
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