By Nancy Thompson
All of us, who've come to the end of ourselves, resulted in having identity crises. Most of us, who know Christ is our Life and lives His life as us through His Spirit, have had such crises.
The first crisis, we had, of course, was when, God through His ever-flowing outgoing love, met us in our desperate need of a Saviour, since we had reached the end of a worldly life as we knew it, through whatever means God destined us to. And God's ways and means can run the gamut of pretty much everything, finely-tuned and perfected for us.
And the second crisis, resulted after years of frustrated living. We were trying to live a life through our own efforts to become 'Christ-like, based solely on the forgiveness of sins.
These identity crises are planned lovingly by our Father, to bring us to the end of ourselves completely, including the realization, recognition and most importantly--revelation that there is only one Life who can live the 'life of Christ' and that is Christ Himself.
Once God reveals His Son as your life in you, it's impossible for one to 'go back' to previous believing, a previous life. And the truth blows us away, like dust in the wind, along with many things we once believed or were taught in an 'organized' church. The 'old you' is dead and buried. The 'new you', and now finally you know the 'new you' IS a NEW creation in Christ and the life you lead is HIS.
We realize that many of our brothers and sisters in Christ don't know who they are (their true identity and spiritual heritage) and until God, by grace, enlightens them, through his Spirit, most brethren continue to live lives loaded down with fear, guilt, condemnation, spiritual poverty and spiritual schizophrenia - the results of living a separated life.
One worldly result of 'trying' to live separated lives, is the growth and development of the whole media industry and culture of 'Christianity', promulgated by TV shows, books, magazines, music, bands, concerts, and internet sites -- ministries of every kind imaginable. For every 'worldly' entertainment and media industry, the 'Christian' industry has sought to replicate it, putting a 'Christian' spin on it, of course. It boggles one's mind. Now, it's not that I'm against these things; for I know that God uses all things, including the Christian media, ministry and entertainment industry, to bring people to Himself, along with the 'regular' or 'worldly' industry. The search for Christ continues and these things will form part of the process for some that God will use to bring individuals to Him.
The main result that the Christian industry promulgates is the belief of separation, 'us' and 'them'. And that industry is brought into the 'organized' church as one 'answer' to what the 'world 'offers'. It's OK to listen to Christian rock bands, read Christian books, see Christian movies, watch Christian concerts, see Christian plays, etc., but woe to you if you listen or read anything else that hasn't been marked or designed as "Christian". Why? Because anything else that has not been 'designated' Christian, is of the world and the devil and is 'evil' and 'wicked'. Oh!
Jesus warned us of thinking with a double mind, and seeing with double-vision, eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, resulting in having us see or believe what is 'good' is 'evil' or having us see or believe what is 'evil' for 'good'. "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter". (Isaiah 5:20). And one reason is that seeing double or thinking double, causes one to behave and live hypocritical lives; much like the Pharisees, who dogged Jesus all through His earthly ministry, who Jesus prefaced his teaching to them by "Woe" to 'teachers of the law' and 'Pharisees'. Let's face it, we've all been Pharisees too, and because we've been there, it truly does take one to know one, and we 'know' them because we've been 'known' as one, in our collective pasts.
I remember, as part of the 'organized' church, I 'tried' to listen to 'Christian' music, because everyone else was 'doing it', and some of it I liked and some of it I didn't. I listened to a Christian radio station, which played it. Now, I grew up on Rock and Roll, the Beatles, the Stones, folk singers and I always like that music. Until I knew who I was, in Christ, I pretended to like the Christian music I was exposed to, but I knew in my heart, it wasn't who I was. Then finally, I gave it up, knowing I liked Rock and Roll, folk, etc., and wasn't to despise that in my past or my present, and why--because I knew God was in all that and still is. But my living in 'trying' to give it up wasn't who I really was and the hypocrisy was exposed for what it was. I was calling evil good and good evil, instead of believing that "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights" (James 1:17). One gift that the Father gives us is the gift of music. And I have heard His voice in words penned and sung by songwriters, whom some, in their 'separated' view are considered 'pagan' or 'unbelievers'. And I'm sure, we all have, for God uses all He has created to call us to Him.
I've been through programs, this thing, that thing, whatever the Pastor decided we needed to hear and then 'do'. I remember the rush on The Prayer of Jabez books; and the incorporation of the methods of the 'church growth movement', promulgated by Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church, etc. etc. etc. You name your specific one...
Many of these outside programs and plans only serve to fuel the fan of 'fear' in church-goers, especially those who have spent years in the organized church and have raised their kids in the organized church. The latest fear to 'monger' is the fictional book, "The Da Vinci Code", written by Dan Brown.
One quote from the Saddleback web-site states: "After learning of The Da Vinci Code's effects on believers and seekers alike, Josh McDowell wrote a novel to answer the claims waged against the historic Christian faith. "One pastor said, 'Josh, I lost two of my friends to The Da Vinci Code. A father told me, 'I lost my son to The Da Vinci Code," McDowell said during a recent phone interview. "A mother e-mailed me and said, 'My 17-year-old son Stephen was brought up in a Christian home, went to a Christian school, was in a marvelous youth group, and a year ago he read The Da Vinci Code and walked away from the faith."
One thing we've all learned, hopefully, is that God doesn't call 'packs of people', or 'families' to Himself. He calls us one by one. It's wonderful that believers bring their children and/or teens to an organized church. But, we each hear God's voice, the name He calls us, one by one, including kids and teens and adults. God's plan for some may cause them to walk away from Him and the organized church, but I don't believe for one moment that a person walking away from 'the faith', as it has been taught, in the past, is outside of God's will, for "we all live and move and have our being in Him." I learned about Jesus and God in Sunday school as a child and teen, having parents who were not considered 'Christian'. I left God and lived for 30 years outside of Him, or so I thought. But, it was the Almighty God, my Love and Life, who called me back to Him and how grateful I am, having lived in the 'wilderness'. As I used to say to some family members, 'Do you think I just woke up one morning and said to myself, "I'm going to be a Christian now"? Not on your life. It was God's life and Love and drew me to Him. The last thing I thought I needed was God, but He knew better, didn't He? And Father does know best!!! For all of us. And he works continually in all people at all times to bring them to Him.
Going back to the fear generated in the organized church by "The Da Vinci Code", and now, the soon-to-be-released movie of the same name, starring Tom Hanks, another defence industry has sprung up, on behalf of the organized church, to codify the fear. I have counted at least 10 different books, by authors, all refuting the 'claims' in "The Code". And more recently, I have seen advance outlines of sermons on my former church's website to be preached in the next three weeks, I suppose, to refute the book.
And all of this for one work of fiction. Something or someone is laughing their way to the bank, feeding upon the fearful sheep who have not yet found their true Shepherd. But the Shepherd is finding them, one by one by one to be ONE and know they are ONE in Him.
We've all learned that if you don't know who your Life is-Christ Himself, then any blowing of the wind will do, and you'll jump on any bandwagon, hoping you won't get left behind by the herd, as a straggler.
As the words of one of America's finest wordsmith and songwriter of the folk ilk (John Prine) tells us in the chorus of one of his songs, it might not be such a scary thing to:
Blow up your t.v. throw away your paper
Go to the country, build you a home
Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches
Try and find jesus on your own
Spanish Pipedream (aka blow up your TV) - John Prine