A few years ago, I did something that was wrong, maybe. I will tell you the story, and you decide.
We had moved to the place where we live now, and I like to go for walks, so I travelled through the new streets and alleys. In our alley, I met a young man, who always seemed to be in the same place, and he always spoke to me. This was strange because he seemed strong and healthy, and the economy was good. He should have been at work, unless he was a drug dealer, and he was working.
In the language of the seventies, he was into something. I knew he was going to ask me for something, and I was ready. When he got too fake-friendly and aggressive, I told him how I found Jesus, and how that worked for me. That is the truth, I did find Jesus, and that does work for me. The other guy wanted to pull me into something, and I didn’t need his thing.
The guy looked at me, and he stopped talking and stepped back. After that, I went for walks every day, and I never saw that man again. He started avoiding me, and then he moved to a new location, and now I have peace.
So, I used Jesus to run a bad guy out of my alley. The bad part for me is, I knew he didn’t want a conversation about a new life with Jesus. He would resist change. I wanted him to leave and I never expected him to be interested, and there wasn’t room for the two of us.
Are we allowed to use Jesus that way?
Some people are convinced about an idea until they make it a lifestyle, and it is impossible to change them. Only God can do that.
In my circle of friends at work, I once knew a woman who just did not want to change, when she needed to. She was a high-functioning, binge-drinking alcoholic, and she might have been addicted to prescription drugs. Her health was failing, and her friends were concerned. Different people tried to talk to her about the problem that was killing her, but she didn’t want to hear it. She didn’t want to admit that she had been wrong for her whole adult life; she was too far in.
That is a common human condition. We become so committed to a lifestyle, that we can’t accept change. We travel so far down a road that we can’t find our way back and other people have to leave us where we are. Recently, I searched on the Internet for the alcoholic woman’s name, and all references to her stopped after a few months. She probably died.
Our western culture is losing the truth. We don’t want to be correct, we want to win the argument, and maybe take all the money. That explains our divided politics and the debates about the virus pandemic. Everyone wants the winners prize and we are too far into our own thing. That young man in my alley had no truth to tell; his smiley sales approach was fake. He did not want to discuss his beliefs and the truth with the new neighbour.
There is a story about this in the Bible. A Christian group started in the city of Ephesus, and then the city had an all-day riot. Ephesus had a temple to the goddess named Diana or Artemis and an image that fell from the sky; probably a meteorite. This created religious travel, like taking the family to Disney Land, and business was good. There was money to be made, but those Christians got in the way.
Jesus saw the same problem in the temple in Jerusalem and you probably know the story. He made a whip and chased the money changers away. A few days later He was executed on a cross.
The argument in Ephesus was “There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited.” (Acts 19: 27) First the money, and then the religion. That “truth” is a picture of modern times.
This is also a warning for us. In business thinking, “resistance to change” is a reason so fire someone.
The wrong road will always take us to the wrong place.
In my life as a Christian, I have moved to a new place and joined a new church. The old church was good, but the new place challenged me. I could see how my new truth was turning into lazy comfort.
We should all examine our lives, to know the ‘truth’ that guides us. If we have started to believe in the paycheck, and we don’t want the embarrassment of changing, we are lost. The mark of someone who is close to the truth is always humility.
In Psalm 139:
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. (1, 2, & 3)
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (23 & 24)