Ok, I have to admit it, I’m feeling somewhat depressed and cranky (lip pout). Yet another friend, has turned to a teaching and philosophy, this time Buddhism. It really ticks me off when this happens. Obviously people are searching or they wouldn’t take these things up. I can’t tell you how many people I know who don’t believe in Jesus as the Son of God, that have taken up buddhism or some form of it, or some kind of new age ‘spiritualism’. And you know what? Most of them are the most loving, kind, generous, accepting, embracing people on the planet! And it seems that its the very teaching and philosophies that they follow that have made them that way! So, what’s the deal with all this?
I recently re-read Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, that says this…….
Jesus cannot be separated from His teachings. Aristotle said to his disciples, “Follow my teachings.”Socrates likewise said to his disciples, “Follow my teachings.”Buddha said to his disciples, “Follow my meditations.”Confucius said to his disciples, “Follow my sayings.”And Muhammad said to his disciples, “Follow my noble pillars.
But Jesus says to His disciples, “Follow Me.“
In all the religions and philosophies of the world, a follower can follow the teachings of its founder without having a relationship with that founder. But not so with Jesus Christ. The teachings of Jesus cannot be separated from Jesus Himself. Christ is still alive, and He embodies His teachings. This is what separates Him from every great teacher and moral philosopher in history.
This is not to say that other religious traditions don’t focus on a person. Buddhism can’t be imagined without Buddha. Islam can’t be imagined without Muhammad; “Muhammad is his [Allah’s] messenger,”say the muslim people. Judaism doesn’t so much focus on a person as on a nation – the Jewish people as a whole, and the religion they follow.
Yet in all these religions, a follower can abide by all the teachings of its founder without having a relationship with that founder.
Not so with Jesus Christ.
Yep, I agree totally. And what a huge difference that difference is.
I have noticed however, that many believers don’t exhibit the same kindness, gentleness and acceptance displayed by those who have taken up other philosophies. I would only say that this could be for a few reasons. Either they have not fully had a mind blowing, earth shattering, life altering revelation of Jesus Christ in them and their death that took place at salvation; they haven’t fully surrendered and are still living by their own soul-life more days than not; they call themself a christian when they’re actually not really; (see parable of the sower in Matthew 13) or they are simply like me and still walking out their journey of transformation by the grace of God. But even then, they are still in Christ. And that makes them saved. They have believed into Jesus Christ, and as brother Watchman Nee, God is only concerned with two men. Adam the first man and Jesus the New Man. He’s only concerned with which man we are in.
I am constantly reminded of that great truth when I observe the difference between my faulty life and what seems to be a greater expression of a good person observed in others who aren’t in Christ. I am reminded, God is only concerned with which man I am in and which man they are in. At the end of the day, that’s what’s going to count. Well, that’s all to do with salvation of course.
You know, in Christ, we have the greatest philosopher, the greatest teacher, the greatest inner peace, the greatest healer, the greatest purpose and meaning for our existence, the greatest hope, the greatest light and revelation, the greatest widening of our view, the greatest source of all wisdom, knowledge and understanding, the greatest example and model of a selfless life, the greatest source of blessing and spiritual riches, the greatest spiritual high, the greatest servant, the greatest purity, our true identity, our true value, and our greatest love! We have the answer to humanity’s age old question, why are we here?
Don’t these people realise that everything they are looking for is found in Christ? Ah…..no….dah. Some unfortunately though, are believers in Christ and even they turn to philosophies and teachings, in the form of humanism, self-improvement, psychology, naval-gazing.
I get depressed over it. I get really, really frustrated and angry over it actually if I’m going to be blatantly honest. But what am I angry about? Who am I angry with? I loooove these people. That’s why it breaks my heart and makes me feel so angry. I’m not angry with them, I’m angry with Satan.
I’m angry with those powers and principalities that draw these ones away with deception, lies, tantalising half-truths, drawing them away with counterfeit light and revelation – as if there’s anything higher than Christ?! And yes, I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed that the people have fallen for it, that they haven’t had their guards up if they’re believers, or because they’ve been snatched up in their vulnerability because of their environment and the influence of others around them. Because I want more for them. I don’t want them to be deceived. I want them to be found in the Truth and the freedom of that Truth. And Truth is a person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Those teachings and philosophies can’t love them. They are all simply that – teachings…philosophies of thoughts…tools for living your own selfish life on this selfish planet in this selish cosmos and realm called the world. Ways of improving your sense of happiness whilst living on this planet. How to live your best life and all that jargon. They hold some form of wisdom, oh yes, for sure.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8.
There you have it. There’s the warning. There’s the facts. They are hollow and deceptive philosophies. They are dependent on human tradition and basic principles. Of THIS world. RATHER than on Christ.
Paul goes on to say in Colossians verses 9 and 10 – For IN CHRIST all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form and you have been given fullness IN CHRIST, who is the head over every power and authority.
People who are looking to attain some greater level of enlightenment, or ‘the god within’ are deceived. There’s no other word for it. There’s no other way of looking at it. And it breaks my heart. Lord, deliver them and open their eyes to Your Son.
Why? Why will they take up everything else that isn’t Christ, when all that they are seeking is IN CHRIST?
Here’s my answer.
They don’t want suffering. They don’t want the cross. They think that the higher life is one filled with happiness, self-fulfilment and a peace that the world (this realm/cosmos) gives. Well, Jesus said MY peace I give to you, not as the world gives. (John 14:27).
You see, if you’re a believer in Christ and you’re sincerely walking in Him, by His Spirit, and even if you’re only a new believer, you’ll already realise that this christian life is full of difficulty! It’s loaded with the cross. Not the cross of our salvation that Jesus was nailed to physically and that spiritually we were nailed to with Him, but the cross that we bear in our daily lives. And the longer and closer we walk with Him, the deeper and more prevalent is the presence and reality of the cross.
As christians, we are guaranteed suffering! We contend with an enemy that the world doesn’t have! But the cross and suffering is not always about the enemy, it’s the working of Christ’s character in us in all manner of ways. This can be painful, relentless, deeply personal and hidden. Constant.
Jesus said to his disciples in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In Luke 9:23 He says “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Denying ourselves daily, is most definitely living in the presence of the cross. Suffering at the hands of other saints, is also the presence of the cross. Rejection, ridicule, isolation all because you are following Christ and loving God with your whole life, that is the presence of the cross that the world can’t understand and doesn’t have to deal with. Not engaging in the philosophies of the world that seem to be so loving and kind and accepting, because of your faith in Jesus Christ, that’s taking up your cross.
No wonder they choose to believe in something that makes them feel good about themselves and the world around them, that makes them feel a sense of love and acceptance for all things and all people regardless of the nature of God. No wonder they turn to buddhism and other forms of so called spirituality. No wonder christians are suckered into universalism. There’s no cost. There’s no giving up. There’s no laying down one’s life (psuché/soul life). There’s no cross.
In Luke 14:26 to 35, Jesus says this.
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29“Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31“Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32“Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
34“Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35“It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Is it any wonder people reject Christ, even christians, and take up tantalising hollow and deceptive philosophies based on human tradition and the basic principles of this world.
Sadly, these ones will never know the power of His resurrection either. For if they avoid the power of the cross in their lives they will also avoid the power of His resurrection life.
I for one, like many of you reading this post, by the power of His grace working within me, choose the latter.
“…that I might know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings. (Phil 3:10)
Lord, have Your way. Open the eyes of their hearts that they might know You and the hope to which they’ve been called. Lord have mercy on us all.