Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Living on the Edge of Fanaticism?


I am not sure anyone can truly be following Jesus in this culture without living on the very edge of fanaticism. In fact, in this day and age it may require falling off the edge. But the word fanaticism is a relative term which gets its definition from a comparison to the norm. If the normal Christian life and experience is so diluted and compromised as to be little more than a reflection of the common western lifestyle with a few religious words sprinkled on top, then any authentic discipleship which is defined through the New Testament must be considered fanatical.

The Webster’s definition of fanatical is “marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion”. I would add that it also entails a profound and uncommon dedication to something. And given those definitions just how fanatical are we? Is the culture feeding us to lions? Are we being led to the gallows? Are we being incarcerated for Jesus? Are we at least being shunned? Ok, last try, are we having an impact upon the kingdom of darkness?

Now realize this fact. We are not even fanatical when compared with the people who do not know Christ. How can that be? I mean let us just read a section from Luke’s gospel.

Lk.14: 25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Bear his cross? What cross do we bear? Forsake all? What do we forsake? We are not even distinctive much less fanatical. We blend in like camouflage. But we are afraid of the word “fanaticism” unless it applies to sports, Hollywood stars, music icons, or politicians. And one of the reasons that the word frightens us is because of the implications that may surface and that might place upon us some inconvenient demands. But what are the implications of being fully surrendered to Jesus Christ and being a fanatical disciple? Would not that person be absolutely remarkable within a culture of absolute darkness?

But another problem is that the church does not see the culture for what it is. We define evil in extreme terms. We all loudly proclaim that the acts of 9/11 were evil and so they were. But did we realize that most of what was transpiring on a daily basis inside the Twin Towers was evil as well? You see the entire wicked mess called the world lies in the wicked one and all that is in the world is fallen and evil. But if you say that in mixed company, or even share it with most believers, you will be seen as, yes, fanatical. You see, in order to understand what it means to be a fanatical disciple we must also understand how God sees this present evil world. But so many have made peace with this world and even joined hands with the kingdom of darkness in order to address this issue or that issue. And after you have walked with evil for a while it begins to seem not so evil and eventually it may seem friendly and a little misunderstood. And even though you might maintain what seems to be a safe distance from evil, it begins to have an effect upon your heart and mind and most grievous of all upon the way you see your faith.

That kind of life not only cannot be labeled as fanatical, but it cannot even be called Christian. But look at verse 33 where our Lord speaks of forsaking all. How easily those words flow from our tongues and how easily we can gloss over them and actually ignore them while reading or listening to them. That kind of deception has not only taken hold of us all, but it is practiced and embraced in the church. If we took just Jn.3:16 and Lk.14:33 and made them our template for life just what would that mean? I know, if we even took those words in a partial literal sense it would demand a level of fanaticism unwelcomed in this present evangelical climate.

This entire subject should not be easily dismissed or seen as something about which to just ponder. This cuts at the very fabric of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The word “Christian” has been so bandied about that it no longer has any teeth. It is an innocuous religious term which is a collective for everyone and anyone who isn’t of some other religion or even considers themselves a “Christian” simply by default. And if you stretch out your arms and gather together any church that calls themselves Christian and gather them all in one place, that is what people believe is Christianity. The word itself has become a deception.

And people consider Muslims and white supremacists and Hasidic Jews and North Koreans as “fanatics” while they consider Christians as a multi-sected religion which fits in nicely within the culture with a few morality obsessed exceptions. But even the moralists glady join hands with non-Jesus moralists. And just a cursory reading of the Book of Acts reveals just how far the church has drifted. Paul is brought before Agrippa and instead of invoking his Constitutional rights and demanding counsel he gives his personal testimony. And when Paul was sent to prison with Silas instead of contacting Fox News to protest his treatment he and Silas pray and sing praises to God. Yes, there were fanatics in those days.

And do we think the secular culture has improved in these days? Do we believe the culture has moved closer to Christ or that the church has moved closer to the culture? And like Samson the church does not even realize, much less care, that our power is gone. No salt, no light, no city on a hill. Fanatical? Who could even pretend to lie like that?

So where do we go from here? I mean we have become so adept at minimizing the problem and setting forth the journey with no real sacrifice or self denial, so how can we even stop to address that which we cannot see and which we deny? Well each individual must allow the Spirit to take an inventory of his own life and reveal to him a substantive, albeit painful, progress report. Now we should not seek to be immobilized and retreat into a spiritual depression, but we should desire the most clear and comprehensive conviction about what is truth and what we have come to believe as truth.

And if we are honest about the teachings of Jesus and the entire teaching scope of the New Testament then we must admit that they are radical in nature and in substance. They are incompatible with the present culture and with anything that demands our earthly rights or incorporates greed or violence. And if we understand the depth of these radical teachings then we are faced with this proposition: To seek to obey them and live by them can be nothing short of fanatical. And to be honest you would not only be looked upon as fanatical by the world, but within the church as well.        

So the choice is oh so clear. We can remain within acceptable parameters in our faith which requires very little and raises no eyebrows and is generally compatible with the rest of the community of faith, or we can become aware that something is very wrong. And if and when we come to that enlightenment, then the journey has once again taken on a more significant challenge than we have previously thought. At that point we may realize that we have been processed through the wringer of a culturalized Christianity which through a system of clandestine demands has molded us into a narcissistic discipleship which enjoys all the fruit of Eden’s forbidden tree while rejecting the fruit of Golgotha. And like men in a police lineup, we all pretty much look the same. The sirens have sung and we have heard and sailed right into the rocks. However these rocks are comfortable and offer an expression of the faith which has just enough Biblical verbiage to provide a shallow defense but not enough to be considered fanatical. Instead of praying to extricate ourselves from these rocks we just placed a steeple among them, took up an offering, and called them church.

Yes, sit back and enjoy the show and do not worry. We need not call for help, and we don’t need a guide since we are nowhere near the edge of fanaticism. We have found warmth and safety within the rocks. And just remember, when Jesus said we must forsake all He was engaging in some religious hyperbole which makes for some great reading but about which no one should attempt to live.

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Yea, right.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                


Anonymous said...

Thank you Brother for this timely rebuke, I receive it as oil for my head, As you read of the multitude, each time The Lord stopped and spoke the crowds grew smaller, if we truly consider the cost surely the crowd of today will dwindle to a few as it did back then, Lord grant us ears to hear what You are saying to us

Anonymous said...

This commentary pained me to read. It is now the Church, at large, who is turning on these very "fanatics" within the Body of Christ. The hostility is growing exponentially in these last days. Walking the narrow road is not a popular thing to do as it requires dying to self on a daily basis. This is the absolute antithesis of todays Christian walk. Thank you Lord for your grace.

Anonymous said...

The truth is spilling out here. The church in the west has to ask itself: How far apart is the church today (as we see it, with buildings and corporate ministries with logos and board members and legal representation and mortgages, etc. to the first church?

Peter's sermon to the men of Judea, after Jesus ascension into heaven, prepared them with, "But this is what was spoken (the infilling of the Holy Spirit) by the prophet Joel:

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh, Yours sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams, And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath. Blood and fire and vapor of smoke,darkness, And the moon into blood. before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved."

And Jesus commanded his apostles upon his ascension into heaven, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

Since that time, we have become so co-joined with the world that these words seem made for 'those' times to many. We think that the first disciples and their families paid the price of sacrifice of their lives, and all the hard work, the plowing, the tilling, the planting, has already been done. We think that we, the Church, today, are reaping all the hard work and good fruit of those who suffered much so we can live in perfect ease? The church thinks it has arrived. It thinks it's been designed by the Lord to enjoy the fruit of the vine from that garden that many labored and gave their lives for. The church thinks it can just eat the luxurious fruit and now become the light of the world? It's God's garden that they are eating from and He hasn't given them permission to eat from it yet. Today's church is SUPPOSED to be weeding and working and plowing and tilling and pouring out as did those disciples.

While it's true that some christians of old worked a full hard day's work will get the same pay as one who just worked one hour, but in Heaven God will reward each one with eternal life, and no one will be complaining.

But, for the church today, in the west, to be so self-assured and certain that it has accomplished all that God wants accomplished, just because it sits on a shining City on a Hill, is "deception".

It is hard for us to know what kind of work God would have us do, as we are stuck in the mire and mud of our culture. How can we achieve His will in this maze of deception? I know that it seems almost impossible to expect a spiritual revival in the land, but with God all things are possible.

Also, I believe that if more christians would realize these things, we could properly repent and admit our fakeness and Jesus is so wonderful to forgive; I believe that if more realized our complacency, He would send a wave of His Spirit that we haven't seem before, which would affect the whole world. Or, the Lord may start a great revival in another part of the world, and the repentent church in the U.S. would be revived.

Anon. J

Cherie c. said...

Why were you called out of the false church? Was it to ca-vetch(Yiddish term) about those in the false church,or to shepherd the remnant (true body of Christ)?

Warnings are necessary, teaching us truth from error is necessary, but where is the teaching of what we are to do here and now? Where is the teaching correcting the errors taught by heretics? When will those the Lord has called to leadership take the role given and feed the flock?

Teach us how to be called fanatics. I have lost all to follow Jesus. I am alone and I suffer like the rest, but I need to be taught truth, and how to live for Jesus. I only know tidbits, and I can assure you most of that may be error also.

Do you think you got to this blog by mistake? Pastor, do you think we got her by mistake? Yes its scary, but you have been called to duty. You have been called to feed the hungry flock of Jesus.

This post has information, but we need to be taught so we can be prepared for what is to come.

I have said this before and I say it again, we are not them. But in order to not be them we need Pastor/Teachers called by God to get His people ready. Time is so short. The remnant grows and the time is now to shepherd them in the right direction.

How can we shine like the city on the Hill, as Jesus spoke, when those who are called out of the false church leadership to not harken to His call?

Close your eyes and picture what the earth looks like from space. There are some pictures we see that show light at night from space, that show the illumination of the earth. I try to imagine that the light we can see are the light Jesus spoke of. Those lights, which if you look are few, shine bright. To my hope that is the remnant. Most of America is dark, but there is light there.

Google earth lights from space to see what I am talking about. As each one called out of the harlot church comes out, the light of the Holy Spirit shines within them and God can see it from Heaven.

My family thinks I am a fanatic???? Hopefully. And they leave me because of it. Oh, there are times when they embrace me, but mostly out of guilt because I am ill, or because I have given them something, but it does not last. When I start to mention the Lord they scatter leaving me. It's okay, I am not alone even when I feel alone.

Pastor, I am so unprepared for my walk, I am limping down the narrow path sir, and I need a shepherd to straighten my walk.

On that path is many perils, and false teaching that I need to be corrected of and or warned about. I need the Truth of God blaring in my face as a neon sign. If I choose to look away, my fault and my error. I pray for my learned error to be corrected. Abba Father only corrects those He loves.

God has blessed you, although you may see it as a curse, but He has put you in a position to someday stand before Him and hear Him say, "oh good and faithful servant, you feed my sheep. The Bible speaks of a crown that I believe only a shepherd of the church will receive. And what a day that will be! I do not envy the task before you, but the reward in Heaven is great!

We are not them brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus! We have come out and we have a shepherd who we can learn the truth from. Let him know that he and those brothers given a gift of preaching/teaching (we know who they are by what they write)to do a work that is so needed.

Cherie c. said...

Part Two:

There is no name for us other than these two, the Bride of Christ, and the Body of Christ. The harlot church is not us, and we need to let those in that church whom God directs us to, that there is a place to come to learn, but convicted, see our error, repent and be a true follower of Christ! Here is where it starts.

You brothers know who you are, and it is time to do as you have been called to do. It will not be easy, you will be ridiculed, and pounced upon and it will hurt, but as Jesus said, He is coming and His reward is with Him, for all of us. He knows who is His, and who He has set to receive the called out ones. We are here, more are coming. We are not them, so it is time to start teaching us, and they will see the truth and come as well through the power of the Holy Spirit!

May God's Will be done here on earth as it is in Heaven.

Love to my brothers and sisters in the Lord. We are not them.

your sister in Christ Jesus
Cherie c

Cherie c. said...

I need to interrupt this post to bring you all a praise report. Please Praise our Holy Father in Heaven and give Him all the Honor and Glory due Him.

After a day of intense pain, the worst day of this long month, and after much prayer with a focus on Jackie because her issue is worse than mine, but asking of Him for myself as well, He has answered my prayer and if any of you were praying for me He answered yours too. Thank you to our Lord and Savior and to you my dear brothers and sisters in the Lord for your prayers. The pain is beginning to subside a bit and I am hopeful. He has allowed this to happen in me for a reason I wrote about a few weeks ago I believe.

In a post I commented on, I told you that I had become lazy in my prayer life, and I truly believe He allowed me to go through this to bring me back to a more consistent prayer life and time with Him. I have had to rely completely upon Him this past month and continually be in prayer.

He corrects only those He loves and I know to unbelievers my struggle and His allowing this to happen to bring me (I believe) back to Him is a blessing, they might disagree. Only those who do not know Him will think I am crazy for thanking Him for it. What Jesus said about being maimed but going into the Kingdom is so true, and wonderful. Better to struggle a bit here than to spend eternity in hell.

He makes it rain upon the just and the unjust, but with His children He has a deeper purpose. I truly believe He will make a way for all of us with health issues for His Glory, we just need to be open to His direction.

Please know you are all in my prayers, and my prayer is for strength on days like mine.

Love to our Lord and Savior Jesus, and to our Father in Heaven. And to you my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cherie: sorry to hear about your pain, and I'll pray it subsides. Love you! We're almost at the finish line, we can't get discouraged!!

As far as this post goes, I am thankful that the problems with the church are being revealed. Maybe someone who has never even considered how far the Church has wavered, is reading here for the first time and is assessing their church life and getting a revelation.

In my life's trials now, I know how easy it is to feel abandoned by the ecclesiastical church, but feel comforted by Christ's true church, the brethren here.

Where is it all going? I think no one has answers, we are in a waiting period. Maybe the Lord wants us to hear no sounds, no distractions, a waiting for Him to reveal His plan, or His will. It doesn't seem like it's forthcoming, I know, but I'm sure He has a plan. It's a step of faith for us to have to wait; the Word has been taught every which way but loose. Many "christians" have read the bible many times through. We know what it says, but pastors and leaders don't encourage anyone to act on it. The Lord desires obedience more than sacrifice, and the ball is in the church's court to obey, but it chooses not to. It refuses to self-evaluate, it doesn't even show curiosity at what kind of role model it presents to the world. I theorize sometimes the Lord wants to be the One to steer this ship and as long as the watchmen keep issuing the warnings to get out "of her", and to keep plugging how the wolves are deceiving the sheep, many will be saved.

I too think we the church have only several things to do. Live a Christ-like example every day as much as possible, pray, and I suppose for some fast and pray, and be instant in season for unbelievers when they have questions, praying that the Holy Spirit gives us the answers. I don't think the watchmen can deliver any more teaching to the church more than it already has. We have the Word in front of us, and it's the time of multitudes in the valley of decision. We've been trained, bible studied, corrected, shepherded more than anyone; some get to hear the gospel on an Israeli cruise-ship, or go to conventions; the West has so many available tools, yet it barely leaves a dent in how it presents Christ to the world.

I'm just surmising all this stuff here in my head, as I ponder everything. But, there's nothing more that maybe we can do in this Laodician lukewarm church than to do like Ecclesiastes 12: 13 - "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil".

Must go to bed. Good night. Praise our God!! Anon. J.

Anonymous said...

Our great need is to be strengthened daily by Almighty God and to grow in wisdom, love and compassion.
Jesus' words haven't been lost, so we must study them more diligently! Jesus is still saying "go ye into the world and preach the gospel".

A faithful soldier of Christ doesn't run away from God's teachings! We can't excuse ourselves from our duty just because some of those we go to have a somewhat lukewarm attitude to God's word.

When we take His word seriously the LORD God will reward us with increased courage, joy, hope and love, so that we don't "sleep" night after night on a pillow called "I'm totally discouraged"!

Cherie c. said...

Dear Anon,
Amen, and amen. But we must remember that we are realizing that we, the called out ones are not the church we talk about today. We were once them, but now are not. If Pastor and the brothers in Christ teach us the truth others will see, even those in the false church, and God willing be persuaded to come out also. Can't know error of your not taught the truth. I have seen the truth of God's Word so twisted, and in subtle fashion, that I had to really pay attention to see the error. Remember, the Bible teaches that false teachers can be so convincing that, Praise God for His wisdom and His Spirit, even the very elect might be fooled. I think His elect are the Apostles. So, knowing Jesus first hand they would know the difference, they could almost be fooled if it were possible, tells us how good they are at their false teaching. We must ever be even more discerning.

Pastor/teachers led by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God are powerful tools we need to be prepared for what is about to come is our best defense. Add to that mix our relationship with Jesus, and our path is straight and error decreased. Make no mistake we still have to wrestle with sin, the enemy, or flesh, but the Word says that we need to fellowship even more in these end times.

Love you too!

Cherie c.

Rick Frueh said...

Yes, anonymous. Conviction and enlightenment should not immobilize us and drive uis into depression. It should lead us into the joy and freedom of repentance.

Cherie c. said...

A Resounding AMEN! But sometimes we do get discouraged as did our Lord. That is why the brethren is so important. Lift up, pray for, and love with the Love Jesus showed us.

Looking to our Blessed Hope!

Cherie c.

Cherie c. said...

Feel like a liar. Just when I thought I had made progress with this health issue, I go to therapy and now I feel back to where I started from. So discouraged, I don't understand what I did. The pain is at times unbearable. As I write I am waiting for the advil to work and its almost been an hour since I too it too.

Been on advil for about a month now, and I worry about the affects. When the advil works it makes it easier to move with pain that is bearable. I don't want to get a cortisone shot or an MRI or worse yet surgery.

I still Praise our Lord, and thank Him for the advil, just wish it would get better. I feel so bad asking for prayers when Jackie is facing something scary, but it hurts so much. Waiting on the Lord, He doesn't seem to answer me. I do not understand. I am so tired of living in pain. I don't want to get a cortisone shot or some other horrible medicine. And my physical therapist doesn't seem to want to treat me. Thinks I should go get the shot.

I see a doctor on Monday although he is not an orthopedist, but I am not sure what will happen. Trying not to feel sorry for myself, but I am very discouraged.

Clinging to the hem of His robe.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Reine Gnade said...

Precious Cherie, the feedback from our feelings can be counter-productive especially when we are in the throes of excruciating pain. I find it helpful to remember Psalm 100:4 and endeavour to recite it when I get clobbered and beaten up by pain.

I too find that setbacks are discouraging but Christians are fighters. You are a fighter for dignity Cherie just as I am and Jackie is. Our great longing in 2013 is to live a faithful life, daily giving glory to God.

How blessed we are to understand that the risen LORD Jesus is Emmanuel. He truly is with us.

I'm always encouraged by Lamentations 3:23. Truly God is faithful and merciful.

Behold the courage and compassion of LORD Jesus Christ. Behold how all diseases are defeated when our great compassionate, healing God speaks decisively and diligently against them.

What have we to fear body, soul or spirit when the King of Glory is interceeding on our behalf. Let's join Jackie and Cherie in praising God. Let's all dig deep and remember fondly the cherished companionship over many years of Almighty God,.

Let's sing Him a new song in which we profess our deep abiding love to Him, for truly the God of the holy Bible is love and worthy to be wholeheartedly loved.

Cherie c. said...

Amen and thank you for the uplifting words Reine. I am going now to read the Scriptures you referenced and my God continue to bless you. Love to you and all our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Praise, Honor, Glory, to our God, ABBA FATHER, and to our Glorious Risen Savior and Lord Jesus Christ; the Only begotten Son of the Most High.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate this writing and others here...I come here regularly to be stirred. My biggest fear is that I will stop at being stirred. God help us all to change.