Delusion is a tragic condition of life. Self-delusion is even worse.
It would be really pitiful if you thought you lived in a free country when in fact the idea of ‘freedom’ in operation was just as oppressive and enslaving but just did it in more subtle ways. It would be really pitiful if you thought that you had a fair idea of doing right from wrong and felt more often than not you wanted to do right, only to have it exposed to you that your lifestyle is helplessly riddled with the predisposition to prefer doing what is destructive.
It would be even more pitiful if you thought you were a part of a thriving community of grace because you owned your own property, developed busy ministries full of people and were in a position to be able to state you were completely self-sufficient.
In that condition, the most loving thing that can happen is for someone to shine the light and wake you out of the state of delusion.
You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realise that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. (Revelation 3:17 NLT)
Jesus’ love for His church located in Laodicea compelled Him to wake them out of their delusion. The core of the situation was all about who they depended on. They didn’t need a thing – that self-satisfied and smug position even led to an expression of Jesus Christ, behaving in a way that suggested that they did not even need Jesus Christ.
It is that very need for Jesus that starts the journey in the first place. It’s that very recognition of our absolute impoverished state which is the best place from which to start life in the first place. Jesus Himself points that out,
God blesses those who are poor and realise their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (Matthew 5:3 NLT)
Humility starts with that realisation of our total need for God. That realisation never leaves us in a position of being smug, proud, self-satisfied or self-sufficient. Never. The journey of many a believer and a community of grace is that the more they know about Jesus, the more they realise they need to know more about Jesus. Not just acquiring information about Him, but entering into a more intimate relationship with Him so that His life really can be seen in our own.
The delightful Kingdom of God is never reflected by a community of self-sufficient folks content with their own condition and not really seeing the need for change either within or beyond them. There might be pious statements and occasional hand-wringing at some distasteful things that take place, but there’s no radical desire to see change in the status quo that would eradicate not just the behaviour but the belief system that props up that behaviour. There’s no zealous drive to be a conduit of change as our lives are transformed with knowing God and His Kingdom and then impacting our spheres of influence with that glorious good news.
This kind of situation might well be warm and of comfort to some. It is enough to make Jesus want to vomit such types from His mouth. A truly significant manner of expulsion.
The change we pray for is rooted in our total dependence on Jesus Christ,
Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. (John 15:5-8 NLT)
We do not depend on material wealth. We do not depend on numbers. We do not depend on intellect. We do not depend on prestigious positions in society. We do not depend on the approval of people. We do not depend on an individual who gives him or herself a title. We do not depend on the successes or failings of yesterday. We do not depend on the cultural trends of today. We do not depend on vague ambitions for the future.
We totally depend on the Lord Jesus Christ. We depend on Him as to know Him is to know the Father. We depend on Him for He is the ruler of all creation and everything that is made was made by Him, through Him and for Him. We depend on Him as He is the source of what real life is.
We depend on Him for He defines and embodies the very change we desire for the world .We want a change to a world of purity and He is ultimate purity. We want a change to a world of justice and righteousness and He is ultimately Right and Just. We want a change to a world of mercy, love and grace and He is the ultimate expression of Grace, Love and Mercy. We want a world at peace and He is the Prince of Peace.
Everything we want, He is totally. Everything we need, He embodies completely. Yet it is so easy to get subtly shifted from this position and depart from the first love and cultivate a love for other things and get comfortable in that love whilst maintaining a picture of piety resulting in being truly warm, fuzzy and totally inoffensive. In all that, the trap of self-delusion can close in and leave religious well-meaning folk doing things with little impact.
So we pay careful attention to the words of the one we should totally depend on,
I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. (Revelation 3:18-19 NLT)
Father, we need Jesus. We totally depend on Jesus. We have no other source to be anything you want us to be. Shine the light on area of indifference and self-delusion as we turn to you to bring the change that will illuminate you. Please.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden