I spend some time every now and then watching videos uploaded to various social media channels. Most of the videos bemoan the state of modern life and suggest alternatives (stop consuming, stop using your smart phone, spend more time in the woods, etc.) that are impractical for most people. The common theme that runs through these presentations is that certain people or organizations are to blame for the dismal state of the world, that we are the victims of their wiles and whims, and there’s very little we can do about their evil deeds other than to escape them in any way we can. Fair enough, these are not Christian channels, or at least not overtly so. Some of the presenters even identify as “pagan”, though I’m sure if I told them what pagan really meant, they might back off from identifying as such. Or not.
For those who see through the eyes of the world – even for those who have rejected the world but still refuse to turn back to God – these are dreary times indeed. I personally cannot imagine how I would have handled the lockdowns and the worldwide, non-stop, fear-driven propaganda of the past two years if I were not a born-again believer. I try to imagine how atheist Charlotte would have responded to the muzzling, the socially enforced distancing, the mass injection campaigns, etc., and I hope that she would have given the whole thing the proverbial finger, as born-again Charlotte did. I imagine that atheist Charlotte would have been much less polite and much more vocal than born-again Charlotte, not shying away from getting into the faces of those who tried to get her to cover hers.
There’s still a lot of the atheist Charlotte in born-again Charlotte, not in the values, but in the force of personality and the refusal to swallow what is patently BS. That part of me did not change when I changed from atheist to believer. I got polite and patient as a believer; I did not get pussified. The part of me that doesn’t shy away from standing up and speaking the truth even when it goes against everyone else in the room God can use for Kingdom work; he already has.
But the part of me that blames others for my own problems or for the general state of the world did, thank God, change. It is a hard truth to get people to accept that the pain they feel is the pain they’ve earned, and that their own depression or other mental malady is not the result of a chemical imbalance in their brain. Rather, the chemical imbalance in their brain is the result of a sin-burdened soul expressing its pain through negative emotions and enabling evil to work directly through them. This is what causes the chemical imbalance. Likewise with the state of the world – the world is the way it is not because of the whims of a few deranged powerful people, but because nearly everyone in the world is unrepentantly doing evil, and they’re all simply getting back what they put out. This is a hard truth for most people to accept, mainly because it’s so simplistic. I guess they expect the guru at the top of the mountain to be more profound.
So I watch these videos that bemoan the state of the world with a sense of compassion for those who are suffering, but my compassion is also mixed with a sense of frustration. How do you get people to repent? The band-aid solutions of running away into the woods or rejecting modern technology will not help these people; they will only shift their suffering to a different environment to be expressed in other ways. The only way to truly get rid of pain and suffering is to sincerely repent and believe the Gospel, as Jesus advised. There is no other way.
We know what’s coming, if not in the short-term, then definitely in the long-term. Jesus told us and scripture tells us. The future, for the world, is not bright. Everyday life will become more and more controlled and monitored, as much to keep people in line as to weed out who won’t play along. The past two years have been a beta test of sorts to weed out the non-players, and I guess I’ve shown my hand. I will not play.
The people who make the videos I watch every now and then and those who comment below the videos are not unlike atheist Charlotte. They see that something is terribly wrong with the world and they refuse to accept the way things are, to go along to get along. But they stop short of genuinely wanting to know the truth at all costs, because if they did want to know the truth at all costs, they wouldn’t be blaming the world (or those who run it) for their problems; they’d be blaming themselves. And in so doing, they’d sooner or later be turning back to God, who is the one and only source of Truth. Everyone who genuinely wants the Truth eventually comes to God.
The hard truth is not that Truth is hard, but that it requires submission, like a little child submits, believing beyond doubt. It requires the opposite of pride and self-sufficiency. Atheist Charlotte turned into born-again believer Charlotte not from anything she read or listened to, or anything she ate or drank, or any ritual she engaged in or observed, but simply by saying “yes”. What exactly did she say
“yes” to? To whatever it took to make the pain go away. And that “yes”, as explained by God himself to atheist Charlotte, was saying “yes” to choosing to forgive. It was really that simple, and in an instant all the pain and confusion were gone.
And I didn’t even have to give up my cell phone.
I watch these videos as a born-again believer the same way that Jesus went to pubs – to keep in touch with people and their concerns. I don’t leave “religious” messages in the comment sections, any more than Jesus preached the Kingdom in the pubs. There would be no point. But every now and then God guides me to leave a word of encouragement or thanks, the way that Jesus would buy someone a drink or lend a sympathetic ear. The suffering people of the world are not our enemies – even those in positions of authority who impose hardships on us are not our enemies. We know who our real enemies are; Paul pointed them out: he said they weren’t flesh and blood, but were principalities and dominions in high places.
Our enemies are very real, but we can’t see them because they have no body. They’ve been disembodied, which is why they’re always trying to possess one of ours. Those are our enemies, but we don’t fight them directly. We can’t fight them directly, other than to cast them out, as Jesus did. But we can surely gain ground against them simply by being kind to the unkind. That’s another simple hard truth most people (even Christians) don’t want to hear.
You can’t escape pain by running from it. It follows you wherever you go and compounds the more you try to avoid or suppress it, including through medications. Band-aid measures like “going back to nature” are palliative to a certain extent and for a certain time, but the pain always finds you eventually. It is a spiritual guarantee. These methods – avoiding, suppressing, running from – are desperate attempts to treat the symptoms. To get rid of pain, you have to get rid of the cause of the pain, and that cause is ALWAYS sin.
I asked earlier how we can get people to repent, and there’s no single answer to that question. I repented 23 years ago because I hit rock-bottom, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, financially, etc., but that way isn’t optimal for everyone. Some people when they hit rock-bottom kill themselves and take others with them. So sitting back and letting people hit rock-bottom might not be the best way to handle the situation in all cases. Guiding people to repentance is a case-by-case process.
There are many ways to get to God; in fact, there are as many ways as there are souls. As each soul makes its way through its allotted time and space on Earth, most are content to be controlled by the forces of the world. These souls will rarely value truth and most will never come to God. Conversely, the souls that are not content to be controlled by worldly forces or embrace worldly norms and values (I was among that lot) will actively look for ways out. These are the souls that do value truth. These are the souls that make the videos that I watch occasionally on various channels and the souls that comment on the videos. These are the souls that are open to Genuine Change, though they may resist it initially.
In Jesus’ day, these were the souls that hung back from actively following Jesus, but still somehow found themselves in the periphery of the crowds wherever Jesus went, and so overheard what he was saying. These were the souls that eventually came to Jesus, secretly, and under cover of night, looking for more answers. Some of these souls then eventually did come to God.
A hard truth is not something that’s difficult to understand; it’s something that’s difficult to accept. I rebelled against the world as an atheist, and in so doing I also rebelled against even the idea of God, because I equated God with the authorities of the world, as represented by the worldly church. That’s the devil’s doing and God permits it as a way to weed out those who genuinely want the Truth rather than those who just say they do. The worldly church is about as far removed from my experience of God as atheism is from the worldly church; it’s like they’re all totally different things. The God of the worldly church is not the God I have come to know and love as a born-again believer.
I wish that the people who make the videos that I watch every now and then would come to know my God as I know him. I wish they would repent and believe the Gospel. I wish they would follow Jesus. Then they wouldn’t have to be afraid anymore or feel like running off into the woods or trashing their cell phones to find peace: they would find it anywhere, anytime, under any circumstance just by being in God’s presence through his Spirit.
Hard truth isn’t so hard when you’ve got such a soft landing place as God’s hands.