Before reaching Rome, the Apostle Paul had given his story of conversion and defended his calling to carry the message of Jesus beyond Judaism to the world, five times. Religious Jews had two problems with this: First, they rejected Jesus as their Messiah and secondly, they mistakenly believed God would and could work only through them.
Just like his Lord, Paul faced jealous Jews who trumped up false charges and wanted him dead! (Acts 22-28)
Religion often produces what my college professor called, “obscurantism.” By definition that means, a practice of withholding knowledge from the general public. Intentionally darkening the light of truth.
Anyone can slip into obscurantism. Signs of this condition might include:
1. Feeling threatened when change occurs
2. Unwillingness to accept change
3. Blind allegiance to a system
4. Angry resistance to change
5. Desiring to kill agents of change
As a young minister in Atlanta, I remember having lunch with about eight pastors of large denominational churches in the metro area. Atlanta Covenant Church was a small congregation of about 100 people that met in a home.
The Dean of a large cathedral in the Buckhead district arrogantly and flippantly referred to ACC as a “parachurch.” I retorted, “You know, Dean, when Jesus returns to identify the true church we may all be surprised at who’s in the parachurch and who’s in the real church!”
Not everyone who belongs to a religious system is automatically “in.” While I appreciate structure, especially for broken things and people, making the system our healer is a bad mistake. It may become a source of deception for us. What was originally used to bring Light can eclipse that very Light!
Jesus loved the Jews, as did Paul, but because of their obscurantism, they missed Jesus! Consequently, their rejection provided an opportunity for all the nations. We see this truth conveyed in many of His parables. He said, I have sheep that are not of this fold, speaking of Judaism. John 10:16
He cried over Jerusalem saying, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Luke 13:34-35
In many other Scriptures He grieved that His very own special people would blindly and arrogantly miss their “divine moment.” Luke 19:44
When accused by the Scribes and Pharisees (professional clergy) of drawing people away from Jewish laws, traditions and customs, Jesus said, I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. Matthew 5:17
I love the people engaged in the recovery movement. I respect those who gain sobriety and maintain it! I especially appreciate the Biblical, time-tested principles encapsulated in the 12 Steps, but the system around them is an old wineskin, brittle and broken. Matthew 9:17 For all our investment in the recovery industry, the death rate due to opioids continues to rise! Yet, we blindly reject Jesus! Something needs to change. Do we have the courage?
Pray with us about His NEXT STEP toward a new wineskin. I do not know altogether what this may look like in the future, but I am earnestly praying for God to reveal it soon! When God moves again, it will be organic and spontaneous. It will be at the grassroots level. It will no doubt break generally-accepted recovery protocols. Can we embrace it? Linda and I thank you for faithfully standing with us, especially during these Summer Months.