Divine Disillusionment – Stephen Crosby

is God’s most
faithful servant”

  • Stephen Crosby

Anyone who would be a disciple of Christ will, at some point in their lives, experience disillusion and disappointment–especially in local church dynamics dealing with other people.  How can the experience be redemptively understood and processed? Let’s consider three metaphors.

Don’t Tug My Rug

If people are happy with the rug on which they are standing, even if it is a nasty old thing, they will not appreciate anyone tugging on it or being nagged to replace it. Every attempt to persuade them about how bad their rug is, how unhelpful it is for them, etc., will be met with resistance: “This is my rug. I like it. Quit tugging! Leave me alone!”  

My Horse is Just Fine

As long as people are happy with the religious horse they are riding, they won’t get off. It could be a terminally ill horse and the kindest thing might be to put it down. But if they like the horse and it is the only one they have to get them to market, they will never shoot it. Only when the horse finally dies will they be interested in an alternate ride. 

I Am Not Sick

If you do not believe you are sick, you will never appreciate the cure and the one bringing it. That is one reason why Jesus was crucified: “We’re not sick, we don’t need a cure, and we don’t need you telling us otherwise. For your efforts, we want you dead!” We should not be surprised when we experience resistance when trying to introduce people to a better kingdom way.  

The thing in which we are emotionally invested must exhaust itself–prove itself to be of no use–before any of us makes a change. The prodigal son was not brought home by a better reasoned argument. He was brought home by the bankruptcy of his own beliefs and practices and the memory of His Father.  How well-said the Scriptures: “He came to his senses.”  His rug was tugged. His horse was dead. He knew he was sick. He remembered his father. 

Folks will defend those things in which their soul is emotionally invested as being valuable with death-grip passion—until the moment of Holy Spirit grace is activated in them. No one comes to the Father except the Spirit draws them. 

There are some things beyond our reach to accomplish. Only the Holy Spirit can bring conviction. Our job is to learn the Holy Spirit-led, season-sensitive art of knowing when to pull the rug out from under people! They must be willing to step off their rug, or bury their horse. Until that moment, we abide in love for them. Teaching and “evangelism” based upon intellectual coercion and domination does not belong in the kingdom of Jesus. We bait and drop the line. We do not force the fish bite.

This is all necessary for fruitfulness: 

  • Except a grain of wheat dies, it abides alone. But if it dies it brings forth much fruit. 
  • He that loves his life will lose it. He that loses his life will find it.

Disillusionment is God’s most faithful servant. He uses it to get people off their rugs and horses. If we are unwilling to lose what we perceive to be today’s precious thing, we are short-circuiting the work of Christ in us. The experience of disillusionment and despair is what happens when we bring unrealistic expectations to our human relationships, in church or out of it. Jesus’s good wishes for humanity cost Him His life. It is unrealistic for us to think our good intentions for others are going to be “warmly received.” God help us all to learn the art of timely rug-tugging and horse burying.

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