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Ever Seeing But Never Perceiving
15 September 2010
The Emperor's New Clothes. Whether you are or not, before you read the rest of this article please click on the link and take a few minutes to read the story anew.
This story is classic and timeless because it describes, in a brilliant parable, an all-too-common human condition. In the nearly 200 years since it was first published in 1837, people have applied this story to many different kinds of situations in life.
About 2,000 years ago, Yeshua (Jesus) walked the earth and taught His listeners about the Kingdom of God. Regarding some of the listeners, Yeshua once said:
Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: "You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them." (Matthew 13:13b-15, from Isaiah 6:9-10)While the passages from Yeshua and Andersen do not have the same moral or meaning, there are some interesting and relevant similarities: people seeing but not seeing and seeing but never perceiving, people with calloused hearts who have closed their eyes, people who love lies rather than the truth, people who are afraid to declare the truth.
After having read the previous seven articles on this Web site regarding the condition of the Western church, you may start to wonder what planet I'm from! Such a reaction has not been uncommon to me over the past decade or so. Sometimes it's enough to make me question my own sanity! Why do I see things the way I do? Why is my view of things so different than the mainstream? Could I be seeing the truth while the mainstream does not? Or isn't it more likely that I'm just a deluded, deranged prophetic-wannabe who should be ignored or even silenced?
In the story of The Emperor's New Clothes, only ONE person — a child at that — had the courage to speak out the truth that everyone else was denying. Isn't there just the slightest possible chance that I'm not deluded or deranged, but that, like the child in the story, I'm actually speaking the truth about the state of the church in my articles?
For years I have felt these things, not from any external influence, but by an inner seeing and perceiving, hearing and understanding. And I have felt very much alone in it. So imagine my tremendous joy and comfort when I finally ran across some books that communicate the same understanding I have been developing — and then they take it much further and deeper than I could have ever imagined! I was seeing only a corner of a room by candlelight, and then suddenly the lights get switched on — the illumination is astonishing!
That's why I can't recommend highly enough these three books that have had such a tremendous impact on my life: Pagan Christianity?, The Myth of a Christian Nation and, to a lesser extent, The Myth of a Christian Religion. After feasting on these books, I begin to realize that I'm not so far out in left field as I and others might have imagined, and I also realize that I'm not as alone in my perceptions as I might have felt. That is definitely encouraging!
In a previous article I quoted from the newsletter of a ministry that I really respect (and support financially on a monthly basis) — Emmaus Way in Israel. Today I received their latest newsletter, and once again the words they wrote really spoke to my heart, and to my current situation:
The gifts and calling of the Lord are not of our choosing. Bearing a prophetic mantle and being called as a watchman are serious matters. If God has placed you in a position and so wired you that you see what others don't, what can you do? "But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand." (Ezekiel 33:6)I too, in a much smaller way, have also suffered for proclaiming what I see. I have shared in my article Consequences of Not Going To Church how my stating what I see and standing by it has caused me to be denied membership in a "Christian" medical coverage co-op. Like Jeremiah and others who have declared what they saw, there IS a price to be paid. Do we have the guts to pay it, or will we wimp out?
The people grew tired of Jeremiah and his words. They tore up his scrolls and threw him in pit. They wanted good news. They wanted to be encouraged by all the good things God was doing. They wanted to hear about peace and the way to blessing. Few wanted to hear what he had to say. Few were interested in the truth regardless of what it was. Some rejected him outright and violently. Some listened and thought, "We'll see if it comes to pass." Others received the word, were smitten and overcome by grief ... grief for their sin rather than over the coming judgment. In acknowledging the righteousness and sovereignty of the Lord ... they were delivered. The Days of Elijah is a great song and He WILL one day come riding on the clouds. But we would suggest that the trumpet sounding in this hour is heralding something more akin to the messages of Noah and Jeremiah.
So am I seeing and proclaiming the truth, or am I simply deceived? As I wrote in my previous article, deception is impossible to detect because, by definition, if you are deceived then you won't realize you're deceived. So the only thing I can do is cry out to Yeshua to keep my from deception. As the Apostle Paul wrote:
On the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person's work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. (1 Corinthians 3:13-15a)And as some followers of Yeshua declared:
As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don't even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn't prove I'm right. It is the Lord Himself who will examine me and decide. (1 Corinthians 4:3-4)
Who are you to condemn someone else's servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let Him judge whether they are right or wrong. And with the Lord's help, they will do what is right and will receive His approval. (Romans 14:4)
Do you think God wants us to obey [man] rather than Him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:19)I hope that my articles and my example will embolden you to speak out the truth you see, even if it costs you. There will be no praise from the Master if we simply play the religious game just for the sake of avoiding controversy — even as the people in the Andersen story did. If the emperor is naked, then he's naked — no ifs, ands, or buts (or butts!). Because there IS a Biblically-described church nakedness and blindness — which is chillingly applicable to today's Christianity:
If I proclaim the Message, it's not to get something out of it for myself. I'm compelled to do it, and doomed if I don't! (1 Corinthians 9:16)
Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Yeshua's servant. (Galatians 1:10)
You say, "I am rich. I have everything I want. I don't need a thing!" And you don't realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and BLIND and NAKED. So I [Yeshua] 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. Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear My voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with Me on My throne, just as I was victorious and sat with My Father on His throne. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches. (Revelation 3:17-22)
This article is 8th a series of articles on this Web site related to Modern Christianity and the Church which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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