I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. -Galatians 1:6-7
A woman was teaching a Bible study and had a pretty large following. She taught easy lessons that were relevant to mothers and wives and fellow girlfriends. She made the women feel connected to each other, to their femininity, and to their purpose as a homemaker. Everyone felt challenged when it came to being better at the business of doing better. They shared tips that work and offered grace to those who were having a hard time. Everything was great and they all got to a point of being satisfactorily productive.
Then the woman began teaching deeper Biblical truths about the Gospel. In her own personal studies, the Holy Spirit was leading her into a deeper understanding and was calling her out of the safe Christian bubble. She was drawn to those who weren’t in the bubble. Those who needed the community that she cultivated to branch out and show them what love, Godly love, was.
When she started planting the seeds within her group, they started to turn against her. It got too deep for most of them. It deviated from the safety of just loving the like-minded and they questioned her stand. These women wanted to be challenged to better at who they already were. They did not want someone to challenge them in grace for those who were different.
She responded to the harsh words and the ‘good-bye’ letters by backing away from the deeper truths and reaffirming her place in the feel-good cupcake world of perpetual insider affirmation. She started diluting the insight she received in her private time so that nobody would have to chew what she dished out. They were babies in their faith and fear pushed her to protect her followers from the pain of cutting their teeth. To her, majority rules. She abandoned the truth and perpetuated a distorted Gospel that was shaped by public approval.
The Gospel divides people. On one side, you have those who don’t want to think, they don’t want anything to change. They don’t think there is anything to change. On the other side you have people who are growing restless and want something more. Their gums are swollen and hurting and they just want something hard to bite down on. The reality is, those who are only after something to make them better ‘thems’ will bully anyone who reminds them that they’re not enough. They don’t like being reminded that the world doesn’t revolve around them. The self-inflated bullies outnumber the selfless wonderers.
The bullies appear to be stronger and carry more weight. The selfless wonderers appear to be weak and are often trampled. If the one teaching and leading them is too afraid of not being liked, then she’ll starve the hungry and coddle the selfish.
You don’t get to pick what to cut out and what to leave in. The Gospel is not easy to swallow. You can cut your teeth on it.
There is a litmus test for the potency of the Gospel. It’s something I use all the time. When I am sitting among a group of ‘insiders’ and am listening to the message that is being taught, I ask myself, “Would this have saved my life when I fell?”
I’m aware of this because when I needed the life saving truth that Jesus died to give me, I couldn’t find it. I looked for it in Christian books, I listened to preachers, I listened to Christian music, but it took me a long, long time to find anything. It’s when I stopped looking for Him in flesh and blood that I found the answers. I studied the Bible like my life depended on it, because it did. That is why I do what I do, I write like someone’s life depends on it. And I don’t hold back. I don’t care what the ‘insiders’ think of me because I’m after the outsiders.
People often talk about the importance of being in a community. That’s fine unless your community dwarfs your spiritual growth. You may find that you’ve outgrown your community and you can either step up, given the opportunity, or you can slip out the door. It’s not a spiritual requirement to follow a pack. It’s actually a scriptural instruction to not ‘confer with flesh and blood.’ I read something recently that said, “If Moses listened to the people instead of God, there never would have been an exodus.”
Sometimes God calls you into a wilderness where you feel disconnected from everyone else. Don’t resist this. The biggest leaders in the Bible (Moses, John the Baptist, Jesus, etc.) spent a long time in the wilderness right before they were brought out to fulfill their calling. It’s a time of shedding everything that is bogging you down and leaving you freer to do what you’re meant to do. You might even look a little crazy to people when you emerge, but that just keeps them at enough distance from putting the shackles back on you.