“Don’t reason in the mind, just obey in the spirit.” from the bestselling Battlefield of the Mind for Teens, by Joyce Meyer, one of the most popular mainstream Christian leaders in America today.
While there are certainly more parts to this whole story (such as the ram in the bush we illustrated), they all seem quite irrelevant when you consider the main points:
1. Abraham heard God’s voice asking him to do the unthinkable
2. Abraham “obeyed in the spirit” without question and God
3. God rewarded Abraham for his obedience
The question is – what would you be willing to do to obey God? Cross the street to witness to a stranger? Martyr yourself when challenged by an ISIS fighter to deny Him? Or, would you be able to suspend reason (and morality) in order to follow in the footsteps of obedient God-Listeners like Brian David Mitchell, Deanna Laney, Michael Carreiro, Elizabeth Schatz, Zachary Stirewalt, Vince Li, or Jessica Murphy?
Let’s move to a more recent case from Jupiter, FL in May of 2014. One day after hearing a church sermon about God’s test for Abraham, Kimberly Lucas, a licensed mental health counselor carried out her own reenactment of Genesis 22, testing the Lord by drowning a two year-old girl (and drugging the older brother) before leaving a suicide note that read, “[the pastor’s] sermon really, really touched me yesterday, but God never told me to stop!”
These are her words, not mine. Of course, most Christian media and blogs immediately denounced any correlation between religion and the tragedy, instead blaming it all on her politics and sexual orientation, throwing out headlines like this one from TrueNewsUSA, “Obama Supporter & Carpet Munching Lesbian – Kymberly Lucas – charged with murdering her dyke’s girlfriend – Jacquelyn Jamason’s – two-year-old daughter Elliana – and this lesbo blames the BIBLE!” (The irony found in the comments section is truly inspiring.)
Of course I don’t think all religious people are mentally ill and at risk of killing others. The people I mention above are clearly mentally ill, deserving the best help we can give them. However, these cases do beg the question – Which came first? The mental illness, or the religious indoctrination that may have led to it? Random acts of violence happen every day. But, if we are to believe these perpetrator’s own words, their psychosis certainly appears to have been brought on by WANTING to hear God’s voice so desperately that they’d do anything… Anything!
OUR POINT? Blindly believing, trusting, and following God’s voice can be a slippery slope… Accept Jesus as your personal savior at a teen rally? Great! Strive to be closer to God, learning from the most “righteous” characters in the Bible? Good for you! Cut ties with your family and friends for not being faithful enough? Unfortunate, but biblically justifiable. Slit the throats of your family and friends for being “enemies of God” to prove your obedience when you hear His voice? Suddenly following the voice of God makes you “insane.” How convenient.
Some days God’s voice might just be advising you on where to go to college because it’s the best path toward a brighter future. Other days, He might tell you to kill your children because they are unclean in the eyes of the Lord. If you are taught as a child and conditioned through a lifetime in church to “obey in the spirit” – how do you know where to draw the line? What would you do for God? How could you ever say “no” to the very God you have been trained since childhood to “obey in the spirit?”
ADMISSION: One of my biggest struggles with faith over many years in ministry was that I could never actually “hear God speak” to me in the same way claimed by my colleagues, friends, and family. At times, this made me feel like I was somehow unworthy, and less of a Christian than those who could hear his “voice.” In fact, at times it led to outright depression, insomnia, and desperation, “Why, God? Why are you silent in my life? What do I have to do to get your attention? Answer me, I’ll do anything!”
In hindsight, this silence no longer bothers me. It comforts me as I now wonder which of my friends were faking it and which are on a slippery slope to dangerous delusion.
This post isn’t for the poor fractured souls that appear in the image. It is for the “normal people” at the top of the slippery slope, who dip their toe over the edge from time to time. Oddly, and this might shock some of you – this image is about HOPE!
OUR QUESTION: How far would you be willing to go? How many times have you just been absolutely convinced that you have sensed God’s calling in your life? How would you know that it’s God at all, and not just a delusion of mental illness taking the shape of the most feared, revered, and mysterious element of your life. What would you do for God?
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Remember: Don’t blame us, it’s in the Bible!
We didn’t pull any punches by adding this illustration and commentary to:
Awkward Moments (Not Found In Your Average) Children’s Bible – Vol #2.