I am sure that many who oppose Christianity think we have been brainwashed. Matter of fact I am sure of it. I can remember in my younger days in the military, when in free time I was reading the Bible, a fellow soldier spoke to me and told me I was programming myself. I agreed. I then asked him how he was programming himself. He didn’t think he was. I disagreed. As I recall, an interesting conversation followed.
Isaiah 55:7-9 NIV “Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Anyone who has earnestly tried to be Holy, like God in the Christian Bible shows Himself to be Holy, very quickly becomes acutely aware of the difference between a Holy God and ourselves. And I would put forward that our understanding of what is right and what is wrong, especially in God’s eyes, is basically superficial because when you take into account our internal motives and desires which lack the opportunity to be fulfilled, the list of possible transgressions against God’s Holiness, becomes considerably much longer.
Matthew 5:28 NIV comes to mind: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
There are, within our society, an awful lot of people who think that they are basically good and if you questioned them and drilled down to particulars, they could very easily become offended. And this reasoning isn’t just restricted to our society as a whole, it also lives within the Church. The thing is, we in ourselves are not good. We need to own that. It is interesting to note that when someone called Jesus a “good teacher”, He responded as follows:
Mark 10:17-21 NIV “As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.” “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Notice that Jesus didn’t question his compliance with the commandments. Notice Jesus didn’t necessarily agree with his statement of compliance, the verse states that Jesus looked at him and that He loved him. And then comes the zinger … “One thing you lack.” And what was that one thing …. give up everything you have and come and follow me. When one tries to follow the commandments, there comes a time when we come to the realization that we can’t perfectly do them and our fellowship with God is hindered. And what was the hindrance that the man failed to fully comprehend, that would be the very first commandment.
Exodus 20:2-3 NIV “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me.”
Mark 10:22 NIV reads: “At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
And as always, context is critical to understanding the Scriptures, and in the following verses that are given (Mark 10:23-27 NIV), Jesus expounds upon the difficulty riches brings because our trust and reliance switches from God to our wealth.
The thing is, we don’t like to think that we are not good. We don’t like examining ourselves because when we do, especially in the light of what Jesus focused on, like removing the plank in our own eye before addressing the spec in someone else’s eye (Matthew 7:5), we are confronted with our own lack of impartiality, especially when it concerns ourselves.
Strange that Jesus had so much to say about that, isn’t it?
I find it interesting that of all the major world religions, there is only one that basically says that we (humanity), in our fallen state, are not able to bring ourselves, in and of ourselves, to a place of oneness with our Creator. Only Christianity actually indicates that (Romans 3:10-12 NIV). All others infer that it is possible to bring ourselves into a place where our works or deeds justify our acceptance with God. One would think that uniqueness would, in and of itself, alert real seekers of God to note the differences between Christianity and the other major world religions.
In my initial paragraph I used the word “brainwashed”. I understand that has a negative connotation. But what does it really mean? If someone were to use that terminology on me I would correct them and indicate that I have used my deductive reasoning and I have come to the place where I am in agreement with God’s revelation of where I was before I became a Christian, where I am now as a Christian and I look forward to leaving this sinful body I currently exist in, behind, when I die and being with Him forever in eternity. “Brainwashed”? Praise God, yes I am.
I just don’t think that we take our human nature to heart. It’s called walking in the flesh. It happens to all of us every day, even as Christians. That’s not to say that God isn’t changing us, changing our hearts and minds, our thoughts and actions, that also happens every day, when we walk with our Lord as in “walking in the Spirit”.
I am not down on myself.
I acknowledge what is within me. My human nature and God’s Holy Spirit. It is a constant battle, I don’t think it stops until we leave this body behind. I am so thankful for the changes that God has made in me and the changes that are still taking place. But I don’t forget, I don’t sweep aside that which dwells within. Any goodness in me is not of me, I know me. I marvel that He loves me and yet I know why. It is because He can now fellowship with me and I with Him because of what God’s Son did for me and my trust in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Jesus saved me from myself, it’s that simple. If I confess my sins His Word tells me in 1 John 1:9 NIV “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
That is how the fellowship is maintained. I am different from Him and yet I am like Him and one day I will see Him face to face, without my former nature tagging behind. God’s Holiness is a beautiful thing. I’ve tasted.
Worthy is the Lamb. Blessings!