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- About Blissfully Ignorant
In regards to being unaware of being on the road to damnation, Jesus does warn us that we can, at a point, rationalize and distort our own consciences to the degree that we see truth as falsehood and prefer the misery of hell to the happiness of heaven. That being done, one can, in fact, be unaware, though hardly blissfully, of being on the road to damnation. However, even in this case, hell will not be a surprise waiting for a basically sincere and happy person, but will rather be the full flowering of a lifetime of dishonesty, distortion, and rationalization.
Hell is not full of people spending eternity regretting their mistakes on earth … painfully wishing that they had just one minute back on earth in which to make some act of contrition which would enable them to go to heaven! The quality of truly being in hell is not regret, but disdain for those whose choices have made them happy. It is not easy to go to hell, at least not forever.
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It takes a very strong person to permanently set his or her heart against love and happiness. Thank God for weakness! This implies that the majority of people are not going to hell. To suggest that they are is, I believe, a great insult to the Creator.
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If God is the passionate, all-patient, all-forgiving Lover that Christ reveals, then it is unthinkable that God would sit idly by while the majority of people were being eternally lost. If that were the case, God would redo the incarnation! One might protest here, saying that, if God truly respects human freedom, there is, beyond what has already been given and revealed in Christ, nothing further God can do.
Many great saints and mystics were either borderline or full-blown universalists. M Scott Peck. Peck gave them their own category of dysfunction, which he labelled malignant narcissism. The people he writes about have a self-concern and defensiveness that is so intense that others become emotionally maimed. Their effect on other people is so damaging that Dr.
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Peck goes so far as to call them evil. That is a very unusual thing in the field of psychology, which is values-neutral. His basic definition of evil is something that does violence to life or liveliness. It goes beyond taking a life physically, and inhabits the realm of doing harm to the autonomy, well-being, and basic human dignity of another.
The violence that is perpetrated by these people is not the sort that is visible or obvious. Instead, it is subtle, and almost never seen directly. But one catches glimpses of it in the effect on others—seemingly crimeless victims, so to speak, who have no obvious bruises, and yet who are wounded and confused in spirit, whose lives have been steadily degraded by an oppressive force.
They are living a lie—a well-constructed lie of an upright citizen who nevertheless expertly sacrifices other people on a self-defined altar of perfection. Other people tend to start avoiding these people of the lie, because on some level they sense that it is only a matter of time before the knife will come out and the sacrificing will begin in some way.
This ties in to our topic of self-examination because the people of the lie will do everything possible to avoid the light of exposure, whether from themselves or from others. They flatly refuse to acknowledge their failures, and woe! In addition, rather than acknowledging a sin or other short-coming, they will project their evil onto others.
Thus any perceived failing in the people of the lie will be shifted to someone else. Nothing is their fault. Any relationship problem is because of the other person. They have a keen instinct for honing in on where others do not measure up, because that keeps the bright light off of themselves. Passover is a memorial of the death of the Creator God in order to raise man from his pitiful plight of sin and wretchedness. Partaking of the Passover means first recognizing that we need saving.
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It means acknowledging how far short we fall from the image of Jesus Christ, and our absolute dependence on what only He can provide if our lives are going to improve. In contrast, the people of the lie really do not believe they need to change, or that they have any major defect. They may pay lip-service to personal growth as part of their pretense, but Dr. They will not bear the extreme discomfort of shining a bright light into the dark places of their souls. Yet it is only when a man acknowledges the depths of his own brokenness that he can begin to appreciate the awesome cost of what was done for him.
As I said, the people of the lie are an extreme example. But there is something similar—and something closer to home—that is written for us:. Revelation Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.
Therefore be zealous and repent. In verse 17, Jesus Christ gives a double-indictment for spiritual blindness. That is, He says that they are blind, just as He says that they are wretched, and miserable, and so forth. These conditions are bad enough on their own, but the fact that He has to tell them that they are blind shows their complete ignorance. In other words, they are blind to the fact that they are blind. During His ministry, Jesus healed a number of physically blind men, and every one of them was well-aware of his condition.
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They all knew that they needed help. Yet this letter describes an unrecognized blindness. Being blind is bad enough, but being blind and assuming one is just fine is a truly pitiable condition. There is a trait of human nature here of which we must be aware, and that is our proclivity to create our own standard of righteousness, coupled with selecting evidence that allows us to measure up almost perfectly. For example, in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, the Pharisee had gathered all the evidence of his righteousness: he was not an extortioner, adulterer, tax collector, or unjust man; plus he fasted and he tithed.
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This was his evidence of how well he measured up to the standard he had in his mind, and he had no interest in seeing anything else. Yet it was the man who was overcome by his sinfulness, and readily acknowledged it, whom God justified. In other instances, the Pharisees held up their having Abraham as their father, and how well they kept the Pharisaic traditions, as evidence that they were right, and the Son of God was wrong. They would not accept any evidence that they had problems, and felt justified in doing violence against the Holy One who called them into account. They did not want to see.
God told them twice to do a self-examination—to consider their ways. He also pointed out what He had been doing to help them see that they were off track. Their crops were not yielding, they barely had enough to eat or drink, their clothing was not warm enough, and their money kept running out. God was hindering them, and yet they had hidden their eyes from that contrary evidence. The people were not making the connections themselves, so God had to connect the dots through the prophet.
As another example of this proclivity, think back to where we started, with the Corinthians. But Paul had to point out all the evidence on the other side, such as the schisms, the prideful tolerance of sin, and the mistreatment of the poor and weak in their midst. Leviticus says that if a man eats a sacrifice while he is unclean, God will cut him off from his people. This is what Paul was trying to help them see: their uncleanness in the way they were conducting themselves was putting them in danger of being cut off … yet they were blissfully ignorant.
In Haggai, He called for a drought on the works of their hands.
In Corinth, many were sick and some had died, but that judgment was still better than being condemned with the world. In the first century, God took on the form of a man, and gave His people a message personally. And with Laodicea, He says that He rebukes and chastens those He loves. He is always working to help His people to see, and often His work involves doing things that should make us curious about the cause, so that we inquire of Him. So, coming back to Laodicea, the evidence of righteousness that is being held up has to do with being rich and increased with goods.
That might apply physically, but it certainly applies spiritually. Every one of us has riches—things that are significant to us that we can hold up as evidence that we are right with God. The church is scattered far and wide.
And even as there is division in our midst, it is only natural to come up with reasons why the fault lies with someone else. And as long as we reject any possibility that there is something wrong with us—if we do not want to see—then nothing changes. It is simple to find fault with a minister, congregation, or group, and make the judgment that we are better off separating from those problems.
And the kicker is that our observations may be true, and our decision could be godly—and yet as long as those problems remain our focus, it means that we do not have to do the really hard work of shining the light on ourselves.