Prudent Heretic

... "I determined to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified" ... ..."Test all things, hold fast that which is good." ...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Balancing Out Wayne Jacobson's Teaching

Wayne Jacobsen (publisher of “The Shack”) has some very good material on He makes some very valuable points. Here I would like to offer some counterbalance.

Throughout his material runs the theme that “religion” is what gets us off-track from living in the pure and simple love of God. It’s not “religion” that gets us off-track – it’s the flesh. “Religion” is just one manifestation of the flesh—there are many others. If you focus exclusively on “religion,” then you will get blindsided by something else, like indolence, carelessness, or self-will.

Wayne stresses that the Christian life should be “relaxed into”. There's a lot of truth to what he says. However, this "relaxing" must be placed in proper perspective. We may compare the Christian life to learning to play a musical instrument. There are (at least) two wrong ways to go about practicing an instrument. The first is to just play when you feel like it—then you may enjoy playing somewhat, but you’ll never amount to anything but a dilettante. The other is to get so wrapped up in perfecting your technique that you play like a machine. For such a person, “just relax and feel the music” is the right message. But for someone who isn’t practicing, ‘just relax’ is the wrong message.

“Relax” is the right message for Wayne and many others who have undergone years of neurotic religious practice. But for others, it’s not what they need to hear.

Hebrews 4:11 expresses a deep spiritual paradox -- “Let us labor to enter that rest.” Here Labor and rest are wrapped up in the same sentence. There has to be a dynamic balance between the two. The "labor" is in obsessive-compulsively desiring the presence of God. The "rest" is in trusting God to Him to work in you, to breathe life into you, to motivate and strengthen and move you so that all your actions are the outworkings of His Spirit.

Wayne Jacobsen compares our relationship with the Father with his own relationship with his granddaughter. He uses this analogy to make the point that developing a relationship with God is more up to the Father than it is up to us. But this analogy has limitations. Jesus calls us friends, not grandchildren. I think there is more mutuality in the relationship than the grandfather/granddaughter analogy suggests. We need to invest energy into building relationships with friends (and spouses) – so also we need to invest in getting to know our Spouse. But just as with our human relationships, it’s more about responding rather than initiating.

It's interesting that spiritually, Wayne seems to have followed the same trajectory that many adults do in their family lives. At one time he was a “parent” (i.e. conventional pastor), and now he has become a “grandparent” (actually, a kind of evangelist). Parents often tend to be too strict, while grandparents are often too indulgent.


Blogger Tim A. Setliff said...

I'm one who was so caught up in legalism that I couldn't experience Father. We live in a performance based society. "Do good, get good. Do bad, get bad". I was in ministry before my marriage ended 18 years ago. I'd tried to serve God faithfully. Yet, I was a failure at marriage. This devastated my life, I was so bitter, and angry. I knew the Bible was the Word of God. Four years ago, it wasn't working for me and I was ready to quit.

God so faithfully put the right people in my life so that I could learn to walk in Him. Much of it again was law and I couldn't measure up. Then a friend introduced me to Joseph Prince. His messages - Destined to Reign, opened my eyes to truth. I'd known it but didn't know it experientially. Then, that same friend introduced me to Wayne Jacobsen's books and podcasts. What I'm doing is relaxing and living holy. The Father flows into my life and fruit happens. You said,"just relax" is the wrong message for some people.

I respectfully disagree. Those who aren't practicing need this message. Those who haven't undergone years of neurotic religious practice need this message. It they are exposed to Church, they will be poisoned by law and try to "do" something. Those who aren't practicing (lost or Christians who are un-engaged)need this message too. Without writing a book, we have to ask why aren't they practicing? The answer I have is this - Religion doesn't work.

Relax? It is about a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Father. Perform or Relax? to obtain a relationship. I worked my butt off for the Lord and after 20 years, all I had to show was a broken marriage and a broken life. Relaxing in His love is so precious. I quit trying to please God. I'm already pleasing to God in Jesus. Instead of "trying", I relax and listen to His voice and do what I'm told.

It people understood this truth, America would have a revival.

May 10, 2013 at 6:08 PM  
Blogger prudentheretic said...

Hi Tim, thank you for your valuable and insightful comments. I rejoice to see what God has done and is doing in your life.

I agree wholeheartedly that religion doesn't work. Right now I'm in Africa, and if anything it's even worse than the U.S. The pastors I've heard seem to think that the purpose of sermons is to beat the flock with a stick. These people absolutely need to hear the message you're talking about.

A few comments:

* Law does have a purpose (1 Tim. 1:8-11)

* Consider the parable of the prodigal son. During your "religious" years, you were like the older brother. So you needed to hear what exactly what the father told the older son: "All that I have is yours". But for the younger son when he was off carousing, that's not at all what he needed to hear. He needed some hard knocks from the school of life, which is exactly what he got.

* I wonder if you've thought about the following question. All those years that you were being "religious" -- what was God doing? During that time you were seeking Him and wanting to please Him -- why did He wait so long to tell you to "just relax"? Why did He hold back? Would you treat your son like this (and God is a much better Father than we are!) What I'm suggesting is that God was doing more in your life through those 20 years than you seem to be giving Him credit for.

Sincerely in Christ

May 12, 2013 at 12:20 AM  

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