How can someone open the door to the knock of any voice claiming to be Jesus? Why is it so easy for people to listen to another Jesus? How can a person so readily follow this Jesus?
Well, what if this Jesus appealed to you in the following way. . . wouldn't you be tempted to open the door to him?
Jesus is a soft, fluffy, comfortable Jesus who is your best friend. He is always there to share the burden of your troubles, wipe away your tears, give you peace, and keep you feeling warm and comfortable inside. To experience the presence of Jesus you need to do things such as remember him, whisper his name, trust him, and turn to him when you are in need.(RUN! p. 70)It seems that millions of people are now listening to this "soft, fluffy" Jesus. If it is so comforting to listen to this comfy Jesus, it explains how easily people will follow an imposter Christ, an anti-Christ who appears at their door wearing "warm and comfortable" sheep's clothing (Luke 21:8; Matt. 7:5).
Our friend Warren B. Smith first sounded the alarm about the Jesus who speaks in Sarah Young's book(s) Jesus Calling. He knows what he is talking about; when he was a New Ager Smith followed the Jesus whose words are recorded in A Course In Miracles. Smith published his concerns about Young's Jesus in his book Another Jesus Calling: How False Christs are Entering the Church Through Contemplative Prayer. We ran several posts reviewing Smith's concerns (HERE and HERE).
Recently, we learned of another book examining Sarah Young's Jesus and his words. It is titled Run! It's Jesus Calling and it is authored by Pastor Steve Hudgik. This book is an excellent critical commentary on Jesus Calling, examining the words of Sarah Young's Jesus from the perspective of Scripture. Pastor Hudgik's book does a very good job of helping the reader to gain discernment skills, teaching the reader how to distinguish the voice of Jesus in Scripture.
Pastor Hudgik noticed something very interesting about the effect that Sarah Young's Jesus was having on people:
Earlier this year I was talking about Jesus Calling with a woman named Beth. We talked about the many problems with Jesus Calling, and then she said, "But, Jesus Calling has been so helpful to me. It helped me get through a very difficult time in my life." No matter what I said, she was not going to give up reading Jesus Calling.(RUN! p. 43)What is going on here? Why is this woman clinging so desperately to the Jesus of Jesus Calling?
Chapter 10 of Pastor Hudgik's book analyzes what happens to a person once the door is opened and Sarah Young's Jesus starts talking. He has given us permission to reproduce it in its entirety:
Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. - Acts 17:11
Anytime someone has questioned me about Jesus Calling, I'd ask then to pick a day... any day. We'd then turn to the devotion for that day, and read it and the scripture references. Then we'd talk about what we read... not about the feelings it created, but what the devotion for that day actually said. In every case, no matter what day was randomly selected, the message was not a Biblical message. We’ll do that beginning in the next chapter. But, before we look at a specific Jesus Calling devotion, we need to recognize an important characteristic of Jesus Calling:
Jesus Calling devotions typically have few specifics.
Let's play a game. For ten points can you identify which day in Jesus Calling this quote is from?
"There is only so much you can accomplish in a day. Set your priorities and work methodically to finish what you start. Doing too much for too many will lead to disappointment."If you've read any of the Jesus Calling devotions this quote will sound familiar. But you may be having trouble recalling the specific date. Don’t bother looking. The correct date is September 3, 2015... and it’s from the astrology section of the daily newspaper (The Republican, Springfield, MA, September 3, 2015).
The Jesus Calling devotions are similar in many respects to horoscopes. Or, as my friend Wendi said, “They are like fortune cookies.” They are worded in a way that is open to multiple interpretations. For example:
- If you are a conservative Christian, when you read Jesus Calling you will find that it is teaching conservative Christian principles. You will be reading into the devotion your understanding of scripture.
- If you are a liberal Christian, when you read Jesus Calling you will find that it is teaching progressive Christian principles. You will be reading into the devotion your understanding of scripture.
- The same thing applies to people who think they are Christian, but actually they are not. They will see their humanistic beliefs reflected in Jesus Calling.
But, if you stop and think about what you are reading, taking it as literally as you do when reading a newspaper, what you’ll typically get is a very different message than what you originally thought.
Here's what's going on: The Jesus Calling devotions are written as though they are speaking to your intellect... they seem to be providing practical advice from Jesus. But, that is deceptive. There’s the ol’ switcheroo going on here. You think you are getting knowledge, but what you are actually getting is a boost to your self-esteem and a lot of good feelings. That’s the deception. These devotions seem like they are speaking to your intellect, but they are actually speaking to your emotions.
That's why Jesus Calling is wildly popular with women, but men show limited interest. Women love Jesus Calling, and are loath to give it up because it speaks to their emotions in a way that makes them feel good.
BUT... is this why Jesus came? To make us feel good? Is this the message Jesus brings in scripture, one that makes us feel good about ourselves? No, that is not the purpose of God’s word. Jesus brings truth... the truth Jesus brings is the gospel of salvation. For those who believe Jesus, the gospel brings great joy. A joy that can never be taken away by your circumstances. Joy that never ends.
For non-believers the truth Jesus brings sometimes results in anger and hatred. We saw this during Jesus' day. He was hated and despised by those who rejected Him, to the point that they crucified Him even though he was innocent. In His entire life He had never done anything wrong, yet He was crucified. His enemies thought crucifixion was the end... they had done away with this disturbing rabbi. But the cross was not the end, it was the beginning.
What was Jesus' message? What is the truth we all need to know? We've broken God's laws. Our conscience tells us this is true.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, - Romans 3:23That means we have earned the penalty all law-breakers earn... eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). But, 2000 years ago on the cross Jesus (God) paid the penalty we've earned in full. He died so that you can live. If you repent (turn away from law-breaking and turn toward obeying God), and trust that Jesus really did fully pay your penalty for sin... you are saved. You are saved from the wrath of God and you now have eternal life.
If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. - 1 John 1:10
This is the truth Jesus preached. It is not an appeal to our emotions. It is not told just to make us feel good about ourselves. It is a factual statement giving us knowledge about the problem we all have (sin), and what God has done to save us from the consequences of sin.
This IS the reason God came to earth 2000 years ago.
But, God does not force you to do something you don't want to do. You can either believe it and be saved, or reject it and pay the penalty you've earned for sin.
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. - Luke 19:10For those who turn away from Jesus this is dreadfully bad news that brings no joy. For those who are trusting in Jesus Christ, this is the best news possible, and they are filled with joy.
The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. - Matthew 20:28
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. - Galatians 5:22-23Yes, there is great peace and joy in the gospel. But, Jesus' message is not about the joy it brings, it is not about emotion. It is ALL about solving the problem of sin. God's perfect creation was marred by sin (Genesis 3). The Bible is about God's restoration of His creation to perfection. Everything God has told us in scripture has been about sin and what God has done about it—praise and all glory be to God!
So that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. - 1 Peter 1:7-9Jesus Calling never talks about the inexpressible joy we have as a result of trusting Jesus Christ as our savior. Jesus Calling never mentions the problem we ALL have: sin... and the result: eternal punishment in hell. Jesus Calling never mentions what we need to do to be saved from hell: trust that Jesus paid our penalty for breaking God’s laws (sin).
On the other hand, the real Jesus talks about hell twice as much as He talks about heaven. He talks about our being broken (sin) and tells us that it is only through Him that we can have restoration... it is only Jesus who gives salvation from the wrath of God. That is the important message God wants to communicate to us... we are broken sinners in need of a Savior. That is NOT what Jesus Calling is about.
Jesus Calling presents a very different Jesus from the Jesus of the Bible. The message in Jesus Calling in not the message the true Jesus brings to us… it is a fuzzy, nebulous message that speaks to your emotions. The Jesus of Jesus Calling is a Jesus who doesn't truly care about you… He doesn’t care about your salvation… He doesn’t care that you won’t be with Him for eternity. The Jesus of Jesus Calling just wants you to feel good as you head to eternity in hell under God’s wrath.
THIS IS NOT THE TRUE JESUS!
Pastor Steve Hudgik's book RUN! It's Jesus Calling can be purchased on Amazon. Here is the direct link: http://www.amazon.com/RUN-Its-Jesus-Calling-Should/dp/1517766869.