Eight Woes 3: False Converts

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 17, 2020 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” ~Matthew 23:15

Right before Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave his disciples a command to go out to the entire world and make disciples of all peoples and of all nations. While many in the church have had no problem with this task, very few understand what exactly they are supposed to do with it. We are to make disciples, followers, and students of Christ, not a particular church group or denomination or teaching.

God installed the children of Israel to be His people through whom the Messiah would come and to give His message to the whole world. That was their job. Yet they missed it. They thought they were special, and that God only dealt with them. While at it, they’d let the rest of the world burn. They saw any outsider as someone undeserving of the truth. But any time someone wanted to join them, they insisted on that outsider adhering to their standards, which often included circumcision. The entire council of Acts 15 was to address this very issue.

Paul had a different approach. He didn’t care if anyone followed him or not. He just cared that Christ was preached. He even allowed those who preached Christ with wrong motives to speak because Christ was being preached. But if anyone preached a message that didn’t lead to Christ or revealed something other than Christ, he showed his “dark side.” Sometimes he got in the flesh and did not respond correctly, but he never minced words against those who preached a false message.

Jesus was likewise incensed with the Pharisees and scribes. They had the truth because they had the Scripture, but they missed the whole point of it. They made it all about them and getting people to believe their model, their teachings, and their traditions. If they found any potential convert, they went all out to get that convert to join them. Yet, because it was about their religious tradition rather than the truth which leads to Christ, they didn’t make any disciples; they just turned a sheep into another wolf.

In my family, I have seen the attempts of this woe in action. My parents are being actively recruited into the Mormon church by another family member. They aren’t buying it, but it is what Jesus is addressing here. That family member was himself recruited into the Mormon church and they went out of their way to see that the conversion was made. It worked for that one family member, but fortunately it’s not working on my parents.

But what about us? How are we making converts? Are we so concerned that people believe what we believe that we miss the point of why we believe it? Again, being such an intellectually-driven type of person, I see the susceptibility to this issue. I write about origins often in part because of how well it showcases the issues we face. Yet, I find myself so focused on getting the origins part right, that I can miss the point of getting origins right: to reveal Christ. There is no point in believing in a 6-day creation taking place 6000 years ago, only for it to be wrecked up by a global flood 4400 years ago, without taking it all to its logical conclusion: Christ and the cross. Yet it is easy to fall into the trap of getting people into believing the Bible on Genesis without getting them to Whom the Bible reveals.

In martial arts circles, there is a general saying: “There is no such thing as a bad student, only a bad teacher.” There is actually a lot of truth to this. Why students are responsible for their actions, when they misbehave it is often because a teacher or authority figure either teaches them to do so or lets them do so. As a teacher myself (officially for about a year now), I have been realizing how true this is. I have students who are lazy, refuse to do their work when I tell them to do it, but scramble to pull it off at the last minute to save their grades and pass. Some of that is on me as I am truly learning what the trade of teaching requires. I know my content, but I am learning the process of how to get students who have those characteristics to break those habits and become good students. If I do not figure it out, am I turning out students who are truly educated or students who just get through the system and never actually learned anything? It’s one thing to teach a Bible study or write a blog post, but to teach 170+ high school students is another matter. Am I going to be the teacher these students need to break out of the spirit of poverty my school has? Or am I going to blame the students and those around me, contributing to the problem?

When we go teach others (and we all do teach someone in some way, shape, or form), what kind of students are we producing? What is our fruit? Is a person growing closer to Christ because they’ve been with us, or are they running away and hardened from their time with us? I’ve produced both. And in the future, I will still produce both. But may those being brought closer to Christ be more numerous and more common than those being chased until the latter is removed completely. What will each person say about us in the end? Who will be able to say, “I met Christ because of Charlie Wolcott”? Or will they say “I wanted to know about Christ, but Charlie Wolcott showed me something I didn’t like”? Now, each person is going to be held responsible for how they handle the truth, but I am responsible for how I say it. My tongue is sometimes a source of life and other times it is a source of death. And Jesus does not like the mixture. I want those who listen to me to be zealous for the truth, but it is not good if I turn them into witch-hunters in the process, searching for every possible flaw in others for the purpose of searching for flaws. I do not believe I am doing that, but I can see how someone might become a “two-fold son of Hell” if they follow part of me too closely. If they imitate me as I imitate Christ, they will be just fine, but I must imitate Christ by allowing Him to imitate Himself through me. That requires dying to self.

How are we doing in our self-examination? Hang in there with me, because there is a message of hope in all this. Jesus never gave a message of judgment without a warning or a hope. But for the hope to mean anything, we must recognize the bad news and face it. Then we can receive the good news.

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