The Line of Despair

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I try to balance my posts between God stuff and other stuff. But, because of my passion to speak truth into people’s lives (including my own), God stuff tends to win. For me, all roads lead to God, not to Rome. Nevertheless…

Modern culture is taking the road to ancient Rome, toward two progressive beliefs: pantheism (everything is divine) and paganism (design your own god), leading to the conclusion that: Life is a BYOG (bring your own god) party, and no belief system is any more valid than any other. The cultural milestones on this road (see ancient Rome) look like this:

  1. Previously, we allowed diversity; now we celebrate it, affirming that all beliefs are equally valid.
  2. In doing so, we lose our former understanding of the distinction between rights and truths, i.e. that the right to believe something does not make it true.
  3. We denounce “exclusionists” who disagree with this revised definition of diversity, labelling them judgmental and intolerant, and take steps toward (ironically) excluding them from public discourse.
  4. The jaded intelligentsia, perceiving that if everything is true, then nothing is true, reject all beliefs, crossing what philosopher Francis Schaeffer called “the line of despair.” Or, as one humorist puts it, “Zero times a dozen donuts equals zero donuts. What happened to my donuts?!”

Life without truth is not freedom. It’s despair.

Pontius Pilate, the governor of ancient Judaea, had jettisoned, as had the Roman masses, any innate sense of how to discern truth from lies (the God-given yardstick Jesus called “righteousness”). “What is truth?” he asked Jesus. It was a rhetorical question–Pilate did not believe there was an answer.

He’d crossed the line of despair.

But there is a way out (which, according to some ancient writers, including Augustine and Eusebius, Pilate eventually took). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). “When you abide in my word [when you “live” there], you are truly my disciples [shaped by Jesus]. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Matthew 6:33)

Our world isn’t ready for the exclusivity of Jesus’s words. But, like Pilate, they need them all the more. They need to see truth in action. Need to see what real disciples—people shaped by Jesus—look like. They need to see that they can be free, that there is a way back from the line of despair. Not everything is true, but something is. Someone is.

And that Someone is still setting people free. 

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to The Line of Despair

  1. Excellent read my friend. I encounter people daily who need to know that Jesus loves them and that He died for them so that they might experience life. You’re right, it seems like we’re on the road where everything is God or God can be anything. Yet, God, by definition, defines Himself. It’s not for us to shape and mold Him according to our own affections but rather to be shaped and molded by Him for His purpose and His glory.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. This is an important message, one that as desperately needs to be heard in our churches as it does outside of them. Thank you for writing about it! Where does the donut quote come from? I love it!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Amen, Mitch! Well said. I chuckled because I also try to find some balance and not write exclusively about “God stuff.” The problem being, it’s all God’s stuff! I simply can’t compartmentalize myself like a filing system or something. I’d like to, I have a fondness for tupperware and closet organizers and pockets, but alas, people just don’t work like that. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • laronda65 says:

      I fear I’ve done this with my blog. Of course, I’m a Christian, and I want to encourage other Christians; but sometimes I feel like I have to write little sermons! But I see God except in so many things! And sometimes I just want to write about simple kindness, which IS Godly, but is also pretty universal. This has given me an appreciation for anyone who can find that balance. 😉

      Like

  4. Excellent read, thx Mitch. Truth ultimately divides, nonetheless it is only the truth that will set men and women truly free indeed. Thank God for the light of His truth!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. TEP336 says:

    The thing that comes to mind is the fact that the Gospel is offensive. It well and truly angers the flesh, and it deeply bothers people because of it. This has led a great many people to compromise on the Truth, which in turn has allowed people to develop the idea that Christianity is just like any other religion. When that happens, no one worries about the fact that Jesus died to save us from the Father’s cup of wrath. They don’t worry about our righteous deeds being as filthy rags before the Lord. They simply focus on gaining Salvation by works, and get mad when people tell them that isn’t the way it works. This is, I think one of the most effective tactics Satan has ever used. It effectively lulls people into a false sense of security, which in turn makes them complacent. We need to fight that.

    Liked by 3 people

    • laronda65 says:

      I agree with the danger of complacency. I’ve been guilty of wasting my Christianity and being content with my Get Out Of Hell Free card. I’m sure it made Christ shake his head sadly and think, “ This? This is all you want?” (Was never thought of this until now. I could just cry!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • TEP336 says:

        I did the same. I walked away when I was 16, and came back when I was 37. I was the definition of lukewarm. Now, I rejoice in that I get to study, learn, and share all that the Lord is teaching me! It’s so amazing.

        Liked by 2 people

      • laronda65 says:

        What a great way to be “just like your Father!” 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • TEP336 says:

        Amen to that. I’ve spent the last few years learning from Him. His Word, His guidance, and all I try to do is teach my wife and kids, and write about it on my blog. This isn’t what I once thought my life would be like, and I’m glad I let Him chart my course.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. numrhood says:

    john 39:00
    matthew 6:08

    Liked by 1 person

  7. laronda65 says:

    The fluidity of truth today is so important to discuss with our children. As Christians, we need to hold each other accountable, too. It’s far too easy to move the boundaries of reality today! I wrote a post about my take on this:

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mitch, never stop writing about the God stuff. You do it so well – speaking truth clearly and concisely yet keeping the door open to being in dialog with those who may disagree. That is so sorely needed, and unless it is there, nothing changes.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Lately it has seemed to be create your own God ( and he/she thinks like me) rather than byog.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Mitch, I attended 12 step programs for years. They go by the standard “a God of your choosing”. My God is the Father of Jesus Christ. But eventually it became to upsetting to attend regualr 12 step meeting because everyone would share contradictory “truths” about THEIR God. “my God allows this” “My God doesn’t mind that”. I called it create a God. Anyone could share about their God as long as it wasn’t Jesus or Christian based. It became intolerable in my spirit to remain.

    I also heard that one of the presidential candidates believes born again Christians should not hold office. I am wondering if the persecution that we see in other countries will come to the U.S. soil. Then we will know the truth about whether we stand up for our beliefs or not.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Bill Sweeney says:

    Great stuff, Mitch! I want truth with a donut and coffee 🙂 Seriously, those who claim that there is no truth are essentially admitting it’s an argument they can’t win.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. David Pettus says:

    Excellent stuff. It’s interesting seeing the parallels pertaining to truth between the Roman empire and our own culture. Another culture with similar parallels was Weimar Germany. That didn’t end well and I pray we avoid a similar fate.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. A very thought-provoking post. I first encountered this extreme relativism in grad school with deconstructionism. My question was, If you can deconstruct every text I read into meaninglessness, oh, literary theorist, then why should I read what you’ve written, since it, too, is meaningless?

    Liked by 3 people

  14. lovesmystery says:

    Such a powerful message. Amen.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Eva Ngelista says:

    Amen!
    This is my absolute favourite of your posts ever since I started reading your “God stuff” a lot and sometimes even your “world stuff”, which I don’t normally do…
    Even though I tend to not be too interested in your worldly posts and even though I sometimes think that this mixture doesn’t go very well together (just like living in the world and in the kingdom doesn’t), I believe that it’s mainly the worldly stuff or at least the mixture which lets so many people follow your blog.
    And this is not meant to be a criticism of your writing skills, I just noticed that none of the blogs which seem to be purely Christian (and we may not agree on which they are) seem to be able to attract a very large crowd of followers- like your blog does.
    Even more so do I really love this and I am glad when you post about GOD and especially about truth, because it will go out to thousands of followers from all sides, not just from the “God side” – followers whom we who “only” post about GOD will most likely never reach…
    This makes you a true Evangelist and much more successful than many others (including me so far 😉).
    Well done!
    Congratulations and GOD bless you!
    Eva Ngelista

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      Aw, thank you, Eva. The above approach is quite calculated, of course. Although I do genuinely enjoy writing about certain subjects that are neither secular nor spiritual by nature: memoir posts (see today’s), humorous incidents, “how tos,” etc. Blessings, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Ann Coleman says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Great premise, Mitch. As the Road led to God the Romans felt that they were the Capitol of God, and using Jesus as their “savior”. History has proven that man has turned any concept into a pagan event. You have shared some great stuff. I prefer to your choosing God Stuff over other stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Yes, there is a huge difference between tolerating other opinions and the postmodern notion that there is no such thing as truth anyway.

    I still celebrate diversity of opinion to a modest degree.  Conflicting opinions are sometimes different oversimplifications of a complex reality.  It’s not that everybody is equally right.  It’s that everybody is partly wrong in their own way, and trying to be completely right but workably concise is a tough job.  Canonical example: wave/particle duality in physics.

    But 3+2 is still 5.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This is a powerful post, Mitch. You’ve summed up the thinking patterns of our culture right now. Thank you for always pointing people to Jesus, the Way and the Truth!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. smzang says:

    “Life without truth is not freedom. It’s despair.”
    “Not everything is true, but something is. Someone is.
    And that Someone is still setting people free. ”

    super navigational aids!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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