Warnings Unheeded; Illusions Maintained

Once there was a small rural school. It was in an idyllic setting, and all those involved with it loved it. The hundred or so students and half dozen teachers all greatly enjoyed life at this school. But lately one of the students was acting peculiar. He kept sounding the alarm about menacing things he had seen, but no one took him seriously.

He would claim to have seen scary looking men lurking in the shadows of the school’s perimeter. He claimed there were packs of wolves coming ever closer to the school. And he warned about a nearby river continuing to rise and become increasingly agitated.

Yet his fellow students and his teachers did not believe him, and often just made fun of him for his warnings. Needless to say this disbelief and apathy bothered him greatly, yet he persevered. And eventually a few more students began to share in his concerns.

They too started to see men in the shadows, wolves on the prowl, and the river getting more restless. So they also shared their concerns, but they too were met with scepticism and outright hostility. They certainly did not like all the hate and rejection they received, but they had seen with their own eyes these looming dangers.

A few did stop speaking out, for fear of losing all their friends, and becoming outcasts at the school. Yet several others, including the original boy, kept on sounding the alarm. Day in and day out they reported what they saw, and pleaded with everyone else to wake up and prepare for these dangers.

And sure enough, the day came where these evil men entered the school grounds and did horrible evil to students and teachers alike. The wolves also bounded into the school, killing many and causing great terror. And the raging river did indeed break its banks and swept away much of the school and many of those therein.

This horrific carnage absolutely devastated the entire community. And the tragedy was, they had been warned time and time again. Yet those sounding the alarm were simply ignored, dismissed as nutters, or condemned as trouble-makers.

Had people taken seriously their passionate warnings, perhaps all of these disasters could have been averted. But that was not the case, and the tremendous damage was done. The school never recovered, and it was never reopened. It was a day of infamy, remembered for years to come.

The Watchmen’s necessary but thankless task

The above story was my first ever attempt at fiction on this site, and given how poorly done it was, you will all be relieved to know that it will of course be my last (hey, I never claimed to be a fiction writer). So I will stick with my usual means of communication, yet I must admit to my frustrations here.

You see, I have written hundreds of pieces offering warnings about the disasters already upon us, or heading our way real soon. Yet they forever seem to fall on deaf ears. They are seldom taken seriously, and most folks (including most Christians) look upon them with disdain.

Of course I don’t really care what people think about me and my warnings. I can be, and often am, wrong. But often I am passing on the warnings of those far better placed and qualified than myself to sound such alarms. Yet even these experts and those who know what they are talking about are rejected and told to just shut up.

The warnings keep falling on deaf ears. Certainly much of the world dismisses such warnings, but so too does so much of the church. Things are just business as usual in churchland. Everyone just wants to keep doing their thing, ruffle no feathers, rattle no cages, and put no one off.

Speaking in a prophetic or watchman-like fashion is just not very popular today. But then again, it never was. God’s watchmen and prophets of long ago were also rejected, hated, vilified and ignored. The only popular prophets of course were the false prophets. They told the folks just what they wanted to hear, so of course they were quite popular.

But the true prophets told the people what God wanted them to hear, and most of God’s people were just not interested. They wanted to keep at their fun and games, and not be told of sin, the need for repentance, and judgment to come. They were not interested in the hard words of warning and rebuke back then, and they still aren’t today.

The church today, like Israel of old, has its ears closed and its eyes shut. It is not interested in hearing anything about all the horrific stuff going on all around us. They are not in the least interested in even discussing the things that are breaking God’s heart, things like the slaughter of the unborn, the war on marriage and family, the carnality, compromise and cowardice in our churches, and so on.

Far too many churchians and church leaders are like what the child said to his teacher when asked if we are too ignorant and indifferent today. He replied: “I don’t know and I don’t care.” That about sums up so much of churchianity today. We don’t want to know and we could not be bothered caring. We just want to be comfortable, secure, happy, awash with material goodies, and free of any contentious or vexatious issues and concerns.

The church of Jesus Christ today is largely asleep. Hell is breaking loose all around it, yet it simply retreats further into its cocoon. Heads are in the sand, and ears are closed to anyone sounding the alarm. Yet God in his grace will keep on sounding the alarm.

He will keep sending his watchmen. As we read in Isaiah 62:6-7: “I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.”

I am asked all the time: How can we get the church to wake up? I always reply, that is the million dollar question. I wish I knew how we could wake people up and snap them out of their world of illusion. That is why films like The Matrix at least provide a starting point in all this.

Even pagan film makers know that people can be living a lie, living in illusion. Although not Christians, the Wachowski brothers offered a lot of Christian themes in this film. Consider just one very small portion of dialogue here:

Morpheus: Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Neo: The Matrix.
Morpheus: Do you want to know what it is?
Neo: Yes.
Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.

Plenty of churchians as well as their worldling cousins are living in this prison. Their minds and hearts are behind bars, and their spiritual awareness is largely absent. So many Christians are absolutely fully at home in the world, and live and act as if the world is their home.

They are oblivious to the dangers all around us, the traps laying everywhere, and the hostile enemies everywhere seeking to destroy them. And most people prefer it that way. They prefer living in this dark and enclosed world. It is just so much easier.

Why am I so often reminded of Jeremiah 5:31: “The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?”

[1430 words]

22 Replies to “Warnings Unheeded; Illusions Maintained”

  1. Sad face… I like analogies and am reading The Pilgrim’s Progress and The Holy War to my family at the moment. Making serious things into a story aids the memory!

    Jo Deller

  2. At the risk of secularising the discussion, can I respectfully suggest that everyone reads (or re-reads): “1984” by George Orwell.

    Dunstan Hartley

  3. Bill,
    Do the “watchmen” escape the pending doom in your story? I like Jo’s remark about stories aiding our memories, though there is nothing like the truth to get us motivated to respond. I use to be wary of “watchmen” warnings after listening to people like Harold Camping falsely predict the end. I believe that some simply have “false-prophet fatigue”. And since I use to be in that number, I recognize, but no longer agree with, the desire to just have as good, quiet and decent a life as I can until whatever happens, happens. Please don’t despair… you have my full attention now.

    Bonnie Oskvarek, US

  4. Thanks Bonnie. Because I am not a story teller, I did not think through all the fine details of the story unfortunately!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  5. Bunyan’s stories were NOT literary masterpieces in my opinion but they convey ideas incredibly well.

    Jo Deller

  6. “Watchman, What of the night?” Isa 21:11[KJV] – a Biblical phrase which features in an excellent poem, “Advent” by Christina Rossetti.

    John Wigg

  7. Speaking of Bunyan, I’ve visited his tomb, but haven’t read any of his writings yet. Shame on me. 🙂

    Ross McPhee

  8. Bill, I can relate to your feelings of utter frustration at the ignorance and apathy of so many ‘churchians’. Years ago, my husband and I saw our formerly solid church descending into disaster via the ‘church growth’ movement, and the gradual infiltration of entertainment and the watering down of the gospel message. Our attempts to gently warn, and our appeals for discussion of the trend, fell on deaf ears. We gradually felt more and more alienated by the shocking lack of discernment, and ended up leaving to look for more solid ground. Today, that church seems to have totally lost its way – no salt, no light, a fully fledged part of the unbelieving world. Not long after we left, there was a mass exodus of members who finally – too late – understood what we were trying to warn them about.

    Jan Greig

  9. How to wake the church up… a bomb?
    I’m not serious but does make you wonder. And the watchman makes no friend either, as i said to one pastor a few years ago. He said to me, yes its easy to come in and say this and say that and get people worried but what good does it do?
    I said, its easy is it?

    Daniel Kempton

  10. The name of this disease is ‘worldliness’. Actually it’s the theme of the movie ‘The Truman Show’ – the Jim Carey character discovers that this is not the real world, but the critics totally missed it. So many Christians aren’t even aware of the life of prayer, let alone begun the journey.
    Nina Blondel

  11. Much better to ask “What if… ” than moan regretfully “If only… ”

    Arthur Hartwig

  12. Jo D, are you thinking of the word “allegory” rather than “analogy”?

    Dunstan Hartley 16.11.13 / 9pm:

    At the risk of secularising the discussion, can I respectfully suggest that everyone reads (or re-reads): “1984? by George Orwell.

    Dunstan, you are correct, we need to read and understand what the enemy is saying. The science fiction writers (Arthur C Clarke 2011 A Space Odyssey, Isaac Asimov Foundation and Robot series for example) give a clear picture of their vision for humanity, and it’s usually not pretty.

    John Angelico

  13. Bill, 4 years ago, God called me to be a watchman. I didn’t even know really what it was back then, but God sure has taught me! 🙂 Anyway, let me encourage you. Several weeks ago, I was praying and asked God if there were any other watchman out there in Australia and if so, could he lead me to them. That day, a mum mentioned your blog and told me to check it out. She had no idea of my conversation with God or that I had been called to be a watchman. I was very encouraged. Keep up the good work! http://heleadsmesharon.blogspot.com.au/

    Sharon Stay

  14. We must, methodically and patiently, continue to introduce people to Jesus Christ. Since all truth and lies have become relative in these days, nobody is listening to each other anymore. “We can take a horse to water, but we cannot make him drink.” It is humanly frustrating to do what you are doing, Bill. But, you may be changing one person at a time, without knowing who.

    Even if you bring only a few more people out of darkness, the angels in heaven will rejoice. But, we cannot change what the Bible has told us about the dark days coming ahead. It has to happen. We can only hope to plant a few seeds in this dark and dusty world, and leave God to do the rest. God Bless. And don’t give up!

    Monica Craver

  15. John–

    Analogy is
    .a comparison between one thing and another, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification.

    Allegory is
    a story, poem, or picture which can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.

    The writings of Bunyan are allegories but they contain analogies.

    Sorry to get off topic a bit…

    Jo Deller

  16. You’re not the first watchman to experience frustration Bill – I see enough evidence of that in the Scriptures alone, never mind anywhere else 🙂 There’s even an expression calling someone a “Jeremiah” because they are pronouncing doom all the time. Ironically, Jeremiah was exactly right. Duh! Jeremiah didn’t pronounce doom because he liked it, he pronounced doom because God told him to and didn’t leave him much choice – plenty of evidence of that in Jeremiah’s own book.

    Just keep announcing it Bill…

    John Symons

  17. I have know idea what it would take to galvanise Christians behind a cause. But i do know that without the motivation and encouragement of the pastor to support a cause, the people will remain dead in the pew.

    Michael Mercier

  18. Oh man… Bill, I can’t believe that I missed this post until now! I would have been all over it like a rash. Caught up in something else at the time no doubt.

    I loved The Matrix. Even thought the Wachowski brothers (actually now Larry is Lana, a transgender ‘sister’ to Andy the main writer of this series) borrowed from a number of religions to create the philosophical basis for Matrix, I still walked out of this and the subsequent movie sequels with a sense of awe at how well it depicts both the Christian duality of the spiritual world that we are made alive to in Christ and the physical world we inhabit and the war therein vs non-Christian who is just a physical pawn of the spiritual world, as well as the paradigm as you’ve described in your watchmen analogy where the Christian is either alive to the ever-present dangers of this world (and even those within Christian circles) or blithely and naively oblivious.

    (OT. I would have liked to have seen more emotive language and possibly a better development of the impending doom in your watchmen fiction, but I’m sure the inevitable pre-repentant attempt will be better, Bill).

    The way Wachowskis built the concept of a world within a world, where the powers of this present darkness have the codes and power to bend it to their will, at will; and only those who have their minds opened to reality by the ‘red pill’ see the truth of existence. Where it required faith to take the first and every subsequent step, and that there was a saviour who came to set all mankind free through love (unfortunately they wrapped it up in human love too, but hey that’s Hollywood), who was going to have to sacrifice himself.

    These and the other elements of the entire series are true for each allegory, it was so well woven. Of course the whole repeat thing that the ‘accountant’ refers to can either be seen as borrowing from reincarnation, or alternatively a type of Christ that is prevalent throughout the OT as well. I could go on (yeah so?… I’m a fan).

    But for me it revealed/reinforced a number of truths. That there are very few that are willing to accept reality even when it’s handed to them, that the majority of Christians are unwilling to accept the necessary sacrifice of their comfortable world especially if it means ‘upsetting’ someone else, the majority of church goers are club members only, and the greatest ‘truth’ of the Matrix is that very few are chosen and those that are will have to fight the good fight to the very end, in the knowledge that the majority just don’t get it.

    Garth Penglase

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