I saw a series of posts on another person’s note this morning that reminded me about something I had wanted to write after hearing a song on the radio called “Madness” by Muse. The note was on the doctrine “once saved, always saved” and someone who disagreed with the note’s author saw fit to behave in an unseemly manner, accusing the author of judging him. The man who disagreed became nasty to the point of being profane in his postings, not to mention disrespectful. It’s an all-too-familiar scene in today’s church: people are in love with their own opinions, if you disagree with them on something, that means somehow you are judging them, and that also means a nice, long debate will ensue. Someone will stop following or attending your ministry, and it all boils down to two little words: MADNESS and CONTROL. We think that we have the right to argue with anything we dislike and either hate it and receive the person or receive what the person has to offer and hate them.
In the song “Madness” by Muse (which was the original starting point of this blog), the question is posed: is this love or is this madness? Yes, the guy in the song is singing about a relationship with a girl, but are our relationships with people in church – and our relationship to the church – that different? Wanting to be seen, noticed, the center of attention, get our opinions in, behaving selfishly; hanging around with, giving our money to, the ones we perceive to be the ‘cool’ kids…is this not Junior High with Bibles? Every one of us walks around with a memory of something that happened in connection with our faith, of something someone else did to us, or we are just encountering so much in church we are full to overflowing – and now with an overflowing cup – that makes us realize this is not love, as God told us to walk in, but it’s some kind of madness taking control. People do not love…they are fickle. They want what they want when they want it and when it’s gone, you – and your ministry – can go, too.
Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-mad-madness! How long is it going to take you to figure it out, like it took the guy in the song?
Recently I completed a book on early church history based on a course I did a couple of years ago for a Bible institute. In the course, we cover the history of the early church through documents, both canonical and non-canonical, to gain a perspective on what the church was facing, feeling, thinking, processing, and dealing with. One such document included is the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas (and no, the purpose of this is not to have a long-winded discourse on what is right or wrong with it – it just helped me to see and realize something). When I was editing through, I came across the following verse, and something clicked: His disciples said to him, “Who are You, that You should say these things to us?” <Jesus said to them,> “You do not realize who I am from what I say to you, but you have become like the Jews, for they (either) love the tree and hate its fruit or love the fruit and hate the tree.” – The Gospel of Thomas, Verse 45 Ahhhh….the essence of madness!! The first part of the passage: We do things that don’t make sense, and then we want to know who someone is to call us on them? Note this passage cites the disciples as coming to Jesus and wanting to know Who He is, that He should be saying such things! And yes, this type of thing happened in the Bible, too! When Jesus was talking to the woman at the well in John 4, the disciples all wanted to know why Jesus was talking to her! There are numerous examples where the people who followed Jesus – ate with Him, talked with Him, sat at His feet, walked with Him, heard His teaching – STILL felt they had the right to question Him and what He commanded them to do. The essence of madness starts because we feel we have some sort of inherent right to challenge God on His guidelines and yes, His leadership, to us. We feel that our opinion should supersede whatever God says and that means we spend a lot of time arguing and mad. We think the Kingdom of God should be a democracy, when it’s not. The Kingdom is a Theocracy, whereby God rules us directly, and His five-fold ministry governs us via his revelation. You are entitled to hold any opinion you like, but if it doesn’t line up with what God teaches, you are going to find yourself in a state of madness.
The second part of the passage: How many of us, in our state of madness, “love the tree and hate its fruit” or “love the fruit and hate the tree?” Let me break it down for everyone: We either love the vessel (whether it’s a leader or someone close to us or something) to the point of idolatry (we hate what they do, we recognize the product of their ministries/lives are not good or fruitful) or we love the fruit (the good things coming from the ministry/life) but we hate the vessel (we don’t like the truth they present, we don’t want to take care of the individual, we just want to reap whatever it is they have for ourselves). We either want to be in control (loving the fruit but rejecting the vessel) or we want someone else to be controlling us as we turn a blind eye to reality (loving the vessel but hating the fruit).
When I saw the posts on another’s note, when I heard the song on the radio, when I look around at the people who claim to be Jesus’ disciples today, all I can do is shake my head and see endless, line upon line of madness surrounding me. We are called to love one another as we love ourselves, honor and respect leadership, not reject the words God speaks through His leadership, and conduct ourselves in a way that lets the world know we are, have, be, embrace something different than it does. We’re sitting around, telling God where it’s at, dictating what we want, demanding it of people, and acting worse than the world. We need to stop the madness of disrespect, disregard for God, and disregard for leadership before we arise even more sin for ourselves.
The guy in the song had a revelation – he saw the light, he figured out what he needed – the answer was he needed to love. Not question God further, not argue with leaders, not spend another day on Facebook going from leader to leader, looking for the word du jour that can puff you up. Love. Love God in the way you claim that you do, for real. Love your neighbor, which we’ve all but forgotten about. Love shows itself; it’s not just something you say to sound good at the end of your letters and emails. Receive truth. Truth doesn’t always feel good, it’s not always easy to accept, and it’s not always going to make you happy, at least initially. I think we all struggle with acceptance of some things, but there should reach a point when we shut up and stop trying to outdo and out-perform God’s precepts. Instead of just accepting God in your life, walk with Him to the point where you stop the madness. Your life with God doesn’t end at an altar call…you’re a part of something eternal now (as Apostle Tim Hopkins defines the Christian experience), remember? Something that never ends and was not created to be a never-ending walk of insanity and madness. He already came and rescued you…and the rest is up to you. Take your revelation from this…stop being too headstrong…and stop the ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-mad-madness! Selah.
(c) 2014 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.
Madness by Muse
I, I can’t get these memories out of my mind,
And some kind of madness has started to evolve.
And I, I tried so hard to let you go,
But some kind of madness is swallowing me whole, yeah
I have finally seen the light,
And I have finally realized
What you mean.
Ooh oh oh
And now I need to know is this real love,
Or is it just madness keeping us afloat?
And when I look back at all the crazy fights we had,
Like some kind of madness was taking control, yeah
And now I have finally seen the light,
And I have finally realized
What you need.
But now I have finally seen the end (finally seen the end)
And I’m not expecting you to care (expecting you to care)
But I have finally seen the light (finally seen the light)
I have finally realized (realized)
I need to love
I need to love
Come to me
Just in a dream.
Come on and rescue me.
Yes I know, I can be wrong,
Maybe I’m too headstrong.
Our love is