1Co 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
Isa 28:13 And the word of the LORD will be to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little, that they may go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.
In my three decades plus years as a pastor, I have experienced a particular phenomenon numbers of times. It took me quite a long time to sort it out and see it for what it really is. It is evil.
Let me explain. Listen to “Jack” as we will call him as he comes into my office. “Pastor, you are very difficult to talk to. You won’t listen to me. And I am not the only one in this church who feels this way.”
There it is. Jack would lay that same accusation on me in a hallway, at a social event at church, sometimes at an elder board meeting. But generally he would level this charge when I was the only person there besides himself.
Now, when you are young and you really want to serve the Lord, when you want to be humble and be a true shepherd of Christ’s people, you are open to examining yourself. To hearing criticism. But this can be taken way, way, way too far. In fact, this is what I was taught in seminary, in “Christian” books I read by supposedly experienced and godly people and so on. Always listen, they said. There is always, always, always something of truth in any criticism that comes against us. No matter who is saying it, you need to listen.
And so, I did. For years. And years. And years. Just like so many of you who have been targets of wicked, evil, domestic or other kinds of sociopathic abusers. We listened. And that was our problem. The result? Discouragement. Feeling like you just want to quit. Feeling like a failure.
It makes me angry at myself now when I think how foolish I was to listen to that garbage for so many years. But then, evil is quite deceptive, isn’t it?
Ultimately as the Lord “turned on the lights” in my mind (in the course of my study of domestic abusers hiding in the church), I realized what was really going on. YES! I WAS hard to talk to! At least it was hard for Jack. Why? Because I would not just obey him. I would not do what he said. There was still within me this dissonance between the words he spoke and how I felt about what he was saying in my spirit. That is to say, Jack was not able to control me like he wanted. And that is why he would regularly accuse me of being “hard to talk to.” What Jack really meant, let me translate, was – “Jeff, why won’t you just do what I tell you to do?”
Ultimately, as so often eventually happens, Jack’s real motive spilled out of his mouth. We had to deal with a wicked sin in our church that was very devastating. As I look back on it, I know we did what was right. But what we did was not what Jack had insisted we do (namely, feel empathy for the perpetrator and tell the victim to suck it up and get over it). And as is so typical in such situations in a church, some people (already alienated by Jack) left the church. At a subsequent meeting, Jack announced to me and the rest of our leadership team, “You never listen to me. You never do what I say. If you had only listened to me and done what I said, everything would be much better now.” Yeah, right, Jack. The victim would be further blamed and victimized and the perpetrator would be embraced and “forgiven.”
See it? Jack’s habitual accusation that I am difficult to talk to stemmed from several planks of Jack’s worldview rolling around in his head:
- Jack knows.
- Jack is more godly than anyone else
- Therefore, everyone must listen to and obey Jack
A “Jack-o-Centric” worldview, you see.
The righteous are indeed hard for the unrighteous to talk to. Our words are stinging to the wicked. The truths of Christ’s word that we proclaim expose the darkness of evil.
And the Jacks of this world hate us for it. Do not listen to their accusations.