Everyone knows there’s a ditch on both sides of the road.
And most everybody thinks they have avoided the ditches. But have you ever suddenly (or haltingly) discovered you were living in a ditch?
Ditches are there for a reason. Think about it. (And it’s really not to collect cars!)
Ditches serve to channel away excess.
This is exactly what will take your car (and life) to the ditch as well. When there is excess water, ice, or snow on the road….that’s when people find their cars very susceptible to being drawn to the ditch!
Many doctrinal heresies are born in periods of true spiritual outpouring and revival. Of course, others are born to justify non-revival. I’m tempted to name a few in each of these categories. But then that might reveal which ditch I’m in. And something in me wants to avoid personal ditch-detection. (It’s always the “other guys” who are in the ditch. Right?)
Actually, the human brain is very crafty and able to contort the scriptures to promote our views and avoid detecting our own ditches. After all, a brand new ditch doesn’t even feel or look like a ditch…at first. It’s seems so much better than being stuck where we were before that we somehow fail to realize where we’ve now become landed. God help us.
Many years ago I heard a preacher (Jack Taylor) say, “Truth and heresy live next door.” I don’t think that I fully appreciated the comment at the time. I had not lived long enough or experienced enough change and growth to discern it. But I certainly see the wisdom in the quote now.
Let me illustrate this using my earlier metaphor. Often when someone driving on ice realizes they are being pulled toward a ditch they over-compensate. This might include jerking the steering in the opposite direction or else applying the brakes too quickly. In both cases the car will often spin or slide out of control – usually toward the opposite ditch!
There’s nothing like the freedom and euphoria one enjoys when after believing a lie or “half-truth” for a long time, they are suddenly brought out into the bright light of the fullness of truth (in the middle of God’s highway).
Often when these things happen, we wonder how we missed this amazing reality for so long! Sometimes we wrestle with resentment towards those who failed to teach us correctly in the past. Or we resent those around us who not only have not seen or experienced the freedom we’ve found but who more or less actively oppose it (and apparently us)!
In many occasions, after a personal/spiritual breakthrough, we find two realities at work:
A. There is a new freedom and momentum in our spiritual lives.
B. There is new opposition from those who fear or resent our freedom.
And here’s where a real danger creeps in:
A + B = C: Where C = the likelihood that the momentum we’ve gained by escaping from the old ditch will move us clear past the middle into the other ditch!
Again, this reality has been played out in most (if not all) major spiritual revivals in church history. When God begins to restore His people to some forgotten or rejected truth(s) from the Scriptures, there is usually a fire fight and when the smoke clears some people have either been rejected and kicked out of the main group or else they have chosen to reject the main group and left on their own (in protest)! After the cleavage there is inevitably a season of consolidating and promoting the new “distinctives”. After a while the new distinctives usually become a new ditch. Inevitably people will often experience a new type of bondage there.
Study the major revival and restoration movements in church history. And you will see how this plays out. In the next post I will get more personal and tell how I’ve escaped some ditches only to find new ones. Who knows, maybe we will all discover something in the process.