The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

How to Avoid Witnessing Burnout

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Why do people end up in Hell? According to God, landing in Hell is a just punishment for willfully rejecting God’s truth. Notice that God says it is a JUST punishment. A just punishment is a fair punishment. God says He is a just God, which means He does not hand out unfair punishments. According to God, NO ONE ends up in Hell by accident or because they were never told the truth. Hell is always a choice. We willfully, knowingly, intentionally choose to defy our Creators—that is the ONLY reason that God throws us into Hell. Sounds reasonable, right? It is very reasonable. It’s also very simple. But it stops being simple when you go to church, because at church, we’re rarely taught what God actually says. Instead, we hear words that people have put in God’s mouth for Him—words which He has never said and words which He completely disagrees with.

So then, why do people end up in Hell? According to many pastors and teachers in the Church, people end up in Hell because YOU failed to tell them the truth. YOU failed to care and share the Good News with them because YOU are a selfish, naughty Christian. According to many leaders in the Church, God is going to blame YOU if your family member or friend or coworker lands in that lake of fire because YOU didn’t try hard enough to tell them the truth. When you listen to lying leaders, you start feeling this enormous burden pressing down on your shoulders. It’s like a big block of cement that’s composed of guilt and fear, and boy is it heavy. It’s because you feel this thing always pressing down on you that you feel compelled to engage with every God-hating heckler who gets in your face and starts demanding that you defend your beliefs. In reality, these people aren’t searching for truth, they just want to get a rise out of you. And you are such an easy target because you think it’s your Christian duty to answer every question they come up with. By the time they finish running you around in a million circles and twisting everything you say, you feel embarrassed and defeated. You feel like a bad Christian because you couldn’t soften the heart of some hardcore rebel. Here you’re the one who really cares about God, but you’re the one feeling all tormented while the ones who argued with you go off laughing at your expense. What’s wrong with this picture? You’ve been led astray by lying leaders in the Church. You think God wants something from you that He doesn’t want. You’re trying to give Him something that you don’t possess. It’s time for you to get off the hamster wheel and stop running yourself ragged with these useless conversations with people who just want to argue. In this post, we’ll teach you how to protect yourself from witnessing burnout.

RULE #1: UNDERSTAND THE MECHANICS.

The trouble starts with you not understanding how the illumination process really works. Let’s use an everyday metaphor. Suppose you’re holding a bottle of milk and you want to put it into your refrigerator. What are the steps? Open the door, and put it in. Two steps, very simple. Okay, now let’s see you get it down to just one step—just put the milk into the fridge without opening the door. Go on and try it. What happens? Ouch happens. You ram your fist into a very hard wall of metal. There’s no way you’re getting that milk inside unless someone opens that door first. In the same way, there’s no way you’re going to get someone to hear the truth in what you’re saying about God unless someone opens a door in their minds first. Here’s the important bit: as a human, you have no access to that door. It’s totally out of bounds for you. The Holy Spirit is the only One who can cause people to become receptive to His truth. Unless He opens a door, you’re just going to be ramming your hand into a metal wall.

Now once you understand that God must open a door before anything can happen, you realize how stupid it is to try and act apart from Him. Why on earth would you go around telling everyone you meet about Jesus? Do you like pain? Do you enjoy ramming your hand into metal? Most of the people you meet in life are NOT in a receptive state of mind the moment you are interacting with them. How do we know this? Jesus told us. Most people reject God. Most people choose Hell. So since God Himself has told us that only a minority of the population is ever going to be interested in really hearing the truth, why do we find ourselves surrounded by leaders in the Church who scoff at us if we say we’re going to wait on God before we speak? Because our leaders are idiots, and they are also rebelling against God. Anyone who tells you to put milk into a fridge without opening the door is an obvious fool. And anyone who tells you to blunder ahead in a conversation about God without first waiting for a clear leading from Him is also a fool. God has to open that door or the whole thing is going to be a total waste of time.

So when does God open doors for us? When He’s darn good and ready. Does God open doors because we’re pounding on them? No. The Holy Spirit will NOT be led by you. If you want to strike up a conversation about Jesus without Him, go ahead. He will take delight in making all of your words clang around like meaningless noise in someone’s head. In the Church we’re taught that God is so desperate to save people that He’ll leap on any opportunity WE create for Him. What a crock. First of all, the Creator of all things doesn’t get desperate. Second, God does NOT take orders from us.

When you get to Heaven, God isn’t going to evaluate you by how many times you shared the Gospel. He’s going to evaluate you by how well you obeyed Him on earth, and that means how well you FOLLOWED the convictions He gave you. You see, God does the leading, we do the following. He is the One handing out the convictions of when to act and when to wait. But in the Church, this is turned all backwards. You’re taught that it’s YOUR job to convict God, that’s why you sit around pleading for Him to save people. So…really?? You’re telling GOD who to save? You’re actually trying to give instruction to your King? It’s time to put our little thrones away and remember that we are merely servants. Good servants do not direct their Master about. We should not be telling God who to save, who to witness to, or anything else. Instead of constantly instructing God, we should be asking Him to instruct us. Instead of constantly pretending we’re wiser than He is, we should be acknowledging that we are blind fools and gratefully cherish any wisdom He offers us. It is NOT on you to save people. God doesn’t want you taking that burden on because it’s way too big for you. We won’t see the day that God abandons some soul to Hell because some dot of a human fell down in his job. God doesn’t let other humans shipwreck our eternal futures with Him. God is the One who opens our minds to truth, and God is the One who then judges us by how we responded to what HE told us.

So if God is so efficient at illuminating souls with truth—which He is—then why does He need you? HE DOESN’T. The whole idea that God needs us to help Him spread the light in this world is nothing more than egotistical dreaming. We humans are always trying to pretend we’re far more critical to God’s work than we are. If every Christian were to die tomorrow and God wiped all memories of us from the minds of those who remained, guess what? More people would get saved. The Holy Spirit is God Almighty, not some muffled halfwit who goes around with tape on His mouth until you agree to be His mouthpiece. It’s vital that you see how much ego is being stirred into our teaching about salvation in the Church so that you can get yourself untangled from the lies. No one is going to benefit from you talking about Jesus unless GOD is opening their minds, GOD is giving you the words to say and GOD is in the mood to make a connection happen. You’re not in charge of this process, He is. You need to see that and then resolve that you are going to WAIT for Him to prompt you before you get involved. Your goal in life should be to please God, not to impress your pastor. To please God, we must let Him define what He wants and stop letting other people sell us some mangled truth.

There’s only one right reason to get into a discussion about God with someone and that’s because you feel God wants you to. Now when God wants you to say something, He’s going to tell you what to say. So if you find yourself standing there all tongue-tied, obviously God isn’t interested in speaking through you right then. When this is the case, you need to honor God by doing what He’s telling you to do, which is back off and stay out of it. God tells us to stop and He tells us to go. He tells us to speak and He tells us to be silent. We need to do EVERYTHING He tells us, not just listen for certain commands while ignoring the rest.

Suppose you can’t remember the last time you felt strongly led by God to share your faith with someone. What terrible thing does that indicate? Nothing. It means God doesn’t want you sharing your faith with people right now. If we have a problem with this, it’s because we are trying to control who God is. But remember, God doesn’t need us in any sense of the word. When we share because we secretly believe God would be lost without us we’re just insulting Him. When we think to ourselves “What would God have done if I hadn’t been available for that conversation?” we’re deluding ourselves. God does NOT need us. The more we get a grip on this, the easier it becomes to sit down and wait for Him to call us into action. We want to serve God because we love Him, not because we’re trying to help Him—there’s a big difference. It is inappropriate for specks like us to think we’re propping God up or assisting Him in some way.  We serve God because we love Him and want to bless His heart—those are the motivations which delight Him. We don’t start there. We all start off trying to help God. We all start off trying to fix Him and complete Him and direct Him about. But the Holy Spirit will mature us out of this wrong thinking if we are sincerely wanting to please Him.

RULE #2: KNOW HOW TO RECOGNIZE POINTLESS CONVERSATIONS.

When you’ve been brainwashed with bad teaching for years, it takes time recover. To help you out, here are several common clues you can look for to identify when a conversation about God has become totally pointless.

1. Repetitive questions.

Is an unbeliever asking you the same questions over and over again? Stop playing their game. You already gave them your answer. If they were really interested in truth, they’d have thought about your first answer and moved on to a different question. Covering the same ground over and over is a common tactic people use who just enjoy watching you trip over the same rock. Remember that it takes two to argue. Refuse to participate by stonewalling them with, “I’ve already answered that question.”

2. Verse wars.

Don’t get tangled up in verse wars. Plenty of God haters have armed themselves with an arsenal of verses which they’ve yanked out of context and twisted into supporting their delusional beliefs. Realize that it’s how much you care about God that counts, not how well you know your Bible. Don’t pretend to be an expert if you know you’re not. When someone throws a verse in your face that sounds upsetting to you, just say, “I’m not an expert on the Bible. If you really want to understand that passage, pray about it.” And of course, they’re not going to agree to do that. They’d much rather try to mock you for not understanding the Bible. But this is where they don’t understand that your relationship is with a living Being, not a physical object. Your faith is in God, not a Book. You don’t need to know anything about the Bible to have a good relationship with God, so don’t be embarrassed by your lack of knowledge. Instead, be confident in your relationship with God and when they try to mock you, shrug and say, “It doesn’t bother me that I don’t know the Bible well. The Bible is not my God. If you want to know the truth, you need to ask God. If you want to argue about the Bible, there are plenty of self-proclaimed experts who’d love to get into it with you.”

3. Forcing you to be God’s spokesperson.

You are not God’s handler. You’re not His spokesperson, His interpreter or His media representative. It’s not on you to explain His every move to unbelievers. So when someone starts demanding that you justify God’s actions or explain His mysteries, the best thing you can do for them and you is to say: “If you want to know about God, ask Him yourself.” Anytime you start getting flustered or feeling overwhelmed by some criticism about God, this is what you say. In the end, a person can’t find peace with God by listening to you. If we really care about guiding people to truth, we should never encourage them to put their trust in us or in some religious textbook. We should always be pointing them to God. “Ask God. Pray about it.”

As a Christian, you have found the real God. You do not need to be threatened by other people’s doubts. Instead, encourage them not to accept anything less than a personal connection with God Himself. “If God is who I say He is, then obviously He can handle making you certain of His reality. I know He will if you sincerely want to know the truth. But the answers you want will have to come from Him, not me.” If someone then comes back with, “Oh, so you’re saying you don’t have answers yourself? You don’t understand your own God?” Don’t sit around baring your soul to them. Your personal walk with God is none of their business. Your personal struggles have nothing to do with them. Say, “What I do or don’t believe is irrelevant. The eternity of your own soul is at stake here, and that’s what you should be focused on. God isn’t going to judge you by how well you agreed with me, but by how you responded to Him. If you really want answers, you need to pray to Him directly. I’m not His translator. Seek Him yourself.” Souls who are sincerely interested in God will seek Him, and then they’ll ask you questions which God will give you specific answers to. But souls who really don’t care about God are just toying with you, and by refusing to be God’s spokesperson, you will get yourself out of a lot of grief.

4. “I was hurt by other Christians.”

A lot of people have been legitimately hurt by other people who claimed to be Christians. Once someone has a traumatic experience in a church and that trauma is unresolved, anger becomes a cover for pain. As a Christian, you become a symbol of the person or organization who hurt them in the past, thus they feel justified in attacking you and trying to make you defend those who hurt them. “If knowing God is supposed to change people for the better, why did a Catholic priest molest me? If knowing God is so satisfying, why did my pastor have an affair?” Behind some of these demands there could be some legitimate confusion. But other times, there’s only intense pain. Are you equipped to fix someone else’s internal wounds? No, you’re not. Healing comes from God, and He’s the One you need to point them to. “I’m very sorry you had such a terrible experience. If you really want answers, you need to go to God directly.”

Ah, but they’re not going to go to God because one of His representatives hurt them. Many souls love to use one bad experience as an excuse to not have to be accountable to God. “If you’re what a Christian is, I want nothing to do with Christ.” Well, this is just a pathetic argument. Here you can say, “Christ gives you the option to reject Him, but if you do, He’ll throw you into Hell. God does things to all of us that we don’t like. We can either look to Him to help us heal from the past, or we can reject Him and deal with His wrath. We don’t get to tell Him how to run His game. He’s the King.”

Remember that the real reason people refuse to accept God is pride. They resent not being in control. If they can’t be as powerful as God, then they want to be able to define how God uses His power. Well, this just isn’t an option for us. God is God and He doesn’t pander to us. If we sincerely want to know the truth, He will show it to us. If we really want to be in a right relationship with Him, He will give us however much healing and help we need to be able to sincerely submit to Him. Many Christians make the cardinal error of trying to woo unbelievers in by denying the sovereignty of God. “I don’t know why that terrible thing happened to you, but I know it wasn’t God’s will.”  Rubbish. It most certainly WAS God’s will, and encouraging people to deny this is only leading them into delusions. When God trashes people, it’s on purpose. When He disillusions us, it’s on purpose. When He uses Christians to make “Christianity” repulsive to us, it’s on purpose. Instead of trying to shield unbelievers from God’s wildness, we need to put our energy into remembering that He is a lot wiser than we are. God loves all souls and He knows how to draw them closer to Himself. Just because you can’t see how someone could possibly want God after all He’s put them through, don’t sail off into the arrogant belief that your wisdom is better than His or that He’s doing it wrong. God never does it wrong. We need to back off and leave room for Him to work. Don’t get into fifty rounds with people who need to be seeking God directly. Remember that no one can get saved without the illumination of the Holy Spirit. You can’t do other people’s spiritual work for them. It’s not your job to illuminate them, convince them, or hold their hand in life while they stumble along the road towards truth. Your job is to stay focused on your King and only get involved in His work when He invites you to do so. We witness because God prompts us to, and ONLY because He prompts us to. When we are not getting any clear leading from Him, then we stonewall and refuse to engage in pointless arguments.

The next time you find yourself feeling guilty, frustrated, upset, and heckled in a conversation about God, stop engaging. Say “If you really want to know about God, you’ll have to talk to Him directly,” and then refuse to say more on the subject. When you keep trying to force rebels to change their minds, you only burn yourself out. It doesn’t help them. They enjoy the fight. Why should you waste your time? As Christians, we serve a God who is very comfortable with the idea that most humans will end up in Hell. We need to follow His lead in this area and stop finding it personally threatening if a soul goes to Hell. If God Himself wants them to have this option, who are we to try and take it away from them?

FURTHER READING:
Debunking the Great Guilt Trip: It’s Not Your Job to Save the World
Living to Spread the Gospel

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