Disillusioned or Deceived?

“But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14 NLT)

Have you ever been to Las Vegas? What enters your mind when you think of that city? Glitter? Glamour? Gambling? Though Vegas itself held very little appeal to us, my wife and I now live there because of our son and daughter-in-law. On a visit, before we moved to Las Vegas, I saw an advertisement for a performance by David Copperfield, who at the time was purported to be among the best magicians who had ever lived. What does he do? He creates illusions. He makes things seem like something they’re actually not. He’s famous for making the Statue of Liberty “disappear.” Did he actually do that? Of course not, but he flawlessly created the illusion. He caused people, if only for a moment, to believe he did.

Do you understand that Satan does the same thing? He’s a master of illusion, of disillusionment. What does that mean? It’s ironic, because the term “disillusion,” according to Mr. Webster, literally means: “to free from illusion or false ideas,” but can also be defined: “to take away the ideals or idealism of and make disappointed, bitter, etc.” Has that ever happened to you? It has to me.

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I entered Pastoral Ministry in the mid 1970’s filled with idealism and hope. I believed every believer was virtuous, honest and trustworthy. I believed Elders and leaders of churches always had the Lord’s best interests at heart and selflessly served to promote Jesus’ fame. I was wrong.

In my first role as a Senior Pastor I was greeted warmly and, for the most part, accepted and loved. Things actually went well the first few years. The church grew steadily and it became apparent we needed to add staff. It was a small church and, while the pastor’s choice had weight, the congregation’s vote ultimately determined whether or not the candidate would be selected. The young couple I had chosen came and did a superb job of sharing their gifts and talents. The church responded positively and warmly. It seemed obvious they would be a perfect fit for our growing congregation. Again, I was wrong.

The vote was taken and resulted in only 51% in favor of them coming to serve. I’m still deeply saddened as I bring it to remembrance. I was young and oblivious to the tactics of the “saints.” Unbeknownst to me, the word had been spread to those who weren’t even current attenders to “come and vote,” with the clear implication to vote against the candidating couple. I had asked each board member if they would give the couple their support and every person said “yes.” But following the announcement of the vote, one of the board members came to me, and standing right in my face said: “I just wanted you to know who’s really running this church.”

My heart was broken. I’d been deceived and it almost cost me my ministry. I served the church a few more years, but my heart wasn’t in it and I finally resigned and took a secular job. I was disillusioned, broken, spent. My idealism was evaporated and I felt like an empty shell. Questions flooded my mind, but I learned a lot in that season about the frailties of man and the Adamic-nature with which each of us wrestles, not only as I viewed it in others, but as I experienced it in my own life.

How easy it was for me to see the “gnat” in another’s eye and miss the “plank” in my own. How easy it was to be so focused on the sins of others, that I overlooked my own sinful attitudes and actions, to the peril of my own walk with the Lord. Have you ever let that happen to you?

More on this subject in tomorrow’s blog.

Blessings, Ed 😊

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