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The Turning Point

08/01/2014 3 comments

With his shaved head and white robe, he answered calmly, “God confirmed to me that Hare Krishna is the right way.” His peaceful demeanor was impressive.

That was 1968, very early in my theological journey. I had invited the local Hare Krishna monk into my graduate cubical at The University of Texas at Austin. We had a conversation that lasted about four hours. He demonstrated a profound peace that I’d seen in few Christians. His inner stillness was inviting, fascinating, intriguing. He was able to maintain his calm confidence in face of some very challenging questions.

The challenge that elicited the above response was my statement that God had come to me personally in a very real way in Japan in 1957. God came into my barrack room in the form of liquid love and, for the first time in my life, I knew I had a Father who loved me.
My expectation was that this Krishna follower would be impressed with my testimony and ask me to share more.

To my surprise, he didn’t even flinch. He told me how his personal spiritual journey had led him to a retreat center in Canada where God had spoken to him and confirmed his choice to pursue the way of Hare Krishna. Inwardly I asked myself how I could bring him to question his experience since he thought it was God who spoke to him.

I mentioned the miracles of Jesus and the Apostles. “Miracles are cheap,” he responded as he told me of several signs and wonders performed by yoga masters in India.

Our discussion continued in this way for several hours with my challenging him and his calm, peaceful responses. “The real issue,” he said, “is to learn to accept the world as it is and come to peace and rest within yourself.”

I know inner peace is a good thing, and it certainly should be a goal for all of us. “But there’s an element missing in him,” I thought, “and I can’t seem to find the key that would open him up and expose the missing link.”

Finally, after about four hours, I asked him, “How do you deal with the resurrection of Jesus from the dead?” With that question, he was visibly disturbed. For the first time there was restlessness in his demeanor. He had no answer. He promptly excused himself and left my office saying there was something he had to do.

I thought about this experience many times after that. As I consider the implications of his inability to handle that question, I saw that the real difference between Christianity and world religions hinges on the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed, and others all died. They are still in their graves. The mere mention of victory over death had shaken the peace this man was carrying.

I never saw him again, so I don’t know if the discussion had any lasting effect on him. I know the experience did have an effect on me. The question bubbled up within me, “What is the power behind deception that causes people to shut down to a discussion when a serious challenge rises?” I’ve seen that happen many times since.

Two Scripture came to mind after the conversation. By definition, people who are deceived really believe they’re right. Paul spoke of the false signs and wonders and wicked deception that would overtake those who refuse to love the truth but take pleasure in unrighteousness (II Thess. 2:9-11). So, the first problem is a refusal to love the truth.

Yet this Krishna monk insisted he loved the truth. He certainly appeared to be seeking the truth. According to Scripture, however, he was under a delusion. Paul added, “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false” (II Thess. 2:11). If a person is unwilling to change, he has no guarantee that deception will not overtake him. He will really believe he’s right.

As I continued to consider this problem over time, another Scripture came to my attention. Jesus said, “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority” (Jn. 7:17). Up to this point in my journey I identified myself as a truth seeker. Something in me shifted when I read this verse with new eyes.

To my surprise, the key was not a desire to know the truth but a desire to do the will of God. Seeking truth is certainly a necessary venture, but it has no value without a desire to do God’s will. Some people learn a lot of truth but do nothing with what they learn. It appears that one is susceptible to deception if he or she is not seeking to be personally involved in the advancing kingdom of God.

That experience was a turning point in my journey. I began to realize the importance of allowing the Holy Spirit to lead me to all truth, as Jesus promised. This new openness on my part prepared the way for a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. The guidance was actually unconscious at first, but a series of encounters and experiences brought me to a conscious awareness of the Holy Spirit’s work in my life. But that’s another story.

The point of this blog is simple: learn all you can learn, but focus on obedience to the voice of Father God. Those who are satisfied with head knowledge often resist any idea of the Holy Spirit’s involvement in their daily life. After all, if they begin to listen to his voice, they would have to change their way of doing life. I did.

What is he saying to you today?

Looking forward,

Fount Shults, President
On Word Ministries, http://www.onword.org