- May 5, 2021
Disillusioned Today’s article is based on Luke 24:13-50. In this passage, Luke recounts the beautiful and intimate story of Cleopas and his traveling companion as they return to Emmaus on the day Jesus rose from the tomb. As they walked along, wondering about all of the events that transpired in Jerusalem during the previous week,
Today’s article is based on Luke 24:13-50. In this passage, Luke recounts the beautiful and intimate story of Cleopas and his traveling companion as they return to Emmaus on the day Jesus rose from the tomb. As they walked along, wondering about all of the events that transpired in Jerusalem during the previous week, a stranger came along and walked beside them. It was Jesus, but they didn’t know it. On His glorious resurrection day, Jesus spent hours with two obscure people who were deeply disillusioned. Why would Jesus spend so much time on His big day with people we know nothing about? I believe He did it because He knew there would be a lot of disillusioned people in the future. Truth be told, I’m one of them — and probably so are you.
An illusion is something that appears to exist when it does not, or it appears to be one thing when it is actually another. Illusions are powerfully deceptive.
Magicians are illusionists, masters of sleight of hand, deception and distraction. The goal of their craft is to trick our minds and our senses. Being fooled is very entertaining when you’re expecting it, but when you’re staking your hopes and dreams on an illusion, the outcome is devastating.
The prefix dis actively takes away the meaning of its root word. If someone is armed and you take away their weapon, they are disarmed. If someone believes in an illusion, and you take the illusion away, they are disillusioned.
Disillusionment is especially painful. It is an affront and an insult to be exposed as a fool. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her friends are disillusioned when the man behind the curtain is exposed. The Great and Mighty Oz was nothing more than a humbug, a deceiver. How many of you have been disillusioned by humbugs in the church or in the pulpit?
We Had Hoped
Cleopas and his companion were not alone in assuming that Jesus was the promised Messiah who would redeem Israel. Almost everyone who heard of Him assumed it. He fulfilled Scriptural prophecies and performed healing miracles. His teaching was powerful and authoritative. He demonstrated authority over nature, the spiritual realm, and even death itself. All of it pointed to the reestablishment of Israel’s sovereignty and glory. His grand entry into Jerusalem sealed the deal. This was the moment they had been waiting for, and Cleopas and his friend were all in.
An Illusion Crucified
The illusion was taken from them as they stood at a distance and watched the crucifixion. Jesus was dead and buried. They were walking back home, feeling confused and foolish. How could they have pinned their hopes on a lie? It’s likely they had fallen into this trap before. Other messiahs had come and gone, and even though Jesus had surpassed them all, their dreams were once again dashed. They were deeply disillusioned. Have you ever felt that way?
The historical and contemporary Christian church is notorious for creating and sustaining illusion. Promoting illusion is necessary for gaining success in the church-world’s three B’s—buildings, budgets, and backsides. Every church and every minister are rewarded for packing people into their churches and cash into their offering plates. To do so, we are tempted to create illusions that are more attractive than the call of Jesus Christ to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily.
The gospel is offensive. The gate is small, and the road is narrow. Few find it. See Matthew 7:13-29. The invitation of Jesus Christ is not pleasant or attractive. It is a call to daily confession and the death of self, to the cross, to suffering, loss and sacrifice. It is a call to seek God’s approval, not the approval of man. It is the call to love the unlovable, to forgive the unforgivable, and to serve the undeserving. It is the call to take the low place and to gracefully wash feet and clean toilets. It is the call to be content with less. It is the call to accept pain, suffering, loss and weakness as a holy opportunity to display the power of God.
The calling of the pure and unadulterated gospel doesn’t preach well. To make it more attractive, we brighten it up with illusion. But when those illusions are exposed, the people who staked their hopes on them are left deeply disappointed.
If They Lied to Me About That…
This is the question the disillusioned ask themselves as they consider the lies the church has told them. But to be fair, like Cleopas and his buddy, we often set ourselves up. We believe something because we want to believe it. We have selfish motives.
Jesus did not operate in illusion. He was very honest about what He was doing, but His followers heard it through a selfish filter. Their disillusionment was of their own making—and more often than not—so is ours. We want what we want, and we want it when we want it. Self-worship is the most insidious form of idolatry.
We practice our illusions—until they are exposed. Then, instead of confessing our own foolishness, we blame others, and we blame God for our disillusionment. Blame shifting is just another form of self-worship. When will we ever learn?
Dispelling Illusions and Living in Truth
1. Gratefully receive forgiveness and eternal life. It is enough. His grace is sufficient, so no matter what comes, be willing, content and grateful.
2. Take up your cross daily. Don’t be a victim (blaming), and don’t be elitist (judging) or entitled (expecting). Walk humbly, quietly, and obediently in the majesty of God’s redemptive plan—and be thankful.
3. Continually check your motives and your expectations. Don’t drift into selfish illusions. God has already done everything necessary for you to be forgiven and to receive eternal life. It is done. Be thankful for every opportunity to serve, sacrifice and suffer. He is alive! And by His grace, so are you! Live in it and rejoice! He is risen! He is risen indeed!