WHO is YOUR GURU?
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
MARCH 6, 2011
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16)
We in the West are less familiar with the word Guru than people in the East. It simply means, “a spiritual guide or teacher.” We don’t use that terminology, but we in the West certainly have our share of spiritual guides or leaders. Catholics have the Pope, Cardinals, and priests and Protestants have preachers, pastors, or elders, whom they deem qualified to give spiritual guidance. Who stands between you and the Lord? Whose advice do you seek first before going to Him?
When the children of Israel finally arrived at the foot of Mount Sinai, God, through Moses, told the people to consecrate themselves, to wash their clothes, to abstain from sexual relations, and above all, not to touch or set foot on the mountain lest they die (Ex. 19:10-13). They did as He commanded, and on the third day, gathered at the foot of the smoldering mountain. “Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder.” (Ex. 19:18-19) The visual and audio effects would certainly have convinced me, and they did the Israelites as well. “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear.” (Ex. 20:18) It was after this that Moses gave them the Ten Commandments.
I’m sure if pastors, preachers and priests (modern day gurus), could embellish their admonitions with fire, smoke, and earthquakes, they would have many more souls streaming down the isle at the altar call. The children of Israel were quaking in their boots at the manifestations of the power and authority of Almighty God. Staying a distance from the mountain, they said to Moses, “You speak to us and we will listen, but don’t let God speak to us. He scares us.” (Jan’s paraphrase of Ex. 20:19) Moses told them that God had come to test them, and the fear of the God would be with them to keep them from sinning. It sounds good, but as modern day religious leaders have found out to their sorrow, fear is a method that looks better on the drawing board than it plays out in practice.
Meanwhile, Moses “…left the people and approached the thick darkness where God was.” (Ex. 20:21) He came to seek the living God, unlike the Israelites, who were content with a man to be their guru. Moses was on the mountain a long time, and you know the rest of the story. Tired of waiting for their fearless leader to return, perhaps thinking he was burned up on the fiery mountain, the people commissioned Aaron to fashion a golden calf using the gold they had “borrowed” from the Egyptians. These same folks who had declared, “We will do everything the Lord has said” (Ex. 19:8; 20:19), broke the first, second, third and seventh Commandments when Moses’ back was turned. They preferred to worship what they could see, rather than God whom they could not see.
The lesson from this account I’m thinking about today has to do with our topic: to whom do you go for help? Who is your guru? Are you, like the children of Israel too fearful of God to approach Him directly?
Seeking spiritual advice from a man began under Law, which allowed only the High Priest to go behind the veil, once a year into the presence of God. When Christ died, the veil in the temple was rent in twain, surely a powerful symbol to believing Jews that God was no longer confined in the Holy of Holies, but was out and about amongst the people. Of course, He was never really confined or bound by man’s creation, though it was the inference of the priestly hierarchy from Moses until Christ. Christ came to fulfill the Law, and as the Passover Lamb, He removed the veil between God and man. (See Matt. 5:17-20). He set us free from the bondage of man’s religion, the self effort required by Law.
He invitation to us is “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28) “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt. 11:30) He railed on the oh-so-religious Pharisees of his day, cautioning His disciples, “Do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see.” (Mt. 23:3b-4) Some aspects of the Law remain today. People still do many things to be seen by their fellow church goers. They still labor under the heavy burden of law and self effort, bound by orthodox ideas.
They often go to a “guru,” their pastor, priest, or preacher for solace and advice, rather than going directly to God. Why? This question has troubled me for a very long time. Sometimes I think it’s a matter of brainwashing by established tradition that causes Christians to fear going to God directly. Clearly, it is easier for some personality types to let someone else make their decisions. For people like me, who were born asking “WHY?” that fails miserably to satisfy my heart.
Once, while visiting a Baptist women’s Sunday School class, the teacher had assigned each of us a scripture to read. Mine was I John 2:27: “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you.” I remember stopping at that point to remark, “Ladies, this is such good news. We don’t need anyone to teach us because we have the Holy Spirit.” The teacher frowned and quickly corrected me: “All except for the deacons. We have to listen to them.” She hurried on to the next reader before I could remind her that the Apostle John failed to spell that out.
After the recent blog post entitled, Does God Control Governments, I had an e-mail from a man, not even on my list, who reprimanded me for leaving religion’s orthodox view of the end times. Here’s a snippet of his long e-mail:
“Jan, please reconsider what you have done by abandoning your faith in the pre-millennial second coming of Jesus Christ to intervene in the affairs of men and to arrest and imprison the fallen angels and their leader, Satan. It sounds like the Preterists have overcome your sound mind in these matters. An accurate understanding of History and Prophecy will prove to be vital, as the nations are being prepared by fallen angels to follow the coming Antichrist who will first enter the scene as a Christian who wants to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.”
The Lord did not put me on the Internet to debate folks, so I don’t. Instead, I told him that God has moved me past the place Peter was in when he beheld the transfiguration including Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Right away, he wanted to build THREE tabernacles, one for each of them, but God said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!” (Matt. 17:5) This is the advice I live by. Men are all over the map with their dogmas, traditions, and interpretations of scripture. Only Christ within us, our hope of glory is qualified for and always available to give us the answers our hearts seek.
Men will always fail us eventually. God never can! Only God is continuously worthy of our trust and admiration: “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord. …But the Egyptians are men and not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out his hand, he who helps will stumble, he who is helped will fall; both will perish together.” (Isa. 31:1, 3)
Father, we thank You that we can come directly to the throne of grace any time, any place and for any reason. You are our very great reward! We love You for sending Your Spirit to comfort, strengthen, and lead us into all truth. Grant us grace and wisdom to follow Him only, so that through us, He may reveal Your glory throughout all the earth. Amen.