The Cup That Is Too Full
There is a story about a scholar who came to visit a Zen master. The Zen master began to serve tea. However, when the cup was full the Zen master continued to pour until the hot liquid began to run all over the table. The scholar, no long able to restrain himself cried, “It is over full, no more will go in!” The Zen master replied, “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations, how can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
Many times what happens to people who are new converts is that they are immediately taught what they should believe. Thus they are given bible lessons and sometimes even encouraged to go to Bible Colleges. It is almost like Christianity abhors an empty cup and they want to fill it, as quickly as possible, with their brand of tea.
A thirst for knowledge
I was exactly like that in my early days of seeking God. I remember being in Bible College and soaking up everything I could possibly get my hands on. Regular classes were not enough and so I tore through the extensive tape library. When that was not enough I bugged my teachers until they allowed me access to the restricted archives. A funny thing happened though, as I gained more and more knowledge I became less and less satisfied. I was perplexed because when I actually put into practice the doctrine I was taught I found out that it did not yield the benefits it was supposed to produce. I wondered why this was so and gradually became disenchanted with the whole process.
However, independent thought was not permitted at the Bible College. You could not question the status quo very much or you would be hauled into the Deans office and “admonished”. They would do it “lovingly” at first but everyone knew that if you did not tow the line that you would find your name in the “we regret to announce” column of the Sunday bulletin that gave that week’s list those people who were disfellowshipped.
Then, by the grace of God, came a move of His Spirit that hit the church like a tidal wave of love. Many, including myself, started to experience God first hand in ways we never thought possible. What God was doing did not match up with what I had been taught, but like a man dying of thirst I could not be kept from the living water.
At that point I had to make a very important decision, “would I accept what God was doing contrary to the doctrine I had been taught or would I reject what I was experiencing, call it deception, and cling to my church dogma?” This was a very difficult decision. The church government started to push back furiously against what was happening. They tried to teach people out of what was really happening and tried to define in such a way so that it would fit into their theological framework. That worked about a good a pounding a square peg into a round hole. However, as the move of God progressed it started to break down and destroy many of their most cherished beliefs and that is when things turned really ugly.
The elders created a special “counseling department” designed “correct” wrong thinking. All those who were deemed to be non-compliant were summond. I was brought before these ad-hock inquisitors more than once. It came down to, “either get in line or you will be disfellowshipped.” Disfellowshipment meant that you were kicked out of Bible College, not allowed to graduate, and barred from attending church. Any and all family, friends or acquaintances were forbidden to speak to you too.
Fear was their weapon of choice. Teachers bludgeoned us with doubt, saying we were not equipped to make spiritual assessments about what God was doing. They had more wisdom and, given their position, could be the only ones qualified to determine what would be allowed.
A pledge of allegiance to the pastor
I remember one evening our pastor stood and spoke a about submission. After the sermon he asked everyone to stand if they would submit to him rather than what they believed was going on. Almost everyone stood (about 3000 people) but I remained seated. I had made my choice. After that I felt really good. I felt free of the turmoil and fear that had been raging inside me. It felt good to have finally made a decision. I had decided to trust the Holy Spirit more than I trusted man.
Many are full of what others have taught them and have no room for what God wants to show them. To receive the gift that God wished to give me, like Paul, I counted all I knew as lost. I needed to become willing to re-examine everything. Therefore, I became open to look at everything from whatever new perspective the Holy Spirit showed me. I did this without fear because I now trusted my Father to lead and guide me.
Empty your cup
When you read my writings it is important that your cup is not full before you begin. If you know so much that there’s no room for anymore truth, you will learn nothing. If you know it all, these truths will simply overflow, run off the table, and be lost to you. Remember, being open minded does not mean you must accept everything you are shown. Simply consider what I say and, as the noble Bereans, prove all things and hold fast that which is true.
Audio Notes By Michael King