There is an old Zen Proverb that says: “A donkey carrying a pile of holy books is still a donkey.” Initially it doesn’t sound very profound, but it really is. Being loaded down with or surrounded by trappings doesn’t change the nature of who or what a man is. The “who” and the “what” may impact the trappings chosen, but the trappings guarantee nothing about the man.
History is replete with anecdotes of charlatains in religious regalia posing and imposing their personal agendas, all the while proclaiming their messages were sourced in the Creator Himself. David Koresh comes to mind, probably because that tragedy took place a few miles from my childhood home.
Others from the past few decades may wash over you, but this is nothing new that our generations have brought on mankind. It is man being who he is, man focused upon his own agenda.
Simon the Sorcerer, Diotrophes, Herod, Judas Iscariot, shall I go on? Man, unwilling to have the reality of God shape his finite mind and thoughts, discards the notion of God (or at least the idea that God is sovereign to dictate), and attempts to find his own way. Paul was clear that God is not “down” with that approach (Romans 1:20-25).
Even “religious people” can fall into the same trap of a self-defined righteousness, which is really no righteousness at all (Romans 2:1-5; 10:1-4; Galatians 1:6-9). Carrying about the trappings doesn’t alter the beast of burden, however, Jesus can transform us into sons and daughters of God.
Let’s be clear, it is the power of God that transforms. It is my decision to allow it. The decision is not a momentary excursion into God-land; it is a total immersion into God’s will and plans: “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'” (Luke 9:23).
This is our choice: Remain a “donkey,” or be ALL IN and transformed by the power of God.