People have cabin fever, are stir crazy, and cannot wait to get back in the crowded stream of busy-ness. But has anyone learned anything from this shutdown/sheltering fiasco?
Please consider that Satan sought to oppress and burden us with stress. We could turn mass retreat into our homes as an unprecedented opportunity for praying.
Did we discover how we could have all this time on our hands and still refuse to develop a praying regimen? Did we realize that the reason we did not study God’s word before this time surplus was because we really didn’t want to? Or are we praying?
Question: “Why do you always have to be so negative?”
Answer: “Why do you always have to be so weak and compromised?”)
The fact is that a genuine relationship with God begins with our commitment to enter His spiritual atmosphere. Paul used various terms and phrases to describe that transportation. I like the following.
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” – Colossians 3:1-2
The more we ignore doing that, the stronger the flesh becomes. It is possible to know about God, fear hell, and become religious for pretense, but have a heart that lusts for and follows fleshly pursuits.
“They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.” – 2 Kings 17:33
I opine that the great majority of professing Christians are infatuated with the idea of being spiritually connected to God. But they cannot get past the price that flesh, Satan, and the World System makes them pay. When you finally decide to pray, you will feel antsy. It’s like the feeling you get when someone is talking to you and you cannot get away from them. Try reading or studying God’s word and suddenly you’re sleepy. All the time the television or Internet calls hauntingly to your spirit.
That is why most people are professing Christians—not possessing Christians. It is why there are so many churches that haven’t a speck of spiritual life. However, many of those churches have realized that they can concoct a substitute for spiritual life via sensationalism.
Sensationalism is more fun than praying, more exciting than reading the Bible, and it doesn’t require any effort to feel amazingly spiritual. It is the bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun—Tigger Christianity. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the most wonderful thing about some mega-church pastors is that they have the same mannerisms and vocal intonations of Tigger.
So here we are forced into an opportunity to finally get past our self-imposed hurdles to full surrender. We can spend time in God’s word and pray. Facebook doesn’t need us. T. J. Max cannot lure us. Sports cannot numb us and suck out our spiritual life and worship. If there ever was a time to set our minds on heavenly things it is now. We can do it and for the right reason—just to get in God’s spiritual atmosphere.
We’ve all heard or read that America will not be great again until Christianity is revived. Our churches will not be full, our streets won’t be safe, sexual perversion will not retreat into the darkness, abortion won’t end, drug abuse will not cease, et cetera, if Christianity is not revived.
This may be controversial, but as noble as those causes may be, that is not why we should be seeking to set our minds on things above. It should not be for any other purpose than God’s presence. Can you imagine how amazingly wonderful that would be? Besides, we are not going to push back the darkness at this late stage in eschatology. Prophesy will be fulfilled.
We need to seek and set our affections those things above is because we want to be where God is. We want fellowship with Him. We desire to know His presence. That is completely boring to carnality-minded professing Christians. If God does not excite them as a video game, they’re done and out.
Realizing God’s presence is not possible when there is no commitment to ignore this earthly pull and fight the good fight to enter His spiritual atmosphere. It does not just happen. A few seconds listening to music or even a demonstrative and skilled preacher will not do it. There is too much interference from the fleshly emotional system.
The only way is to spend time in prayer. When we pray faithfully, a type of slow transformation will occur. That is a battle many people lose because they do not spend time meditating on His word.
Make no mistake about it. An ethereal feeling may rise up in our emotions when we are able to leave our houses, roam the shopping malls, and attend church meetings. That is a passing thing. It will not help one enter a relationship with God and is of little value for enduring to the end.
Walking a deeper spiritual life is not about tingling emotions and feet on the clouds. It is often grinding out a victory in the battle to pray and often knees on the floor. I can testify that most days I only realize peace when I finally get to sleep. Even then it is a battle to get enough sleep.
So what’s the benefit? The benefit is deeper than the emotional system. I have trouble putting it in words. It is like deep confidence that you do not always feel until you are faced with an obstacle or a crisis.
One of the most spiritual men that ever lived never sung a high-energy worship song, never gushed over being God’s favorite, did not crave the positive atmosphere of sloppy agape, and likely would not be invited to preach at more than a handful of churches today and at any conference.
Here’s his resume:
“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” – 2 Corinthians 11:23-30
The same man told a rowdy charismatic church, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
If we need an example other than Christ, emulate Paul.