“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.”– Colossians 3:1
When I think of all the battles I’ve fought since God redeemed me years ago in that Texas motel room, I remember and I’m very grateful to God. He not only enabled me to overcome, but helped me to recognize and process the priceless lessons. I am deeply grateful for a godly wife, best friend, and partner in ministry. There are no adjectives to adequately describe the depth of my love for her. She never wavered through all our struggles.
A lesson I learned, and have relearned and will continue to relearn, is Satan’s clever use of distractions. No one who has pushed God out of his or her mind with troubles or desires will know His will. Every trial is to bring us closer, purge us, re-focus our minds, and otherwise make us fit to know and obey God’s will.
Without those lessons, the many non-expedient distractions would have made me a drained, religious, stuffed suit, hireling. I would likely be going through the motions of “pastoring” a church, with a cache of obligatory compliments, juggling everything to keep people happy, absorbed with entertainment, and everything else that ritual church meeting attendees expect from their pastor. I’d be in the thick of the political hoopla, wasting what little spiritual strength I had fighting useless battles on Satan’s battlefield and by his rules—just as he planned. I would never recognize that the encroaching battering ram I’m hacking with my wooden sword was actually the toe of a beast so large that when I look up, I am by comparison the size of an ant.
Beloved pastors, teachers, and other leaders, God did not call his leaders to be end-times Machabees. There is only one outcome to fighting such a battle—total and bitter defeat. God’s people should not be taught or encouraged by our example to submit to the lure of worthless distractions, be spiritually drained, and placed in jeopardy of total despair. They need leaders to teach and lead them by example to put their trust in God.
Do we trust God with everything? Or do we just talk about that duty, recognize it’s worth, and eulogize dead men that were examples of that measure of faithfulness?
There are entire churches that have become so political involved that they have no time, energy, or inclination for anything else. It simulates the flesh, causes adrenaline to flow, but so does watching sports on TV and listening to a hyped-up “worship” band.
Did God call us to make our nation safe for compromised religious Christianity and apostasy? Safe is not what religious America needs and I strongly believe that safe is not what we should expect. If people refuse to hear warnings, bury their minds in apathy, God’s love compels Him to wake them up to reality. If people are spending their time trying to stop that from occurring, they are evidently dis-focused. More importantly, if we are in the last days, has God called us to stop the prophesied events from occurring? I ask every leader reading this article, will you be like Peter before Holy Spirit baptism, or like Paul after his Damascus Road smackdown?
Peter focused on the political battle. He even rebuked Christ for declaring His death and resurrection.
“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’
But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.’”— Matthew 16:21-23
Peter did not take Christ’s response, process it, and understand his mistake. When the authorities came for Christ in the garden, he cut off the ear of the High Priest’s son. Can we realize that according to Christ, Peter was doing the work of Satan to prevent prophecy from being fulfilled?
Paul understood that the world cannot be changed by sinking oneself into its affairs. We have to look at the world from higher vantage point and seek the mind of God. When we are on God’s higher way, we can see what is obscure and hidden at ground level. The political battle appears winnable from the lower point of view. From the point God wishes us to view it, we can recognize an amazingly large battle that only God can win.
The protesting accusation is, “You are derelict in your civic duties.”
A similar charge could have been leveled against Christ when He refused to go outside where His earthly family waited to see Him. He replied to their urging:
“My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” — Luke 8:21
Paul unambiguously stated that the focus must NOT be on the affairs of this life.
“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” — 2 Timothy 2:3-4
God will shake everything until only what cannot be shaken will remain. (Hebrews 12:25-27) Every individual that professes love for Christ needs to ask him or her self if their spiritual condition today what they want it to be when the shaking begins.
Furthermore, what are you giving people come to you seeking food for their souls. Are you giving them stones that produce angst and distractions that lead to apathy?
I remember a story of Francis and Edith Schaeffer’s meeting with Bishop Pike. Edith recalled in her book, that after a long conversation, Bishop Pike was deeply moved.
“Suddenly, Bishop Pike had a sad and serious look on his face and began to reminisce.
‘I remember that when I entered Union Seminary to study theology, it was with a search for truth and for the answers to life. You know, I was really searching for bread. But (and he cupped his hand as if to hold something carefully in it) when I finished my studies, I realized all I had was a handful of pebbles.’”
Edith wrote, “Satan’s work is turning bread into stones, that people might break their spiritual teeth and have no nourishment in their bodies.” (A Way of Seeing, Edith Schaeffer)
Peter denied Christ three times. Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love Me.”
He asked the third time, Peter was grieved, and replied, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”
Christ again responded, “Feed my sheep.”
It is essential that Christ’s sheep and lambs be fed. Satan would turn their bread into stones and convince us to malnourish them with that trick. Does anyone understand how well Satan’s trick is working? Will we repent and change, or rise up in pride and reject the warning.
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” — Colossians 4:6
“But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” — Matthew 4:4