I have a confession to make that may sound shocking to some of you, but in the interest of full disclosure, I’m going to do it anyway. So, here goes . . . Sometimes I get irritated. What I mean is that some things irritate me at a level greater than the ordinary bothersome stuff I cope with day to day. But those irritants are brief and leave no lasting effect. Others… not so much.
For instance, when I’m confronted with people actively promoting things that God has expressly and strongly condemned, the irritation is different. When bloviating, moralizing politicians vocalize support for things that contradict Biblical values and family relationships, it goes beyond irritation. When “progressive” elites and academic administrators promote exposing children to material that is perverse and pornographic, I feel like the Senator from Louisiana who commented on life in D.C. He said something like this: “I start out every day just wanting to follow Jesus and love people. Then before long, I find myself wanting to follow Jesus and slap somebody.”
Love Gets Overwhelmed ~
Jesus instructed us to love our enemies, but there are times when that admonition gets buried beneath a sense of outrage that such blatant ungodliness has become commonplace. Thoughts of love get overwhelmed by the indignation that rises up inside us when destructive ideologies and unimaginable perversions are forced on our children by those who claim to be “educators”. No wonder we often struggle with how a follower of Jesus is to effectively represent Him in a culture so blatantly and forcefully aligned against us. There are no simple, easy answers to the profoundly challenging questions that these circumstances bring, but there are a couple of thoughts that God has laid on my heart that I believe are worth considering.
First, it’s helpful to remember that Jesus wasn’t born into a culture that welcomed Him with open arms. It’s easy for us to forget that Roman troops patrolling the region were a common sight to Jesus throughout His life and ministry. He was constantly scrutinized and challenged by the ruling classes who hated Him and wanted Him silenced, but it didn’t stop Him. Surrounded by an intensely oppositional atmosphere, Jesus displayed the love of God, accomplished our redemption, and sealed forever the greatest Good News the world would ever hear.
Not Passive, Helpless Pawns ~
The Church Jesus sent to transform the world was born in the same city, surrounded by the same contentious atmosphere, and subjected to the same authorities that approved His crucifixion. Like Jesus Himself, the early Christians carried out their mission in spite of cultures bent on their destruction and ruled by Tyrants who vehemently hated and opposed everything about them. Serving behind enemy lines isn’t a new thing for God’s people and this much is clear . . . Becoming passive, helpless pawns was not the strategy God ordained for them. When the enemy attacks, resistance is expected, but success depends on a vital perspective that we must maintain. The key is found in a couple of passages:
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:7–8 NKJV)
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (1 Peter 5:8–9 NKJV)
Identifying the Real Enemy ~
Resistance is mandated, but here’s the vital key to victory. We’re instructed to resist the power, not the people. Victory is not achieved by attacking the people who embody the moral and spiritual corruption we seek to overcome. It lies in disarming the power that animates and energizes them. That’s easy to say, but we live in a world where we are constantly drawn to do the opposite. Our natural reaction when we see or hear some loudmouthed advocate of evil is to think that if we could just get him or her (or whatever blend of the two they may claim) removed, we’d have peace and harmony. It’s tempting to think that truth will finally prevail and justice will be restored if our side wins the next election. The uncomfortable truth is that the devil has an endless stream of replacements for any of the people currently serving as his representatives. He has politicians, entertainers, university professors, and TV news anchors. He has well trained, eloquent, charismatic personalities in every category that exists who are ready to step in at a moment’s notice. So, in light of that disturbing realization, here are a few examples of a shift in perspectives that might be helpful:
- When a lack of truth is the issue, the enemy to be resisted isn’t just the liar, it’s the lie.
- When pornography and sexual exploitation are the issues, the enemy to be resisted goes beyond the traffickers and pornographers enslaving the victims. It’s the constant promotion of unbridled lust that invites and empowers them.
- When physical abuse and assaults are the issue, the enemy to be resisted is not confined to the perpetrators alone. It’s the anger, greed, hatred, and racial indoctrination that motivates them.
- When larceny and fraud are the issues, the enemy is not just the thief involved. It’s the greed and financial idolatry that consumes him or her.
I could go on, but you get the picture.
- The liar has little power left when truth is exposed. Our job is to be purveyors and dispensers of truth.
- Inordinate lust loses its potency when love isn’t defined as a sexual activity. The real enemy will be addressed when purity is seen as an admirable virtue rather than a social impairment and when desires are fulfilled as God intended. Our job is to model what God designed relationships to be, and to radiate the joy He intended them to produce.
- Unprovoked attacks and random violence will be more affected by the personal application of compassion, generosity, and love than by any legislative action. Our job is to respond personally whenever the opportunities arise, not just to send an occasional check somewhere.
- Burglaries, muggings, and other street crimes will be more directly influenced by promoting the establishment of healthy family units and responsible parenting than more government-funded social programs. Our job begins by first bringing our own family under the umbrella of God’s Word and the direction of the Holy Spirit. Then we can resist the real enemy by making ourselves available for those we might be able to lovingly engage and help.
It’s the Devil’s Own Tactic ~
If you wonder whether a strategy like this works, let me remind you that the devil has been using this very tactic against us for a long, long time. He hasn’t wasted his time just trying to bring down individual preachers, teachers, and missionaries. He has attacked the power sources that animate them and motivate them. Let me give you a few examples:
- He has diminished the authority of the Word of God.
- He has redefined what a family is and reconstituted the role of parents and grandparents.
- He has redirected the allegiance of children from their parents and siblings to ungodly teachers and school administrators.
- He has removed or challenged virtually all restraints on sexual behavior.
- He has made laws optional to certain classes and groups and weaponized them toward other classes and groups.
- He has replaced courage and faith with cowardice and compliance.
I could go on, but you get the picture here, too.
It’s time to focus our attention and energies on resisting our real adversary, not just the individuals promoting his policies. But the strength and courage needed to carry out an effective resistance campaign won’t be found in a personal enrichment seminar or the pages of our favorite media platform. Victory over the enemy and his minions is waiting for us at the feet of the Risen Son of God. When we kneel in victorious submission to Jesus, He will not only grant us peace that passes understanding, He will also gladly relieve us of our impotent frustrations and fruitless exasperation.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “Surrounded by an intensely oppositional atmosphere, Jesus displayed the love of God, accomplished our redemption, and sealed forever the greatest Good News the world would ever hear.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Victory is not achieved by attacking the people who embody the moral and spiritual corruption we seek to overcome. It lies in disarming the power that animates and energizes them.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The liar has little power left when truth is exposed. Our job is to be purveyors and dispensers of truth.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Our job begins by first bringing our own family under the umbrella of God’s Word and the direction of the Holy Spirit. Then we can resist the real enemy by making ourselves available for those we might be able to lovingly engage and help.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “It’s time to focus our energy on resisting our real adversary, not just the individuals promoting his policies. But strength and courage to do that effectively aren’t found in a personal enrichment seminar or on our favorite media platform.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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