The time has come for the crumbling church to rise up and take back what has been lost, but so many who sit in the pews each Sunday are too sick to join the fight. I’m not talking about physical illness, the kind that permeates the prayer list each week. I’m talking about spiritual illness, an anemia that causes blindness, apathy, and complacency. The persons I’m referring to may have attended worship services every Sunday since they were a child. They may be an active member of a Sunday School class, who knows the Bible from front to back, but in their daily life, they live in disobedience, deaf to God’s voice because they are not listening to Him. Instead, their heads are filled with all the distracting voices of this world calling to them every day of the week. How is it that, so often, a person’s walk and their talk do not line up?
Recently I was asked, by a man whom I’m discipling, how it could be that a person could confess a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, yet still, “walk with the Devil.” He was speaking of his own walk and he was deeply troubled by what he was experiencing. I explained to him that he is not alone in his experience, but the struggle he described is not the same thing as spiritual apathy, in fact, it is quite the opposite. If you feel sometimes, as the old wise man once said, that, “there are two dogs fighting a battle to the death inside you,” then count yourself blessed that you sense it and see it, few people do. None-the-less, for all who take their discipleship seriously, an invisible battle truly rages around you, in you and over you, each day. It is a battle for your mind, and your will. It is a battle being waged between the Holy Spirit and Satan’s forces of dark depravity, a struggle between darkness and light. It is the spiritual equivalent of the challenge that Joshua faced when he led The people of God into the Promised Land. He was given a command from God to drive out the sinful nations that had previously occupied that place. So it is for we who have been born again, that we, led by Christ Jesus, cross over into the Promised Land to do battle with the strongholds of sin that have occupied our lives, and to make room for the Holy Spirit.
Oh, listen to me, church! This journey with Christ is not a transcendental quest for peace, or happiness, neither is it for wealth or good health. The pursuit of those things is the way of the Sadducees, the false prophets of the priesthood, wolves in sheep’s clothing. Nor is the Way of Christ a quest for self-righteousness under law, that is the religion of Pharisees, self-appointed enforcers of a morality that they have defined themselves. They stand at the doorway to the Kingdom of God, refusing to enter in and preventing others from doing the same. The Way of Christ is also not a utopian struggle for an imagined, perfect world. Utopia is the religion of despots and dictators, of false prophets such as Mohamed and Karl Marx. It is the way of brutal men, like Joseph Stalin and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, men who believe that the end justifies the means.
The Way of Christ is not an aesthetic journey to find inner peace and tranquility to be found through a multitude of ritual practices, as so many of the Eastern Religions teach. That way amounts to a search for self, a quest that is born of the original sin and rooted in the religion of Satan, who, as Lucifer, thought to place his throne above that of God.
Jesus said, “It is not peace that I bring, but a sword.” Your God, your Savior, and your King is calling you to the front lines of a battle for the souls of men. Unfortunately much of the church, perhaps most, are living what I will call, Sponge Bob Christianity, a form of discipleship that is shallow in its commitment, confined to Sunday mornings when toothless, baby believers gather together, selfishly seeking to be filled with the milk of the gospel rather than the meat of obedience to God’s commands. The milk sustains them just long enough to spend another week wasting the power of the Spirit and the Word by neglecting the command of their Savior to “Go into the world.” They are, in effect, Monday morning atheists, living the rest of the week as if God didn’t exist, allowing the Power they have been entrusted with to evaporate into the air instead of using it to advance God’s Kingdom.
Jesus said, “If you are my disciple, pick up your cross daily and follow Me.” He means that we should die to “self” at the start of each day, then march forth to do His bidding right where we live in the world. Too often, however, we are like frightened soldiers hiding in the relative safety of the trenches while the enemy consumes the ground we were sent to defend. The time has come for the church to rise up, to fix bayonets, (that is the Sword of Truth), and charge out of the trenches to take back the ground that has been lost to the enemy over centuries of error, remembering all the while, that our battle is not with flesh and blood, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
The battle begins with prayer and victory comes through obedience to the work that The Lord puts before you each day. So, put on the whole armor of God and, when you leave your pew on Sunday, join the battle for the Kingdom, a battle that rages around you each and every day of the week.