Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Fierce Society

I have been working for a few weeks on a series of posts entitled "The Fierce Society." I have not posted any articles until now because I have been waiting for inspiration on how to present the series in such a way that people will actually take time to read it. I decided to begin with one of my past articles that illustrates how Christians tend to enjoy church but also fail to take the message of the Gospel out into the world.
Since the founding of America we have had the unique experience of living in a society that has enjoyed the fruit of the Judeo-Christian world-view, ethics, and values. This context has made it relatively comfortable for Christians. For the most part we have not been seriously persecuted. 
This, however, has been changing over the last few decades, and the trend seems to be intensifying.

While Christians have been reluctant to face the battle out in the world, we need to be aware that the battle may now come to us. The spiritual forces that hate God and His word will also hate Christians. But to be more specific, they may claim to love God, but just hate Jesus Christ, and those who follow Him. That's why the Bible calls the  end time "man of sin" the anti-Christ." As the western world tends to unite under some all-inclusive religious unity devoid of Christ, it will begin more and more to attack Christians  personally and legally through the laws of the land, and thus attempt to silence the testimony of Christian who would share the good news of Jesus Christ and His Word. 

We are in a spiritual battle. And Christians who have tended to retreat into the four walls of the church need to be aware that the world-system will attempt to make those four walls our prison in an effort to keep the message hidden away from the real world and the issues of the day.

Christians have tended to hide within the four walls of the church, but the truth is we cannot avoid the spiritual warfare that affects all of us in the real areas of life we face everyday. We will not be able to hide in church. The battle will come to us anyway, and at some point in time the only way to avoid it will be to deny the Lord either in word or actions, or to hide in one of the so-called Christian, religious institutions that will compromise and deny their very foundation in Christ and the truth of the Bible.  

I am beginning this series with a more light-hearted approach, an older post entitled "The Cat and the Rat."  Subsequent posts, however, will be a little heavier.  
                                                                                                     Billy Long,  5/11/13


The Cat at the Door
When I was just a kid we had a yard cat that should have been out hunting mice, but instead, was always sitting at the screen door meowing and whining plaintively, “begging” for someone to let him in the house. “Meow, meow, meow!” he cried. Translated into English this means, “Let me in. Feed me, pet me, help me, comfort me, make me happy. I want to go inside where it is comfortable and safe. I don’t want to face the world outside.”
My Dad hated for a cat to sit at the door begging like that. So he pushed the door open, and shoved the startled cat out onto the carport. As he walked past he said, “When I get back, I am going to haul you off to the shopping center.” He fully intended to get rid of the cat.

The Fight
About an hour later, I heard a commotion beside the corn barn at the edge of our back yard. I turned my head in time to see about 15 or 20 squawking chickens flapping their wings, jumping in the air, and scurrying in every direction to flee the water hole that had formerly been a mud-wallow for a few hogs. And among those chickens I saw that cat in the middle of a back-flip somersault a couple feet in the air. I ran over to see what was happening and found the cat locked in mortal combat with a large wharf-rat that was as big as the cat. Most of us have seen how a cat will often toy with a mouse, playfully tossing it into the air until he is ready to eat it. In this case, however, the rat had tossed the cat into the air.

I watched this battle until the cat finally killed the rat. He crouched over his prey and maintained a firm grip on the dead rat as he looked up at me with blood flowing from a big cut running across his entire face. His expression almost seemed to say, “I did it! Thank God I’m still alive!” He then proceeded to eat as much of the rat as he could. A couple other cats wandered over and joined the feast. There was rat to go around, and rat left over.

When my dad learned of this event he decided to keep the cat. There was no trip to the shopping center, and the cat’s lifestyle changed dramatically after that. It was as if he had understood my dad’s threat to “haul him off.” He never again sat whining at the door, and every few days he would drag up a dead rabbit, or rat, or bird and lay it on the carport, as if to say, “I’m still on the job.” The cat, with that ugly trophy scar across his face, stayed with the family a few more years until it died of old age.

The "Door" of the Church
As Christians we tend to be like that cat. In our focus on self it is easier for us to “sit at the door” of the church seeking our own comfort and self-fulfillment, rather than facing the tasks and challenges associated with reaching out to people in the real world. We often fear getting involved in the spiritual battle that is involved in the advancement of God’s kingdom.

Contemporary culture surrounds us with things that look good, sound good, taste good, and feel good, things that are fun. We want to do what pleases us--- DVDs, movies, TV, Music, video games, sports, and various amusements. We don't want to face what is difficult, demanding, and tedious. We often expect rewards and fruit when there has been no effort or labor. And then we carry this over into our walk with God, expecting Him to bless us, help us, comfort us, etc, without our enlisting to serve Him and His purpose. We want the blessings of the kingdom without the travail and labor involved in the spiritual walk. We avoid anything that causes discontentment, inconvenience, adversity, or pain. We subconsciously think everything in our spiritual walk should be fun, convenient, and focused on “me.”

We expect our meetings to entertain us and not be unpleasant. We want positive messages that do not challenge us. This tends to produce a large crowd of superficial and shallow Christians sitting as spectators enjoying the performance up front. It seems that the multitudes are not attracted to depth and substance but to glitter, show, and celebrity. They run to the latest thing, the newest thing, and to what gets the most PR. They go after the latest trends and those things that feed their fancy. Church becomes either a buffet or fast food which makes us “fat,” rather than the family meal which provides real nourishment, strength, growth, and spiritual substance.

A crowd is a good thing when it is made up of real disciples who want to know and follow Jesus, but a crowd is not necessarily a good thing, when the self-centeredness of the people is indulged, and when they are not confronted with truth nor helped to see themselves or the purpose of God. I believe that the Lord does want to bring us in and set us on His lap and embrace us with His love and kindness, but I also think He wants us to quit sitting at the “screen door” and to boldly face the challenges and “giants” that await us as we conquer the land with the message of the kingdom of God. Otherwise, as one friend of mine said, "I'll see ya'll at the shopping center next week."

“I have fought the good fight.” 2 Timothy 3: 7

This concludes Part One. I hope you will visit this site to read the articles that will follow. - B.Long