Saturday, January 25, 2014

A War-Zone Not a Theme Park

“And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
Rev 12:17.

The Kingdom of Heaven Suffers Violence
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.  Matthew 11:12.
But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, and saying, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we mourned to you, and you did not lament.”  Matthew 11: 17.
The verse quoted above describes the intensity that occurs around the Kingdom of God—the aggressiveness of those who seek it, and the violent resistance of those who reject it. The second verse compares the religious world to children sitting in the marketplace playing games rather than engaging the realities occurring around them. It is a picture of typical Sunday morning church-goers’ failing to recognize they are participants in a spiritual war. Taken together these verses urge us to put on our spiritual armor and be prepared to face an enemy who is angry and hates us. There are no non-combatants in this fight. We must be prepared for the realities of the spiritual warfare moving across our nation.

“Hey! They’re using real bullets!”
There was a science fiction movie entitled “West World” in which people went to a theme park, a realistic old wild-west setting equipped with androids that interacted with the visitors. The tourists, wearing six-gun and holster, would walk through town and visit the saloon, and be challenged by one of these human-like robots to a gunfight in the street. All the guns had blanks, and the robot was programmed to lose the fight. It was a game, just a fun activity.
But on one occasion, the robot went rogue, put live ammunition in his pistols, and actually shot the tourist. The shocked tourist was not expecting a real fight. Falling to the ground, he turned to his friend and said, “He’s using real bullets!” 

Preparing for the Realities
In this age of video games, TV, and fantasy football, it is easy for Christians to forget that we are in a spiritual battle. We think the music will play, the friendly robot will pretend to shoot us and then fall down when we pretend to shoot him. We think the bell will ring “game over” and we can put another quarter in the slot and start again. But we are in a war-zone not a theme park.
 In upcoming days contemporary Christianity in America will be forced to define itself by its true spiritual life rather than superficially by its style. In our culture Christians often look for a church by shopping around for their favorite group, the one they will “enjoy” the most, the one that “meets my needs.” This pattern has fallen upon most of us because of our easy and comfortable culture. But in the days ahead, we will be forced by the upheavals in our society to follow the example of the early Christians and live at a deeper spiritual level rather than following superficial religious routines. We will find ourselves in a battle with a spiritual enemy who genuinely hates us and who inspires his followers to hate us.

Garden Snakes and Copperheads
My dog used to enjoy catching and eating snakes. She would come running into the yard with a snake hanging out of both sides of her mouth with its body flapping around with each of the dog’s steps. Her prey had been limited to garden snakes, black snakes, green snakes, and rat snakes, all of which are harmless. The dog had never met a bad snake, and I knew she would one day run up on a copperhead, moccasin, or rattlesnake. Her approach to snakes would change drastically after that.
Then one day it happened. As I drove into the yard I was met by the dog, her snout swollen up as big as the rest of her head. She had come upon a Copperhead thinking she could kill and eat it as easily as she had done so many times with other snakes. It bit her on the snout. The dog now had a better understanding of what was at stake.  

 “For the Days are Coming”
Seeing the women lamenting for Him as He was being led to Calvary, Jesus turned and warned them of their own impending distress that would arrive less than forty years later when the Romans besieged Jerusalem in 70 A D. “Weep not for Me,” He said, “but weep for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming….” Luke 23: 28-29.   
Jeremiah, facing a similar time in Israel’s history, spoke these words. “Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children…” (Lam 2:19).
 These sobering exhortations are appropriate for our generation. It is a time to watch and pray, to lay aside lukewarm and empty religious routine and walk with the Lord in genuine and real relationship and fellowship and be prepared for the days that are coming.

Be Strong and of Good Courage
The devil is an aggressive enemy. He does not just passively dislike us; he is angry and enraged and will transfer that sentiment into his followers. He will use all means possible, including religious organizations, government and law, to resist the kingdom of God. 
The purpose of this post is not to instill negative attitudes of hostility, fear, and defeat, but to warn believers of difficult times ahead and to encourage Christians to cultivate a genuine walk with the Lord Jesus and be prepared to stand courageously in faith and love in the face of a world system that hates us because it hates God’s rule. We will bear witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ knowing that persecution has never been able to prevent or destroy the Kingdom of God and His people.
“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the word hates you.”  John 15: 19
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  John 16: 33

No comments: