10.18.12 - Embracing the battle...

Please begin with prayer for an open heart, before you read the passage below. 1 Peter 5:5-11 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.  All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.  Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To Him be the power for ever and ever.  Amen

Does it seem like we are in the middle of a war?  Not like what’s taking place in the Middle East/N. Africa, but a spiritual battle.  Scripture repeatedly talks about the enemy (Satan) and that there are forces opposed to the Holy God that we follow and we are in the middle of it, and at times, casualties of it.  I don’t think this is typically at the forefront of our mind and we don’t live like this is a reality either.  Our country is relatively friendly towards Christianity, or at least not littered with outright, violent hostility like other parts of the world, but there is resistance.  We have to be careful not to run and hide from this through surrounding ourselves with only Christians and creating a protected, Christian utopia of sorts.

Before I began working at Point of Grace, I worked in the business world for 6 years.  Before that, I spent 5 years at the University of Texas.  Both of these places had pockets of Christians, but as a whole, it was not friendly towards Christians.  There were certain cultures at UT and the two companies I worked at and if you didn’t follow the cultures, because of your faith, you were typically looked down upon and made fun of.  Again, people were not hostile, just not supportive if you didn’t move with the norm.  These times were tremendous for my faith, because I felt a little bit of the pressure and consequences of the battle that we are in.  In those moments, you are really choosing whether you will follow Jesus or follow the ways of the world.

Since I began to work at Point of Grace, it presented a different challenge.  It is much safer in the walls of a church to express your faith and follow Jesus, but that can lead to naivety or blindness to the war that we are in.  I am surrounded by Christians the majority of my waking hours.  Even people that are not Christian at Point of Grace are not openly hostile towards it.  There can be a trap within the Christian world to bubble-ize ourselves through all things Christian.  Christians have created a separate Christian world---bookstores, radio, business, ministry, small groups, etc.  These are all great things, but if we are not careful, we can run and hide from the war and that is never the call from Christ.  We are called to stand firm and seek opportunities to be around those far from God.  If I am not intentional, I will have little meaningful interaction with people far from God.  Comfort that is promoted by America can render us ineffective in the spiritual realms!

We also can’t lose heart while in the battle---we remember brothers and sisters all around the world who are facing persecution because of their faith.  Verse 10 gives great hope as well---‘after you have suffered a little while, will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.’  The battle has purpose and what’s great, is that we know the outcome!  This gives us hope as we press forward and help advance the Kingdom of God.  As Jesus says in John 15:18-21---the world hated Him first---if you belonged to the world it would love you as its own---They will treat you this way because of my name!  So, when people don’t like us because of our faith and we might be facing persecution, this  is actually a good thing and sign that we are on the winning team!

Do you live knowing the reality of the battle we are in?  Have you faced persecution, whether social or otherwise?  What gives you hope through the battle?  I would love to hear your journey and how this passage impacted you.