Do we have a real enemy and is our battle legitimate?
Yes! We have a real, legitimate, viable enemy. But, our enemy does not wear the uniform of a totalitarian state. He is not crucifying Believers on crosses outside of Denver, Detroit, or Des Moines.
His guise is apathy. He does not kill, maim, and destroy in the same fashion here in the west as he does behind the iron and bamboo curtains. But make no mistake: He does kill, maim, and destroy.
Subtleties are the order of the day here, and these serve his purpose just fine. You and I will probably not ever get so much as a bloody nose for the cause of the gospel, but the stakes are just as high spiritually for us as they are for our brethren in China, North Korea, and Iran.
I’m reminded of a quote from Chuck Colson’s book, Who Speaks for God?: “If we lose our freedom in this country, it won’t be because of heavy-handed laws…It will be because an apathetic church has grown sluggish and uncaring.”
We in the west have a high calling: No one is going to issue an ultimatum for us to choose between our faith and freedom. We must assume responsibility for this ourselves and do so diligently.
We have many opportunities to grow and be fed from the spiritual smorgasbord. There are “a thousand” books, conferences, downloads, and speakers online from which to choose. But we must not feed ourselves the fat, worthless, fast-food of religion and call it Christianity. We should commit ourselves to a well-rounded diet of God’s Word, making the same commitment to quality spiritual growth as Daniel and his friends did in Daniel 1:5-13.
Commit yourself in God’s grace to a personal time of prayer. I don’t mean a ritualized, formalized “bless this before we eat it” type of ritual with the Lord. He Himself likens our relationship with Him to a marriage.
It should almost go without saying, marriage communication is much more than, “How was your day?” as you stuff down some chicken casserole. Certainly it is that, but it goes a good deal farther.
Prayer, like marriage, is complete transparency and vulnerability. It is pouring out the inner recesses of heart and soul. It is listening intently and drawing out the subtleness of another’s thoughts. It is openness and honesty with sincere love and respect. This is marriage—and this is prayer.
Don’t settle for a surface relationship! Your Heavenly Father waits only for you and me to place our hands in His and give the go-ahead nod.
Commit yourself to quality thought. There are many who offer up platitudes and pith in the name of Christian thinking. Don’t be lulled into apathy by this fluff. Trying to grow spiritually on this pabulum is akin to healthy growth at the doughnut shop.
Much has been said about Christian faith being a “leap,” as into a hole with no bottom, a blind believing in something mystical and opaque. I disagree.
Yes. Christianity is a walk of trust and faith, and God is large enough that you will never figure Him out or find the conclusion of Him, but your faith is not blind, dark or even opaque. Investigate your belief from any direction and you choose. Put it under a magnifying glass, a microscope, or step back and view it through a telescope for that matter.
Be honest in your examination. If your faith fails, toss it. But if examined thoughtfully and with diligence, you will find that true faith in Jesus Christ will stand your scrutiny.
Our faith is rock solid! It is not blind belief. It is not a crutch. It is not an excuse. It is worthy of your life for it is a commitment to a relationship with God Himself through Christ. Don’t settle for anything else.
I’m not advocating that you become something you are not. I’m not into some pseudo intellectual trip or some zealot fraternity. I am merely pointing out the crucial necessity for diligence in our Christian lives. Anything short of this legitimacy of faith is apathetic, and both Jesus Christ and you deserve something—anything—more passionate than apathy.
Offering words of perspective and encouragement, a pastor named Bo Baker said to me many years ago, “Son, God can cut a lot of wood with a sharp ax.” Obviously, his words took root in my mind or I wouldn’t remember them forty years later. There’s a lot of wisdom in that simple analogy.
Years before this article, and years before Pastor Bo’s counsel, the Apostle Paul told his mentee, Timothy, “…discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” Well said—for then and now!
When a man or woman becomes a Christian in many places around the world, the social system tests their commitment in a crucible of torture, isolation, compromise, and even death. If they aren’t for real, or don’t truly mean business in their faith, they’ll wash out with the first serious threat.
We in the west do not have that “luxury.” We must assume responsibility for our growth and maturation, calling the Spirit of God to take us deeper in our relationship with Him. If we fail, the apathy of western Christianity will swallow up the fire of our relationship with Christ Jesus.
Satan’s goal is simply to create an effective system whereby a man or woman misses God and His best. He can accomplish this through a totalitarian state that threatens persecution or he can threaten nothing, question nothing, and challenge nothing knowing that induced apathy is just as effective as inflicted affliction.
Don’t be deceived into thinking you can march to apathy’s lullaby. You can dance to that tune, but it is not marching music.