Friday, February 24, 2012
Ah… at last, I think I can tell you what I have been struggling with for a couple of weeks. It has been difficult to put my thoughts to paper, perhaps because they are so very personal and not studious. Perhaps because I have felt like a yo-yo running up down on a string as I tried to decide what I actually conclude from my reading in this area. But now I think I am ready to share.
My study in Matthew triggered these thoughts and a novel I am reading nudged me into finding out what was troubling me. In the novel (placed around the time of the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and following) our heroine is a very young converted Jewish Christian. who’s father is deemed to be the “widow’s son” who was raised from the dead. The story is that he taught about Jesus and told his testimony everywhere he went and raised his family to love and obey their Lord. But during the destruction of Jerusalem, he was murdered, as was his son and wife, while one of his daughters starved to death. Hadassah was spared and taken as a slave to Rome. It is very hard reading, but I was interested in the broad subject and have kept reading, watching what the author saw as God working in her life to touch others for Him, even though they did not know she was a Christian. It was just too dangerous to tell “the whole truth.”
There comes a time when her masters ask her about her life because her very being has had a tremendous impact on them and has convicted them of their own lack of peace. She has often regretted not speaking up and she knew it was her duty, but, in the meantime, God was blessing her with great influence just through her peace and patience in servitude and genuine concern for her masters.
Here’s the thing: Life around her was truly an unimaginable horror. Rome had changed through the years and had become nothing more than a whore, according to the thinking of her master. Much of what was going on is exactly like life today with slightly different characters. This is where the pain of reading on became acute. I was reading a novel based on our country, our supposedly civilized world. Oh, we don’t throw people to the lions or cheer on the biggest and strongest killers, or worship with prostitutes… Oh, wait a minute. Yes we do. That is the heartbreak of it all. We do. We are the filth of the earth, a stench in God’s nose. This is not a new thing. This is the age old story.
So what do we do? Do we jump in and fight to the death? I do not think so. I think we have been very clearly instructed about this. We are to put on the full armor of God and pull out our “two edged sword” to keep ourselves sharp while RESISTING the enemy who would love to have us try to battle him. “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7. A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in HIS mighty power. Ephesians 6:10
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 It keeps us on our toes!!! It keeps us aware of our short comings and it keeps us aware that the One in us is stronger than the one in the world.
Here is where my thoughts come together. Even as Jesus told us to “turn the other cheek” He was preparing us with all that we need to RESIST the pressures around us and to keep from throwing pearls before swine. It is not our job to protect GOD. He can protect Himself. The most self destructive thing we can do is try to make our point by blasting someone else. Arguing or degrading others is not what God has in mind. Exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit for all to see is more like it.
But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matthew 5:39 If someone tries to rile us over the things of God, I think it is our job to let God protect Himself and us while we simply live for Him in obedience and trust, a living testimony of who He really is. May we humble ourselves in service to Him every day. I know I surely need to do that in my own life.