With a backdrop of a clean moral lifestyle (including our personal eternity secured) as our definition of Christianity, it is startling to realize that we are in a life and death struggle with the forces of evil. Here is heaven’s peek into the not too distant future: “The lawless man is produced by the spirit of evil and armed with all the force, wonders and signs that falsehood can devise. To those involved in this dying world he will come with evil’s undiluted power to deceive, for they have refused to love the truth which could have saved them.” Armed with all the forces that falsehood can devise! Undiluted power to deceive!! Wow!!! Dying world! Really? And we are Jesus-defined light bearers – armed with truth that many will never pick up a Bible to learn.
Here in free America we Christians have so many opportunities to counteract the forces of evil. We use social media or maybe the political system. Sometimes we volunteer. What do we do to expose the lies and deception that will cost people their eternal souls? It does not cost us our jobs or lives to profess Truth as it does in much of the world. (Christianity is the most persecuted group in the world, although our perception of persecution here is kind of embarrassing.) We seek to reverse the perception of Christians as harsh and condemning, so we are quiet. And then there is the distrust of the Bible itself among believers that further weakens resolve to seek and spread the Truth that so consumed the early church. As we play around with our various philosophies about how to serve God, and divide ourselves from one another with doctrinal disputes and points of practice, we are distracted from the ominous advance of the powers of darkness that are poised to distort and destroy their loathed enemy – us and our friends. To say that Satan abhors humanity is an understatement! We usurped his supposed place of God’s affections and intentions. God’s purpose in our creation dethroned him. We have an enemy armed with lies, delusions and deception extraordinaire. In a day when the Bible – the truth detector – is a largely unread and distrusted book, for the devil to cheat people out of their destiny is like shooting fish in a barrel. Tricking and destroying is a piece of cake. What is our responsibility as ambassadors of an unseen kingdom??
Jesus came to be the light, to show us the way, to tell us the truth about how things really are. He paid the ultimate price for such a decision. Not only was he hated and violated by his enemies, He was abandoned and questioned by his friends – the very ones who had been convinced of His identity and His message. He did not die for His good works- He died for His message.
What does that have to do with us?? Are we truly following His example or are we doing the church thing to cover our bases and to soothe our consciences? Are we a threat to deception and delusion? Are we a force for truth and spiritual justice? Are we causing those around us to thirst for truth or are we making them comfortable with the mirage that it doesn’t really matter what they believe as long as they are sincere? What if they are sincerely wrong about Jesus? Fatal error! Are we afraid to challenge that error because we don’t want to be harsh? Then do it with kindness and love! Are we afraid to speak because they might think less of us? Then we are not worthy to be His disciple. One of the side effects of believing is suffering because of that belief. There are many layers to that, but in the fight for souls we must be willing earn the right to lovingly challenge cherished delusions at the risk of disapproval. That hurts!
The early church was radical. Our brothers across the world are. Jesus was! His cause was worthy of His very blood. His reputation was shot. His attachments were destroyed. He was counted a failure, a fraud, a fool. He warned us that we would face the same fate if we are serious about following in His footsteps. Our neighbors’ souls are worth the cost. They probably know plenty of Christians, but few disciples – few who would be willing to expose the lies that ruin their souls and destroy their destiny. Speaking truth is love at its finest – being willing to lay down your life for your friends – risking reputation, status, approval, or whatever to tell them Jesus’ instruction about eternity. In a blink this life will be gone. What they think of us now weighed against what they will think of us forever is the snap of a finger. Will they wonder why we cared so little that we would not risk telling them that they were believing a lie? A lie that torments them forever? A lie with inescapable consequences? An eternity that might have been so different if one who had served and loved them on earth had warned and persuaded them when they still had the chance to choose? Or will they be grateful that we loved them enough to challenge their misconceptions about what Jesus came to do?
Let us wake up! Let us shake off fearful complacency! Let us speak up! Fight for our faith personally. Fight for our family. Fight for our friends. Love them into the kingdom. Tell them the Truth! They will thank you for the rest of time.