Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Prophets and Us

From my knowledge of history, which isn’t all that impressive really, it seems as though the true voice of Christianity has never been popular. Looking back, specifically to the prophets of the Old Testament, God’s leaders and believers of faith were always in the minority. Even within the Jewish population it seemed as though only a remnant of God’s chosen people were continuously faithful. This must have been an uncomfortable position, especially considering that they were probably out-casted, ridiculed and been put at a disadvantage for their beliefs, which God saw as righteous. In addition to the internal tribulations, the history of the Jewish people is marked by multiple and long-lasting enemy captivities. This increased the temptation to abandon God by further disassociation and persecution. But even still, the faithful remnant held their faith throughout the difficult times, passing on the honor of being a legitimate child of God us, with the single prayer that we’d see the Ancient of Days as a mighty and loving. Mighty and loving, not because He always delivered them at first complaint, but because He continually restored their confidence of what is holy, true and worth fighting for, while building up the eternal inheritance allot to them for a job well done – despite the imperfections.

And so we find ourselves, American Christ Followers of the Twenty-First Century, in the same position of the prophets of our Bible. (I am well aware that other countries have it much worse, but I can only write what I know from experience. Keep in mind that if this is the “best” place for Christ Followers to be, how much worse does that make other places? Also, remember that the current worldwide persecution of Christianity is at a higher-rate than those of all the centuries of recordable past combined.) In remarkable similarity, we live in a country at pretends to be a nation of the Most High God, but whose majority of people don’t believe in an intimate God, an evil entity called Satan, or any sense of absolute truth. On a national level, the God-centered inspirations of the Founding Fathers has been transformed to government officials (elected or not) squandering colleagues, higher-ups and other nations for personal money and power. On a personal level, if we haven’t lost friends or created strained relationships because of our choice to stay loyal to God, soon enough it will happen. As unfortunate as it is, the Christ Follower’s morals differ from that of America’s, and sometimes are in stark opposition. Just as the faithful remnant became out-casted for belief, we too have become or will because the object of narrow-mindedness, shame and undated weakness, by strangers, and even worse, sometimes by friends and family.

One thing we share with all the saints is that our hearts have been broken twice because of unwillingness to yield in our faith. Once broken because we’re looked down upon by people who we are trying to love, and again for the pain that grieves us that they don’t care for an intimate and eternal God, who is also their Creator and Savior.

So, what are we to do?

Despite the cruelty, disadvantageous, and unpopularity of our position today, we can still apply their strategies into our own situations. First of all, never give up the good fight; “Everything that really matters, is everything worth fighting for.” (Jonah 33 lyrics) If we give up our walk with God our testimony and reputation about Christ becomes worthless. Secondly, be assured that you aren’t fighting this alone. At one point Elijah became so frustrated that he believed he alone was the only believer. God assured Elijah that there were still thousands who are faithful in a nearby city. Christ Followers, although in minority to the rest of the world, can find strength and inspiration in each other. This is why fellowship is important for maintaining our faith and growing. (And why this website exists.) Thirdly, use your “superior weapons.” I attended a series of sermons recently that explained that the best chance we have in our spiritual struggles lies in our ability to use our superior weapons, of which we have two: prayer and the Word of God. Spending time daily to sincerely pray (praise and request) and diligently read the Bible (the Written Word of God) keeps us strong and bounded in truth and love. (See Ephesians 6:10-24.) Lastly, to proactively live out what we believe. Although it seems like the last thing you should do, God has always rewarded the bold and ambitious. People will only see the truth and love in our God when we find ways to act it out. This goes along closely with my last entry about “What’s Digging You.” If people don’t see the difference between Christ Followers and the rest of the world, we will never been taken seriously.

On a final note, God never promised us that this way of faith would be easy. In fact, Jesus spoke quite the opposite in His ministry. Notably, look at the lessons about the Narrow and Wide Gates (Matthew 7:13-14) and the Rich Young Man (Mark 10:17-27). But we can be assured that our inheritance and assurance is safe when we depend on the One who has endured all our troubles and more: our Lord Jesus Christ.

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