The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So, let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light- Romans 13:11-12 NIV
My week began on a spiritual high note.
Sunday, I attended one of the most moving church services I have ever been a part of. It was a sweet reminder that God is and people are still being transformed by His presence in their lives.
It was all kind of downhill from there.
The rest of the week was mostly just a series of weird and unpleasant reminders life is short, the world is still a dark place and there is no shortage of spiritual work to be done.
One such reminder came via a long conversation with an individual who was, from a biblical perspective one of the most tragically ignorant people I have ever interacted with. The whole discussion was frustrating. However, the thing I found most maddening was how this person is fully convinced they already know everything they need to know about God and the Bible. In reality, all they really know is what other ignorant people have told them and precious little of it is accurate or nice.
My heart is still broken for the lostness of that person. I was reminded once again that there is a battle raging—not a physical battle— we are not literally at war with anyone. Christians are, or are supposed to be fighting for the hearts, minds and souls of people who do not know Jesus (Philippians 2:25, 2nd Timothy 2:3-4, Ephesians 6:10-17). The shocking number of biblically ignorant individuals in the Western world indicates that we have lost more battles than we have won in recent years.
We are losing because EVERY professing Christian, regardless of age, gender or denominational preference is a soldier called to fight. However, some of our soldiers appear to be woefully ignorant of their status. Others understand there’s a battle but are too busy arguing about stupid stuff to be of any use to anyone. Still others are simply not in any kind of spiritual shape to fight. Even more are so busy chasing worldly squirrels they don’t have the focus they need to fight even the tiniest battles effectively (1st John 2:15).
A course correction is desperately needed in our ranks. If we all commit to making a few changes in what we do and how we view the world Christians would become far more effective very quickly. It all begins with:
Understanding the times we live in- 1st Chronicles 12:32
Americans live in a culture that is rapidly becoming post-Christian. This is a complex issue but basically it means the gospel is irrelevant at best and stupid at worst to the majority of people in our culture. Furthermore, most churches have done a sloppy job of teaching people who already believe in Jesus what the Bible teaches about most issues. This means our primary responsibility as Christians right now is to help the world and the church to understand that individuals CAN choose to live their lives anyway they wish. However, there is such a thing as “best practices” when it comes to relationships and life choices. Those “best practices” are found in the Bible and begin with making a commitment to Jesus Christ and then choosing to live life the way the Bible calls us to live it. This means Christians must make a real commitment to self-education so we can teach others the truth of God’s word.
Getting in fighting shape-
This means dealing with the sin in our lives decisively and doing our best to live a holy life (Matthew 5:29 Colossians 3, 2nd Peter 1:3-11, 1st John 4:9). Getting in shape spiritually means committing serious blocks of time to prayer and learning as much as possible about the Bible and what it says about life. It means knowing ourselves. Every Christian should have a complete understanding of their own strengths so they can be used effectively for the Kingdom. Believers must also understand their own weaknesses so that they are not destroyed by them.
Aligning yourself with the right people-
Christians should love everyone but only align themselves with those who believe in inerrancy of the Bible and are willing to live out its principles.
Putting your armor on-
Every believer should study Ephesians 6:10-18 in depth and have the entire passage committed to memory. It should be a prayer we pray daily. For a sample of what I pray click here-
Engaging the right way-
It is imperative Christians make a regular practice of getting into the world and interacting with the people in it (Matthew 5:13-16, John 3:17. It is equally critical we do it the right way. Christians should never bully, intimidate or make people feel like anything less than a person made in God’s image. That said Christians should never be afraid to speak the truth of the gospel with passion.
We are where we are mostly because too many of us have been spiritually complacent for far too long. It is time for all of us to set ourselves aside and get into the game.