Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.Hebrews 12:1-2
The witnesses. What are they seeing as they peer through the realms at the Church all these many years after them? The ones who left such a legacy of faith in the face of the impossible. And all who have come since, those who endured (and are enduring even today) persecution, oppression, imprisonment, and death. For
what whom? For Jesus and His Gospel. That’s it.
But they are not the only witnesses. The world is watching our nation right now, and they are watching the Church. What are the believers in Iraq and Iran and Turkey and Libya and Pakistan and two fistfuls of other countries who persecute and kill Christians, witnessing as they watch us? What does the underground Church in China see when they look at the aboveground Church in the west?
We are being watched and heard and we should be downright disturbed at the thought. Uncomfortable at the very least.
Do they see faith? Do they see love? Do they see a Church whose eyes are fixed on Jesus?
Or are they witnessing us wade into the political and cultural cesspool of this world, shouting our indignation at what the world is doing and speaking and thinking and being? And have they noticed that we are mostly shouting at one another? Brothers and sisters fighting, drawing blood, over…what? Political opinions? Who we voted for? How much faith does it take to be angry and opinionated and downright mean? How much faith is required to be a Democrat or a Republican? How much love is needed to call someone evil that we’ve never met, had a conversation with, or even seen in person? Mothers and fathers and husbands and wives to someone. People who have their own battles within that we know nothing of. In a culture where the vast majority of our information is based on rumors and opinions, how much precious time are we wasting believing the worst of what we hear?
Are they watching us believe what “reliable news sources” are saying, but struggling to believe what God has said? Do they see us believe that Trump is evil and racist and a dictator / Biden is a pedophile with Alzheimer’s who is nothing more than a puppet – because people on the internet said so, while we walk in crippling fear and anxiety even though God has told us not to fear and to be anxious for nothing? And by the way, has anyone else noticed that we have been judging the hearts – the motives and intentions – of men and women we do not actually know? Have we ever considered that we are stepping on the toes of the Holy One when we dare to assume that we know what is in the hearts of other people?
Do the persecuted see a Church that is with them in the fight of faith for the souls of the lost, or do they just see us fighting for whatever platform we have chosen to fly our flag from? Come on. Someone cough or shift in their seat or get up and leave the room. Or be brave and say ‘amen’. Something to indicate this is hitting someone besides me.
We can do better, beloved, I know we can. We can choose where our gaze is directed. We can choose what we have ears to hear. We can choose to either speak life or speak death. We can choose to love in our thoughts, our words, and our actions. We can choose to believe that God stills works all things for good and for glory and for a perfect purpose. We can choose to tend to the one anothers among us no matter their gender, color, or political opinions. We can choose to live our lives worthy of the Gospel, worthy of the grace and mercy and redemption we have received. Worthy of the One, the only One, deserving of our deepest affections and allegiance.
Some of us feel run over from trying to fight this cultural and political war. But here’s a thought: the cultural/political war is a spiritual war and we have been fully equipped to fight a spiritual war in Christ. We need to stop separating what is happening on the world stage from what is happening in the heavens. Maybe that sounds contradictory to what I’ve said above, but it isn’t.
We haven’t been fighting the wrong war, we’ve just been fighting it the wrong way (hint: think friendly fire, think wrestling against flesh & blood).
When we trust what our eyes and ears are seeing and hearing in the natural and respond accordingly, we are fighting wrong. When we begin to see brothers and sisters through a political lens, we are fighting wrong. When we spend more time on the internet than in the word of God, we are fighting wrong.
And, (pull in your toes cause I’m about to step on ’em) when we choose to take a political side, we are fighting wrong.
When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua approached him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied. “I have now come as commander of the Lord’s army.”Joshua 5:13-14
Beloved, heaven is the side we take, every day all day. And let me just go ahead and state the obvious – heaven is neither Republican nor Democrat. Heaven isn’t rooting for either party. Heaven doesn’t have a platform or a political viewpoint. Heaven has a plan of salvation. Heaven’s agenda is redemption and reconciliation.
Heaven is the dwelling place of the Lord God Almighty, who commands an army beyond anything we can imagine. Heaven is where the Holy God, our Father, sits on the throne of thrones, ruling and reigning and rescuing wretches like you and me from the dominion of darkness. Wretches like Trump and Biden and all the other people we’ve chosen to love or hate.
Heaven is where the risen Christ, our Lord and our Savior, sits at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us. He is not interceding for a political race to go His way, He is praying for you and for me. Praying for His Church in this hour.
I need to wrap this thing up. It’s much longer than a blog post should be, but you know me. I get going and I’ve got a little weight on me so the momentum kind of takes over, know what I’m sayin?
I’m going to share what I believe, based on a number of recent visions God has given me, and words He has shared with me. Nope, it’s not a prophecy. It’s simply what I’m seeing and hearing and believing.
I believe there are dark days ahead, particularly for the Church, and even more particularly for the Western Church. I believe there is a storm, a tsunami of persecution coming our way. But I also believe that it will serve a divine purpose. Not punishment, purpose. I believe it will draw us together like nothing else could, causing us to lean on one another and teaching us to stand together as one. It will strip away what needs to be stripped from us, and there is much that needs to be stripped. I believe all of this is because we are loved by our Father, who refuses to let His Church continue to be absorbed by both self and the world.
I also believe that this darkness that is coming will usher in at least two things – repentance and revival. It will turn our gaze back to where it belongs – fixed on Jesus. It will separate the ones who pick up their cross and those who just hang around the cross. It will reveal lukewarm hearts and force them to choose – cold or hot, what’s it gonna be?
Finally, I believe it is time for the Church to shake off her distractions and get on her face before the throne of her King. It is time to repent and to seek His face and His presence and to desire His glory above all else. It is time to cry out for Him to give us undivided hearts and minds and affections that are for Him alone.
I watched a teaching by Cory Russell recently in which he said that it is time for the Church to go into the secret place and CLOSE THE DOOR.
All I can say to that is Amen and Amen. Let’s close the door on every distraction, every hindrance, every bit of worldly noise, and be with our Father. Oh, I pray we will do this. I pray we will hear His voice calling us to return to Him, to return to the one thing, the better thing. I pray we will begin to burn to close the door and just be with Him.
And finally, this: the pattern of scripture is that persecution causes the people of God to multiply, and the gospel goes forth in great measure.
The suffering of Christ produced salvation. The suffering of the Church produces the reaping for the Kingdom.