This will not be coherent.
I am having to take my thoughts and the verses popping out at me one day at a time. Ever been there? After reading this post, I’m more convinced than ever that the Church needs to be constantly reminded the battle going on right now is spiritual. We will get lost in finger-pointing and blame shifting otherwise.
At the same time, I am committed to intentionally learning how the past week and the near future impacts those whose voices we need to listen to right now. In fact, I plan on simply quoting some of those voices, rather than sharing my opinions. If we are of the powerful majority, it is our responsibility to listen, learn all we can, and use any influence we might have for others’ good.
But we must, must hold up our shield of faith right now in the spiritual realm. That is where Believers have power no one can touch. But we will be attacked. Yesterday, my reading was when Peter declares Jesus to be the Messiah. Jesus affirms this could only have been revealed to Peter by the Father, and how upon Peter’s confession Jesus would build the church and the gates of hell will not conquer it.
This is true. We have to remember this and cling when we forget. Every time period has had atrocities. But as I learned in this study, one reason Jesus talks about difficult days being like labor pains is because it gets more intense and frequent the closer we get. We are not imagining this. And as Clint Smith wrote this morning on Twitter, “Wake up everyday and remind yourself this is not normal. This is not okay.”
It really isn’t. So we keep our eyes on Jesus. We remind ourselves that it isn’t normal and we shouldn’t make it our goal to make it okay.
Then this morning my word was the next few verses after Peter’s declaration:
“From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that he had to go to Jerusalem, and he told them what would happen to him there. He would suffer at the hands of the leaders and the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, and he would be raised on the third day.
But Peter took him aside and corrected him. ‘Heaven forbid, Lord,’ he said. ‘This will never happen to you!’
Jesus turned to Peter and said, ‘Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, and not from God’s.’
Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?'” (Matthew 16:21-26)
I appreciate that Jesus wasn’t simply teaching Peter in this moment. He was genuinely seeing a dangerous trap in Peter not wanting Jesus to go to the cross. Jesus didn’t want to and someone talking him out of it was a real temptation. Then He reminds them all the only way up is down. The only way to fight is to surrender to God. The only way to keep your life is to lose it. Death to our plans is required.
Fast forward to breakfast when we were praying through some verses over our day. “You have sent us out like sheep among wolves. Teach us what it means, therefore, to be shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves.” (Matt 10:16) Oldest asked what that meant, and after my word with God, it came without much extra thought. Being prudent and wise, discerning of situations He’s put us in, but with a childlike innocence and clean hands.
Fortunately I don’t think this takes a hefty dose of additional spiritual gifts. He has told us that any who lack wisdom should ask and He will give generously to all without finding fault. And discernment? Constant practice in God’s Word. Holding onto it with all our might in these confusing times. Acknowledging others talking us into an easier path is genuinely tempting. Then laying down our lives anyway for the sake of the kingdom.
Be in the Word, friends. May it ooze out of us. Listen to an audio readings, fill our brains with Scripture-saturated music, memorize and meditate. That is how we can distinguish good from evil. And it is something up for grabs for any of His children.
Much love to everyone. I believe in us because I believe in Him and He is trustworthy.