I often find myself listening to popular praise and worship songs, and I know the words, so, of course, I sing along! But sometimes I stop to wonder if I am actually thinking about the words that I am singing and do I actually mean them? Do any of us?
This hit me most recently while singing the popular song from the Passion Conference, “Even So, Come” – the song is about the second coming of Jesus, and that as His bride, we wait for Him, in joyous expectation and are ready! The melody is is calming and soothing and the words paint a picture of Jesus coming along to rescue us from the world – sounds good, right?
But I got to thinking…are we really ready for Jesus to come? God’s word is very clear in Luke 12:49-53 that when Jesus comes, its not really going to be a pretty, peaceful picture. Jesus himself says in verse 51 “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”
When I got to thinking about Jesus coming again, I got to thinking about what it means to follow Him now. We can easily think of the end times, and place ourselves in those “big battles” of faith, and say “Oh yeah, if it comes to that, I will definitely stand for Jesus!” But If we are true followers of Him, we have choices to make these stands each and every day, even now. Our right-now battles come in the form of COVID and racial and political tensions. We should take stands on social issues and on reaching out to and loving the unlovable and undesirable ones in visible ways. We should speak out about what God says and stand firm, even when we are not “politically correct” or socially acceptable. If we truly follow Jesus, He promises that we will have to be counter-cultural. We will not hold popular opinions. We will open ourselves up to ridicule and even to harassment and persecution, even from family and those that are closest to us. All of this if we are not lukewarm and actually speak out our beliefs. We don’t have to wait for Jesus to come – we can get a taste of what it will be like even now.
The craziness of this past year in our world has shown me just how much we enjoy riding the line – and I whole heartedly include myself in that. We like to say that we are Christians and that we stand for Jesus and fully believe the Word of God, but when it comes to acting on it, are often not up to the task. I am a strict non-confrontational person, and that’s why I enjoy sharing my opinions mostly from behind the safety of a keyboard! If I disagree with you, I will usually just know that and keep that for myself in my mind and move on along so that we don’t have to talk about it – but that’s not being Biblical, or a strong witness for Christ. I have to be willing to fight for the truth and not be lukewarm in my convictions.
I feel that we as modern Christians have been weakened by caring more about what other people think about us than on standing unwaveringly on what the Word of God says. We value popularity and followers and safety above obedience to God’s Word and the urgings of the Holy Spirit. We value our peace and quiet and physical comfort and don’t want to hold opinions that may disrupt that. We believe in scientific “facts” and the reality presented to us by “experts” more than we believe in the sovereignty and supernatural omnipotence of the God we claim to serve.
Psalm 91:4-6 says:
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
But when “terror by night” comes – say in the form of rioting or demonstrations – we cower in fear. When “pestilence” comes in the form of an unknown virus that we are told to fear, we forget that God is in control. We say that we believe the Word and character of God, but when the rubber meets the road in tangible ways that affect us, its amazing how quickly we say “I believe God, but…”.
In that same passage from Luke, in verse 32, Jesus says “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” – I loved the imagery of a “little flock”, and it reminded me of Psalm 23. One of the lines that we often say but skip over really contemplating in that popular prayer is “Thy rod and thy staff comfort me.” (verse 4). It really stood out to me on my latest reading, and I was struck by the depth of that; a shepherd’s rod and staff were used for discipline, guidance, and for protecting the flock – it seems a bit strange that that should be what brings us comfort, but with it, we are reminded that with God as our Good Shepherd, we should rest in His total sovereignty, accepting His guidance, discipline and protection for our good, and not having faith in anything this world has to offer. Easier said than done, I know, but no one claimed that this faith walk thing was easy or looked rational, right? But what we do know is that the reward well outweighs the risk – for, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6).