Monday, July 9, 2012


Thoughts on the Sabbath School Lesson for 7.14.2012

Many of us, because of the time and place in which we’ve grown up, have never seen, in person, an actual, active battlefield. I am one of those people. All I know of battles, I have learned from movies and TV, and as realistic as those may try to be, they are not like really being there…thank goodness.
That’s not altogether true, though. We forget that we all are in the middle of, not just a battle, but a war. Satan and his angels still fight with God and His angels for the right to run the universe. In that war, the whole earth is the battleground, and the universe is watching.

What part do we play in this war? Well, we can’t actually say we’re the soldiers – they are God’s and satan’s angels. Depending on whose side we’re on, we’re either more like citizens who accept the status quo or we’re members of the resistance.

The big question is, then, whose side are we on? Do we decide to let things go on the way they always have, or do we try to show people that there’s a better way? The decisions you and I make as we go along, ultimately will decide where we spend eternity. Which side are you on? The decisions we make as we go through our day determine for which side we’re working.  If we pick the resistance side, our job is to recruit citizens to work with us to spread the Gospel all around the world and recruit more people to the resistance. If you’re on the status quo side, your job is to interfere/slow down/block any progress the resistance might be able to make. Let’s think about this for a second. Who’s got the easier job – recruiting or obstructing? No contest, right? It’s actually ridiculously easy to make someone else’s job harder to do. While the Christian (resistance) job is to show that Jesus’ love is for everyone, all the other side has to do to counteract that is to point out times when Christians were not acting in loving ways – to point out all the mistakes Christianity as a whole and Christians as individuals have ever made, as well as bringing  envy, jealousy and gossip into the Christian community. Here’s an example: “James Emery White tells the following story about his visit to the Eagle and Child pub in Great Britain, the place where C. S. Lewis and his friends used to meet.
“One day, as I sat at my favorite little table, and another stream of tourists entered—and left—I heard the manager muttering, "Bloody Christians." I was enough of a regular to feel comfortable asking him what he meant. “‘Take a look at this,’ he said, holding up a menu. ”’They cost me two pounds each. Two pounds! I ordered hundreds of them, and now I only have ten because they keep getting nicked.’
“‘You mean people are stealing them?’ I asked incredulously.
“‘Yeah, the bloody Christians take the menus, while the bloody students take the spoons and ashtrays.’
“‘… Why the menus?’
“‘I don't know, it's what they can get their hands on, I suppose,’ he answered. ‘It got so bad I started making copies of the menu that they could take—for free—but they still take the good ones.’ …
“He paused a moment, and then said, ‘What gets me is that all these people who come in for Lewis are supposed to be Christians, right?"
“Yes, I thought to myself, they are.
“The irony is bitter; the manager of The Eagle and Child pub holds Christians and, one would surmise, Christianity itself, in disdain because of the behavior of the Christians who flock to pay homage to Lewis. Many wouldn't dare drink a pint [of beer], but they will gladly steal.”[1]
Satan works very hard to make sure that Christians look as bad as possible to non-Christians. On the other end of the spectrum, satan is working just as hard to discourage people from becoming involved with Jesus. Paul and the other apostles experienced all kinds of bad treatment at the hands of both the Jews and by their own new Christian churches. 
“But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things.” Acts 17:5-8
That’s some pretty rough treatment! Paul upset the wrong people apparently – people who preferred the status quo to any new information that these Christians were going to give. They didn’t want the safe, neat little world disturbed by this radical new information. People today still have those reactions to new information, don’t they? They’d often rather continue going the wrong way than to change to the right way. It’s human nature, but satan really uses it. I remember some friends of my family accepted our invitation to come to a crusade. They came to every meeting, but when it came time for a decision, they said, “We really believe that what  we’ve heard is the truth, but all of our friends go to this other church.” In other words, we prefer the status quo.

Satan works hard to make sure that the truth is less appealing, less popular and more trouble to maintain. He loves it when Christians behave badly. He wants the world to believe that God is vengeful and arbitrary, so when God’s people act that way, he jumps at the chance to point it out.
And, as Christians, we make it so easy for the enemy. We gossip and allow ourselves to become bitter and jealous; we end up fighting amongst ourselves rather than spreading the love of Jesus to a world that is starving for it.

It seems hopeless sometimes, but then there’s this: Jesus died so that He could be with us in Heaven, and, even though we still live on the battlefield, the war is won.
“Satan left the field a vanquished foe, peremptorily dismissed. At the word of Christ, ‘Get thee hence, Satan,’ the powerful fallen angel had no choice but to obey. Angels that excel in strength were on the battleground, guarding the interest of the tempted soul, and ready to resist the foe.”(E.G. White, The Review and Herald, April 24, 1894.)

[1] James Emery White, A Traveler's Guide to the Kingdom, (InterVarsity Press, 2012), pp. 26-27

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