There’s this concept in modern Christian beliefs that has become insidious in the lie it holds. The thought is that once we have been accepted into Christ, that’s it. We have nothing more to do.
Nothing could be further from the Truth.
I recently wrote a piece on Persecution from a Western perspective, and found several articles on Huffington Post saying how American Christians are not persecuted and they (we if not from the US) should be dropped into Syria to see what persecution really is.
Yes, there is a strong argument that the persecution experienced in the Middle East under the genocidal rule of ISIS is an extreme form – like the Crusades but with AK47s – but the role is more damaging and deadly from a spiritual perspective in the West.
The writer of Hebrews was onto something major when he wrote chapter 10.
What we have from God, we have to hold onto to move into it.
CS Lewis touches on the subject briefly in “The Last Battle” when the Narnian Kings, Queens, Lords and Ladies are pulled into Narnia one final time but Susan is not with them. Peter tells them gravely “my sister Susan is no longer a friend of Narnia.” The others from our world explain to the Narnians with them that she has abandoned Narnia to the whims of this World, described by Lewis as “Lipstick and Nylons”. It’s a disturbing concept as it evokes the verses from Mark 13:
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed)!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it; for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and they will provide signs and wonders in order to deceive, if [such a thing were] possible, even the elect [those God has chosen for Himself]. But be on your guard; I have told you everything in advance.” [21-23 Amplified]
Susan, chosen by Aslan himself has been lured away from Narnia by the cares of this World. Jesus’s own words in Mark’s Gospel more than imply, they categorically state that even those specifically chosen by God Himself will be deceived and drawn away from the Faith by the World’s cares. He warns us to be on our guard against such things.
What troubles me right now is the way Christianity – or what passes as such in the mainstream – bends it’s will to that of the popular media. I read a statistic recently that suggested 1-2% of the US population identifies itself as LGBT while 15-25% describe themselves as Christian – including non-denominational house churches and less formal church groups within protestant ideology in addition to Catholic, Anglican, Baptist and other mainstream denominations.
That’s a massive discrepancy. maybe 2% of the population is forcing it’s religious and ideological beliefs onto a majority that remains silent or is portrayed in the news as Kim Davis nuts – a grave slight on real loving Christians by an over-zealous official. There were many ways for her to handle the situation she was in. She chose one which tarred all Christians as bigoted, hateful people.
Let us remember Jesus was rejected by the establishment of the day because he went and associated with prostitutes, sinners of all kinds, tax collectors, Samaritans and those outcast from society. Leprosy was the AIDS of the day, yet He went out of His way to touch the lepers. The first one to proclaim the Resurrection was an ex-prostitute.
He caught the fish, then cleaned it by His work in it (us). We seem to expect the fish to clean itself out to make itself worthy.
Then we beat ourselves up for falling short.
That’s where the Hebrews verse comes in.
Our confidence comes from placing ourselves in Christ’s care, not relying on our own abilities or works to become acceptable to God, but recognising that we NEED the sacrifice of Jesus to reach the relationship Jesus wants for us. The recognition of the need is our confidence. That’s good news.
The bad news is that the World tells us another story – especially in the West. We’re not good enough if we don’t got to church every Sunday, help in the soup kitchen on a Tuesday, attend home group on a Wednesday, midweek prayer meeting on Thursday mornings, start a prayer group at work to meet every day at lunchtime, never watch a single secular TV program or listen to anything but Gospel music and tell at least 20 people a week about Jesus and how He will save them if they do all of the above.
I guess I’m going to Hell. If that’s the definition, I guess we all are.
For accuracy, look to the thief on the cross next to Jesus. He didn’t live long enough to do any of the things the World lays on our plate as being “essential” to being “saved”. All he did was accept Jesus’s offer of Salvation. Nothing more, nothing less. He put his Faith in the sacrifice of the broken body on the cross next to his own.
And he died with confidence.
We throw our confidence away.
We live in a world where doubt reigns supreme. Consider the books of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and compare the characters with those in the movies. Bilbo remains doubtful of himself and his abilities, Frodo and his companions return to the shire and resume unassuming shy lives. Aragorn has to be virtually
begged to become King. But in the books, Bilbo returns a changed person, stronger and more adventurous – you do actually see flashes of that
Bilbo in the opening sequences of Lord of the Rings, but not in The Hobbit. In the books it is Aragorn who requests the shards of Narsil be reforged, he does not have to be convinced to put the ranger behind him – He knows who and what he is. The sanitised ending of the movies has Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry returning to Hobbiton unchanged by their adventure. In the books they find the shire under evil rule and overthrow it because their change is profound.
But the World looks for insecurity. Consider how many modern movies have protagonists torn with self-doubt from beginning to end. The characters with confidence all the way through tend to get killed off.
Nothing scares Satan more than a Christian who is confident in what God has given him in terms of authority. He throws sickness and the confident Christian brushes it aside. He throws financial ruin and the confident Christian steps through more like the Terminator than a hobbit.
“No weapon that is formed against you will succeed; And every tongue that rises against you in judgment you will condemn. This [peace, righteousness, security, and triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And this is their vindication from Me,” says the Lord. [Isaiah 54:17 Amplified]
No weapon formed. To walk in that promise we need confidence.
We were made in God’s image. A part of that is “The Lord is a Warrior, the Lord is His Name” says Exodus 15:3. Somehow we have swept that under the mat. Granted our battles are waged on a Spiritual battlefield, but they are war nonetheless.
Be confident. Satan cannot take it from you, but if you look at the wind and the waves of the storm around you, you’ll find yourself throwing that confidence aside.
Put your Faith where it belongs: in the one who made us in His image.
Hold fast to your Confidence in Him.
Don’t throw it away because things are a bit tough. If you do, you’ll never receive the glorious and great reward waiting for us.
Hold fast. Jesus is right there.