There is a great misconception within the body of Christ today, one that is fostered, nurtured and promulgated especially among those new to the faith in Christ. For many denominations and evangelists it is the hook by which they attract people into those large, opulent buildings with steeples that are commonly known as churches but which can be more readily likened to social clubs wherein ten percent of your earnings gets you a couple hours worth of entertainment per week.
As convoluted as this misconception is, it is highly attractive to those who aren’t necessarily looking for a relationship with God, but rather a reason to feel hopeful and positive.
“Come to Jesus, and you will never again have a care in the world. Your wife will love you, your children will respect you, your boss will give you a raise, and you will ascend from victory to victory, never again to know the trials and tribulations of the godless, never again to feel the anxiety and vexation that is the cruel reality of this present life.”
Poetic license notwithstanding, what we are promising the unsaved is a carefree and prosperous life here on earth, and not eternity in the presence of the Creator of all that is. In the estimation of some, once we raise a hand, or say a prayer, we mount up on our white steeds, and with a glint in our eye and a smile on our lips we ride onward toward eternity, never again encountering danger, peril or enemies.
Because many are never taught to expect opposition, attacks and warfare, at the first sign of trouble, they waver in their convictions, retreat, and attempt to find a circuitous route by which they can avoid confrontation. The path toward eternity is not around trials, it is not around tribulation, it is not around warfare, but through them.
There are three things we must contend with in our journey toward eternity, three things that have the singular purpose of distracting us from pursuing Christ and marching ever onward toward our rest.
The first of these is the lion, or the devil, whose only desire is your destruction. The world and those of the world already belong to him, and so he takes no pleasure in seeing their demise, he takes no pleasure in seeing their slavish existence, shackled to the sins and desires that have robbed them of their dignity and humanity. It is the children of God that the enemy desires to destroy; it is the children of God that the enemy desires to once more enslave.
1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”
There are three crucial truths we must glean from these two verses, three truths that will give us strength and encourage us whenever the enemy’s attacks grow in scope and size. The first truth is that we must be sober and vigilant, living with the expectation of the enemy’s attack. When it comes to the enemy attacking the children of God, it is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when.
The second truth we must glean is that by resisting him, and being steadfast in our faith, we will overcome him by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God. The third truth is that we are by no means unique in our sufferings, we have by no means been singled out, but the same sufferings are experienced by our brotherhood in the world.
The second thing that we must be weary of, the second of the three that desires to distract us from pursuing Christ and cementing a true and lasting relationship with Him are the wolves.
Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”
There are variations of many things in this world, but there can be no variation when it comes to truth. There is one truth, and His name is Jesus; there is one way, and His name is Christ; there is one life, and that is in Him, and no matter how men might attempt to find a different path, no matter how men might attempt to pervert the uniqueness of Christ, His singularity remains forever true.
A wolf eats sheep. A wolf does not teach, care for, nurture or otherwise desire the wellbeing of sheep; he just wants to fill his belly with their flesh. A wolf will do anything, and say anything to draw the sheep away from the Shepherd, because he knows the lengths to which the Shepherd will go to protect His sheep. If any man, whether highly respected within Christian circles, or someone holding a sign on a street corner attempts to distance you for Christ and place himself in His stead, run!
The last things we sojourners must contend with in this present life are the storms. Coming to Jesus guarantees no man exemption from the storms of this life. The only thing we are assured of is that our Captain, Christ, will steer us through the storms to a safe harbor. When we acknowledge the fact that storms of various sizes and intensities will come, then even in the midst of them we are at peace steadfast in the truth that Christ is also with us.
This journey of faith is by no means easy, God never said it would be, but regardless of how many attacks we will have to endure, regardless of how many wolves we will have to chase away, regardless of how many storms we will have to contend with in this present life, it will all be worth it when we stand before His glory and see Him face to face.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.