Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Enemies, Part Two

In light of viewing enemies as those things set to separate us from the love of Christ, let me suggest another enemy in addition to satan and temptation and sin. Blessings. And I use the word blessings here very loosely so as to not trample the true blessings God has given us. We are overflowed in our culture with great wealth, comfort, and prosperity. Now you think, “Well, I’m not prosperous.” You’re not prosperous compared to who? Go back to James 1 and to verse 17:

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” We hear this so much to refer to material things . . . food, cars, homes, possessions, money, etc. And we do have to be careful here, because it is a blessing of God to have our needs met. But because we like what is coming our way, and we don’t see it pointed out as inherently wrong, we automatically call it a blessing from God.

Let’s go back to Luke 12:16-21

16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

What did abundance do to this man? It made him forget in reality in who God is, who the blessings really belong to, and who he was before God. Here is a major danger for us. We have an enemy that presents the world’s pleasures and riches before us, and they become our goal and aim instead of Christ, thus separating us from experiencing him. And I am not talking about what we would term as extravagant, but what many would just consider middle of the road. But it becomes what we do and what we are toiling for, rather than a relationship with Christ, and then we turn and say all those things are a blessing from God. And in their right and proper place, they are.

Go to Luke 4.

3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Something as simple and needed for physical life such as bread becomes a temptation for Christ. It is a temptation that would separate Him from the Father. Look at verses 5-6. 5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him[d] all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” Later Christ would say that “foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Bread and the things in and of themselves were not evil, but the Father’s plan for the Son included no such comfort. And to partake would be a distrust of God.
In our culture, our desires, our activities, our ease, our comfort, our pursuits cans separate us from the love of Christ. The sad thing is that we often justify them as good things and call them blessings. Cannot we also be tested with much? Can testing come trough much leisure and comfort?

Andrew Peterson wrote a song some time back that I just love the lyrics to. He had been to South America where he saw poverty, sickness, disease, and a people who were utterly joyful and delighting in experiencing Christ.

Here’s how it goes:

The Land of the Free
Little Elba how’s the sun in South America?
does it shine upon the faces of the poor?
do they see in it the brilliance of the place that’s been prepared
and dwell upon the hope of what’s in store?

or are they just like me? do they only see
an opportunity to complain about the heat?

Little Elba, how’s the rain in South America?
does it fall upon the rooftops of the sick?
do they thank the Lord for coming up with such a great idea
and dream about a place beyond all this?

or are they just like us? do they gripe and fuss
about the rain and mud when they’ve had too much?

‘cause I’m just a little jealous of the nothing that you have
You’re unfettered by the wealth of a world that we pretend is gonna last

well, I’m weary of the spoils of my ambition
and I’m shackled by the comfort of my couch
I wish I had the courage to deny these of myself
and start to store my treasure in the clouds

‘cause this is not my home, I do not belong
where the antelope and the buffalo roam

they say God blessed us with plenty, I say you’re blessed with poverty
‘cause you never stop to wonder whether earth is just a little better than
the Land of the Free

so I hope you’re safe and dry in South America
‘cause I’m feeling pretty good in Tennessee
may you never be so happy you forget about your home...
your home in the Land of the Free

In tomorrow’s final post, we will see how all our enemies, satan, sin, temptation, and the testing of having much, all work in the same way to separate us from the love of Christ. We will also see what it truly means to be more than conquerors.

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