Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. (Philippians 2:17 ESV)

 

 

It has been a challenging time the last few days and weeks for me.  With these challenges I’m being taught a valuable lesson about following Jesus as His disciple.  I must meet the challenges I face head on in a way that He would want and not the way the world would do it, or even how I would like to do.  I’ll be honest with you and say that I’ve asked if it is worth it to stay in the fight with the Lord in dealing with certain people, and instead just go ahead and verbally assault them back.  It’s hard to hold this emotion in check.   But that’s their problem isn’t it?  There are dark words flowing from basically good people for there is evil showing itself through them.  Will I join them and embrace this evil into me?

 

I get it when I can be part of a great spiritual campaign to reach God’s family and lead them to abide in Him. The part that deals with this effort and its challenges in facing spiritual warfare and the adversity that goes along with it is expected.  In fact, it is thrilling to see the power of God to trump the enemy and reach God’s family during these efforts.  It is amazing, and to be part of it is the highest privilege I‘ve ever been given.  That’s the warfare I signed up for.  However, the thing that cuts into my heart the most and infuses the most discouragement is not the battlefield out there against the evil man and his minions, it is the battlefield around me, even close to me, with people who say they are followers of Christ.  To see and hear the vilest and most angry voices coming from those who profess to know Christ and love Him hurts not only me, I also feel the Spirit’s hurt within me.  I feel His grief.

 

The fact is I don’t get it with these angry, paranoid Christians.  I don’t’ understand it, and I don’t want to understand it, for I can see no reason that a follower of Christ would act this way.  Are they reading the same Bible I’m reading?  Do they not understand that our purpose as followers of Christ is to exemplify the characteristics of Christ to a lost and dying world around us, all the time, and especially in the hardest of times?  When we give ourselves permission to join an angry “righteous fervor” because our politics command it, or our passion demands it, or our self-righteous perception of right and wrong dictates it, we shame the crucifixion of Jesus.   Where is the crucified and resurrected Jesus in our life with our outbursts of anger?  Where is the crucified and resurrected Jesus in our life when we pronounce railing judgments on others who do not vote like we do, or see things as we do, or who believe differently than we do?  I tell you where Jesus is.  He is returned to His cross by our anger and perspective, to suffer the same pain that He endured to set you and me free from being this way.  We shame His gift to us.  We shame Him, while we shame our self.  When we join the angry crowd, and do as they do, we trample the fruit of His Spirit within us.  We grieve Him.  We nail Him back on that horrible cross, for it is apparent that it hasn’t made a difference in us.  Obviously, we didn’t understand what He had done for us when we said we believed in Him and His sacrifice.  Do we understand that He freed us from our old life and old ways?  We obviously do not understand that we are to share in the suffering of Christ.  Instead we keep heaping more suffering on Him when we embrace the anger and evil into our heart that Satan inspires.

 

What happens when we go back to the cross?  Our hearts are broken, and we are opened up to see the truth.  We understand that we are believing the lies of the Accuser and not real truth.  In fact, we begin to see that we have become the Accuser’s personal messenger to attack a target he has his eyes on.  We think we are righteous in our anger.  We think we’ve got the right view of things … God’s view of things.  But the evidence with our behavior and disregard for others is contrary to this perspective.  Our very actions and thoughts betray us.  When this happens we are in danger, for we have joined the enemy.  We are in his camp.

 

What happens if we do not return to the cross with our anger and our pride?  What happens if we as followers of Christ continue to serve His enemy by being Satan’s instrument of accusations?  This is where it becomes pretty predictable.  We will be disciplined by our Father.  We will be broken, and it will not be gentle.  We will be taught a painful lesson, for He will not allow His family to carry His name and represent His enemy.  He loves us much too much to allow this.

 

I must say that my temptation to get out of staying in this spiritual fight was based on my fear that I would return to my old man and join those angry voices with my own angry fervor against them.  My old man nature has wanted to come out and face these angry voices and their slanderous accusations with my own brand of dealing out punishment, or at least the kind I was used to.  The first 23 years of my life I was associated with some kind of violent athletic response to bullies or adversaries and their angry threats.  There was a trigger in me to react and overcome.  I fear this ever happening with me again and it concerns me that it could. This is the battle I’ve faced lately, and the temptation was coming from people who should be ashamed of themselves to be used as bait to tempt another believer.

 

In my seeking of the Lord I feel He gave me some insight.  The angry voices and words that I hear coming from those Christians who act out their frustration or passion comes from their own triggers embedded in their early life, as it was mine.  Isn’t it obvious that this trigger is being pulled by our mutual enemy?  Can’t these angry Christians see and understand that our mutual enemy is trying to create division in the Body of Christ, and to divert us from our real mission?  That is how he works.  His mission against the Church is to create division among believers, and to divert us from our mission.

 

Back to me:  I have wanted to speak harsh, angry words to certain people who have spoken harsh, angry words to me lately.  However, if I take that bait and follow my flesh I would be joining them in a wrong that has been inspired by Satan?  Am I to dishonor Christ because they dishonor me?  Do they not see they dishonor Him?  Will I dishonor Him by joining them?  If I am to battle this thing going on in me and win it for my Savior’s honor, then I have to forfeit my own honor, and this brings me to the title of this blog.

 

If I am to be poured out for Christ sake, as Paul mentioned, then I must be prepared to be both a hero and a doormat.  We all want to be heroes, and sometimes God uses us in such a way, especially with certain people.  That’s easy. To be a doormat?  That is a different test and it is much harder.  But that is the test that reaps the greatest fruit. It is the most Christ-like non-action that we can take, and it speaks the loudest.  It has Christ all over it, for He became a doormat for you and me. Why I should I not be the same if it honors Him?

 

If there is anything that takes Satan’s hand off the trigger that he knows will fire me off, it is to remember that Jesus showed me how to have the courage to not do what my instincts lead me to do.  Jesus walked that same path.  He held back His wrath, for He could have let them have it if He so desired.  He knew His battle was with the Evil Man who drove the people to do the horrendous things they did to Him.  The real battle was there for Him, and it is the same with you and me.  Our battle is not with the man or woman who has given into their anger and hatefulness and have come at us.  They are to be pitied for joining it and one day they will painfully realize it.  It is the evil that drives them and makes them irrational and angry.  My battle is won by not listening to the people who stir up this anger but instead listen to my Peacemaker Jesus.  Will you listen to Him before you join the crowd?