An old hymn of the church which I always disliked tells much about the mentality of the church in years past.
“Hold the fort, for I am coming,” Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to Heaven, “By Thy grace we will.”
For many years the church has seemed to view the return of Jesus and our future home in heaven as the primary goal of the Christian. I remember attending several Bible conferences where people taught eschatology using material from authors like Hal Lindsey and his book “The Late Great Planet Earth.” A few years ago people were fascinated by the “Left Behind” series written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.
While I totally understand the need to study Bible prophecies of the future, it seems to me that while the church taught of the return of the Lord and often suggested that time was very soon, it made little difference in how the church members actually lived their lives. The general feeling seemed to be that we needed to make sure we were ready for the return of Jesus so we could go to heaven. Maybe we should also warn others that if they did not get right with God, they would be going to hell.
But our daily lives were not really changed. We were basically living in a fort, trying to defend our self from the sin of the world and waiting for Jesus to come and rescue us.
I often have wondered “Is this what being a follower of Jesus is all about. Living a defensive life against Satan and hoping I can hold out until Jesus rescues me.” I remember hearing testimonies (at the time when churches actually had a time for members to “testify”) of how rough the week had been, how hard Satan had attacked them, but thank God they were hanging on.
As I wrote earlier this week, I believe the church has not truly understood that when we pray the Lord’s Prayer we are asking for God’s kingdom to be present in our lives now. Active Anticipation
God’s Kingdom is here!
Through God’s Spirit in us we are to live out the Kingdom values and teachings now in this world. That means we need to live together as brothers and sisters of God – not separated by race, gender, economic status or any other barrier. When we get a glimpse of heaven in the book of Revelations we see that there are people from every “tribe, tongue and nation” worshiping before the throne of God. If we cannot do that now, how will we be able to do it in the future?
That means we do not live defeated lives, but through God’s Spirit we find the strength, the courage, the determination we need to not only overcome difficulties in our lives, but to reach out and be a source of strength, courage and determination for others who are struggling. That does not mean we will not have times of weakness and discouragement. But I think it should mean that we always recognize we are children of the Kingdom and have God’s resources to draw on in times of need now.
The best defense is a strong offense!
This statement or basic concept has been attributed to George Washington as well as others and is often used by football teams. While it is not always true in all situations, I do believe the church would benefit by recognizing that God’s Kingdom is in us now. If we would more actively study and follow the principles of God’s Kingdom that Jesus taught while he was on earth and begin to allow God’s Spirit to strengthen and guide us, then we could really show the world what God’s Kingdom would really look like. As the world saw us truly love others, truly work to heal the hurt of others, truly enjoy the peace of God, they might began to want to be a part of this Kingdom also.
In 1 Samuel 30 we find a great example of allowing God to strengthen and give us victory. David and his men had gone into battle. When they returned, they found that a band of Amalekites had burned their town and taken their women and children captive. The men wept until they could not weep any more. They became angry with David and began to talk of killing him. What a time of discouragement. But I love what the Scripture says about David in this time of great distress.
David found strength in the Lord his God.
Like all his men, David no doubt was worried. He had wives and children that were also taken captive. His leadership was in question, even his life in danger. But David called on the strength that comes from God.
He then asked for direction from God as to what he should do. I love what God spoke to him.
Go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you.
My prayer in this Advent season is that we as the people of God will seek God’s direction for the difficult situations in our lives. Then, with His guidance let us begin to go on the offensive and pray prayers of faith to reclaim what Satan has taken from our church, our family, our nation.
Let us “get out of the fort” and interact with God’s love, wisdom and strength in this world and show them what God’s Kingdom is all about in the here and now.