I CHOOSE TO TAKE A STAND
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds. Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
Today during my personal devotional time I returned to a Scripture that was the text for one of the first sermons I preached almost 30-years-ago. I thought it especially relevant in light of some of my recent discoveries/experiences in my walk of faith. I thought it would be particularly apropos to share it with you today.
The Apostle Paul was writing to a church that had known something about division and carnality in their local church. In this second letter, he delved much deeper to the young Christians instructing them to develop a mature walk in Christ. After sharing that Christ is our pattern (2 Co. 8:8-15) he spent some time talking about finances…yes, that is in the Bible, he jumped off into a deep theological thought, specifically pointing out that our enemies are not those we come into contact with every day. To the unsaved, we are to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) and to our brothers and sisters in the faith, we are to be examples to the believer. (1 Peter 2:5)
HOW THIS ALL BEGAN
I posted recently about another message board that seems to continually delve into the shortcomings and failures of our brothers and sisters, and persists in marginalizing the leaders of our church. (Jude 1:8) I guess I have simply grown tired of it, and instead of allowing myself to wallow in such behavior, I have chosen to take the higher path of praying for the offenders and hoping for the restoration to trust and faith in those who are trying to do the right thing, and “raise the bar” of excellence in the Kingdom of God, as well as in the Church of God of Prophecy.
The truth is, they may not even know their offense is happening, but instead of sullying myself, I will simply choose from this day forward to “turn the other cheek,” (Matthew 5:39) and try to present a “better way.” To me, this is the essence of leadership… using the maxim attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” Hopefully, this will model the Spirit of Christ…after all, isn’t that what we are called to do? (Ephesians 4:14-16)
HOW DOES GOD SEE IT?
Now, back to my original thought: Paul, the great Apostle (who proved his leadership by what he did, not just what he said) began this thought by pleading with the people in meekness and gentleness of Christ (10:1) reminding them that even though we walk around in this “earthy” body, our war is not centered there. He went on to say that each believer should be equipped with weapons that are not carnal (the root word literally implies “strategy.”) In other words, we don’t do things the way the world does. We don’t stoop down to immolate how unbelievers do when faced with adversity, but rather we rely on the “strategies” that are “mighty in God,” or in other words “as God sees it.”
Would it not be a wonderful thing to begin to look at our problems, difficulties and adversities as God does? My mother used to say, “When I pray, I say Lord, let me see myself through your eyes.” How big to you think God is? I mean, He simply spoke the word and the universe was created. He caused the waters of the Red Sea to be divided and Israel crossed on dry ground and shortly after that, the Egyptians were drowned.” (Exodus 14)
We teach our children (as we were taught) to sing, “He’s got the world in His hands,” and we believe it! When I see something as God does, it makes my problem look a whole lot less menacing, and enlarges my faith.
RIP DOWN THE WALLS
Paul went on to say, our weapons can “pull down strongholds” which literally spoke of tearing down walls, as the Romans did in Cilicia, ripping apart the walls of pirates. Whatever the walls are that seem to be holding you back from your purpose, must come down when we approach difficulties as God does. What power can stand in the fact of such a mighty Lord?
Interestingly enough, Paul said that we do this by “casting (tearing apart) down ARGUMENTS and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” A.T. Robertson interpreted that this way: “Paul aims to pull down the topmost perch of audacity in their reasonings against the knowledge of God. We need Paul’s skill and courage today.”
Paul went on to say that we must “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (10:5) this is going to take a conscious effort on our part, which will have to be done each and every day. I am convinced that the only way this effort ceases is when we “stop thinking.” That is, when we die.
This is a battle, it is a war, and it is one we must win, and we can do it with the help of Christ!
Remember, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13) We must never forget Paul’s instruction to the Romans, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” (Romans 8:5-8)
HOW WOULD I DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY?
If I could begin my ministry all over again, I would spend less time on finding fault and criticizing, and I would have spent more time on constructive criticism of wrongs and instead of just pointing the finger of accusation, I would rather extend a helping hand, remember that we are “ambassadors of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20) who have been given the “ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18). In other words, I would do as Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give the people light, and they will find their own way.”
Yes, my friends, there is a better way! I choose to spend my time edifying and uplifting the Body of Christ, not causing division and tearing down. Will you join me in this most excellent quest?