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Christianity is not a languid religion where God fights and we watch

This past Sunday I played “hookey” and had an opportunity to visit another church. Don’t misunderstand me—I’m not looking to go to another church, but when I have some vacation time, I enjoy seeing what’s going on outside of my own ministry world.

During the worship service, we sang a song that says, “Our God is the Lion, the Lion of Judah. He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles.” Great song. Through the rest of the service, though, I couldn’t get those last three words out of my mind—“fighting our battles.”

Without sounding blasphemous, I kept thinking to myself, If God is fighting our battles, then why does it seem like we’re losing? Why does it appear that evil gains ground while goodness recedes? Why does it look like light gives way to darkness? Isn’t God the omnipotent One who can do all things? If so, then why doesn’t He end the war?

If you’ve ever battled addictions, greed, lust, or whatever poison may flow through your heart, you know of that which I speak. I’m grateful God fights my battles, but I sure wish His victories were a little more recognizable.

Here’s what I’m learning: When God fights for us, He doesn’t set us on the back lines where we’re always safe, protected, and unscathed. No. He joins us on the front lines. He calls us to wield the Sword of the Spirit and advance against the gates of hell. Christianity is not a pacified, anemic religion where God fights and we watch. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so we could be sanctimonious separatists far-removed from the action. When was the last time you used the weapon of the power of the blood of Jesus or wielded the power of Jesus’ name?

Five times the Bible says, “The Lord your God will fight for you.” Only one time, however, does the Bible say, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14). The other four times, the implication is the Lord fights for us, AS we engage the enemy.

I’m convinced that even in the sole instance of God’s instruction to be still as He fought, they had to engage the enemy in their stillness. And sometimes that can be the most demanding battleground. Where did Adam and Eve have their fist battle? In the stillness of the Garden. Where did Satan first attack Jesus? In the stillness of His fast. Where did Jesus battle His own emotions before His arrest? In the stillness of the Mount of Olives. Battles are not always fought amidst violence.

Yes, God fights for you. He loves you. He yearns for you to overcome through His power and live a victorious life. And, yes, you need to pick up your sword and engage the enemy as well. This is no time to sit back in the ease of comfortable Christianity! The war is already won, but the battles we face in our culture and in our souls will continue until Death and Hades are consumed in “the second death, the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14).

Don’t give up, and don’t give in, because ultimately, “the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15). Now is the time to join Him on the front lines. Will you?

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Our World’s Only Hope

Do you ever look at the world and wonder why God allows pain, injustice, and evil to continue? Why doesn’t he heal the cancer, stop the shootings, and calm the hurricanes before they unleash their fury?

Soren Kierkegaard once wrote, “Omnipotence which can lay its hand so heavily upon the world can also make its touch so light that the creature receives independence.”

Sometimes I wish God had a heavier hand. I want God to be more active in the world, as I understand it. I want him to stop Stephen Paddock before he begins his indiscriminate mass killings. I want him to calm the hurricanes before they make landfall in Texas, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico.

I also want God to be more active in my life. I want quick answers to my prayers. I want God to assuage my doubts and overcome my fears.

In Dostoevsky’s masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov, the agnostic brother Ivan writes a poem called, “The Grand Inquisitor.” The Inquisitor is a church cardinal who accuses Jesus of forfeiting the three greatest powers at his disposal by turning down Satan’s three temptations. The poem recounts how Jesus could have used miracle, mystery and authority to increase his fame among the people. But by rejecting Satan’s offer, Jesus spurned the authority needed to compel people to follow him.

Ivan Karamazov calls this the miracle of restraint. Jesus restrained his power for purposes not aligned to his mission.

God’s omnipotence is best seen in his loving offer of independence. His “light touch” is his most powerful touch of love. As Philip Yancey writes, “Love has its own power, the only power ultimately capable of conquering the human heart” (The Jesus I Never Knew, 78).

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” Jesus cried. “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37). The disciples wanted Jesus to call down fire on unrepentant cities. But Jesus always had the miracle of restraint. He never twisted arms, and he never forced himself on those who were not willing.

Could God have stopped Stephen Paddock before the shooting began? Can God stop hurricanes in their tracks, dismiss cancer before detected, and overwhelm us with certainty? Yes. And one day all wrongs will be righted, and evil will be vanquished. Until then, we wait, not in passivity with gloomy faces of defeat, but in actions of love that conquer the human heart.

Choose love instead of hate, for goodness cannot be legislated and enforced at the point of a gun. Goodness never grows from imposition; it only grows through infusion of the love of Jesus Christ flowing in and through actions and truth (1 John 3:18). This is our world’s greatest and only hope.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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