"From the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it." Matthew 11:12...."We get the impression the Kingdom comes with considerable trauma and friction, and it isn't a smooth experience. There's a confrontation going on, a clash of kingdoms that puts Jesus and us on the front lines in a power shift for the ages." Chris Tiegreen
I saw something online from Beth Moore the other day. She said while so many Christians are quick to reject a "prosperity gospel," they seem to have little if any problem with a "pampering" one. Chew on that. How can we deny that the Church in the west, particularly America, is obsessed with its safety and comfort? Someone said that though we're the most blessed nation on earth, our deepest desire is for more blessing. None of us are immune. Not the people in the pews and not the pastors in the pulpit. We desire to put our journey in Christ in cruise control, as we just sit back and allow Him to get us to where we're going.
Technology has produced cars that do not require a driver, but can be programmed to take us exactly where we want to go. All we need be are passengers, passive ones, who just sit back and read, listen to music, or sleep. That sounds a lot like what the average American believer wants their walk with Him to be. Come to think of it, that also sounds a lot like how we want what we call our corporate worship to be as well. Confrontation, friction, harsh, open opposition are not welcome. Not in our walk with Him and not in our worship of Him either. As Moore says, we embrace a pampering gospel. Since it was Jesus Himself who spoke the words in Matthew 11, we can be sure that message has never been, and never will be embraced by Him. Jesus lived in the realm where His Light never ceased clashing with the kingdom of darkness. If we truly walk with Him, we'll be in the middle of the clash.
I used a quote not long ago that said the Father will shake His Church and people to see just how much of Christ is part of us, how much of Him remains in the shaking. One of His most effective means is through the confrontation, friction, and opposition of others, of circumstances, and of the spiritual realm that are completely opposed to Him. And through Him, us. A pampered gospel cannot stand against that, but then again, a pampered gospel need not worry about having such opposition to begin with. A cross centered, Christ centered one however........Jesus told Peter that the devil desired to, and would, sift him like wheat. If we're to live lives built upon Him, we'll be sifted too, but as He did with Peter, He's already prayed for us, empowered us to stand the sifting....In victory. The way of Christ and His cross is the way of entering into His sufferings.....and in that, His resurrection life. There will be heartache, tears, and yes, sometimes, failure. We don't and won't get everything we want, or achieve every personal goal, but we will receive the fullness of His Kingdom and His Life. It may be a life devoid of the applause of men, but it will earn the reward of His words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Just how badly do we long to hear those words at the end of it all? Or, does our love of comfort, ease, and safety, deafen us to ever hearing them?
Jesus said that through many tribulations do we enter into the Kingdom of God. If you and I really mean to live for Him, we will be in the exact center of a clash of kingdoms; that of Light and Life colliding with the enemy's darkness and death. That collision cost His blood, and it will cost ours as well....but oh what gain. I wonder; what will it profit us if we gain all the comforts and safety of this world, and in that, lose all the fullness and wonder of a life lived out in Him? What will it cost you?.
One last thought. In combat, the most dangerous position was for the one who took the point, the point man. It was he who went ahead of the rest of the troops, being the first to see and even engage the enemy. It was the most dangerous position, and the most likely to be wounded or killed. Every one who walks with Him is called to fill such a role in the spiritual warfare that rages about us, but none more so than preachers/pastors and leaders within the Body. It carries much risk and cost, but the battle depends on such as these. In the pulpit, in the Body, in our homes, in our communities, at work, wherever we are, He calls us to "take the point," but we won't take it alone. He stands, walks, and fights with us. The battle is still the Lord's.