Thursday, November 10, 2011

One Hand and the Other

 I've posted here or on another of my blogs about how a friend of mine is battling cancer. One of the things that came up in a conversation she and I had was how everyone wants to see Jesus but nobody wants to die. We were talking about eternity, but the same thing applies to our daily lives.

We Christians want to see Heaven, but don't want to die to the things we enjoy  here on earth. I see so many family and friends hanging on to sin with one hand and reaching out to Jesus with the other. The Bible tells us to resist the devil and  he will flee. Oftentimes, we'd rather resist the gospel to hang on to some things of the world.

For a long time I did the same thing. I held on to some things because I didn't no better, but even when I learned better, I didn't want to really let go. I wanted to find some kind of biblical "loophole" that would allow me to ease my conscience. I had to learn to listen to more mature Christian brothers and sisters who would lead me to Scriptures about specific things. It was hard. I was resisting the gospel. Who knows what else I am doing in ignorance?

I had more than one person rebuke me about astrology and following horoscopes. A ministry about the music industry opened my eyes to tactics used in entertainment.  I had a heavy interest in the paranormal and the occult and was hooked on shows that featured hauntings and occult experiences. I had never really looked at or understood what the Bible had to say about this (Deuteronomy and Isaiah).  Thank the Holy Spirit for opening my eyes to some of these things.

What are some of the things you are hanging on to? Are they material things, attitudes, a way of life, expectations...? When we call ourselves "Christians" and still practice certain things, we are not being a good representative of Christ or the gospel. We may even be misleading other Christians into thinking that something is okay.

When I struggle with choosing the Lord over worldly things, I often think about the rich young ruler in the Bible. If he had not been rich and had nothing worldly to give up, choosing to follow Jesus would have been easier. I think that this is obviously true for all of us.

I was in communication recently with a young woman I know. She questioned my opinion that Yoga is not for Christians. I don't know if she is a Christian or not,  but one thing she said stuck with me. She mentioned that she has been practicing Yoga for fifteen years. When we put a lot of time or effort into something, we don't want to give it up. If this lady is a Christian, this will be a struggle for her.

Another friend of mine used to be a heavy partier and recreational drug user before she came to Christ. Though she had not been an alcoholic, she won't touch alcohol at all now because it reminds her of her past. She had to give up everything that tied her to that old life.

For some people, their struggle is with money or material possessions. Maybe they made their money illegally or gained their possessions immorally. How difficult would it be for, say, a drug dealer to give up the cars and homes they gained through criminal activity? What if doing that meant being dirt poor and having to start all over?

For some people, the struggle may be with giving up a lifestyle. How does someone who has gained all their esteem from being beautiful or exploiting their  physical attributes give up the vanity? (I now think of the lady named Gretchen on Real Housewives of Orange Country. In opening credits, she says "God is my savior, my husband is my king, and my body, it's sinful." At one point she did a "sexy" modeling shoot for her line of seductive clothing. Like so many people today, her sexy image is a huge part of her identity.

The point is that we all have weaknesses that the Enemy can use to keep us from being the most effective witnesses to the gospel. We need to learn where we are vulnerable and then work at giving those things up. We need to start resisting Satan and  not the gospel.

Let me end by adding this: I think that the Enemy loves to use us against each other. Most often, when someone tries to warn me of some spiritual danger, I don't immediately react with gratitude.  Usually, I am a little resentful and I either challenge them to show me where Scripture agrees with them (and we do need to always consult the Bible), or I disbelieve them completely. Sometimes, I try to point out that what I am doing is harmless since I don't take it seriously. I am learning to just  listen, check Scripture and pray on everything. If the Enemy had his way, every discussion would turn into bullying, resentment and just a general falling-out among believers.