A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled Don’t Give Up. As Christians, sometimes we can get discouraged by what we see in our churches. When we look at the church in America, we don’t have to look far to find problems. Discipleship is shallow. Evangelism is ineffective or lacking altogether. Conversions are in decline. Population growth is outpacing the growth of almost every evangelical Christian denomination. Many, many churches are permanently closing their doors every year. It’s easy to loose hope, to give up. A couple weeks ago, that’s exactly where I was. Discouraged, frustrated, ready to give up. And that’s exactly what Satan wants.
You see, our enemy doesn’t fight fair. He abides by no rules of conduct, no Geneva convention, no gentleman’s code. He fights dirty. He doesn’t march out in phalanx formation like the ancient Romans. He doesn’t wait for his turn to take a volley like the Red Coats of the Revolutionary War. He doesn’t even wear a uniform to distinguish himself from his enemies. No, he uses much more covert means of warfare. He waits in ambush under cover of darkness. He picks of the weak and wounded stragglers who are too weary to keep up with the herd. He turns brother against brother, friend against friend, believer against believer. And when he has succeeded in sowing discord, strife, and bitterness in believers, he divides and conquers.
Satan has an unfair advantage…you can’t see him. He sneaks around with his “invisibility cloak” taking cheap shots at unsuspecting believers. And when these believers turn and fire, they realize all too late that he was hiding behind another believer. Friendly fire is one of Satan’s most successful methods of defeating the church. We don’t realize until it’s too late that it wasn’t our brother or sister in Christ that made that rude, hurtful comment or who sloughed off their church duties, but Satan whispering lies into their ears.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 (NASB)
I think that one of the reasons we get so discouraged and frustrated with fellow believers and our churches is that we mistake friend for foe. We begin to think of people as the enemy, or the obstacle, to our church, and we treat them, instead of the true enemy, as hostiles. Such has been Satan’s ploy against me for a few weeks. I began to focus on the problems. I began to see my fellow believers as hostiles. By the grace of God, as I was poised and ready to open fire, God began convicting me of the spiritual attack that I was under. Then it hit me: why did I feel like I was under such heavy spiritual attack? Because Satan only bothers attacking those he deems a threat. I couldn’t see how I–or our tiny little church–could be deemed a threat, but it gave me some courage to continue on.
Prior to this revelation I had begun to become so discouraged that I had considered cancelling the next upcoming youth event: the Winter Jam concert. I justified this decision with all kinds of rational sounding excuses. “We don’t have enough adult volunteers–we’ll loose the kids in the crowd of thousands of people.” “Their not old enough to benefit from the experience.” “Neither the kids nor the church can’t afford it.” But, God revealed my bad attitude to me, and I prayerfully decided to go ahead with the concert.
The kids were extremely well behaved. I had two adults step up to volunteer. It turned out to be cheaper than expected. Two of the kids from the youth group were so moved by the presentation by Holt International (an international adoption agency) that they decided to sponsor a child awaiting adoption in Ethiopia as a youth group. And best of all–one of the kids was saved that night.
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Galatians 6:6-10 (NASB)
Is your church under spiritual attack? Are you harboring bitterness and resentment toward a fellow believer? Have you been deceived by the enemy that your efforts are in vain? God is not mocked. Keep up the good fight and recognize Satan’s ploy for what it is. It’s all worth it if there’s just one who comes to know Christ. When I look back at my attitude a couple weeks ago, I can only thank God that he did not allow me to persist in my plans to cancel that concert trip. While I certainly can’t take the credit for what happened that night (without the Holy Spirit’s conviction, nothing would have happened!), I can say that my obedience to Christ’s calling did put those kids in the right place at the right time for the Holy Spirit to do his work. One girl can now rest assured of her eternal destiny, and a little boy halfway around the world is experiencing the overflow of the love of Christ expressed by changed hearts here in our little church. What a blessing it is to be the vessel God uses to accomplish his great plan. Who knows how far the ripples will continue? So if you are under spiritual attack right now, take heart! Your obedience is NEVER in vain. You may not see the fruit right now, but in due season you will reap, IF you do not give up.