Being prepared when it is time to stand
By Bill Holland
In our modern world, we can agree there is no shortage of information. We are constantly surrounded by voices wanting to help us understand every subject under the sun. However, in our quest for gathering accurate information, we also realize that most of what we listen to, especially political news, is sprinkled with half-truths, speculations, and biased observations. The bottom line is that we actually know very little about facts and depend heavily on outside sources to relay to us what they have heard. Imagine what we would know if there were no television, radio, newspaper, telephone, Internet, or any type of media communication. Knowing about state, national, or world events would be comparable to those who lived 200 years ago. Yes, we have certain convictions about social and spiritual issues, but for the most part, our views are shaped not by what we positively know to be a fact, but rather by trusting what someone has told us. When it comes to our spiritual perspectives, Christians have God’s Word and His Spirit that speaks directly to us, along with pastors and teachers who give us their interpretations, but again we must be discerning with the knowledge we gather. I have a friend in his 80s and is known for saying that he listens to everything, but when it comes to politics and religion, he keeps his opinions to himself. He believes that political and spiritual views are deeply personal and a sure way to cause arguments, divisions, and make enemies. This is true, but I also believe especially from an evangelical perspective we should not be intimidated when God provides an opportunity to share our faith. When it comes to divine appointments, we are reminded of St. Francis who said that we should “preach everywhere and only use words if necessary,” which emphasizes the need to demonstrate Christ instead of just talking about Him. Christians are not secret agents but are called to be ready and equipped to explain what we believe and why even when it’s not popular. We are emotional beings but we cannot afford to be controlled by them and one of the most difficult challenges is to develop our spiritual discernment to the point where we know the difference between God’s voice and everyone else’s including our own. Have you noticed when you sense the Holy Spirit beckoning for you to say or do something, immediately there are resisting persuasions trying to talk you out of it? No doubt, there are powerful forces at work attacking our thoughts and trying to distort and control our attitudes, emotions, and especially our obedience to Christ. Fear wants to manipulate, but we have the choice to allow it to dominate us or we can resist it. Our trust in Jesus as our Lord includes inviting Him to rule and reign within our mind and conscience. He wants to literally possess us, but without surrendering our will to Him, we are not able to walk in covenant with Him. This is why we study God’s Word every day and are constantly asking the Lord for wisdom and determination to execute self-discipline. Our spiritual destiny can be accomplished, but He is not going to do it for us. I sense we are moving into a time where the Christian can no longer use immaturity as an excuse to live in sin. I’m not just talking about blatant wickedness, but rather the subtle apathy of neglecting to walk with God. The sins of omission are refusing to do what God is saying and there are many who are hiding in the shadows as they refuse to learn and ask God for the courage to represent His truth. How can anyone say they love Him if they do not invest their time into knowing Him? How can we live in the light of His love if we are choosing to serve the darkness? We cannot dwell in the life of His truth if we are absorbing sins which are the wages of death. Our flesh will argue we are too busy to concentrate on our relationship with the Lord but we always make time for what we love. For those who are satisfied with living in lukewarmness, they will suffer great loss, but for the ones who are dedicated to abiding in the secret place of the Most High, they will stand when it comes time to stand.