13:49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Somewhere along the way we lost perspective. We forgot we are in a war. We lost sight of the fact that conflict is not just possible or probable but unavoidable. I recently read an article that was essentially a study of why so many pastors are leaving ministry. The second most common reason was conflict. Think about that. The disciples were thrown out of Antioch in Pisidia and left rejoicing as they moved on to another town to continue making Jesus known. Today pastors face conflict most of which isn't nearly as severe and they get disillusioned and quit.
I'm not wanting to criticize these men and women. I don't think they are bad people or weak people. What I see is a church culture today that has simply forgotten the truth, the reality, of our position in this world. We are at war. How many times was Jesus life threatened? How many times did crowds or the leadership attempt to kill Him. How many times did Jesus warn the disciples that they would be hated simply for being His follower?
See in North America we have gone soft. For generations we have enjoyed relative peace in the religious realm. Christian values have largely held the majority position. The fabric of our laws and culture were shaped by a Christian worldview. Those realities are changing. To stand with Jesus now is increasingly putting us at odds with society. Fifty and one hundred years ago it was commonly held that God was our Creator, that the Bible was true, that marriage was a sacred institution between one man and one woman, that you respected and prayed for the leadership of the nation no matter their party affiliation, that America was a place of refuge for those who needed refuge (bring us your tired, your poor, your teeming masses longing to be free) etc...
Things are changing and changing fast. With those changes comes conflict and with the conflict disillusionment. Why? Because we have forgotten we are in a war. Why did Paul and his companions leave Antioch in Pisidia rejoicing? Because conflict is fun? No. Because being banished from a city is enjoyable? No. They left rejoicing because in spite of the opposition they knew they would face, the kingdom of heaven was increasing. A light had been turned on in that city that no women of influence or chief men could put out. The war was raging but Jesus was winning.
Too long we've been on cruise control. Too long we have forgotten what our marching orders are. Too long we've been studying comfort instead of studying how to reach more people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
You name the issue that threatens this planet and I can tell you that Jesus is the answer. The environment is being destroyed by greed, not overpopulation. There is no greed in a heart won by Jesus. Terrorism? No heart that belongs to Jesus brings terror to anyone.
Behind the headlines and the issues and the fear and the divisions there is a darkness. His name is Satan. His followers are many. He has people in government, law enforcement, and especially in religion. He controls preachers, teachers, and judges. However he is already defeated. No matter how much conflict he creates and terror he whips up his fate is sealed.
Somehow we forgot about the war that began in heaven and is now raging here. It's time to stand up and rejoice in the midst of the gathering storms because Jesus already won and the battles are soon over. When someone decides against Jesus leave that person with Him and move on to plant seeds somewhere else. All we can do is plant the Seed. The rest is up to Him and the final result is already assured. #lovewins so stop fretting and quitting and start rejoicing. :)