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Can I get an amen?

I clung to the edge of my seat, quite literally. My breath held as I anticipated what he would say next. I inched forward on my pew, bible, notes and pen long forgotten beside me. “Come on say it! Bring it home! Preach it like it is! Don’t hold back!” Every one of these words threatening to unapologetically ring forth from deep inside me sure to disrupt the quiet sanctuary. And then, there it was, truth spoken loud and bold by our pastor. Rippling applause and hoots from around quickly followed, making clear we all agreed on the subject matter and stood strong behind our pastor's freedom of speech. And yet, even in the relief to hear truth spoken plainly, something didn’t feel right.

Why did something seem off? It wasn’t that I disagreed in the slightest with what he had said, nor felt he had spoken in an uncouth manner. Then what? My mind turned to other things as the service ended and I headed home. And yet as I walked through the remainder of my Sunday the Spirit kept pressing my heart until it landed on the desired target. “Would you be this excited, this moved, if the subject wasn’t politics and Covid, but sin?” Whoooh! This thought stopped me in my tracks. Right then and there I knew deep inside that this thing that felt so off was the fact I was buying into the hype I claimed I didn’t want a part of. And in the midst of the drama and energy that follows all things scandalous, I was completely missing the point of the cross.

The convicting reality was that had it been just another Sunday, I wouldn’t have been so “on the edge of my seat excited” if my pastor was preaching on “everyday” sins. Gossip, sex outside of marriage, pornography. How about treating my husband with respect, or honoring my neighbor even if we disagree? What about humility, grace in all I do. And most importantly, the purpose for which we have been placed here on earth, to tell the people around us about the reality of hell and their need for a great rescue plan that God gave us 2000 years ago. No, had it been any other typical subject, I would have quickly lost my drive. Like a balloon letting out air, my shoulders would have slumped and I’d easily go back into day dreaming about lunch. Excusing my lack of energy for the fact these topics don’t matter as much as the things flashing on the latest headline. I have grown up in the church, heard it all before. And it’s not my sin he is talking about, but oh, I could tell you who needs that sermon. So back to a sleeping stupor I go along with the rest of those who call themselves “the church”. Woke, but not in the least bit awake. But when it comes to Covid, politics, race, you name it, our ears quickly perk up and our blood starts to boil. Suddenly we are wide awake and alert and ready to defend our side.

Even as hard as I try not to talk about it, one of these subjects winds up in almost every conversation I am a part of. We each have taken a side and we are desperately clutching the rock face of the mountain we are willing to die on for our righteous cause. But do we really care as much as we say we do, hidden behind our computer screens and around a table full of people who agree on the subject and boost our ego with their affirmation? Will any of what we say we so strongly believe in hold any water when put to the test? Or are we all just stirring each other up with self-importance playing right into the hands of the enemy who is waiting to set a fire around us with the next person we disagree with. Never mind our testimony, this IS our conviction and the truth must get out! At any cost! Even if we sacrifice our sanity, sanctity and relationships.

So close to the bull’s eye, and yet, still a clear miss. And a miss is a miss all the same. With out the effective and clear hit to the red center, we lose the game. And caught up in the drama and hype of what we see around us, we are losing this game against the devil. Closing our mouths and blinding our eyes to the sin that so easily entangles us, we are stuck in the mud, sitting out of the race. Happy to jump on whatever train of loud and crazy that steams by next. But actually, deal with our heart issues, actually speak out about the name of Jesus? Naw, we wouldn’t want to offend anyone. And all the while, people are dying every day deaths by the millions daily. Spending eternity lost in sin and the torment of hell. And we could make a real change, we are supposed to be the change, but we are too busy posting and defending our position on the current world affairs to see the real world is walking right beside us in the super market.

We can’t all fight against Covid. Not all of us have been called to the games of political geniuses. We have not all been asked to don our armor and step on a plane and fly to the darkest jungles of Africa to fight a cause. But we who claim Jesus as our Lord and Savior have been given a very real mission that starts with our first breath and ends when we take our last. There is no leave, no days off or down time. This is a real war, fought against real enemies who never take a break. Yet we walk right in to their hands each time we spew our word of “truth” and fight against the flesh and blood we were tasked with loving. Loving enough to speak the truth of Jesus even when it’s uncomfortable for us. Mask mandates, being un-liked for our color or political stance? We know nothing of discrimination until we have been thrown into a lion’s den like Daniel, or been crucified like Jesus. Prejudice, real hate? We haven’t even got a taste. Focused on myself and how current affairs negatively affect my life, yup, I admit I have been swept up in the scandalous once again, forgetting my purpose while defending a cause I wasn’t ever tasked with.

Somewhere in the last year of feigning off fear and sifting through lies, try as I might, I got caught up in the drama and sucked down the rabbit hole with all the rest. Forgot the mission? I don’t even remember where I put it. Sadly, many of us are so encompassed with fighting for our rights and freedoms that we have lost sight of the purpose for which we were created. Much less the one in whom our true freedom lies, a freedom that can’t be thwarted by man’s selfish agenda’s. And as I draw my heart back to the Father and what He has declared about me I am reminded that persecution will come and real-world trials, but what I am experiencing is neither of those but a battle with the enemy. A battle for my attention, my peace and my family. A battle that threatens to take away my morals and my heart. And while with the message of Jesus you will always find the Spirit of truth, my purpose in being here for such a time as this was never about defending my stance of earthly things, but always about declaring Jesus as King and Savior. Going into all the world and preaching the gospel. The gospel of salvation and the peace that anchors our souls no matter what comes. The story of a redeemer who longs to take us out of the pig pen and crown us with righteousness, separating us from our sins and purifying us as we draw closer to Him. And this will mean I have to get just as moved by the sin in my life, just as angry and bothered by the lies I have let the enemy feed me, as I do the lies of the powers at play. And I will need to work with the same energy and drive to speak the truth of Jesus and the cross as I do the truth about what is being hidden behind political lines.

Today I humbly pose this same question to you my friend, are you just as moved about speaking the salvation message as you are the latest headline? Are you just as driven to remove the sin in your life and clean house in your family and church as you are driven to eradicate the ignorance of the few on what seems so important to you in this season? Because if we are not just as ready to stand behind our pastor when he calls out sin and be the first at the alter admitting we need Jesus just as much as the next, as we are to scream our “truth”, then we as the church have some serious internal issues that need to be addressed. And if we have any hope of surviving when things actually get hard, we will have to start getting real about the core issue. It’s us, our brokenness. Our need for a Savior to lead us into humility and righteous living. It’s our need to sacrifice our fleshly desires for the great things God has for us on the other side of surrender. If we really care to see truth come to light and real-world change happen, it will have to start with us. We are happy to lead the charge if it is standing against governmental overreach, but leading our group of friends in seeking Jesus, only a few have the courage for that. It won’t seem big to most. We might even be laughed at for doing “nothing”. But that love of Jesus we show the people around us as we humbly follow the Spirit’s leading, that is echoed through eternity for eternity. The harvest is ready, but the workers are few. Let’s not let that be said about us. Our family, our church, or our community. We have to get first things first, surrender and share Jesus. He came and people thought He would lead the rebellion against all the injustice, but He brought something greater and far lasting than a momentary freedom here on earth. And that same cause is what He asks us to lay our life down for.

So, let’s cast off those things that trip us up (you know the one’s) and let’s get up and run this race the way Christ called us too. When we surrender to Him, and He will lift us up, our truth, our honor, our rights, in His timing and for His glory. But we have to be willing to set down our earthly weapons, the armor we are hiding behind, our desire to be heard and be right, and pick up whatever He shows us next. And if we do, all those things we feel so passionate about, they will fall into place as God leads, He knows how to cover them too. Because He is just that good! He is still in control of all we see that makes us panic and so enraged. He still is the author of truth and knows how to right all wrongs, and He doesn’t need our play by play to get it done. He still loves and cares for His people more than we can ever fully grasp. And even when we forget the mission, He loves us enough to gently call our hearts back to the task at hand, gift us a fresh perspective, hand us our walking shoes and point us in the right direction.

“Go into all the nations and boldly preach the gospel. Lay down your life and be content where ever I place you. And out of the abundance I gift you, love as I love and give as I give. And when you have done it to the least of these, know that it’s as if you have done it to me.”

Can I get an amen?

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