i can live with that – part two

That question. The observation of God designed to bring to the light what needed to be exposed.

What are you co-existing with that you should have driven out?

If you missed Part One of my journey with this question, you can read that here.

It’s easy to co-exist with something when you don’t know it is killing you. When you don’t recognize it as an enemy, it will go unnoticed, be seen as harmless. Until you discover it isn’t. Until God begins to shed light on what the enemy has been doing. Here are a few of my own observations — some from my own story, some not.

It is the enemy of peace. The enemy of boldness. The enemy of trust. But we’ve learned to live with it. We’ve figured out how to manage fearful living. We settle for moments of peace rather than hearts that carry peace. We’ve learned to calculate risks and then call ourselves risk-takers when we’ve taken a few small steps of courage into something unknown.

But we are told to count the cost (risk) of following Jesus before we commit to follow Him, not after.

For those who are in Christ, nothing is a risk anymore. Unless we have chosen to co-exist with fear.

But I think the worst part of learning to live with fear is that we live life primarily in the realm of what is possible. Because fear can barely believe for the possible, believing for the impossible is out of the question. It keeps us bound to what we can control and refuses to allow us to let go and be at peace with what we cannot control. And we’ve settled for that, rather than doing the work to banish fear from our land. We’ve settled for mostly medicating fear so that we can manage it, instead of refusing to allow it to live with us.

The enemy of spiritual growth. We can certainly grow in knowledge while being full of pride, but we will not grow in character because that requires humility. Pride will also either destroy or at least cripple, our earthly relationships. Let’s be honest, most of us, including the prideful among us, are repelled by prideful people.  Pride feeds on comparison. It keeps us constantly comparing ourselves to others, and then adjusting our lives according to what we see. We either take on arrogance, having determined that we are better than others, or we take on shame and defeat, believing we have fallen short. Either way…it is all about us rather than about Jesus. Pride is destructive to every inch of our land and keeps us in what has to be one of the most tormenting of bondages:  the bondage to self.

But perhaps most devasting is that pride is the enemy of humility, which makes it the enemy of the nearness of God, because God resists the proud, but draws near to the humble.

Pride will keep God off of our land. 

 

Apathy & Complacency

Apathy is a lack of enthusiasm, interest or concern. It lulls us to sleep. It convinces us that spiritual zeal is wacky, out there, and over the top. It allows us to attend church on Sunday, check off that box, and then go back to real life. Apathy keeps us nice and full on the things of this world so that we experience no hunger for the things of God.

Complacency is Apathy’s sibling. It is a smug satisfaction with ourselves or our achievements. It keeps us comfortable right where we are, with no motivation to change.  At the core, they are enemies of our relationship with Jesus. Both apathy and complacency allow us to have a comfortable, un-demanding, effortless Christianity, regardless of the fact that it is a life that cannot be found in scripture. Except in one place.

The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creation says:  I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. Revelation 3:14-16

Far too many Christians have chosen to live their lives in the lukewarm waters of apathy and complacency, thinking everything is just fine. It is not. We are living with the enemy of our soul.

And then, there was more.

All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. – Ephesians 4:31

All anger. All wrath. Know the difference between those two?

[wrath] indicates a more agitated condition of the feelings, an outburst of wrath from inward indignation, while anger suggests a more settled or abiding condition of mind, frequently with a view to taking revenge. [Anger] is less sudden in its rise than [wrath], but more lasting in its nature. [Wrath] expresses more the inward feeling, [anger] the more active emotion. (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)

Don’t miss this part:  anger suggests a more settled or abiding condition of mind

Anger is a mindset. 

Have you ever known someone who just seems angry all the time? Is that someone a parent? A spouse? A boss? If so, then you know the destruction that anger brings to relationships. To unity. To intimacy. To love and affection in the family. Anger keeps people on eggshells around you. It also forces them to keep a distance, if not physically then at least emotionally.

Oh, but get this.

 When Israel became stronger, they made the Canaanites serve as forced labor but never drove them out completely. — Judges 1:28 

Sometimes it is the thing that we believe is serving us that is the very thing we are supposed to get rid of.

My story includes deep anger. Anger that served me well because it protected me from emotional pain. So trust me when I say that I know how hard it is live without something that has served you. I can also attest to the fact that it was killing me and had a part in killing my marriage. I just didn’t know that when I allowed it to co-exist with me.

I didn’t know that my servant was my enemy.

But wait. There’s more.

So rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. – 1Peter 2:1

Of all of these, the one that stands out the most, the one with which many choose to co-exist?

Pretense. Play-acting. Mask wearing. {Hypocrite is the Greek word for an actor in a play.}

We show the parts of ourselves and our lives we want others to see, and we hide the rest. We put on a show, making others believe that we have it all together, we’re happy, we’re successful, we’re religious, we’re — whatever it is we want them to think of us. But we put a mask over our insecurities, our sadness, our depression, our debt, our jealousies and our dwindling faith.

Hypocrisy becomes a way of life, as though we are always on stage. It destroys our ability to be real with anyone, including those closest to us. It is the enemy of transparency, the enemy of true relationship. It is the enemy of one of our most fundamental emotional needs — to be known and accepted. And while I cannot prove it, I believe that where we find hypocrisy, we find pride and we find fear, all huddled together.

I’m going to go ahead and stop here with this little morsel:

“I brought you out of Egypt and led you into the land I had promised to your fathers. I also said: I will never break My covenant with you.  You are not to make a covenant with the people who are living in this land, and you are to tear down their altars. But you have not obeyed Me. What is this you have done?  Therefore, I now say: I will not drive out these people before you. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a trap for you.” – Judges 2:1-3

God doesn’t play. This wasn’t about His rejection of them (or our loss of salvation), it was about his discipline for their disobedience (and ours). Yes, we live under grace, but the New Testament also teaches us that God disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6), so grace is not absent discipline. We cannot wave this off as either optional or as something we don’t need to bother with — not anymore.

There is too much happening around us. Darkness is getting thick, my friend. We cannot afford to let our light be diminished by our own disobedience.

This has been my journey with God lately. Getting a good look at what is on my land that I need to drive out. Staring my own disobedience in the eye.

Now I’m seeking God’s help to know how to stop co-existing and start driving out. I’ll keep you posted. If you’ve already been down this road, help a sista out. Offer up your wisdom. And if you’re in the thick of it, let me know how it’s going. Getting rid of things is hard work. I’d love to pray for you as we journey this part of the road together.

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