Question It All
Wednesday Morning, August 28, 2002
Where Will YOU Draw the Line in Your Allegiance to Jesus Christ?
Saints, I do realize that we are writing to Family in many nations, on every continent, as we say what follows. These thoughts, this commitment, trumpets forth from the many unified Believers that are a part of the local Lampstand here in Indianapolis, in the United States. In one sense, we view this brief note as a Spiritually bellicose “call to arms” for ourselves, and all who wear His Name. We know a great many of you, from conversations and visits, have the same heart.
Because of our daily intermingled Life in the Church here, “from the least to the greatest,” I know we speak as One in this matter that follows. There is no “committed nucleus” here, surrounded by “attenders” who we could know nothing about. There is only One Life, and nothing to “attend”—but to attend to one another and to Jesus 24 hours a day—so it’s not difficult to know and love one another “deeply from the heart.” Having said that, who among us would not leave our nation of birth and residence, in spite of personal cost? There is not a single Disciple of Jesus, Believer in Yahweh and His Son, who is a part of the Church here that would be unwilling to act decisively in this matter we are discussing: a willingness to move to another city or nation, should it be apparent that this would please Father.
Can you describe your country as we might describe ours? Though none of us chose to be born here, this is a description of our current home nation, the United States: shameless arrogance, drunken materialism, blatant deception, and international tyranny… There are perversions and vanities too numerous to mention. Addictions to food, to entertainment, to electronic devices, and to who-knows-what. Duped by the narcotic of the “World Wide Web”—the Internet and its twisted chat rooms and forums, its infinite variety and types of mental and perverted and materialistic pornography, and its amazing possibilities for criminal thievery of God’s Right to our time. On top of all this, this nation, for the most part, rages in its rampant apathy towards Jesus—hidden under a righteous façade of ritual and form and clever programs and personalities, with persecution of truly committed Followers of Jesus right around the corner, it would seem. When Jesus described His generation as “wicked and perverse”—His had nothing on ours.
Is there a time and circumstance where “flee that city” (or some other country) might actually become appropriate? COULD that happen? Is there a time where the situation in a city or country, or simply the lack of fruit in the Work of God in that place, would make a move to another city or country expedient? COULD God’s Call, in some situations, warrant departing unregenerate physical phamily ties, comfort of culture or climate, stability of occupation, and even knowledge of the local language—for JESUS and His Work? You had better believe it. That is, if it’s True Christianity we are a part of—the one in the Bible—rather than the omnipresent cultural and emotional placebo. Certainly there is Biblical precedent even for a willingness to be beheaded for His Cause and Life. “Fleeing” a location is small stuff, by comparison. Even Jesus Himself while still a child, when called to do so, fled a nation for a time.
We may never see the day, or know of a reason to do so. But are we prepared to be Christians, in the likeness of our Lord and His Followers who have gone before us? Are we willing to pay any price for that Pearl of Great Price, and the inseparable Calling on each of our lives? What is our perspective of what we are doing here on this planet?! Do we live in the location we find comfortable and convenient, and then try to “add” our “religion” (faddish attendance-based stuff—in a castle or in a living room—that ignores Holiness and Obedience and Daily Love of One Another) to THAT? Will we be satisfied with externals without true substance, so we can be comfortable and unchallenged? OR is our heart to leave all behind, if necessary, to go to another city or country or culture… when it is His Call, or Warning, to do so. Is that possible, for you? Let it be so. Be soft in His hands.
A few of the “examples” of leaving a place in response to ugliness, or unfruitfulness, in that location… just to ponder:
Also He said to them, “In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. And whatever city will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city!” (Matthew 10:11-15).
And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region. And they were proclaiming the good news there (Acts 14:5-7).
“Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled” (Luke 21:21-22).
“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes” (Matthew 24:15-18).
“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another” (Matthew 10:22-23).
Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God (Revelation 12:6).
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod (Matthew 2:13-15).
What is your culture and country like, from GOD’S vantage point? Does it matter to you what your nation is made of? Mere church-goers can, of course, be blinded by “conforming to the patterns of the world” and not even see it clearly. What is your culture’s morality, its quality of life, its religious opportunities or cultural slavery? We’ve already described our situation, growing in intensity year by year, above—and it is abominable. What to do? We’re listening. Willing to die to stay in the middle of a metropolitan area, as we are; willing to leave all for more fertile Ground of His choosing. It’s His business—not the decision of any doulos.
What is it like where YOU live? In Australia, the recent national Census has registered 70,000 who claim their religion is “Jedi”—the imaginary “Star Wars” nonsense of George Lucas concoction. Some nations are drunk on immorality and witchcraft. Some countries take pride in the fact that they will listen to no one, and are arrogantly independent. Some cultures are steeped in materialism. Others are pummeled with fear and emptiness. The world is a preposterous mess.
In the midst of this, Father has made it clear that governments are to be honored—as all authority emanates from Him. We attempt to honor and obey, “as unto the Lord,” in as far as we are not told to compromise our Faith and Obedience to our one true Master. WE do not “pledge allegiance to the flag,” but are “foreigners” and “aliens” and “strangers” and “pilgrims” on this planet, in this realm.
We are “in the world,” but surely “not of it.” As our brother Paul said, by the Holy Spirit, “From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away” (1Cor. 7:29-31). THAT is “radical,” but is surely how our Master lived…and died...and ROSE, in Newness of Life. “Then He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ And another also said, ‘Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and say good-bye to my family.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Lk. 9:59-62).
What am I saying? Only this: be sober-minded and realistic about the world around you, and then ponder what price you are willing to pay for His Sake, for His Cause. This world is not “neutral” as some who compromise their children and their own lives to the world would have you believe. And yet, do nothing and “move” nowhere out of ambition, or fear, or “movement seeking,” or some dramatized hallucination and power play of a “prophetic word,” without confirmation in Life. Never make a decision out of guilt, or wanderlust, or emotional energy. Maybe you need to risk your life for Him where you are, particularly if you’ve risked nothing so far. However, we must always, if we wear His Name, be willing and ready to do absolutely ANYTHING for Him. That’s the Deal. To this we were called. “We are not our own—we were bought for a Price.”
“‘Who are these, here, in Heaven?’ he asked the Angel” (Revelation 7:13).
“These are the ones who are here by the Blood of the Lamb, by the word of their Testimony, and who loved not their lives, even to the point of death” (Revelation 12:11).