Saturday, October 15, 2011

HOW MANY MEN ARE BOLD ENOUGH TO BE GENUINE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST?

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It was Wednesday morning as twenty-five or thirty men came streaming into the second floor “chapel” of the county prison. Along with the throng of inmates was a young man who had been attending classes for a number of months. He purposely used his hefty, semi-muscular physique for its intimidation factor. This young man had likely done, as well as experienced, significant damage. Over the months, we had established a decent rapport that involved verbal exchanges that ranged from humorous to aggressive. One day, in apparent resignation, he raised his hand during class in order to say, “I’ve come the conclusion that I am just naturally disobedient.” I looked at him with, likely, a bit of perplexed disappointment verging on annoyance before I said, “I don’t care.” This was, quite obviously, not the response he, nor the other students, anticipated. I continued, “Think about it this way. Every time you’re disobedient to something, you’re obedient to something else. What you’re really telling me is that you're being obedient to the impulses of your flesh. You’re being obedient to the principles of the kingdom of darkness and selfishness, to Satan. So, while you’re being obedient to this, you're also being disobedient to God and His kingdom of light and righteousness. So, you’re into disobedience? Just switch who you’re being obedient to and who you’re being disobedient to. You see, it doesn’t take a man to live according to the impulses of his flesh. Animals do this. But, it does take a man to stand up for justice and righteousness. If you like a good fight, try being disobedient to Satan. Try fighting for truth and morality and against deception and immorality.”

Is this why Jesus, quite clearly, warned His disciples of the hatred and persecution that was to come their way as devoted followers? There is a battle raging. The only question is, “What side are we fighting for, what kingdom are we advancing?” Paul stated, “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

Often, I have opportunity to tell the men in the prison class I offer, “A real man is not one who can drink the most, fornicate the most, lie and steal the most. A true man is one who can stand up for truth in the midst of lies and deception, fight for righteousness and justice in the midst of corruption, who can defend the defenseless against the abusive immorality of a society full of selfishness, greed and darkened minds.”

Where are our men, men with chests? C. S. Lewis wrote, “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.” Many are held up in prison and many held up in a false, passive concept of love. I often look at my prison class and see potential leaders robbed of their impact by directing their strength in the wrong direction. I often look at congregations gathered in churches and see men robbed of their impact for truth, righteousness and justice in a perverse world due to a wrong, passive, wimpy concept of love.

William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, is credited with the following two quotations:
"Our war is to fight devils, lies, fleshly indulgence, hardship, disappointment, and everything that sets itself against God and His kingdom and living a holy life. We must stand up to defend the powerless. Make your stand against that which persecutes, puts down and perverts. We must fight to help people; to make them believe victory is possible – that God can, that God is able. You must never give up! You never get what you really want in God without loss, suffering and resistance. The best things cost the most. Little of real warfare is the actual battle. Do your homework. Laziness will make you afraid. You cannot be useful, significant and successful without uninteresting, out of sight work, and plenty of it."

"While women weep, as they do now, I'll fight; while little children go hungry, as they do now, I'll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I'll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I'll fight-I'll fight to the very end!"

Who will stand up for me against evildoers? Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness?” (Psalm 94:16)

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