"And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed." - Apostle Paul to the Christians of the assembly of the church of Rome (Romans 13:11)
Throughout my day, I am surrounded by a myriad of sounds. My job requires me to spend a lot of time on the road in travel and I constantly hear the roar of the tires on the road, the vent blowing heat or air conditioner, and the sound of passing traffic. Perhaps, the window is down and the sound of the rush of the wind fills my ears. Of course, the radio is turned on but it always seems that I never have a clear signal. That is, the music of K-Love is laced with static that fades in and out. Over time, I become accustomed to the music mixed with static that I no longer enjoy it in that moment and my mind dwells on something else, forgetting the radio is even on.
Isn’t this what the spiritual life of the professing church of Jesus Christ has become as well in our world today? A radio signal mixed with sounds and static. The music has been so drowned out by static that the mind has become numb to it and spiritually, we continue on indifferent to it, unable to discern that something is even wrong to begin with. Our God longs to communicate with His children like a sweet melody of music deserves to be listened to but we are numb to His voice. The static of our lives drowns out the voice of God.
The static of our lives dull His call to us and His beautiful, piercing voice is drowned out by the roar of our steady go. I remember reading somewhere in a military book that special operations soldiers would move with haste during times of rain because the rain drowns out the sound of their footsteps to the ears of the enemy. Similarly, our jam-packed lives drown out of the movement of God in our lives and we not hear Him coming or going. We are surrounded by the pulls and tugs of responsibility, entertainment, and the pursuit of ‘happiness’ and the American dream but we are virtually dead to the voice of God. He rings the phone off the hook but all He gets is our voicemail. God’s call gets placed on our own personal back-burner.
If we checked our hearts tonight, I believe we’d find a couple dozen voicemails from God. “Hey, give me a call. We need to talk.” “I’ve been trying to reach you. I know what’s best for you. Please call me back.” “Hey, you don’t have to go through this on your own. I’m here. Give me a call back.” “I have already told you the answer. Why are you ignoring my calls?”
It’s usually at the end of a long day after I have been surrounded by the 'static' of life that things calm down and I begin to hear the ‘music’ of God’s voice. It’s quiet now as my wife and daughter have went to the bed. The television is off and the only sound I hear is the vent blowing air and the typing of my keyboard. However, before I began to type, I heard God speak to me: “Are you sure this is all worth it?” He is referring to the fact that my life is filled with busyness and even though I desire to do so much more for Him, my life is quickly filled with demands from every direction. The natural response I struggle against is to put Him on the backburner to ‘get around to' later. Of course, God is asking me a rhetorical question. Anything that is pursued with the temporary in mind without focus on the next world is not worth it. In fact, to spend our lives focused on the here and now is complete vanity. Yet, while we are very active and busy in vain pursuits, very little time is spent in pursuit of God and His mission.
Is this not the case of the professing American disciples of Christ? Haven’t we become so busy that it seems that we are of no heavenly good? We burn ourselves out pursuing what? A better future? More possessions? Is there really a better future here below? James, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said that life is like a vapor, that rises up in the air as if it is getting ready to present a grand display only to fade out and disappear (James 4:14). James says, “Life is short. Death is always near.” Isn’t this life itself? Isn’t death always right around the corner? We hear of the great things the future holds so we pursue an educational degree, land a nice job, etc. Those are nice things. But the future also holds sickness, death, tragedy, etc. Someone will get sick. Someone will die. Someone will face a tragedy. That is the reality of a sin-cursed world. Our lives are unpredictable. The ‘white picket fence’ life can quickly turn into a life spent caring for a loved one with a terminal disease or fighting a disease ourselves.
I sit here hearing God speak to my heart: “There is wisdom in living in light of eternity.” The author of Ecclesiastes spends his life enjoying all of life’s pleasures only to say in the end that it is all vanity. That is, while it was good for the moment, it seems to be meaningless now as he approaches the end of his life. I believe this is the thought process of many an elderly person who is approaching the last phase of life. As they look back on their lives, many shake their heads at the time they wasted in vain pursuits. I once sit at the edge of the death bed of a brother in Christ and he, in the process of dying, tells me that he regretted the way he treated some people and wanted to make it right with them. Facing eternity sobers us up and accelerates true wisdom.
I think of the parable that Jesus tells of a rich man whose business was thriving. He boasts of the explosion of his produce being so vast that he found himself having to build bigger barns to store them. Then, he says that he will just relax and retire and enjoy the last of his days. However, it is his appointed time to die. He doesn’t get to enjoy his retirement. He lives all behind (Luke 12:20). His temporary kingdom crumbled before he could enjoy it.
He spent his entire life building his kingdom here in the here and now, taking no thought for eternity. God calls him a “fool.” Is it not the most foolish thing to live our lives here as if we are going to live forever here knowing that 10 out of 10 people die? In fact, 153,000 people will die today. Ordinary people who woke up, started their days as normal, not knowing this was the last day they’d live here. So, in our foolishness, we chase our little kingdoms and build our little castles only to watch them crumble away as we are sucked away into eternity taking nothing with us. As Apostle Paul reminds: “We brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can take nothing with us (1 Timothy 6:7).”
The static of our lives chokes our focus on eternity. Satan surely loves to use the static of our lives to choke our thoughts of eternity. It makes us ineffective for the kingdom because the disciple who lives in light of eternity gets stuff done for the eternal kingdom. He is driven by it. When we are ineffective for the kingdom and we spend our lives making “mud pies” (to use a reference from C.S. Lewis) living, breathing souls, made in the image of God, are not being saved. While we focused on the vain pursuit of prosperity here, people die and go to hell, never to have a chance again at salvation.
God ordained the message itself to be the medium of salvation, for faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. That is, the sharing of the gospel through preaching and witnessing is how God accomplishes conversion of His new sons and daughters. As we exhaust ourselves decorating our little tents here, we are leaving our mansion in heaven undecorated and drab. The reality is, the church of Jesus Christ spends more time laying their treasures here than laying their treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20).
How it must disappoint the Father to see His children getting comfortable here as if this is their home. Apostle Peter refers to us as foreigners and as in a strange land (1 Peter 2:11). To become comfortable here is to become comfortable in a war-zone, a sin-cursed world under the bombardment of sin and under the dominion of Satan. Spiritually speaking, it would make as much sense as a soldier in a war-torn country settling in for life in that country even though their tour is only for a year. No, a soldier goes through his tour of duty with focus on ‘home.’ He fights daily thinking of his true home, where his heart truly is. That is, the home that his bride lives in that he writes his affectionate letters to and sends video messages to his children. His heart is somewhere else even though he is physically in another country. His heart dwells in his home country, where everything he loves dwells. A Christian is called to set his affections on things above (Colossians 3:2).
As Christians, we are called to be a “peculiar” people. We should turn heads a little by our attitudes and actions. When a person lives a life of faith, it should come off a little odd to some. The things we say are spiritual things that the unbelieving could not comprehend because the natural man cannot comprehend spiritual things without the help of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). It should be expected that we would be considered strange by the world’s standard. However, the concern I have is that it comes off odd to professing Christians, those who profess to believe the same things. Why would conversations of spiritual things be strange or ‘radical’ to professing Christians, to those who profess to live according to that spiritual kingdom?
I speak often to professing Christians about the radical vision that God has given me to turn the world upside down for His glory. To spread to the gospel to everyone as possible, especially in Buchanan County, where I was planted. To kill the evil Satanic bondage of drug/porn/alcohol addiction. To help and heal every hurting heart. To radically preach and hand out tracts in the middle of streets. To lead revival everywhere I can. Only for the person to grow quiet as if they are a little shaken at such a vision. It seems to make them uncomfortable. It is alarming that some professing Christians grow uncomfortable around another Christian who is speaking in such a radical manner. Yet, this was the vision of the early church. The early church was so radical that they sold their possessions to make sure their brother and sister was taken care of (Acts 2:45). The early church was so radical that many died horrendous deaths, glorying God the whole way out. All because of love for God and one another.
Has the professing church been drowned by the static of the ‘here and now?’ Sure, the church has been dulled by the static of this temporary world. It is a real fact that the church has lost its effectiveness due to this static. The drone of the static over time has put them to sleep while the enemy lurks to and fro devouring them (1 Peter 5:8). However, I believe with everything in me that a great awakening is coming and even has already began. Even as I type this, my heart is stirring at the revival to come.
We must be warned, though, that revival usually does not come in times of prosperity. That is, revival usually arises out of ashes of dark times. Light shines brightest in darkness. When people are forced to face their own mortality and are forced to stand at the edge of eternity, people get serious about the call of God. They start answering the phone when He calls instead of letting it go to the voicemail. They start attempting to clear the static so they can listen more clearly. Therefore, in order to awaken us to eternity, we can be sure of this: God will shake us up.
Let us submit to God and receive a fresh filling of the Spirit, being stirred to move from the static to the sweet of melody of God. Letting the move of His song, flow through our ears, into our minds, and to our hearts. Let us move to the rhythm of His beat and show the world that we dance not for this world but for the next one. Let us live in light of eternity, letting the sound of the music of eternity drown out the static of the here and now.