Do you have something in your life that you are agonizing over, or that is causing you great distress? Do you have family or friends who are pulling you to do something or support something that you know is outside of the Will of God? Are you being “guilted” into supporting something that makes you uncomfortable or that the Holy Spirit has revealed to you is a sin? You are not alone! I received a Word from the Lord today that, although may not be exactly what some would like to hear, brings clarity to a very convoluted and confusing world. The Lord said “Make a stand”. It is time for Christians to make a stand. Make a stand is an idiom for stand firm, hold fast, do not waver, to publicly assert one’s opinion or defense of or opposition to something without relenting.
Luke 12:51: Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; 52 for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Why does Jesus divide families? The God of truth (Isa. 65:16) is the God of the Bible. Since truth divides, then Jesus would naturally divide his followers away from those who reject and hate God’s truth, even one’s natural family members.
As Jesus announced the kingdom of God, calling for primary allegiance, this often split families, as some members believed and others did not. In fact, it’s quite possible that Jesus’ own family was severed because of his ministry, at least during his lifetime. So, even though the kingdom of God ultimately establishes God’s peace on earth, the advance of the kingdom brings division.
As Jesus’ followers, we are not to seek conflict or division. Jesus calls His people to be peacemakers. We are to live in peace with one another. The Apostle Paul adds “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone”. How can we be peacemakers in situations where the presence and values of the kingdom of God seem to stir up conflict?
Matthew 5:9: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Romans 12:18: If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Christians are taught to be peacemakers, and to be at peace with all people when possible; however, Jesus Himself said He would bring division to family relationships. Does this seem confusing? Yes..somehow we must be peacemakers, loving and kind to all people, and yet not compromise on our Christian values.
Jesus tells us to “count the costs” of following Him. In Luke 14, Jesus lays out the terms of discipleship. There were great crowds following Him. Everyone loved the miracles, healing, and free food. Jesus was cool, the talk of the town, and the latest fad. But He knew their hearts. He knew they desired the benefits of what He did rather than an understanding of who He was. They loved His gifts, not the life He was calling them to.
So He explained what it takes to be one of His followers:
Luke 14: 25: Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
Jesus said a lot in those simple illustrations. He quickly put an end to the idea that He offered some kind of welfare program. Although the gift of eternal life is free to anyone who asks (John 3:16), the asking requires a transfer of ownership (Luke 9:23; Galatians 5:24). “Counting the cost” means recognizing and agreeing to some terms first. In following Christ, we cannot simply follow our own inclinations. We cannot follow Him and the world’s way at the same time (Matthew 7:13-14). Following Him may mean we lose relationships, dreams, material things, or even our lives.
James 4:4: Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
Those who are following Jesus simply for what they can get won’t stick around when the going gets tough. When God’s way conflicts with our way, we will feel betrayed by the shallow, me-first faith we have bought into. If we have not counted the cost of being His child, we will turn away at the threat of sacrifice and find something else to gratify our selfish desires (cf. Mark 4:5, 16-17). In Jesus’ earthly ministry, there came a time when the free food stopped and public opinion turned ugly. The cheering crowds became jeering crowds. And Jesus knew ahead of time that would happen.
This world has become increasingly hostile to Christian values and principles. Because Christians are not perfect, we face even greater criticism as hypocrites, haters, bigots, when we seek to stand for God’s Truth, to try to remain in the Will of God for our lives. In a way, though, this is nothing new. God’s people, the Israelites, were always getting in trouble with God because of a single word..”Compromise“.
The Roman Empire was the most tolerant, the most liberal in its handling of the many provinces and religions of its empire of any kingdom that ever existed. Men could worship, have temples, and do as they pleased.
And yet the Roman Empire and the Caesars persecuted the Christians. Why?
For one simple reason: the Christian refused to compromise his/her faith with any other religion whatsoever.
When the Romans invited them to place Jesus in their Pantheon beside Jupiter, by the side of Juno, by the side of Neptune, by the side of Isis, by the side of Osiris, the Christian flatly refused. It is Christ alone.
When the Christians were invited just to bow down before the Roman image, their lives could be spared if they would merely take a pinch of incense and put it on the fire that burned in the presence of the image of the Roman Caesar. The Christian died rather than compromise with a pinch of incense.
“I am telling you what is the faith of the New Testament, the faith of the martyrs, and the faith of the true people of God through the centuries. That kind of a faith is uncompromising. “
The depraved heart of humanity does not change… The offense of the cross and the message of Christ ultimately is no more acceptable today than it was in the generations that have passed. Nor will it be more acceptable in the generations that are yet to come until the Lord returns from heaven and brings righteousness to the war-weary, sin-cursed earth. Personally, I think Jesus is returning a lot sooner than many people think, but no matter what, we need to “occupy till He comes”.
Christians, it is not easy to stand for Christ in this sin-sick world…and it’s going to get harder and harder until Jesus comes again. Christians need to show genuine compassion and love for ALL people, and yet stand for Biblical values. We need to REMEMBER, there but for the Grace of God go I. We, too, formerly walked in the lusts of our flesh, so we should have Compassion, Grace, and Mercy for those who are still caught up in worldly lifestyles….and yet we also need to stand with Christ, and appreciate Jesus all the more for waking us up and granting us His Holy Spirit to combat and conquer our own human sin nature.
Ephesians 2: And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
It’s not an easy walk! We need to pray for WISDOM in these last days because LIFE is more CONFUSING than ever! We need to ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen us and show us the way in each situation! At some point in every Christian’s life, it is very likely that we will be required to either compromise our beliefs, our values.. or make our stand….IN LOVE, always remembering that it is the Grace of God that leads us out of sin and the kindness of God that brings us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Romans 2:1-4 also teaches us that we are not to judge those who “practice such things” (worldly lifestyles), but we are also not to participate in them. In this passage of Romans, Paul is telling the Jews that they were not given a “free pass” to sin because of their physical lineage (Abraham’s seed). Likewise, Christians are not given a “free pass” to sin just because we are covered by the blood of Jesus. When we use God’s Grace to justify licentiousness, then we have to expect at the very least, correction…and at the most, judgment. Please pray over this message, and every situation where you are being asked to compromise. No one is judging anyone here as we all have difficult and complicated family and relationship issues. How you apply God’s Word to your life is between you and God.
Romans 2: Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. : But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
Will we burn a pinch of incense to Caesar, asking God to “look the other way”… or will we burn at the stake like Polycarp, (figuratively/suffer persecution) because we refuse to compromise? Will we join the world, embracing worldly values or will we embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Are we seen as intolerant by family, by friends, by strangers? Can we stand with Christ and yet still show UNCONDITIONAL LOVE and KINDNESS to our unbelieving family and friends, even if they don’t accept our love? Do we remember that the KINDNESS of God leads mankind to repentance? Have we counted the cost to follow Jesus? Are we ready to make our stand?
If you struggle with this, you are not alone. Accepting Christ into our lives is simple, but walking the Christian walk is not easy.