Happy New Year! After a small break and recovery from writing so much in 2020, we are back and excited for 2021. Since I last posted here there has been a lot going on in the world, and certainly here in our nation. I am going to refrain from talking about what is going on in America for the most part. There are several reasons, but one of the biggest is why I am writing this post today, the danger of distractions. One thing that the devil loves to do is to distract Christians from our calling. He is a good sleight of hand magician. He wants you looking over here while he does something with the other hand over there. What the world needs now is an undivided, unafraid church boldly living and proclaiming the Gospel. In Luke 9, Jesus tells His disciples about counting the cost of being a disciple. Towards the end of the chapter, Jesus says something that seems harsh and something that sounds weird to the modern-day reader. Jesus says in Luke 9:60-62, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Yet another said, ‘I will follow You, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.'”
At first glance, it seems as though Jesus is trying to talk people out of following Him. Is He really doing that? Well, yes and no. No, Jesus doesn’t want someone to not be saved. But, yes, He doesn’t want them being half-hearted in their commitment to Him and the kingdom. He wants them to understand what it means to be His disciple. My guess is you have a friend or maybe even a boss who says they will do something, but then seldom actually follows through with it. That is incredibly frustrating isn’t it? Not only does it seem like Jesus is trying to talk people out of following Him, but it also seems as though Jesus is uncaring. He tells one guy who wants to bury his father, “Let the dead bury their own dead.” However, this man wasn’t asking to attend his father’s funeral or to have a time of mourning for his father. Instead, he is wanting to delay his obedience to Jesus’ call. If Jesus is truly the Lord of our life, when He tells us something, the only appropriate response is “Yes, Lord.” Jesus was telling this man that to be His disciple means that his commitment to Jesus is deeper and more important in his life than all other relationships and commitments. What about the last one who said he would follow Jesus? What is Jesus getting at when He talks about “looking back” and “not being fit for the kingdom of God”? It is similar to the previous one. Jesus knew that if this man delayed in obedience, he would never obey. The pull of our old life would be too strong. While we all know that things change, the reality is that we like the way things are. They are comfortable, and we like comfort. We will even admit that things are not ideal, and that things need to change. So, why don’t they change? Because we like comfort, and there is comfort in the familiar. Jesus uses an agricultural illustration, because this would have made sense to His audience. Jesus is saying that when someone is plowing a garden to get ready to plant crops, they need to plow straight lines. However, if they are holding on to the plow, and they look back, they won’t plow straight lines. Try this, and you will see Jesus’ point, put a straight line down on the floor, start walking, and then look back and try to keep walking a straight line. I’ll save you the time, you won’t be able to to do it. Jesus is saying, if we allow our old, familiar, and comfortable life to continue to influence us, we will never follow Jesus as His disciple. There has to be a break from the old, and a commitment to the new. By the way, this same illustration is applied to marriage back in Genesis 2, Matthew 19, and Ephesians 5. But what does this have to do with our situation today?
Satan is distracting many Christians with politics, and it is diverting our attention away from the kingdom of God. Regardless of your political persuasion, you want what you want. You are convinced that your political party’s platform and plans are the best for everyone. You believe that if your party is in power, then everything will be better. It is a belief that the good of the world rises and falls with America. It is what is referred to as nationalism, a term you have probably heard many, many times over the past year. For what it is worth, it is not just a one party issue, both parties suffer from it. Here is the danger for Christians, when we are more concerned with the well-being of America, temporary politics overpower our allegiance to the kingdom of God. The world, including America, rises and falls according to the plan and purposes of God. Neither political party will save this nation, nor will one party destroy this nation. Why do I say this? Because, no one can save themselves, let alone a political party. And both parties are made up of fallen, sinful people in need of a Savior. Do Christians need to be a part of the political process? Absolutely! They should pray for the nation and its leaders every day (1 Tim. 2:1-2), we should seek the good of the nation (Jer. 29:7), and we should participate in the process every four years. However, our allegiance must be solely to the kingdom of God, and neither political party has the market cornered on that. Christians must not lose our voice in the public square by pandering to either party. We must call sin out on both sides, and we must boldly, and unapologetically proclaim the Gospel as the only hope for politics, the nation, and the world. Satan is ok if we continue to play partisan politics and get caught up in crazy conspiracy theories. And is Satan is ok with it, that should tell you something right there. It should tell you that God is not ok with it. Christians, the world is in a dark place right now. There are many problems. The world does not need a distracted church. The world needs a Gospel living and Gospel declaring church. So, let’s be that!
By His grace and for His glory,