~ In Adoration and Thanksgiving ~
Diabolical instruments of evil do not practice compassion. When a child of God becomes wounded and hurt, the emissaries of hell don't have any pity and back off a bit. Rather, they mercilessly increase their inflection of pain, not stopping until they achieve the obliteration of the person's effectiveness, even to his death, if not supernaturally stopped.
Even if there is a truce in spirit warfare, the person must "put on the full armor of God" described in Ephesians 6. This is in the light of Christ's explanation, "...it (evil spirit) goes off and finds seven other evil spirits even worse than itself. They all come and make their home there, and the person ends up in worse shape than before." (Matthew 12:45)
I am a witness for Christ, not His lawyer or, to use a theological term, His apologist. Lawyers and apologists argue for whom or what they represent. Witnesses just tell what they saw or heard. I am also a witness of both Christ's love and suffering. ("Christ suffered here on earth. Now you must be ready to suffer as he did..." [1 Peter 4:1 CEV]; "Anyone who belongs to Christ Jesus and wants to live right will suffer persecution." [2 Timothy 3:12])
So, as His witness, I tell what I see, hear, read, and experience of the kingdom of God, a realm of infinite superiority to this ordinary realm of this world.
Many of us spent our lives working hard to make the ordinary realm work for us; a lifetime preoccupation of me, me and me. Regarding achievement, some become superior in this ordinary realm. However, it is far better to be an ordinary person in the superior realm. The Gateway to this superior realm is manifested in our ordinary world within the birth of the Christ.
The satanic assault against the God-man, the Son of God and the Son of man, escalated within months of His incarnation. Prompted by the warning of God's angelic messenger, Joseph and Mary hid baby Jesus in Egypt while King Herod went on a jealous, fearful rampage and had every boy, two years and younger, within and around Bethlehem, torn from his wailing mother and murdered. (Matthew 2:13-16). In some religious faiths, this event is called "the slaughter of the innocents."
But the slaughter, physical, emotional, social and spiritual, of the innocents in the Name of Christ continues and escalates to this day! This is both the legacy and the expectation of anyone who calls him or herself a Christian, a Christ-one. As His children, we share in His all, His glory and His suffering, in Thanksgiving.
This is sacred suffering of which I write, not ordinary suffering. When you suffer because you get what you don't want; or because you don't get what you want, or because you do get what you want but know it won't last, you are doing ordinary, worldly suffering.
When you suffer because Christ is suffering, you are in unity with Him and your suffering is in the superior, spiritual realm. "'I was hungry, but you did not give me anything to eat, and I was thirsty, but you did not give my anything to drink. I was a stranger, but you did not welcome me, and I was naked, but you did not give my any clothes to wear. I was sick and in jail, but you did not take care of me.' Then the people will ask, 'Lord, when did we fail to help you when you were hungry or thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick or in jail?' "Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me.'" (Matthew 25:42-45)
Some may be wondering how unusual it is to read of spiritual warfare and sacred suffering during the Christmas season, a time when we are to be merry and jolly. However, many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are not making merry due to sacred persecution and suffering. Many are hungry, thirsty, estranged, poorly clothed and sheltered, sick and in prison, either physically, emotionally, socially or spiritually. Perhaps you know of one or two or many. Perhaps you are one of those yourself. The contrast between how Christmas is socially presented and the reality of many "who live lives in quiet desperation" accentuates the suffering we feel and see in others.
Someone told a couple of friends that his brother gave him a $45,000 car for Christmas. One of them said, "Wow, I wish I had a brother like that!" After a thoughtful pause, the other friend replied, "I wish I could be a brother like that." Well, Christmas is a season of celebrating our gifts and of giving, and we can all be brothers and sisters "like that" in various ways and degrees. I am grateful for this time, this occasion, for the gift of perfect love and redemption through Christ Jesus. In tribute to my gratitude, let me present King David's words as my prayers to the Lord and invite you to join me:
I am truly thirsty for you, my God.
In my heart, I am thirsty for you, the living God.
When will I see your face?
Why am I discouraged? Why am I restless?
I trust you! And I will praise you again,
because you help me, and you are my God.
With all my heart, I am waiting, Lord, for you!
I trust your promises.
I wait for you more eagerly
than a soldier on guard duty waits for the dawn.
I have seen your power and your glory
in the place of worship.
Your love means more than life to me,
and I praise you.
As long as I live I will pray to you.
Lord God All-Powerful, my King and my God,
sparrows find a home near your altars;
swallows build nests there to raise their young.
You treat us with kindness and with honor,
never denying any good thing to those who live right.
Lord God All-Powerful,
You bless everyone who trusts you.
(excerpted from Psalms 42, 130, 63, 84)
God's altars, B.C., as referred to in Psalm 84, were places of sacrifice, intense activity, ritual atonement, even death and suffering. Yet the sparrows and swallows in this Psalm do not retreat to the safety and seclusion of the outermost part of the temple or even outside the temple grounds. Instead, they make their homes and raise their young right near the sacrificial altars. I believe the Scriptures are saying that is where we also need to make our homes and raise our young.
"One day in your temple is better than a thousand anywhere else." (Psalm 84:10)
"Whatever you do for the least of my people, you do it for me." (Matthew 25:40)
Amen, Lord Christ Jesus!
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
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Weekly Reflections © December 23, 2000
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