It’s easy enough to write all this from the privacy and comfort of my living room couch. But our living in God’s Kingdom still takes place in the domain of God’s enemy, and every day we come into conflict with that world and all its forces.
“In this world, you will have trouble…” (John 16:33)
“And everyone will hate you because you are my followers.” (Luke 21:17)
“… when people mock you, lie about you, and say evil things about you because you are my followers…” (Matthew 5:11)
“The time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God.” (John 16:2)
Those are all words of Jesus, telling us what we’re facing.
Every day, we must make the choice of whose standards we’re going to live by, who we are going to bow to as ultimate authority. We’re meant to be God’s way of living, planted in and permeating a world of darkness. But every single one of those attitudes and actions that Jesus teaches comes into conflict with the values, the strategies, and the goals of the world.
And the kingdom of darkness brings everything in its war against God’s Kingdom:
* Family or friends who ridicule values
* Those who call us “haters” and “bigots” for proclaiming truth
* A coworker who lies to make me look bad, a friend angry when I refuse to go along with a questionable plan, a school or library trying to force us to expose our children to certain material, a fellow church member sowing discontent
* A government who passes laws that make our beliefs illegal
* People who want to kill us because we bear the name of Christ
The list could go on and on … you know where, today, the kingdom of Satan will come against you in attack because you belong to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Could there be a more formidable earthly opponent than the mighty pharaoh of Egypt? He was a ruler who considered himself a god, and he looked at a group of people in his country who were living in a choice part of the land, doing well, flourishing, and becoming quite prosperous and powerful. “Enough of this,” he thought, and with his political and social manipulation, suddenly Jacob’s descendants found their idyllic life in Egypt was over, they were slaves, with a king who was killing their babies and cutting off the hands of people who did not produce enough.
No wonder Moses needed more than a little convincing to go and face this opponent. Yet once he accepted the mission God sent him on he never stopped, no matter what Pharaoh threw at him.
It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. (Hebrews 11:27)
Isn’t that an interesting combination of words? He kept his eyes (seeing) on the one who is invisible (something that can’t be seen).
Paul uses the same combination when he says we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
How do we fix our gaze on something that can’t be seen?
Apparently, there are two kinds of sight: Eyes that see things we touch and eat and feel and own. And eyes of faith, that see invisible things that last forever.
If you look at the context of these two verses, the writers are saying that this is how we will get through our troubles. This is how we cope with earthly life. This is what keeps us strong and keeps us going—keeping our eyes on the invisible.
This is the hope by which we keep right on going:
For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Jesus knows what every one of us faces. He knew it all long ago. He knew what people would say to and about us, He knew what they would do to us, He knew our need for bravery and courage and reassurance. He knew what attacks by evil forces would come against us.
Nothing that happens to me or you today will take Him by surprise. And nothing will happen that He will not use for our good and the mission of His Kingdom on earth.
He prayed for us. When agonizing over His own battle with evil and knowing He was going to die—He took the time to pray for every one of us who decides to follow Him! And He is still going to the Father on our behalf.
So we keep our eyes on the unseen, and we keep right on going …..
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations.
© Elaine Starner 2015
Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)