It’s such an incredible time around here at City Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma City. God is doing absolutely astounding things, and we’re all amazed at his work. He is drawing people to himself – the lost, the broken, the unchurched, the de-churched, those who are tired of living in safe cocoons, the proud, the humiliated. We’re finding life and freedom in Christ, and seeing the reality of a community walking together with Jesus.
We’ve seen God provide us a building. I’m sitting in it right now, looking at the beautiful wooden beams. I spent hours this morning arranging and rearranging chairs so we can fit more people. I can see it. I can see Easter Sunday. I can see paying off the building. I can see meeting new people. I can see preaching the gospel here.
We’ve seen incredible help from so many people. Our own people have stepped up to work, to give, to pray, to invite others. Outsiders have given their time and expertise to help us – because they too believe in us and that the gospel should go forth in this place, this church, this city.
AND – Satan hates this. I believe in a real, literal devil. He is the Adversary. He is the Deceiver. He does not want Christ’s church to succeed and thrive – at least not a healthy, gospel-driven, mission-minded one. He’s not against church – as long as he can dictate the terms.
I believe we’re in a crisis stage here. I’m worn out. Bobby is. Our families are. Our leaders are. Our people are. We’ve prayed and worked and given and seen God answer prayers. So we’re vulnerable to Satan’s devouring ways like:
– Bitterness They aren’t helping. They aren’t as committed as I am. This is a hardness of heart that I’m well-acquinted with.
– Overwork How can I say no when there is so much to be done? Whatever It Takes can be a bad idea if we lose it all to get something worth relatively little. Not only that, but I’ll be a taskmaster to others.
– Laziness On the other hand, since I don’t want to overwork, I’ll just let someone else handle it. It’ll all work out, right? God is sovereign! I’m also not going to try to forgive, or get past this or read my Bible.
– Pride/Arrogance I did this! I raised this money. I am awesome! I built this. I can do it. I can do more. Follow me!
– Distance I can get estranged from others and I pull back, pull away. I get cold toward God and others. I can’t find and don’t care to find intimacy with Christ, friendships and in my marriage. So I check out, don’t show up and wait for something to happen so I can blame someone else. I certainly don’t want to spend time with Jesus on my own. No way. He can come to me.
– Deserve Mentality This is or can be general, but I think I deserve something because I’ve been successful and worked hard. But it will hurt me and others. This leads to everything from just terrible short-term choices to long developing addictions.
– Judgmentalism I can look down at others – inside and outside of our church. I think I know best all the time, and they just don’t get it like I do.
– Severe irritation They didn’t do it my way. I wanted something different. I’m not being appreciated. I don’t like _________.
– Shame I cannot be loved by God. I deserve the worst. God cannot forgive me. I’m trapped.
– What else? I know I haven’t even come close to Satan’s exhausting strategies.
Are we stuck? Should we give in? Is there any hope? While we battle Satan, the flesh and the world, we serve a God who is the Victor. We serve the one who conquers death, and sets captives free. The one who gives breath and life, who gives strength to the failing and failures, who loves the hopeless and hoped-out. The one who did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many – for you and me. The one who gathers the faithless to himself and calls them his children and his disciples. The one who loves repentant sinners. He is very near to them, to you, to me. The one who goes after the lost, even the lost parts of a person. We have hope! We are not defeated. Let’s strive not in our own striving, but in Christ’s for us. Let’s repent and believe. Let’s forgive and more forward in hope.