Resistance - 2
I am still pondering this issue of resistance and how it relates to my relationship to God. I know I have visited this subject a number of times in the past and will likely keep doing so because it is so central to living as a Christian. But I think it is vital for me to better understand this so that I can intelligently and intentionally better focus my energies and attentions on the right things instead of swirling around in confusion much of the time from religious distractions.
One of the most succinct passages on resistance is found in James and really exposes clearly some of the main issues in this topic.
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:6-8 NKJV)
I would like to clarify for myself some of the simple, core principles of how to truly relate to God properly. I believe that Satan has brought in a great deal of extraneous ideas that have produced not only distortions to the truth but have created impossible burdens for many who sincerely want to follow on to know God better. I believe that this issue of resistance and submission – two sides of the same coin really – is one of them. Being led by the Spirit of God is another of them. (Romans 8:14)
Interestingly, Islam is actually very far advanced to Christianity when it comes to an understanding of true submission to God. They may have some unbalanced ideas about some other spiritual truths, but we must be careful not to allow popular prejudices to blind us to what that religion contains that we might well benefit learning about ourselves.
Christianity has been deeply infected with false ideas about religion as it has been compromised by mixing it with American patriotism. Being the current home base for most of Christian thought, America has made the tragic mistake of assuming that the prejudices inherent in patriotism should be taught as part of the fundamental truths of Christianity, as if these prejudices were just as sacred as God's laws. Because of this we have little idea how repulsive we have made Christianity to much of the rest of the world. We have mixed church and politics and culture so thoroughly at this point that it is impossible to untangle the two and most people don't even feel it necessary.
Now days it is becoming extremely popular, due to the incessant and intentional propaganda of both mainstream Christians and political groups, to view all Muslims with great suspicion at best. Fear and hatred are considered standard attitudes whenever the subject of Islam is brought up and anyone who tries to free themselves from this ungodly attitude of prejudice is viewed with equal suspicion themselves. It is no different than the deep prejudices from past centuries against Negroes or the paranoia whipped up by “communist witch hunts” in America a few decades ago. It is only getting worse, but what I have been learning over the past few months is causing me to realize that this is an intentional ploy by the enemy to blind our minds and hearts from being able to perceive what God is actually doing outside of our narrow box of thinking.
The very word “Muslim” literally means “submitted one”. I find this rather interesting as I pursue a deeper understanding of the real role of resistance and submission in the Christian's life. I am even hearing more and more stories from true Christians who are having honest and candid discussions and developing friendships with true-hearted Muslims that find themselves having to redefine their own understanding of the definitions of certain words.
When a true Muslim, a “submitted one to Allah”, encounters a true Christian who demonstrates the same attitude toward God as what Islam values, they find it reasonable and almost necessary to call that person a true “Muslim”. For if an individual is truly willing to submit fully to the authority of God in their life whether they may call that authority “God” or they call it “Allah”, the very attitude of that submission is encapsulated in the word “Muslim”.
Furthermore, some of my friends who are having great success in reaching the hearts of many Muslims for God and encouraging them to open their minds to more truth than what they currently believe – these people themselves find that many Muslims do not want to call them Christians. Again, we need to be very careful about our insistence on using terms with our own narrow definitions that are tainted with prejudices. For we must realize that other people of different cultures also have their own definitions that are sometimes quite different than ours and they also have cultural built-in prejudices that cannot be ignored if we want to make connections in the name of our Father in heaven.
For most Muslims, the core definition of what it means to be a “Christian” is that a person insists on eating pork and other forbidden, unclean foods, that a person defiles their body with habits like smoking and drinking alcohol and that they generally are quite lax morally as well. The movies and entertainment that America exports to the whole world that is infecting and destroying the image of God's everywhere is what most Muslims view as representative of what Christianity stands for. They consider that most Christians believe there is no problem living in immorality and open sin and they find this reprehensible for a person claiming to follow God. Therefore, when they meet a person who is living in true submission to God and willing to obey what God has laid out in the Bible, they cannot reconcile that with the title of “Christian” as they perceive it.
Most Christians also have the same problem with their assumptions about Muslims. This is due to ignorance and deliberate misinformation and distortions about Islam intentionally permeating nearly all of the media available to us. The real truth about Islam is largely suppressed and the radical elements are touted as the norm for all Muslims. This is deliberately calculated to whip up fear and prejudice in order for radical elements of our own government or radical Christians to gain control over people's minds and souls through these deceptions. Yet Christians and Americans alike are just as guilty if not much more so by promoting terror and destruction throughout the world while they try to justify or deny their activities by keeping people's attention focused on a few radical elements in Islam.
But instead of ever being able to suppress radical Islam through force, this tactic only serves to produce many more radical converts because of the harshness of the methods used to attack them. We are living in a world that is quickly spinning out of control due to the false philosophy of “right by might” at any cost. Yet this is the new breed of popular patriotism that is taking over our country and unfortunately is going almost completely unchallenged within Christianity. This is because most Christians who do see what is really happening are intimidated by the fact that if they do speak up for what is right they themselves will become the targets of scorn and suspicion.
But this is precisely the atmosphere that was found in Germany just before the holocaust began. And we are about to see similar events strike this world on an exponentially greater scale than anything ever seen before in all of history. (Daniel 12:1) And much of this is due to the promotion of prejudices and intentional hatred stirred up in the minds and hearts of people who have been trained to blindly believe whatever they are told by their leaders.
What I see in this text is something just the opposite of this. The word for devil actually comes from the Greek word for Satan which literally means “the accuser”. The Bible here is explicitly instructing anyone who desires to relate properly to God to resist the spirit of an accuser. We are to submit fully to God (the true definition of the word Muslim) and we are to resist the spirit of accusation (the popular trend among many Christians). Now doesn't that just warp our typical way of thinking.
Am I endorsing the religion of Islam over Christianity? Not hardly, though I am sure some radical elements would be eager to accuse me of that. I believe that God has given Christians greater opportunities and truth than any other group in the world. But when greater light is ignored and we embrace the methods and attitudes of the enemy to promote our version of religion, we set ourselves up to be used as agents of Satan, the accuser and deceiver, and actually become more dangerous to the world and to God's true followers that those we label as enemies of God on the other side.
But that really should not be such a surprise if we were more awake and our thinking was not so dependent on and influenced by popular teachings from both the pulpits, from popular music and from government-manipulated media. The closer one gets to viewing reality from heaven's point of view the more out of sync they are going to find themselves with the world around them. That may be very uncomfortable for many of us, but Jesus never promised us a comfortable life. He plainly stated that in this world we are going to have tribulation – and that is because we should never be found to be in sync with the world's principles. The reason that Christianity experiences so little persecution is because it is has become so melded with politics and popular culture that it has lost most of its edge.
This passage very clearly displays that the opposite of resistance is submission. But as I spoke about last time, letting go of resistance can suddenly bring peace and rest. Letting the tension out of our spring that is filled with anxiety, anger, lust or selfishness will always bring God's kind of rest into our souls. We may find ourselves very much out of step with many around us when we do that, but if we are coming closer to living in sync with God the peace of God can keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and we can experience true rest in submission.
I want to come back to this much more. I am only barely touching the surface but I sense that this is vitally important for me to both understand and to experience in my own life if I want to truly be an obedient child of God. And as strange or even intimidating as it may sound, I may have to get used to the idea that I just might be labeled by someone as a Muslim and still know that I can enjoy heaven's favor if I am living in the spirit of what that word truly means.