We were talking in our 20’s class about the end times and our lives when my friend, Mark, started talking about what God told him:
“My greatest gift to this generation will be the gift of suffering.”
When he said that to the class, everyone was like “oh great” which is the usual American reaction when someone talks about the long periods of suffering that are coming. But I believed what God told Mark and started sharing what has been stirring in my heart recently.
I believe the greatest fight of our lives will not be against Satanism or religious extremism. I feel that the greatest fight that will face this generation is against the spirit of slumber. That spirit that says “peace, peace” when there is no peace. I’ve recently have realized how protective we are when it comes to radicial Christian devotion. Someone starts speaking of the missionary lifestyle and we have to console people to take it with a grain of salt, like we are already radically following Jesus. But that’s the point: we’re not. We’re far from it.
Jesus spoke that to me:
“If you think you’re too extreme, look at the Sermon on the Mount. Are you fully living it? No, you’re not and that means you are not extreme enough.”
Yet we feel like we need to defend ourselves against the “waves of deception” coming at us from these radical statements. The issue is that the “deceptions” are coming from the directly opposite place from comfort, from the lullabies of life. Right now, there is a song being played over the American church that is making people fall to sleep and dream of things that aren’t true.
It was happening back in the Bible times:
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. (Revelation 3:17)
I can’t imagine anything worse in life than being on the road to destruction and hell and thinking you’re on a train to heaven and thinking you’re doing all right. Yet that’s what is happening right now. People are being lullabied to sleep thinking they’re alright and “have need of nothing.” Now contrast that with the Sermon on the Mount (God’s discipleship course):
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)
Jesus declares that the ones who will inherit eternal life, the kingdom of heaven, are those who are poor in spirit. That means they realize that they are doomed and have no hope or resource to save themselves. They have the realization that I am “blind, poor and naked” and nothing I have can save me from this condemnation. That is why the next beatitude is:
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)
Those who truly realize how bad and evil they are live a life of mourning. God’s comfort and grace is promised to those who live a life of mourning. Sadly I think that most of the time I’m doing alright; that once I was really bad but now I’m better and cleaner. This is partly true, but compared to where God desires for me to be, I am evil. God’s heart breaks that I am still stubborn and rejecting His will for my life. But for so long I never knew that. Why? Because I was sleeping my life away.
That’s where God’s greatest gift comes in. He loves us so much that He will do anything to wake us up and keep us up. For this generation (which I’m a part of) that means a life of suffering. We are like a lobster in a pot of water that is slowly heating up. We are being cooked to death without knowing it. But in God’s mercy He throws us up against the side of a really hot pot and we yell “ow!”. Then we realize where we are and what is happening to us. The problem is that if we don’t do something immediately about it once we’ve been awakened to the issue, then we will quickly fall back to sleep in the warm waters and peaceful lullabies.
James (5:5-6) writes the church and starts rebuking the “rich.” then he brings charges against them:
- You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence.
- You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.
- You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
I look in my life and think how much I have dwelt in self-indulgence. How much I have fattened my heart with things that sing me lullabies? How many times I have murdered (which Jesus defined as hating and speaking evil about) righteous people; those who were righteous, living the Sermon on the Mount. They didn’t resist me, they turned the other cheek.
It’s time that we as a generation close the music box and start to wrestle with this spirit of slumber that would try to destroy this generation. Paul talked about our generation to Timothy and gave him the answer:
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:3-5)
“Be sober-minded and endure suffering”. Let us take that advice and see where it leads us. If we really believe that we are living in the last few decades before the return of Christ, then doesn’t it make sense that this spirit of slumber would be fighting the church so fiercely?
May we be like Paul. Let us fight the good fight and finish the race and not be found sleeping on the side of the road.