Bell MT – I’ve been thinking about the persecution we haven’t yet faced. Eventually, we might travel into another country that is a persecution zone. It’s high time that we took a look at how we might and ought to act when we’re, in a sense, under fire. The big question I want to ask is if we ought to be genuine or use guile when we think we’ll soon be in danger. Self-preservation would lead us to do the latter, if it comes to fight or flight, flight is preferred, guile is second best, and fighting comes up as the only option if there isn’t any other way. A big part of the question is the fear you’ll be facing in the situation.
Fear can keep you from doing some good things and it can keep you from doing some bad things. A lack of fear can have the same effect. Is fear a remnant of the flesh saying, “Don’t!”? Most times, yes. The flesh can’t last, but it doesn’t want to go anytime soon. To it’s way of thinking, the best thing to do would be to do whatever you have to in order to avoid physical pain, damage to appearance, or a fight in any way. In fact, if you can do these things by harming the spirit, then it’s a good day.
But as Christians we’re not ruled by the flesh, but the spirit. The endless tug-of-war over you means that when you’re in trouble one side has to loose. The spirit knows that it’ll last so the inconvenience of being beatten up or killed is only a temporary sensation of pain. Unlike the flesh, the spirit doesn’t really have anything to be afraid of. It endeavors to be as genuine as possible to allow the light of God to shine through. It doesn’t really delight in harming the flesh, but it understands that the correction of the flesh isn’t always going to painless.
The results of the flesh leading the spirit are a messy thing. We’ve seen that plenty played out on the evening news. The results of the spirit leading the flesh is harmony. It’s not possible to be spiritual and unchristian. Sure, you might be interested in spiritual things, but to take that road by any other way than Christ does not lead to the father, but to the father’s enemy. After all, the things we see and experience here are but a fuzzy shadow though dirty glass compared to that of the reality that is waiting for us. If you stick to tricking people, you’ll not only hurt your own witness and destroy God’s image to a people who don’t know him, but you’ll lose out on an aspect of what is in store for the spirit. The flesh would you have miss out on some of heaven just to keep it happy. The spirit would have you miss out on some of the things of earth so you can be happy in heaven.
People are often most attracted to a religion worth dying (and living) for. In many places persecutors can be won over by the steadfast faith of the persecuted. Sometimes you have to be thrown in jail, to witness to a jail guard. Sometimes you have to be sent to a work camp to encourage other believers. Sometimes you might have to show your faith is worth everything so that your killers can ask themselves if they would do for their faith what you did for yours. You might save your life by talking your way out of trouble and misrepresenting the good news, but you’ve already lost out where your faith is concerned.