Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Life in Enemy Territory

Recently there seems to be so much complaining and arguing about the spiritual condition of our country.  I tend to agree that Christian values and  Biblical teachings are being challenged and rejected more now than ever before in our lifetime, but the despair and negativity has really been getting to me.  Some Christians are resorting to name-calling and behavior that borders on down-right hatred.  The anger and frustration I can understand, but one reaction that no Christian should be experiencing in these times, or in any times, is surprise. 

This summer I organized a trip to Globe Life Park for a group from our church to see a Texas Rangers game.  Having been born and raised just north of Boston, I am an unashamed Red Sox fan, so when this game happened to be against the Red Sox no one was shocked.

I'm one of those obnoxious fans who wears the shirts and hats of the opposing team and have no qualms with cheering for the visitors.  Because of that I get dirty looks.  I stand and cheer when most are somber and seated.  I grimace when the home team scores. When most are cheering I am not.  When I am cheering most are not.

 In this particular game a Red Sox player hit a homerun and I turned to a friend sitting next to me, who happens to be a die-hard Ranger fan, and sarcastically asked him why the fireworks didn’t go off. He reminded me that no celebrations are in order when the opponent succeeds.  Of course, I knew that.  I know that when I'm in enemy territory the crowd cheers for my demise, not for my success. I might get frustrated and even a little angry, but I am not surprised. 

Christian, we are in enemy territory.  Jesus himself told us that the world will hate us just as it hated him.  We shouldn’t  be taken by surprise when the world celebrates those thing that we despise.  John, one of Jesus' apostles and closest friends, wrote to Christians years after Jesus' life telling them, "Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you."  

Jesus once told a parable (a story from everyday life that has a spiritual meaning) about a field where wheat and weeds were growing together.  The workers in the story wanted to pull up the weeds but the owner of the field told them not to.  The owner said the wheat and the weeds will grow together until the harvest at which point the wheat and weeds would be distinguished.  The wheat would be put in the master's barn and the weeds would be bundled up and burned.   

I think Jesus was telling that story to teach us not to be surprised by all the weeds in this world.  Until he comes back, there will always be evil and it might be frustrating, but we shouldn't be surprised and we shouldn’t give into despair.  We shouldn't be discouraged nor should we be obsessed by all the evil around us to the point that we stop being wheat.

In troubled times we sometimes become weed-pullers and stop being seed-planters, and that's not a good thing.

The Rangers beat the Red Sox that warm summer day.  As I left the stadium everyone was all smiles congratulating one another for the victory.  I wasn't happy but I wasn't surprised.  That's how life goes when you're in enemy territory.