(A three-minute read)
When I face a dilemma, it’s too easy to become impaled on its horns. I don’t need an answer then. I need wisdom.
The dilemma is the choice of fears: Fear God? Or fear man? It’s age-old, universal and can be petrifying.
Here in the West, it’s been too easy for too long to give lip service to the fear of God and trundle along pretending I’m not afraid of what you think. But the day of complacency is about over. The day of decision is about to dawn, not just for me, but for every Christian believer.
The days are darkening. Christians in the global West are beginning to realize that the persecution and martyrdom long faced by our brothers and sisters in the global East and the global South is headed our way.
The signs aren’t subtle to those who can see them.
For example, here in the UK it is now illegal for me to pray silently within 150 metres of an abortion provider.
Yes, silent Christian prayer is now considered a crime. What I think in the privacy of my own being can now be ruled a violation of the law. How is one to answer an absurdity like that? It will take great wisdom. Fortunately, there is an answer.
Jesus promised that if I pray for wisdom I should expect to get it. That’s what I need most: Godly wisdom. If I’m to step out in faith fearing God and not the world’s venal immoralities, how to best respond? These are definitely WWJD moments, aren’t they? 1
Instead of ‘We Wait, Jesus Does,’ I’m always tempted to respond to difficult situations by preparing a defence. Defending myself is that mental thing I do, and I mean ‘mental’ in both senses of the word. Ha ha. It means having imaginary conversations with people who aren’t here, to be ready in case they are.
Have you ever done that and actually had the conversation go the way you imagined? I sure haven’t. But I sometimes do it anyway. It’s probably one definition of insanity. It’s a sign my faith is weak and I’m afraid of man, instead of trusting in God.
Jesus makes it clear2 that I should not prepare any defence in advance. For anything. Ever. In fact, I think He used the Aramaic word for fugeddaboudit. He promises He Himself will step in and give me the wisdom I need in dire circumstances.
That would be a really cool superpower if I’m stopped by police, but I suspect that’s not what Jesus meant. He meant ‘listen to Holy Spirit’ (who lives in me).
It’s gotten better over time. I used to greatly struggle with this defending-myself thing, and what’s worse, I’d make it conditional: ‘Hey God – you do this, and I’ll do that.’ God doesn’t do conditional, at least not when I try to initiate the deal.
Not any more. Instead of stupidly speaking with invisible persons, I have to take the advice of Jesus’ half-brother James.3 His catch is that I have to ask in a certain way, or it doesn’t work. I have to ask in faith, James wrote, or I get nothing in return.
Here then, is the deal: I have to focus. I can’t be double-minded to get through whatever is coming. I must avoid arguing cases with myself. It’s past time to waver, and past time to go it alone without wisdom from above.
Why? Because the day of judgment is coming. First will come the day of man’s judgment, judgment of me and my faith, and then, at last, will come the Lord’s day for the judgment of all.
May I not be found wanting on either day.
Yet I am not disheartened, despite it all. You shouldn’t be either. Take heart, Christian. Don’t celebrate the darkening of the world. Be encouraged by the sure knowledge of Christ’s victory. And take a stand.
I’m not called to pray about any of this silently 151 metres from an abortion clinic, either. I’m called to shout it from the housetops.5
So here ya go.
1. We Wait. Jesus Does.
2. Luke 21:14-15 ‘Therefore resolve in your hearts beforehand not to practice your defense. For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your opponents will be able to neither refute nor resist.’
3. James 1:5 ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and without criticism, and it will be given to him.’
4. James 1:6-8 ‘But let him ask in faith, without wavering. For he who wavers is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed with the wind. Let not that man think that he will receive anything from the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.’
5. Matthew 10:26-28 ‘Therefore do not fear them. For nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in darkness, speak in the light. And what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.’