This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Hristo Kulichev (Bulgarian, imprisoned and exiled for almost four years for his faith in Jesus Christ), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
We live in a world which is controlled by the enemy of God. And because we have become children of God, we also have become enemies of the wicked one. His goal is to destroy our souls. It makes no difference how he tries to do that: persecution or oppression; flattery or compromise; vanity or prosperity. The method is unimportant--the end result counts. Satan knows that Christians will not give up their belief in God. That is, true Christians will not. Nominal Christians easily will. We should ask ourselves again and again: "am I living under the control of Satan--or does God control my life?" I know I am His child--do I live likewise?
Being a child of God, I should never make friendship with the world. "Friendship with the world is hatred towards God." (James 4:4) Friendship starts with compromise--and leads to slavery. The Christian life is not a life of compromise and slavery, but of steadfastness and freedom. "For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4).
A moment of introspection: We may consider these words extreme, impossible to apply, unrealistic, overly demanding, and thereby perhaps we might too quickly dismiss this critical message from the heart of one who has known persecution in his own life. Mr. Kulichev may have read Romans 8:7-8, wherein the apostle Paul wrote "The carnal mind is enmity against God... So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God." William Barclay, noted Bible scholar (in his Daily Bible Study Series), responded to the apostle Paul's writing by saying, "What he [Paul] means is that those who insist on assessing everything by purely human standards, those whose interests are purely human interests, are necessarily at variance with God." But let us look, further, at 2 Timothy 4:10, wherein Paul wrote "...Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me..." Barclay responded that this "...passage is one of the most poignantly tragic epitaphs on the Christian's life in all literature. The idea here is that of worldliness. If a person is worldly, he cannot be godly. If material things are the things to which he dedicates his life, then clearly he cannot dedicate his life to God. In that sense the one who has dedicated his life to the world is at enmity with God."
Friendship with the world, then, is something we must guard our lives against. To whom are we dedicated: Satan (as his fellow fallen beings), or Christ/God (as His redeemed children)? Test ourselves; in a given day, how many times does Christ, or God, or the Holy Spirit enter our conversation? When confronted by a situation at work, at home, in the community, do we understand God's perspective and give that perspective utterance, or do we apply the worldly common wisdom to problem-solving? Do we have as great a passion for reading and studying God's Word, as we do the mysteries, romances, science fiction, fantasy or biographies of historical figures? When we read God's Word, do we do so with an eye to let it teach us (Psalm 25:4-5) and to remember it and determine to apply it in the comings and goings of each day? May the words of 1 John 4:4 indeed be true in our lives--that God occupies us in every way (that He would indeed be in us). Then, through us, we can know how to contend with the world and its temporary manager.
Prosperity as a means for Satan to destroy our souls--that's a sobering thought. Through prosperity, a child of God can lose his/her first love. See 1 Timothy 6:10--"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." Let us use money for the furtherance of God's kingdom and for His aims, rather than focusing on our wants. God has said He will provide for our needs; see Philippians 4:19 (NIV) where the author avers, "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Prosperity is viewed as another form of persecution, by our brothers and sisters of the faith in China and other countries. They experience physical oppression and persecution from various sources (all promoted by our adversary). But prosperity can seduce us away from God--if through it we lose our eternal perspective and our loyalties to God.
What shall we do with God's Word (with its difficulty at times, when it conflicts with our own aims and purposes)? How do we apply God's Word in our lives? Let us contend for the faith, not for greater earnings. Let us experience our riches in and through Christ's glorious riches, and allow God to meet our needs as His Word gives us assurance. Many experts, Christian and secular, are vociferously warning of coming financial collapse. Trusting in the Lord with all our heart, to make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6), may our friendship seek out Jesus Christ and be His representatives in this broken world.