I love people watching.
I love watching how people interact with their surroundings and how over time, their understanding of their season and chapter in life matures and deepens. Either that, or it gets thinner and more confused.
One thing I have noticed is how many people feel that in the life of a believer, we come through this doorway in our faith, and out onto this open plain of wide and broad options. A wealth of opportunities and a host of resources that we can draw from, be blessed by, and take part in.
On the one hand this is true.
There is no end the riches and blessings of God. The joy of God is unlimited and overflowing, as is his goodness and faithfulness.
This cannot be said about people.
I am in no way out to bash people, I love people. In fact, my calling in life is to love people well. So this is not about me - ‘holier than thou’ - bashing you - heathen over there. This is about an observation that I’ve seen, a repeated occurrence over and over again, which concerns me greatly.
I have noticed a significant shift in discernment levels, a dilution of vision and blunting of tools.
Let me elaborate.
As I press in with God, I do not find that the road ahead of me broadens, and my options widen. I find that things are tightened up and narrowed. I’m less and less willing to allow the drudge of the world contaminate me, and I’m more and more intent on purity and holiness, because that is what he requires from me.
The aim is not to get away with letting in as much as I can get away with while retaining my ‘Christian’ title.
The aim is to have a pure heart and clean hands so that I can ascend the hill of the Lord. (Ps42)
So then why, oh why, are we seeing believers, supposed mature believers, flirting with fire and playing with principalities, and yet still expecting to not get burned?
There is some serious c*rp going on in churches. I mean some shocking, ungodly and unholy stuff that is being passed off as Him and for Him. And it’s not. And yet, it’s celebrated, it’s spread, advocated and believed in - in some cases, as an equal to the Bible.
There is no testing, no measuring against scripture, no assessment of it’s effect in a persons life, and whether it’s fruit is sweet or not.
Again - this isn’t a judgement. This is an observation. This is a sharing of a concern.
I see a massive blurring of the lines that comes a result of a complete lack of understanding of the spiritual realm. A good friend of mine said to me yesterday “We have to stop trying to fight the enemy in the physical where he can win, and take the fight into the spiritual where he can NEVER win” - YES!
But the problem is that so many of us just give him the physical and don’t understand the spiritual.
We want to dip out toes into the physical offerings of the world, and don’t have a clue how to fight in the spiritual, so we just slowly slide down a slippery slope to ineffectiveness, and wonder why.
Our eyes have been dulled to the season we’re in because we’re too busy trying to keep our options open and our views politically correct, that we miss out on the narrow path, the difficult hike, and the blessings of the mountain top.
We have tools in our hands that are soft and blunt, because we care more about the worlds opinion of us, or even the churches opinion of us, than his instruction and his opinion. But we cannot have it both ways! The bible is very clear that we cannot serve two masters (Matt 6:24), and yet we think, finally, we’ve made it and we can!
We cannot maintain popularity, and be uncompromised.
We cannot remain sharp, and be lazy.
We cannot be effective in our physical world if we have no spiritual authority.
We cannot gain spiritual authority, and therefore physical authority if we want to keep a toe in the pool of the world.
It’s all or nothing.
It’s do or die.
It’s One of the other.
We cannot have it both ways.
I recently did a study for my 30-day devotional Soar on the concept of ‘Vistas’, in connection with this broad vs narrow road ahead. Here’s what I found:
[excerpt from the devotional]
“When I imagine flying, soaring high, I imagine views that stretch out all around, and one of the words that sprung to mind was ‘Vista’ - so I looked it up.
There are two definitions of the word vista. It’s not just a pretty view, it’s a view ‘seen through a long narrow opening’. When I read this I was blown away. There is so much in the bible about the ‘narrow path’ of walking with God. Isn’t it fitting that our view on things should also be seen through this narrow opening?
This definition of ‘vista’ was so beautiful. Just imagine looking out through a turret window - you see a whole view, but you’re protected. You’re informed about your surroundings, but you’re not exposed. Our view of our circumstances and season we’re in shouldn’t be getting wider and broader and more watered down, it should be getting more focused by the Word. We shouldn’t expose ourselves to arrows that can be fired at us by views and positions that don’t align with the bible. We should remain firm, willing to learn new things which are in line with scripture, while looking out on our vista with our eyes set on the prize.
The second definition of a vista is: ‘a mental view of a succession of remembered or anticipated events.’ This is a beautiful addition to the concept and understanding of a vista. While looking out over our life, season and surroundings, through this narrow, protected opening, we must remain aware of how far he’s brought us. We must remember the things that he’s done for us, and remember our first love.
I love this balance between the fullness of the full picture of hindsight, alongside the more narrow revelation of what is to come. We never see the full picture ahead, but we do have the fullness of understanding all that he has done for us by looking back over our lives. This gives us a beautiful peace. We can trust that we don’t need the full vista, and that God trusts us with what we need to know, when we need to know it.”
The principles of the world always go opposite to the principles of the Kingdom.
With that in mind, the challenge is this:
Is my aim in life to enjoy the fruit of the world, while trying to remain holy?
Am I wanting to broaden my horizons instead of narrow them?
Am I a sharp weapon in the hand of the Lord? Or a blunt and useless item in storage because I’m too busy enjoying myself?
Is my view getting narrower or wider?
Do I spend all my time listlessly wishing for things from the world? Or focussed on that eternal peak up ahead?
Wherever you are - the most important thing is to KNOW where you are, make adjustments and draw a line in the sand.
No more compromise. Because compromise ALWAYS leads to idolatry.
No more flirting with fire. Because no matter how great a fire-juggler you are, you will ALWAYS get burned.
No more playing with principalities. Because no matter what your reputation is, or your public place - the public will ALWAYS catch up with the spiritual. So if your spiritual life isn’t on point - your public life will follow.
What you let in, affects what will come out.
So be careful what you let in.