Sunday March 16, 2008 | Annie Perdue-Olson
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. When an evil spirit comes out of anyone, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.
Followers of Jesus are called to recognize the spiritual war we’re in and “get in the game” because there is no neutral zone of safety. Casual Christianity is not an option from Jesus’ perspective – he makes it clear that we cannot settle for a comfortable faith. We are called out of safe (and boring!) Christianity into the reality of a war where we stand up for truth in the midst of a world full of lies.
What Jesus started by living a counter-cultural life and offering the ultimate sacrifice He now calls us to join and finish the work he began. We cannot overcome the enemy if we don’t engage in the battle completely. At times we had rather opt out of the game so that we can exist in a safety zone that is not quite as radical. Sometimes it is just easier to be comfortable in this world rather than resist the pull of the culture and the influence of the values of this world. Often we don’t even know how comfortable we have become.
In our culture, there is a strong pull to focus too much on stuff which we often use to cover up our hurt, struggles and limitations. We opt out of the game because our stuff gives us excuses to live in a comfort zone.
We can also opt of the game by keeping busy with a lot of “good” activities. Instead of living a life of simplicity by creating a capacity for God, for real community, and mission, we often are pressured to do more and more stuff. The noise of life actually becomes a comfort zone for us, but it also makes it hard to hear God’s voice.
Sometimes God calls us to the new thing, not the comfortable thing. Jesus makes it clear that we cannot settle for comfortable or safe. We are called out of boring, comfortable Christianity.
But we get sucked into the wilderness of the American way of doing things. When we partner with Jesus, the demonic forces will test us, even when we don’t believe that demonic forces exist. Satan will trick us into ignoring the possibility that he can build a stronghold in our minds. He turns our weaknesses into his strongholds, and we are powerless to stop him. We fail to see the battle for what it is, a battle over truth and lies and we opt out of the game. The lies build into to habits that define our character and thus become our destiny. These little habits driven by the values of the world pollute our identity in Christ.
In order to fully enter the game, we must do much more than identify and cast out the lies of Satan. We must replace them with truth. There is no neutral territory. Embracing the truth isn’t about just confessing it; it is also about living it. My house needs to be filled, not just a simple cleaning up of some bad habits. I must replace the lies with new my thought patterns by being filled with Jesus and Kingdom values.