This can be frustrating and embarrassing, especially when we have to admit it to others. We've all been there. In order to try to cope with the contradiction, we often search for a spiritual reason. There must be some unseen force involved. After all, we walk by faith and not by sight, right? And who else besides the enemy of God, Satan himself, would be causing such disruption in our lives? It seems logical enough to most of us! So when we are in those embarrassing moments with our seemingly more spiritual friends, we often make statements like, "I am really going through warfare right now. The enemy has been attacking me so much lately. Please pray for protection against what the devil is trying to do."
Does that sound familiar? I'm sure it does. It has come out of my mouth more times than I remember. And many times, I was completely wrong. You see, for most of us, this is just the most convenient excuse available to us. It sounds so spiritual to others. It provides comfort to our need for a logical explanation.
Many of the stories and parables Jesus told are about types of people who miss God and those types of people who get lots of God. In Mark 4, Jesus told about a farmer who went out to sow his seed. As he went along scattering the seed, the seed fell in various places. Some grew to produce an abundant crop, but a great deal of the seed was not able to grow into any crop at all. Then Jesus explained that the story was really about how much of the Kingdom we have in our lives.
Jesus said that there are three types of people who miss the Kingdom, who miss God and what He is doing. Here's where it gets deep: the devil is only the problem for ONE of them. Jesus said that two of them miss God and the devil has nothing do with it! A little bit of simple math will tell you that two-thirds of the reasons people miss the Kingdom is not the devil's fault!
What are those reasons? Jesus said that people miss the Kingdom because they have issues in their own hearts to deal with:
- they are shallow,
- they are worried about life,
- they are deceived by the abundance of good things in their lives, and
- they are easily distracted because they still desire other things besides the Kingdom.
We often blame the devil or "attacks of the enemy" for our lack of the Kingdom or God's presence, but two thirds of the time it is our own shallow, easily-distracted hearts that we need to focus on. We often blame the devil for our lack of God and for our unfulfilled promises because it is easier than changing. It is easier to shift the blame to some unaccountable evil force than to admit that the reason we are far away from the promises of God is because our hearts are far from God Himself.
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (God, in Jeremiah 29:11). To be quite honest, our lack of breakthroughs in the Kingdom of God are often not the result of some demonic attack, but rather the result of half-hearted pursuit in our own lives. Are we so motivated to possess the Kingdom that we press into the depths of scripture for answers, or are we content to stay shallow as people who are "Christian" on the surface? Are we pursuing a life of faith at all costs, or are we living in worry and fear? Are we so distracted by the good things in our lives (like family, jobs, hobbies, etc) that our pursuit of God has taken second—or last—place? Do we spend more time on our smartphones than in scripture? Do we attempt to be with God's people every chance we can, or do we find it a struggle to show up on a Sunday for a few hours? Do we actually desire God's Kingdom, or do we desire other things more?
The way we answer these questions may point to our real problems. Maybe the devil isn't the problem. Maybe we are. Maybe it is our own hearts. Are you willing to seek God to find out? Jesus also spoke about a fourth type of person, one whose life results in such an abundant life in the Kingdom that they have 100 times more in the end than they did in the beginning. That is my prayer for you and I. Let's be people who not shallow, easily-distracted, worried, or deceived in our hearts. Let's live a full life in the Kingdom.
If you don't have a spiritual place to call "home," I invite you to join our church family at The River in Kalispell, Montana as we pursue God together. Find more details about when we meet on http://therivermontana.com.
View a Thai translation of this post here: http://therivermontana.blogspot.com/2013/10/blog-post.html