Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.
Read Mark 13:3-13
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.” (Mark 13:22, NLT)
A friend and colleague of mine just recently shared with me a trailer for an upcoming “faith-based” film, called The Reliant. The film takes place in America following a collapse of the American economy, where people are in social disarray and are rioting and resorting to extreme violence due to their financial and social circumstances. It stars the likes of Kevin Sorbo (of Hercules and God’s Not Dead fame), Brian Bosworth, Eric Roberts, and others.
The premise itself is very realistic. Many of us have lived the economic collapse of 2008 and the devastating panic that such an event causes in society as a whole. When finances get tight, but the cost of living remains the same and people cannot make end’s meet, things can go southward very quickly. Add to that fact that we have, in recent years, seen a rise in militant white nationalists and “progressive” anti-fascists (aka Antifa) violently marching through streets at the cost of property damage and even the loss of lives; yes, the premise of The Reliant is quite believable.
The question is NOT about it’s believability; rather, the question is in what it places its reliance. After all, the very title of the film is The Reliant. When one watches the trailer it, on the one hand, is claiming to be a faith-based film. The words faith, God, family, and other things all appear on the screen. We can hear people say the words “God is good”. On the other hand, the film is about a man fighting to defend his faith and his family through gun violence.
You heard me right. This film is an action film about a man who uses his gun to shoot and, presumably kill, the Antifa-like protesters that are resorting to violence. Granted, he’s doing it to “protect” his family from violent protesters and people who have a beef with him and his faith. I am not quite sure how the faith aspect fits in; however, the film’s slogan is as follows: “Protect family and faith at all costs.”
The problem with this premise is that it ABSOLUTELY NOT faith based. The characters are supposedly reliant on God; however, all it seems they are reliant on are guns. Nowhere, in all of the Gospels, will you hear Jesus utter the words, “protect family and faith at all costs”. Quite the opposite. Jesus taught about not responding violently to violence. He taught to turn the other cheek, to love one’s enemies, to pray for those who persecute you, and he told Peter that, “those who live by the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52).
In Mark, Jesus went so far as to say, “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:12-13, NLT). The endurance that Jesus was speaking of was endurance in the faith and in living by his teachings. He is NOT saying those who endure to the end by blowing their enemies away will be saved.
While this film might claim to be a “faith-based” film, the kind of faith it promotes is a faith in guns and their ability to protect us. That is counter to the teachings of Christ and the Gospel message. Do not hear me wrong. I AM NOT saying that people shouldn’t own guns or that they should be banned. So, don’t read that into this. The critique being made is not about guns, or violent movies, or but about people who promote a false-Christian message. It is about people who are blasphemously using Christ’s name to call for faith in guns.
Let us not be deceived. Jesus warned that many would come in his name and claim this or that his him, but that we ought not to be deceived. When something comes in the name of Christ, but looks, sounds and acts nothing like Christ, we can be sure it is NOT Christ. I pray that you will not support this film as it we should not support something that sells the world a false Messiah or a false Gospel. While the characters and filmmakers are clearly not reliant in Jesus Christ, I pray you place your reliance in Him, sharing his love and grace to all people.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” – Jesus Christ in John 14:6, NLT
Lord, draw me close to you and help me to grow in my trust and reliance on you! Amen.
Read 1 John 2:18-24
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NRSV)
The Western world is fixated with the apocalypse aren’t we? We are fascinated with the end of the world, with doom and gloom, with the destruction of all things and the idea of living in a dystopic world. From “The Walking Dead”, to “The Hunger Games,” to “Divergent”, there are tons of apocalyptic, dystopic films and books out on the market. Perhaps such a world is more than just a fixation, but an underlying fear.
There is a lot to be afraid of in today’s world, isn’t there. There are religious extremists, in all religions, who are wreaking havoc on people who don’t believe exactly as they do. There are Deadly viruses killing tens of thousands of people and taking the world by storm. There are dysfunctional governments warring over power and ideologies. Every day there are reports of beheadings, kidnappings, grisly murders, riots, hatred, violent uprisings and much, much more. It seems like at every turn, the world is falling a part at the seams. No wonder the fixation with the end of the world.
And often when we think of the end of the world within the Christianized Western world, we can’t help but imagine that dark forces are aligning against humankind and , often times, those dark forces are embodied by an all-evil entity, envisioned as the “son of Satan”, named the “antichrist.” Yet, the antichrist, as we have come to understand the word, is little more than great fiction based off of a misinterpretation of Scripture. Don’t misunderstand me, as I am NOT saying that the Bible makes no mention of the antichrist. What I AM saying is that the Bible does NOT say the antichrist will be a humanesque demon, named Nicolae Carpathia, who seeks to war with God following a mythical disappearance of millions of God’s neatly dressed holy-rollers.
What the Bible does say about antichrist is that it is a spirit. It is not a spirit of outside forces trying to penetrate the church; rather, it is a spirit that has already penetrated the church and is seeking to destroy the church from within. Whereas the Spirit of God seeks to bring about hope, healing and wholeness, the spirit of antichrist seeks to bring about hopelessness, dis-ease, and disunity. The Spirit of God seeks to love, to encourage, to seek justice, to love mercy, to walk humbly, to show compassion, to be gentle, to be kind, to be patient, and to be unified in love with God’s creation. The spirit of antichrist seeks to undercut, to undermine, to be proud, to live selfishly, to be wrathful, to seek vengeance, to show ruthlessness, to be divisive and to quell the Spirit and the presence of God.
Antichrist, in short, is exactly as it sounds. It is anything that stands opposed to Christ. Practically speaking, if the way we are acting and living is counter to the teachings and example of Christ, then we are living in the spirit of antichrist. I have seen the church adopt tons of models of how it approaches ministry in the world, everything from the business model, to a political model, to an entertainment model; however, the church is not a buisness, nor is it a political machine, nor is it merely an entertainment agency. The church is Christ’s body, broken and resurrected, filled with the power of God to bring about hope, healing and wholeness.
We all have the potential to get caught up and even derailed by the spirit of antichrist; however, this is a power within you that is greater than any other spirit surrounding you. That very power is from God and it is empowering you to live your life in the Spirit of Christ, in a way that heals others, that builds them up, that invites them to discover their purpose in life, that challenges them to grow, and that shares the unconditional love that God has shared with you. Seek first God’s Kingdom, be filled with God’s Spirit, and live accordingly.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.” – Paul of Tarsus in Galatians 5:25
Lord, I seek to live by your Spirit and your Spirit alone. Allow me to not only move beyond negative spirits and influences so that in you I may truly shine and be a blessing to others. Amen.