It feels to me much like that holy moment when I am walking up to the stage to give a eulogy for a dear friend once, awkward and slightly raw and yet suddenly in front of a microphone and expected to say something that could help some burdened hearts and needing the Holy Spirit to take over so it’s all not a mess.
It’s a very difficult moment in Christendom, and I don’t want to hurt the burdened hearts further with some flesh form of wisdom driven by awkwardness or any other Lisa thing.
Let me first speak to motive.
I write this post for the ministry leader who called me last week and said, There are so few of us Biblically conservative Jesus followers left anymore and as a leader, I don’t know what to say or do.
I write it for the friend who voxed and the friend who wrote on my Facebook wall and the friend who texted, afraid that Christians are losing our mind and our faith and falling away, like we’re all in the movie Outbreak and it’s some kind of disease catching on and who is next and how to escape the fate, ourselves?
I write it for me, who after last Sunday when my pastor talks about the remnant in Scripture, remembers something important that in the midst of a loud culture war I think I have forgotten: that my Jesus, who is God over scores and legions, has never been a numbers guy. That’s something we modern people like to use to measure all the things, but not Him.
Instead, He used the few…to give the example of prayer (“where 2 or 3 are gathered” — Matthew 18:20), to feed the massive crowd (5 loaves and 2 fish — Gospels – Matt.14, Mark 6, John 6), to defeat the army of Midianites after purposefully dwindling Gideon’s thousands of men to a mere 300 (Judges 7), to walk through life with Him as His core 12.
And yes, He used the remnant: the “holy seed of faithful followers” to rebuild what was lost, says my Bible commentary of Isaiah 6 and 10. (It talks about this in other places in Scripture, too.)
Make no mistake my friends: God doesn’t need numbers to be God. He doesn’t need crowd approval to proceed with Kingdom plans.
Dear friends…I know it’s loud out there. I know there is differing opinion and things look confusing. But none of this matters as much as this: at this moment, does Jesus have you? Does He have me?
Does He have all of our love, all of our loyalty, all of our faithfulness, forever and ever, to the end…never ashamed of the Gospel, never able to be mislead, never wavering or putting our trust in ourselves or in someone lesser? Does He have us, really, have us, not just on Sunday at church and in theory, because we were saved, once, but daily, with our whole heart, all in with Him?
If Jesus has you, He will heal this world. He promises this. “If my people, who are called by my name, humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (II Chron. 7:14 ESV)
If Jesus has you, He will prove who He is. Bearing fruit to show the world the benefit of God — this is the point of why we are here — so that people will want Him. (John 15) Faithful people show the faithfulness of God. Loving people show the love of God. He has to have us, really have us, in order for us to pull this off.
If Jesus has you, He can work with the few. II Kings 19:31 (Commentary: “If just the smallest remnant of true believers retains the spark of faith, God can rebuild it into a strong nation”) Lest you ever think that a small number of committed believers is not enough for God to work with, just open your Bible and read. Story after story will convince you it is true.
I have so much more I want to write and say to us, to gather arms around us, to encourage us…we, the ones who feel mislabeled for our convictions as people devoid of love, the sting of wrongful accusation of ignorance and closemindedness for our personal commitment to the Bible, the loneliness of growing isolation from cultural lines which we didn’t chose to draw but now must stand firmly planted on our faith side of.
But make no mistake: it is not us vs. them as followers of Jesus Christ with differing theological beliefs in Christendom. It is the The Kingdom of God vs. the prince of darkness. Let us not waste time buying into his ploy and fighting each other a minute longer. Right now, I’m calling him out for his tactic to distract us with the infighting and calling us out for our buying into it.
In this hard moment, let us not become discouraged, prideful or jaded. Let us not become deceived or slip into despair or fear. Let not haughtiness or right fighting take hold, lest we fall into sin and dishonor God so great. The remnant is about Jesus and staying faithful to Him, not a man-made label it applies to. The qualification is faithfulness, so let us alone be found faithful to Him.
So as we determine that yes, Jesus does have us…yes, we will be the remnant and will stay faithful to God, faithful to His Word, living and believing everything it says until the end, I just want to encourage us with a few quick things…
We are not alone. Because God made us for community, the thought of isolation results in despair. This, the being alone, is a lie of Satan. At the same time, crowds and majority can’t determine our wellness, as if we have chosen right and others chosing the same proves that fact. If that’s what we seek, let us see how much we still rely on others to give us the endorsement that belongs only to God. This is the moment the Church has needed to rid ourselves of the encumberment of man’s approval, like never before. It is good. It is right. It is the sifting, so it is uncomfortable, but may we embrace the loosening for the health of our very soul. And know this: though we need not look over our shoulder to see what the crowd is doing, rest assured that there are indeed scores of believers all over this world with hands raised and hearts yielded and Bibles clutched, grounded in Jesus and proclaiming His greatness, so don’t you ever feel alone. Friend, it is a lie if you think this. You are not.
We must get past the numbers. Right now, our focus has to shift from quantity to quality. “Standing up for God will be learning to accept being in the minority, as lonely as that sounds. We who follow Jesus will need to determine we will stand up for Him even if we stand alone.” ~Put Your Warrior Boots On (releasing April 17) As the squeeze is on in this moment, with conflict and differing beliefs and sadly, even volatility in the body, the remnant must come to grips with the role we have been sleeping on. We have to be willing to be the few instead of looking over our shoulder to see who will join us. Few will be faithful. Few will stay true. Few will believe. These are things Jesus says in the Bible, and we must stop wishing for the crowd when Jesus told us it would be not so. It says in Isaiah that the highway of holiness is narrow and few will travel down it. We need to get used to this.
Your conviction does not conflict with love. This is such a wrong message, such a damaging, untruthful message that is being preached in society that I am honestly so fighting mad at Satan for skillfully perpetrating it and us buying in. Because the Word of God is so very clear about this and so much we believe about the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross hinges on the conviction and standard by which the love and grace of this act is even made possible. I believe it is the sovereignty of God that I have written Put Your Warrior Boots On to be released in April because it thoroughly addresses this and so many currently relevant issues, before so many current issues even took place. I cannot wait to put it in your hands and will be diving in much more in depth, soon. But for now I want you, remnant, to know that staying faithful to the Word of God is not in conflict with loving people. In fact, it is the only way you can truly, agape love. Grace and love are so abused and misused in society we cringe at the very suggestion our life is in conflict with that and rightfully so with what we are being preached. It’s just not the right message. We should tremble at the thought that we tarnish such a gift by offering cheap, wordly love without the attachment of conviction and holy standard. God forgive us all for cheapening by creating our own version and definition of love.
I have one more thing I want to tell you. It might be the most important thing, yet. I’ll tell you Wednesday on the blog.
I hope you’ll come back, then.
In the meantime…p.s. I love you.
Oh Jesus, may you fully and completely have us.