Watch Your Back and Love Forward: 2020

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”
That’s our enemy’s job. It’s his mission to prevent the “abundant life” that Jesus wants for us. No matter where on the globe we live.
(John 10:10)

When I think about the enemy’s mission in Africa, I see his success in plain sight. Poverty, malnutrition and all the associated diseases. Poor healthcare access and infrastructure means that often women are alienated, households are torn apart, men are unable to provide for their families, and children have hit the lotto if they get to their 5th birthday alive. Bleak picture.

However, our enemy is after us in well-developed countries too. How does he “steal, kill, and destroy” on our turf? We have great healthcare (don’t even argue with me about that). We have and maintain infrastructure. We provide free healthcare to the needy. Average lifespan is pretty dang high. Most Americans are in the top 10 percentile of wealth worldwide. Rosey picture.

So, does that mean our enemy is not attacking us in developed countries? Did we “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps” and win the battle against him? Did he see how good our health and wealth is…and give up?

Short answer: No.
I’m sure some of you would even attest to that personally.
However, I want to explore this idea (and reality) from the standpoint of our community as a whole.

Despite our apparent prosperity we are a people riddled with anxiety, addiction and depression. Crippled by mental illness and infected with the “rat race.” What is truly important takes second place over our addiction to accumulating material possessions.

So yeah, we don’t have Ebola, but I would argue that the enemy has struck a more fatal blow. More fatal because we don’t detect it as influenced at all by him. We ignore his existence and get the wind royally knocked out of us.

What do we do?
Something I learned in my experience overseas is this: Gospel in America must be congruent to the Gospel everywhere else. Otherwise it isn’t true. In other words, the prosperity gospel doesn’t fly. I know that to be true from the faithful believers I met in Madagascar, Benin and Cameroon. What I do know to be true is this:

“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you STAY FREE, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” Galatians 5:1

We are called to live in freedom. The freedom that following Jesus gives. Freedom from self. Freedom from oppression. Freedom from darkness. Freedom from “keeping up with the Jones’s”. No matter where you live.

“Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children imitate their father; and walk continually in love [that is, value one another–practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us.” Ephesians 5:1-2

I see you enemy, but I’m not stopping.
My God brings freedom, and I’m his “well-beloved child”.

2020 here we come!