THESE WMDS ARE DEADLY…
No, No… I am neither referring to the stockpile of WMDs in the arsenals of superpowers nor do I intend to beat about the bush, repeating what many a Bush critic has already mentioned about the ill-fated Iraqi ‘adventure’ of US, courtesy the Weapons of Mass Destruction. Rather, I intend to focus on WMDs of a different kind, which are just as deadly, to a Christian’s spiritual life. Now what exactly are these WMDs in the life of a child of God? Without keeping my readers in any further suspense, let me bring forth the expansion of the said abbreviation in the spiritual realm… well, they are “Weapons of Mass distraction.”
Ironically, these WMDs are not forbidden sins such as theft, adultery, murder, lying, but rather the blessings given to us by a benevolent God, which are deceitfully used by the Enemy (II Cor 11:3) with devastating effect, to draw us from the pure, simple devotion we are supposed to have for our Redeemer God. In order that we do not lower our spiritual guard in any way (II Cor. 2:11), it would serve us well to comprehend what these blessings actually are, which can double up as lethal spiritual WMDs.
First Things First…
It would be worthwhile to recollect the primary purpose behind our election as the Bride of Christ. In this context, let me quote from the The Living Bible: “I am anxious for you with the deep concern of God Himself –anxious that your love should be for Christ alone, just as a pure maiden saves her love for one man only, for the only one who will be her husband” (2 Cor. 11:2). Sadly, the gifts given by generous Giver of all gifts can subtly be used by our spiritual adversary to divert our spiritual focus completely, so much so, we could end up glorifying the gifts unconsciously rather than the Giver of them all.
The good Lord is the source behind all loving relationships… the parental or the marital ones, to name a few intimate ones. They have all been lovingly placed in our lives to accomplish a purpose. It is one of sustenance and guidance in the case of parent-child relationship; it is one of companionship and fellowship in the case of a relationship beginning with the tying of a nuptial knot. However, for a doting parent, when his offspring becomes an idol and by the same token in a conjugal bond when the object of affection becomes a competitor to God in the matter of devotion, we have a ‘hot potato in our hands’ meaning simply ‘big trouble.’
Sadly, we do not see this disturbing trend in Christian parents, especially those blessed with a child after many years of marriage. Far from being ready ‘to lay their Issac on the altar’ at God’s bidding, they lay down their own spiritual welfare ‘at the altar of their Issac.’
Time hitherto well spent in church meetings, cottage prayer meetings, personal devotions is now utilised in either taking the child for an outing or preparing for his exams. Misplaced love cost a doting parent like High priest Eli dear (I Sam. 2:11 to 3:14), firstly, his parental love blinded him to the primary responsibility of training up his sons in a way they should go and then on a more serious plane, prevented him from reining them in, once they had departed from the Lord’s ways. Let us steer clear from the title such as ‘a parent like Eli.’
Coming to skewed priorities in a marital bond, we all know what happened when the very first husband Adam, listened more to God’s gift to him rather than the Giver of the gift (Gen. 3:6). To say that we are still suffering from the ‘after-effects’ of the distorted priorities, of the world’s first hubby would simply be a case of stating the obvious (Rom. 8:22-23)! The key to keeping these precious relationships (parental or marital) in proper perspective lies in accepting them, with much thanksgiving, from the hands of the Lord (1 Tim. 4:3-5 TLB), thereby always remembering that the Giver of all the gifts deserves the best of our affection.
For a young Christian, who has accepted the Lord, it is not at all wrong to aspire for good education. The problem begins when the pursuit of knowledge (after getting admission in a good educational institution) becomes more important to him than the pursuit of wisdom, which can be obtained only by spending quality time at the ‘feet of the Lord’… a la Mary (Lk. 10:38-42). Distraction from devotion at an young age on account of education would be a case of medicine becoming more harmful than the disease.
Put the Lord first in all matters of life, including education and He would crown your efforts, yes, even in the field of education, with success (Pro. 3:6; Matt. 6:33). Would you care to check this with a certain Daniel and his three friends, please? (Dan. 1:17-20)
For a moment, let us imagine, a young Christian comes out spiritually unscathed out of his college precincts. Naturally, the prayer of this starry-eyed job aspirant would be, “Lord, help me land a perfect job and I will praise you in front of my entire church.” However, on getting a wonderful job from the Lord, if he tragically gets so absorbed in it to the detriment of his own spiritual life with personal quality time, worship, fellowshipping et al trashed… then a crushing failure in job-assignments would be just around the corner. That would be the Lord’s way of getting His child’s attention. I can vouch for it on the basis of my own experience.
Why learn it the hard way? A busy vice-regent of a land with pressing responsibilities studiously took time out to pray three times in a day and the result? He prospered… oh yes; I am speaking of Daniel again (Dan. 6:28)!
Besides the basics of life, it is not a sin to aspire for comforts in life, for they add to our work efficiency. For instance, I can well imagine my predicament while standing in the pulpit on a hot summer day and preaching. The pouring sweat on account of the sweltering summer heat would sap my energy, halfway through my message, besides being a source of irritation and distraction to the congregation and me. In these circumstances, the utility of a cool breeze coming from a ceiling fan can never be understated. On the flip side, if the urge to possess all the comforts and luxuries possess me, then I am ripe for trouble… a la Balaam (2 Pet. 2:15). In these days of plastic money, let us exercise due caution, when it comes to accumulating all the goody-goodies of life. A maxed credit card, said a wise soul, adds no credit to the credibility of a Christian. How true!
If you already know that godliness with contentment is a great gain (1 Tim. 6:6), then you would do well to remember this Divine promise too that God richly provides what we need for our enjoyment (1 Tim. 6:17). Oh, how blessed is a wise child of God who is always able to draw the line between ‘what he wants and what he actually needs.’
If diabetes and hypertension in the medical world are known as silent killers, then the same can be said of this invention of John Logie Baird in the spiritual realm. Though, strictly speaking, it may not be the most silent of our comely gadgets at home, it morphs into a silent killer in the hands of the ‘Ole enemy’ on account of its uncanny knack of doing the damage silently, putting us into a spiritual sleep as it were on its lap…remember a certain Delilah (Judg.19:9)? Just when there is a prompting of the indwelling Holy Spirit to do something useful like visiting a sick brother or send an encouraging e-mail, comes the urge from our spiritual foe to see a perfectly legitimate TV programme, which can be as pure as a Quiz time. The end result? The good intention remains a good intention, without ever acquiring the contours of a good action. Remember, having ‘a good aim’ is of no use, unless you ‘pull’ the trigger. Oh, how many middle-class families, which have prayed ‘Lord, give us a TV, we would watch nothing but Miracle net or God channel’ ended up watching all programmes’ other than these two! While, I am not against reinvigorating relaxation courtesy TV, I am all for discretion borne out of God-given wisdom to know where wholesome entertainment ends and where plain time-wasting begins.
Dear friends, we are now treading on holy ground. Yes, I am coming to God’s work …with an intention to dwell on a tricky subject on how even God-ordained work (be it pastoral or evangelical or charitable) can sometimes become a stumbling block to pure devotion. Great servants of God (I would encourage one and all to read the biographies of great servants of God) have the learnt the hard way, how neglecting the quiet quality time, had left them weak and spiritually mal-nourished to do their own Master’s work…so much so, Martin Luther, ever the firebrand, is said to have welcomed a dawn with these challenging words “I have so many urgent things to do today that I need to begin the day with THREE HOURS OF PRAYER.”
Of the 2 Sisters, whom did the Lord commend in Luke’s account of Jesus’ visit to the village of Bethany (Lk. 10:38-42)? The dedicated Martha or the devout Mary? Reason, why Mary’s act of devotion was endorsed? Man was primarily created to worship (answer to Question 1 in Westminster catechism). Period. Even evangelism pales in significance vis-à-vis worship, because the former was necessitated only by man’s fall into sin. Otherwise, there would have been no place for ‘winning souls’ in God’s scheme of things. In eternity too, worship would occupy an unassailable position. Said a preacher cum evangelist jocularly, but with remarkable insight, “Unless, I learn to worship, I would be unemployed in Heaven.”
Now let us throw the spotlight on a person who was the very definition of smart time-management while doing God’s work. Mark’s gospel is said to be an “action gospel.” for the writer uses the word “immediately” not less than 42 times to portray the hectic schedule of God’s Son going about the Father’s business, earnestly. Packed into a period of three and half years were the activities of preaching, teaching, healing, training disciples, touring without any modern, time-saving means of transport and oh yes…standing up to the constant criticism of the religious leaders of His day. In the midst of all these, let us not miss out on what this ‘action Gospel’ had to say on how our oh-so-busy Lord…began the day, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed” (Mk. 1:35). Do I need to say more?
We are still continuing to tread on holy ground, where our noblest motives can be twisted so as to work against us. “Where is the fertile land of wonderful crops--the figs, vines, and pomegranates you told us about?” (Num. 20:5b TLB). Do these words ring a bell? Well, these are the words of the people on their way to the Promised Land who are seemingly more in love with the ‘land flowing with milk and honey’ than the Giver of the same to them, as this protest of theirs to Moses, seems to imply and implicate. We too as God’s children are walking towards an unseen “Heavenly Canaan on the other side of ethereal river Jordan.” Let me ask pointedly: “Are we in love with that or with the Promiser of that great gift to us?”
In this context, I want to recollect a touching story… a daughter of a renowned preacher, used to the gifts her loving Dad used to purchase and bring for her after every overseas trip, was once in for a major disappointment. Due to a mess-up in the Airport customs, the gift was lost and her doting Dad landed home without a gift. Her mature reaction on noticing the gift missing in her Dad’s briefcase simply belied her age. Though disappointed, she is said to have sprung up and held on to her Dad tightly crying, “Dad, you are my best gift.” Can the same be said of us, when it comes to choosing between God and His gifts?
Permit me to rephrase Matthew 6:33 slightly and present it to you: “Seek ye first God and all these things shall be given unto you, including the small matter of Kingdom of God.” Time we went about in right earnest ‘deactivating’ the WMDs?