(This is Part 7 of our “Fighting Dirty” devotional series.)
Good morning, peeps!
That dove looks deranged.
I heard someone misquote a scripture in a prayer this weekend. I was SO done. Y’all know how I feel about that. Misquoting scripture is on the same annoyance level as the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard. When I heard it, I almost came out of the spirit. Notice I didn’t capitalize the ‘s’ in “spirit”. I don’t think I was really under the Spirit during that prayer because at the time, I was concentrating on the searing pain coming from my shoes in the pinkie toe area. I was thinking about the amount of blood that I just knew had to be pooling in the toe of my shoes because there’s no way I could be hurting that badly without a blood vessel being burst or something. My “yes, Jesus” was not an agreement to what the man was praying: I was saying that to my own prayer of “God, if You love me, You will not let me fall out in front of these folks. The pain is traveling up my legs, Lord. Give me strength. Yes, Jesus.” I wasn’t even paying attention to what the man was saying until I heard this: “Lord, I pray that you help us become wise as a serpent and harmful as a dove.”
Great. Now I’m in pain and annoyed.
One of the things that irk me to the nth degree (I just stay annoyed, don’t I??) is when ministers bust a hard left in their efforts to rightly minister to the needs of their audience. Most ministers, myself included, want to make sure you know that they are relatable, touchable, and approachable. Some try to accomplish this by “keeping it real”. Ooooh. This is a slippery slope to be on and usually we scale it with relative ease, but sometimes you plant your foot in a spot that is really not stable and you go down. All of your upward movement comes to a screeching halt and you slide backwards down that thing quicker than you ascended and those looking up at you from the bottom are scurrying to get out of your way.
I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” – Romans 7:21-24
I attended an adult bible study years ago where the topic was about presenting ourselves holy and acceptable to God. Cool! Tell me more ’cause sista-girl right here is having some issues accomplishing that! Y’all should have seen me: I was taking notes like a mad woman because what the minister was putting down was some good stuff. Real gold nuggets! It was good. Then the subject shifted to fornication.
Now, I’m super grown. I have three mini versions of me running around here and only one of those boogers was conceived within the covenant of marriage so I don’t need a sex ed class or a dissertation on fornication. I am well-versed on the subject. I got it. I don’t know why he went there, but maybe he felt led to talk about the reproductive system in detail. There could have been some in the group who didn’t know. It’s cool because being informed is good. Equip yo’self with knowledge. And maybe there were some in the group who did not know what Scripture means when it says “and Adam knew Eve his wife and she conceived” (Genesis 4:4). Maybe. I don’t know. What I do know is that as soon as he used the slang words for what’s on the male and female, he lost a lot of folks. Gasps and uncomfortable giggles could be heard all across the sanctuary, and then dead silence. Folks were in shock. The next words he said were, “Aww. You all act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m just keeping it real.”
The silence was interrupted by the sound of notebooks being closed.
This morning, I was thinking about the body of Christ and how sometimes we get it wrong in our effort to reach people. We mean well, but we can get it wrong. That guy and his misquoted scripture came to me and I thought, “You know, he was sincere when he said that. He was. He meant well…he just didn’t say it right.” One of the things we have to remember is that the enemy of our souls is slick as snot. Suhhh-liiiick. You remember when Joseph said, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive…” (Genesis 50:20 KJV), right? Well, the enemy does the exact opposite: “But as for you, my dear well-meaning believer, you thought good towards others, but I meant it unto evil, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to push people away from Christ.”
No one kept it more real than Jesus. No one. He kept it 100 one hundred percent of the time. And if anyone knew how to relate to an audience, it was Him. He knew how to capture their attention. Who else do you think could’ve had over 5,000 people sitting outside on the grass, in the sun, listening to preaching for hours, without a snack break? Only Jesus. He had that on lock. And He stayed in folks’ faces. Just look at the scriptural accounts of His interactions with people. He was always going to where they were. Thing is, He went there to bring them out, not to push them farther in.
The enemy has no problem with us interacting with people; in fact, he’d rather we do it more often. You think that he’s trying to keep us alienated? Uhn-uh. He wants us right there in the thick of things because that is the only way he can use us. You did catch what I just said, right? He uses us. I have often said that if we are not careful, we can be agents for the enemy. What does our base scripture say? “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me…” Right there. Always right there, just waiting for an opportunity to take advantage of our “good”. What you meant for good, can be used for evil. What looks good, ain’t always good.
Did you know that doves laugh before they attack another bird?
We have liberty in Christ. We really do, but it’s in Christ, though. What does that mean? It means we have to be very careful that we walk in that liberty and not in our own. Do you get what I’m saying? Hmm. Let me see… Okay. Let’s use my class as an example. I am a trainer and I have been told by my boss that I can run my class however I see fit: I can make my own rules and set up my classroom in the way I think will be most conducive to learning. I know that, but I also know this: all of my rules and setting-up have to be in alignment with my company’s policies. If I override those, then I am out of line. And out of a job.
When you minister to people, and you can do that in all kinds of ways, make sure that you do it with God’s agenda in mind. Know that your enemy is slick and he would love for you to follow your own agenda. No one is more harmful in a war than a rogue soldier. Remember: our liberty is to be used to draw people to Him, not to push them away. Have a good day.