September 22, 2017

Pastoral Nuggets: How to be Victorious

I was listening to a preacher the other day who mentioned the Biblical account of Joshua encountering the Captain of the Lord’s Host at the Battle of Jericho.

It occurred to me that both Joshua and the Captain of the Lord’s Host were doing the same thing.

Both were preparing themselves for a battle by surveying the battlefield.

It also occurred to me that, although they were surveying the same battlefield, they were doing so from entirely different perspectives.

One was surveying through the filters of his own frail humanity and inadequate resources, while the other was surveying through the filters of the sovereignty and resources of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lord’s! Joshua suddenly came to the realization that the battle was not his, but the Lord’s.

And, oh my, what a difference it makes when as Christians we realize that the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s! All that was required for Joshua and the Chidden of Israel to be victorious was to follow the instructions they were given. That’s all!

I was in a meeting the other day with Mayor Jim Thornton of LaGrange. He told how that he had been raised a good Methodist. He then mentioned the Three General Rules that John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, both governed his life by and encouraged others to do the same.

Now, being raised a good Southern Baptist, I had never heard of Wesley’s Three General Rules. But when I heard them, I liked them: 1. Do no harm.  2. Do good.  3. Stay in love with God.

Now, I’m sure that by this point in this column you’re wondering what in the world Joshua encountering the Captain of the Lord’s Host at Jericho and John Wesley’s Three General Rules has to do with each other. It’s simple. Joshua, John Wesley, you, and I are engaged in the battle of the ages – the battle for the souls of men. And although the battle belongs to the Lord, just like Joshua, we have been given instructions, and there are rules of decorum regarding our instructions for living the Christian life. I think John Wesley articulated them well!

Think how different our world would be today if as Christians we fleshed out our Christianity as John Wesley suggests. We would do no harm; we would do good, and we would stay in love with God. Seriously, think about it.

If those who claim to be Christians today just did no harm, then murder rates would plummet, as would robbery, rape, bullying, racism, addictions, theft, judgementalism, hatred, and a myriad of other things. If those who claim to be Christians just did good, then poverty rates would plummet, as would homelessness, hunger, and many other things. And what if through every trial we face, we just stayed in love with God?  Wow!

As Joshua and John Wesley, we too are engaged in a great struggle. And as they, we tend to see the battlefield from our own perspective. Each of sees our world through the filters of our own prejudice. Sadly, we don’t see the world the way it is. We see the world the way we are.

In a world as polarized and hate-filled as we live in today, as Joshua, we don’t have the resources to win the battle in which we are engaged. Only God can do that.

However, if we Christians will just begin to do what we can do by living our lives as John Wesley suggested, then we can leave the rest of the battle to God. After all, it’s His battle anyway.

To be victorious over sin, hatred, judgementalism, and all that so deeply divides us today, we just need to follow Wesley’s rules: Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God.

What a novel idea!

Brother Aaron

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