Happy American Independence day! The 4th of July. As we celebrate to this holiday of Independence as a G-d fearing nation, honoring those who gave "the last full measure" for our freedom, there are some things we should ponder individually. What are we doing to contribute to and preserve that freedom? Or do we just squander it and selfishly enjoy it without even giving thought to it? Why are we, as a nation, losing our freedoms, systematically?
One is tempted to think that we, the "civilian", untrained in warfare, can do nothing about it. But that is wrong. The battle must be won long before the armed forces enter into it! If it is not won in the hearts and ideals of mankind then it is already lost on the battlefield! Wars are not about money and power only, it is more-so about the ideals which the power and money control! If one can capture the ideals of a people, if one can put out the light of hope, and destroy the fires of ambition in a people, then they are already conquered.
As the much judged nation of Israel illustrated in the weekly Torah portion that came up recently. When they were about to finally enter the promised land, Moses and Aaron sent the spies into the land of the Canaanites. But when they returned, 10 of the twelve spies were completely demoralized, saying "we look like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and in the eyes of our enemy!". That is defeat talking! As a result they were dismissed back into the desert to let their apathy and lack of trust (in a G-d who had more than proved His ability to defeat armies by this time) take its natural course.
Along with the wars that rage all over our planet right now, (despite the rule of a president who promised to have had it all whipped into shape by now) we are also enjoying the Olympic Games. These games capture our interest and imagination because these people are able to achieve something that is not within grasp of most people, a chance at the gold medal, and world recognition as "the best" at something! Isn't that also why the "Idol" and "Talent" venues are so popular? We all want to be recognized for the best that is in us. But not many want it badly enough to face down the giants that guard the realm of greatness! Most of us would rather lay on the couch and dream about it, while we watch others risk all, so we can risk nothing! Apparently.
Paul even commented on the path to greatness spiritually, and used an analogy that is most appropriate for this season of Olympic competition. In I Corinthians 9:24-27 he inquires, "Do you not know that of those who compete in a race, all must run,but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way, therefore, that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not merely beating the air; but Idiscipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified."
We could say it this way, "All who struggle for the Olympic Gold Medal must compete but only one will get the Gold. However, we seem to forget that the ones who merely watch may hope for nothing! The Olympics have become one of the biggest spectator sports, but not for the ones who have their eyes on the prize! The Gold goes to the one who has trained to pass the tests which will be put before him. Likewise, if we are to win this race of life which is set before us, then we must train to pass those tests as well, of which we have been warned, if we have read the Scriptures! Therefore, we should not fight as one who has no focus. Our focus should be clear, our vision established, our course charted and our training directed! Our "Gold" is to hear the words, "Well done." From the One who enables us to do well! To see His people set free from sin, delivered from its various bondages and curses!
Let us take up the work and prepare ourselves for that victory!" Let us not be aimless, without motivation or goal. Let us not fall prey to the laziness and apathy of the flesh who would much rather sit in the sidelines in the shade and cheer others on! But, as we have noted, All who would grasp the prize must run! Life was never intended to be a spectator sport, it was designed to be completely interactive, but we must commit to it, heart and soul. No war can truly be won in virtual reality. But the fact that many love those kinds of games, and rarely risk anything in the real world, is a clear example of the kind of people we have become.
It is not surprising. We have been separated from really living life by the "experts" in institutions who make a living pretending to be our servants, when really they have become our masters! We think they are "doing things for us", when really they are just depriving us of the power to live our lives in freedom. But true freedom requires responsibility on the part of the one wanting to be free! So we are amiss to complain about being powerless when we have sold our power for a life of ease and the right to be irresponsible! Despite our firm insistence to the contrary we can not, as the saying goes, "have our cake and eat it at the same time"!
We need to realize that we have bought a fraudulent system, and that we have allowed it to enslave us, then paid them to do it! We have been pursuing our "right to happiness" so hard, that we did not realize when the unhappiness began to set in! Face it, we sold the power over our health care to the medical profession years ago. Do not sit back and blame Obama, it was too easy for him to get control of our health care, because we haven't had it for awhile now! We gave it to the doctors who lost it to the pharmaceutical companies, who lost it to the insurance companies, who were hi-jacked by the government! We just didn't notice because we thought they were serving us! But we should have maintained the responsibility of our own health care all along!
And that isn't the only area where we have abdicated our responsibility to go skipping off to the golf course, spa, library, park or whatever! We have doled out the well-being of our future generations, from birth to death, to a variety of institutions that have stepped up and "offered" to help with every stage of life! And now the "offer" has become a demand! Now we are threatened with "negligence" accusations if we do not avail ourselves of these "services"! Even the church adds its fractious, family wrecking pressures with all its "programs" to attend for every age group, continuing to enable the dysfunctional peer dependence began by the government's so-called "education" programs. The church thinks it has the right to spiritually disciple our children - to teach them how and whom to worship, while the government thinks it has the right to educate them and tell them how to think! And we go right along because we are lazy, and bent on having time to ourselves so we can do our own thing!
But the war goes to the highly trained warrior! It goes to the strategists who will trouble themselves to see the big picture! It does not go to the theorists who have not bothered to see for themselves, who deal only with ideas and concepts and virtual realities!
The war that rages over our earthly freedoms can not be won unless we are willing to train for the fight that determines its outcome! There is a fight in the unseen realms of the Spirit world. That is where the real battles are lost or won. G-d has promised us victory! How is it that we have imagined that victory coming to us as we lounge on the shores of Hawaii sipping mango coolers? How is it that we think we can eat whatever we want and be thin, without finding out how to train ourselves to "want" what will make us thin? We have become the people of the magic pill. We want our conflicts to resolve in half an hour so we can get on to the next drama! We want the experts to tell us what to do in every situation. We have become a nation of codependents! We can not think for ourselves, we dare not! We are so afraid of the condemnation of the experts that we dare not think an original thought! And we think we are independent! But you see, this is the problem. We were never meant to exalt man's wisdom over G-d's and declare our independence from Him! And in doing so we began a rebellion that we can not win!
If we ever want to be truly free then we will have to learn to trust the only real ally we will ever have! We must join forces with Him, train under His officers and let them whip us into shape! We have a war to win, but we need to realize that we will never "Go down to the enemy's camp and take back what he stole from us" - if we can not say no to a chocolate chip cookie! Or a porno-site, or a shopping coupon, or a trashy novel, movie or TV series! If we can not rule our own flesh, what in earth makes us think we can defeat a centuries old enemy that does not sleep? Obviously we need to train for this! But where does that begin? When does it begin? One of the main words we find in the New Covenant is NOW. NOW faith is... Today is the day of salvation...! G-d is a very proactive kind of being! He calls Himself the great, "I AM"; not the great, "I will be directly"! Not the great, "Around to it"! And we are instructed that as He IS, so are we to BE in this world! All proactive terms and ideas! Again, life can not be truly lived as a spectator sport. I do not know all the political agenda behind the little movie "Wall-E" , but it was very prophetic in portraying the breakdown of the human existence when the motivation of work is taken away. The muscles atrophy, the bones begin to deteriorate, etc.; until soon there will be no way to survive free of the "aid" of machines, or whatever we have substituted for our own effort! We are nearly there!
The medical profession has already taken over most of our landscape, there will soon be more handicap parking than regular, by sheer necessity. And most of the illnesses stem from lack of exercise, poor eating habits and the resulting stress related illnesses! A lack of good hard work makes folks self-oriented, apathetic, fretful and fractious! We have pitched out G-d's work/rest balance. We have ignored His dietary recommendations, we have scoffed at His requirements for well-being, somehow thinking that we could manage this without His wisdom! Well, congratulations - in our quest for all freedom we now have little! In our struggle for independence we have achieved almost total codependency!
What is to be done? Teshuvah!! Return!! "If my people...." (I Chronicles 7:14). We need to come back to G-d and enter His training camp! That is all that can be done! That is all that will change what we have made, will fix what we have done! Teshuvah to Him! To His way of doing and being right! We must repent of selfishly relaxing on the sidelines with our beer and get out into the war that rages for the souls of all humanity! But we dare not enter that race or war until we have submitted to the training! No one should go to battle before boot camp! The battle draws near, soon there will be little choice! We should get ourselves in shape before it reaches our doors.
The time for training, that is what grace looks like. Grace is not a nebulous cloud! It is not a blurred, misty rain, falling on our little artificial flower bed! It is the strength to pull weeds! It is the power to obey G-d and to fully live the life He designed for us! It is time we consulted the real expert and told the false prophets to take a hike! It is time we started a new revolution against the flesh and its wiles! It is time we got hold of ourselves long enough to train so that one day we can get hold of the enemy and win! We can not hope to win if we do not run! And we can not hope to run if we do not train!
Return! Return to the discipline of G-d's Word, return to the training/ transformation process of His Spirit. Now. Today. As we celebrate the freedom from religious tyranny, let us declare freedom from the tyranny of our flesh and come under the authority of the master trainer! Selah.-