THE WILDERNESS WE CALL HOME
This world is not a friend to our Lord, nor is it a friend to those who follow Jesus. And the Scriptures command us not to be a friend to this world. But in these last days a more accommodating definition of the word “world” has surfaced. Drugs and pornography and abortion and gay marriage are the pillars of this modern view of the Biblical term “world”. But in reality all those things are symptoms. The “world” in Biblical truth are the systems of man practiced and loved within the cultures of humans. It is a very insidious distinction which when interpreted incorrectly lead to a powerless form of legalism as well as a diabolical compromise with this world’s systems.
It cannot be stressed enough that if we are to follow Jesus we must embrace the wilderness and live within the tabernacle set up for us.
So the world is a wilderness to those who are spiritual pilgrims of Jesus Christ. We have become far too familiar with this world and all its fallen systems and in so doing we have forfeited spiritual insight and power. This world is not just different from the truth revealed in Scripture; it is an enemy of God Himself. It works in conjunction with the enemy of our souls and presents all kinds of lies which fallen men embrace. It is alluring to the eyes and alluring to the flesh and alluring to our pride. The spirits of antichrist are relentless in their “ministry” as they set about to ensnare men with chains of imprisonment even while making their lives more successful upon this earth.
The world provides great camaraderie and all sorts of temporal comforts. And as it partially keeps it promises of success and material gain it simultaneously presents more promises so as to keep men seeking fulfillment on the earth. And even after tasting these hollow promises most men still seek more.
In this day and age you can be pro-life and anti-gay marriage and yet be scheming, a bully, self absorbed, arrogant, and without a hint of humility or self denial but you can still be aggressive and elicit the evangelical vote. And in the end just what Jesus are we supposed to be emulating? If Christ Christie, the governor of New Jersey, is an example of Jesus than I am following the wrong Jesus. But if you can create a fire wall between politics and the spiritual commands of the New Testament, then you are free to support anyone who seems to support the morality and economic platforms of your conservative base. But in the end will have to answer to the Jesus of the Scriptures who has never been American or the captain of the conservative coalition.
But if you understand the Scriptural detachment from these moral and national issues you will see quite clearly that they mean nothing to the over arching theme of the New Testament commands concerning discipleship. It is a mirage…a self righteous attempt to appear as standing for Christ. But if we read and understand who Jesus was and is, and what He taught and lived, then we are faced with a serious dilemma. What Jesus taught cannot in any way line up with anything moral and political.
If we desire to live inside the kingdom of light then this world must be seen as an enemy and our dwelling place as a sacred wilderness. Light and darkness have no common ground. The Lord of Lords and Satan cannot sit together at a table of negotiation. We as followers of Jesus the Christ must keep our eyes upon Him and the things of this world must be blind to us. The wilderness must be a sacred place of honor rather than a place of self pity. To acquiesce to the systems of this world, regardless of how moral, is to surrender and project defeat. Again, even while living in His humble grace, there can never be any common ground with this fallen world.
The moment we find ourselves in agreement, much less allegiance, with this present world then we are no longer in a spiritual wilderness. We then are in a place of compromise and death. I realize that seems so far out and unpractical. But it is the truth. The world has been so embedded in the church that it is no longer recognized as the fallen world. It is now seen as moral proverbs which supersede the commands of the New Testament. And the illusion that is presented is that if certain moral and economic principles would be altered it would make this world a better place. That is quite an illusion, but that is for what most of the church fights. It is a fool’s errand and it negates the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Anything that makes this world look less than a fallen wasteland is a spiritual deception. We are not called to set up a comfortable tent that blends in with this fallen world. We are called to be strangers and pilgrims whose true home is not of this world. The closer we get to this world the further we stray from Christ Jesus. Yes, we must be a light to the kingdom of darkness, but we must never be a partner to darkness.
So the wilderness is our dwelling place upon this earth. It is a place of safety and divine fellowship. To dwell under the shadow of the Almighty is a sacred place of spiritual life and refreshment. I realize it all sounds so metaphorical but it is true nonetheless. The world warms its heart by the fires of its own wood while those who follow Christ warm their hearts by the fires of God’s Word and God’s Spirit. Again, this is not some metaphorical language which has little practical reality in our lives. This truth is potent, and effectual, and it bears spiritual fruit in our hearts and lives. In an illogical and unreasonable reality, the wilderness is a place which feeds the soul to those who surrender to its eternal delights. It is filled with Christ and all that pertains to Him and His kingdom.
It is in the wilderness where the true manna sent from heaven nourishes the soul. To the world it looks lifeless and bleak and void of joy and fulfillment. But to the pilgrim it is life and more abundant. It cannot be explained to the earth dweller, and only a fellow pilgrim can understand the mystery of its life giving force. What is called a wilderness is actually an oasis of life. What a majestic cornucopia! What a wellspring of water! What rivers of eternal water! We have tasted of the world’s water and we have come up deeply thirsty. We have eaten of the world’s food and we have come up deeply hungry.
But we have had even a simple taste of Christ and found our thirst quenched and our stomachs full. Oh if we could only find a medium which could unequivocally convey that which words or even thoughts find impossible to communicate. If only we could express the reality and glory of the Risen Christ Who calls us into the sacred wilderness upon this earth where He alone dwells. You would think we would starve but you would be profoundly wrong.
You see, our lives are not of this world. And everything that emanates from this world is an enemy of the God we serve. At the banquet provided by this world we would starve. But at the table of plenty in the wilderness is where we are sustained. It is where we eat of Him. It is where we feast upon the knowledge of the Savior. It is filled with a water and a food upon which human eyes cannot look. It is the Christ…the Son of the Living God.
And to you who humbly call upon His name do not despise the wilderness. Even if you see others enjoying the temporal fruits of this world do not lust. Remember, this is not your home. The wilderness where you now reside will lead to wonders unspeakable and full of glory. You and I must dwell by faith alone. Temptations will come but treat them as the falsehoods they surely are. Keep looking to Jesus. Surrender all to His preeminence. On the other side of this wilderness is a grace which will behold His face. It cannot be described and it cannot be fathomed.
But one day…one day of indescribable glory, it will be worth it all. In fact, it will be more than worth it all. Just one glimpse of His majesty will make even the longest time spent in the wilderness as nothing, and even as a sacred privilege. That we would be counted worthy to suffer for His sake is a gift of grace without comparison. Halleluiah to the Lamb of God forever!
Long ago a missionary couple returned to America after serving over twenty years on the field. As they disembarked from the ship they noticed that hundreds of people were lined up to welcome a Hollywood star who had been sailing aboard the same vessel. The wife turned to her husband and remarked that there were no friends or supporters to welcome them home. The missionary husband looked at his wife and said, “Remember Dear, we are not home yet.”