Our Greatest Challenge? Ourselves
What would Jesus say is our greatest challenge in 2020?
During a recent interview on cable news, a presidential hopeful firmly declared that the greatest challenge facing modern civilization is to properly execute the war on terror. That got me thinking. I wonder what Jesus would say is our greatest challenge?
Christians agree (at least we should) that the real enemy is not an ideology that opposes capitalism or democracy or the American way of life. The real enemy is the enemy of the real King. Now notice what happens. Immediately we assume that’s the devil. So we beat up on him as best we can be declaring gospel truth, by opposing what he supports, things like abortion, pornography. And we campaign against whatever political policies we think violate a Christian worldview.
Worthy endeavors. And once defined as truth-defending and kingdom-advancing, these endeavors stir passion and commitment among thousands of God-serving people, especially the younger generation that’s sick and tired of comfort-drive Christianity and passionless orthodoxy.
But here’s my question: is it possible that our truth-defending debates and kingdom-advancing activism are drawing attention away from our greatest challenge? Could it be that while we’re busily fighting social sins and resisting this world’s prince, the enemy within (that easily-disguised self-obsession known as the flesh) is keeping relationships distant and religious programs strong, feeding pride that masquerades as kingdom zeal, and actually energizing much of our kingdom activity?
I wonder if our missional focus of bringing gospel light into this devil-darkened world is wonderfully highlighting our longing to see this earth restored to beauty and, at the same time, obscuring our greatest challenge. Screwtape’s game plan is to keep us from ever knowing the devil’s enemy so well that our love for Him spills over into kingdom living. Perhaps our greatest challenge is not to serve the king or even to be passionate about His purpose. Perhaps it is to enjoy the king enough to sacrifice everything – our ego, our ambitions, our comforts, our dreams – for His pleasure.
Our calling as Christians is to aim high, not toward healing that merely relieves pain and makes our lives more satisfying, but to aim toward healing that empowers us to sacrifice and suffer for the king; to pray, at any cost to ourselves, may God’s kingdom come.
Our greatest challenge? To become like Jesus, inside first, then outside, to follow His way, to love His truth, to live His life, as we bring redemption to whatever little part of our enslaved world we live in.