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Chapter 45 - Adversity - The Road Less Traveled
Many and perhaps most Christians see the prosperity and comforts of Western Civilization derived from technology as being blessings from God. It can be radical to suggest that it was not Godís intention that we have an easy life, even as a reward.
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. - 2 Timothy 3:12
Satan was able to lead humans into organizational captivity by appealing to the desire for things that were fast, cheap, and easy. By advancing a frantic pace of life, people are only finally able to spend time with their family when they retire only to find their family grown and moved on. The Industrial Revolution gave us many products at cheaper prices by disrupting family life, transferring us to urban enclaves, making us drones in corporate hives and factories, and turning us into commuters and consumers. A few hours on Saturday and Sunday (often taken by lawn care) and two frantic weeks of 'vacation' a year is supposed to be the life of ease promised by the boon of technology. The debt for cars and home become a more secure enslavement than the chains of any serf.
If it wasnít for soporific effects of TV and the Internet, many would begin to question if the comforts of modern life were worth the price. When considering the 'advantagesí of modern life, there are some who intentionally chose a more difficult path. For example, in spite of the apparent advantage of having someone else raise your children, some parents (frequently Christians) chose to home school their children. This choice frequently means foregoing an income source and restrictions on time. (It should be noted that even having children at all is a choice resulting in difficulty that many prefer not to make).
There are two general categories of difficulties the Christian can face, natural and social. In the natural world (the one God created) there is sweat, disease, famine, hardship. This is mostly a consequence of Adam and Even having listened to the deceptions of Satan. One might think God, petty, vengeful, or un-loving because of his curse on the earth. However, one can see in the difficulties man now had to face the hand of a loving father who wanted to keep us from the damage our unrestricted fallen nature would bring on us.
Consider two wealthy fathers of young men who both rebel against their fathers. One father chooses to cut off all funds from his rebellious son. The other father allows his son to continue access to his funds. The first son has to find a job to earn the money he needs to eat. The second son continues to finance whatever indulgences and whims he fancies. The difficulties the first son encounters help him come to understand reality and truth. The delusions and dissipations of the second son carry him increasingly further from truth.
To understand social difficulties we need to consider that Satan sets the course of the world (only for now and insofar as he is allowed by God). With the periodic initial persecution of Christians through Roman imperial declarations, Satan was able to shape Christian defensive reactions such that when he allowed Christianity to be officially adopted, those defensive constructs would then be used to shape what would become Western civilization.
Satan could not alter the natural world (however, he could use technology to mitigate some effects of the curse). Satan was interested in shaping the social world with the ultimate objective to collectivize the world under his control. To this end he created an artifical environment (not natural) called society through which he could exercise power and influence.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. - Matthew 5:10-11
And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. - Luke 7:31-32
One can observe in the last 200 years the rapid expansion of social influence and control and the proportional diminishment of the influence of family. This was largely accomplished through education, media, and economic forces. Today China represents the highest level of social control maintained by a government using technology to track and control each individual.
It would seem that Western civilization (Christians) have served their purpose in developing the technology to be used and is now in the process of guided self-destruction.
The Christian who chooses to be radical in his pursuit of knowing and following Jesus should be aware of the larger social world and its direction of movement. This can aid in avoiding the traps Satan has laid to capture and neutralize Christians.
1. Work-a-day world. Many Christian men and women have allowed themselves to be taken out of their homes (and subsequently be unavailable to counter the instruction Satan gives their children) through employment in corporations which incrementally subvert their values to maintain their employment. In addition, many Christians have allowed the idea of the 'necessity' of well paid corporate employment to influence their decision to have fewer children unaware of the number of abortions caused by oral contraceptives.
2. Political activity. Both liberal and conservative inclined Christians have found themselves entangled in the political web. Here the deception of the possibility of being able to control things is offered as the apple was offered to Eve (ye shall be as gods).
3. 'Christian' activity. Going to seminary, setting up a Christmas pageant, selling candy for the building fund, or a youth group bowling outing are all examples of activity that channels Christians in ways the result in limitations on their effectiveness for Christ. In medieval times Christians who desired to served God were directed to become monks, nuns, or the priests. This limited the possibility they would have families or otherwise influence many others.
4. Entanglement of debt. Many Christians find themselves tied to the 'necessity' of sources of income to pay for the decision to get a 'nice' house in a good neighborhood, a reliable car, or a 'good' education.
Satan has so ordered society in Western civilization to take young people and impress upon them a mind-set of the sequential inevitability of college, good job, nice house such that in mid-life as they reflect on where they are and how they got there, they can see no way to change to path they are on. To give up a job as an account executive for a marketing firm to become something like a welder, can pose a level of difficulty too high to imagine.
The apparent ease and advantage of the 'good' life has been useful to Satan to entice Christians to entangle themselves in that which would rob them of eternal rewards. We can begin to appreciate how much faith is crippled by having followed that which seems to provide ease, comfort, and advantage.
Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. - Luke 18:22-25
Hardship and difficulty continually show to us our need of and dependence on God. Prosperity and advantage impress upon us the delusion of our own self-sufficiency. As a person radicalizes in his Christian walk, he may consider changes that have difficulties associated with them. We may have developed reflexive instincts to avoid the difficult and choose the easy that need to be examined.
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