Therefore, get your minds ready for action, being self-disciplined, and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance but, as the One who called you is holy, you are also to be holy in your conduct; for it is written, "Be holy because I am Holy." [I Peter 1:13-16 HCSB]
Hannah over at Reflections of a Face e-mailed me this morning with a wonderful idea. I must say, great minds think alike. I had been pondering posting a Life Remodel challenge at some point, but Hannah has definitely urged that on.
She'll be doing some guest posts here at MandyMom.com from a teenage point of view and will also be posting the challenge over at her blog. This is something my husband and I are extremely passionate about. Christians have been living defeated lives for too long. It reminds me of the first few lines of Francesca Battistelli's song, Free To Be Me:
"At twenty years of age, I'm still looking for a dream. A war's already waged for my destiny. But You've already won the battle, and You've got great plans for me, tho' I can't always see..."There's a spiritual war going on inside of us every day, and it doesn't stop when we turn our lives over to God. The devil knows God has won, but he still wants to make the road difficult so we live miserable, defeated lives and don't pass on the Word of God to others. I think C.S. Lewis' book, The Screwtape Letters, is likely an accurate description of what goes on in the spiritual realm. One demon named Screwtape writes to another (Wormwood) on how to manipulate a man in order to keep him from giving his life to God. He writes, “Indeed the safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” Then the man becomes a Christian, and Screwtape suggests Wormwood employ other tactics, like keeping the man busy with unimportant things so he doesn't read his bible, pray, or fellowship with others. Wormwood tries to poison his thoughts so there is discontent in all areas of his life- his marriage, his friendships, his church life.
You see, even when the battle for our souls has been won, and we are safely in God's hand, the devil still pokes and prods us. Most of us know this, but I think we tend to forget that the devil is still trying to grab bits and pieces of us, and will use whatever tactic available.
Satan's toolbox is full of cunning little tools, many of which we don't realize are his. We may see areas where Satan has obviously bombarded us, but overlook the little scratches and small holes he has made. Then there are the times he sends in a Trojan horse. When we aren't paying attention- when we are sleeping and not "watching and praying"- the enemy emerges.
Some of Satan's tools are small and wedge-shaped, helping him to pry into areas of our lives he may not normally be able to open. All of his tools are meant to take the focus off Christ and send it elsewhere. He uses discouragement to draw us inward, to keep us focused on our problems and issues, instead of leaning on God for support and strength. He uses pride to pump us up, so we believe that those things God has accomplished in us and through us are somehow our doing. He even uses a tool called guilt. You wouldn't think Satan would use that tool, which is why it's probably so useful. I know Satan has used this tool on me a lot, and I have fallen for it many, many times. If the devil can have us feeling sheepish, sorry, and condemned over something small, he can distract us from the bigger sins in our lives.
When I was a child, raised in a religion where most of the girls wore medium to long skirts all the time, I would feel extreme guilt over my desire to wear pants. Man, did the devil have me caught up on that little issue. I was so caught up, I had somehow tied the skirt issue to my salvation. I was an active little tomboy, and skirts were not my thing, but I wore then every day for thirteen years... and I loathed them! I felt so ashamed, and felt like God could not possibly love me because I hated skirts.
Looking back, it's quite silly, but the devil certainly used this tool extremely well in similar ways through the years. As long as I was focusing on my skirt and feeling guilty over that, the devil knew I would not really look into my life and focus on the real issues that were hindering me from having a closer walk with God.
Satan loves for us to get passionate about things that distract us from Jesus. “All extremes, except extreme devotion to the Enemy, are to be encouraged,” Screwtape advises in a letter to Wormwood. (Here, from a demon's point of view, "the Enemy" is God.) He doesn't mind if we are passionate about Christian things, in fact, he loves that, because if we are passionate about an aspect of Christian life, we may still feel very "holy", when in reality, we have allowed our view of God to be blurred.
The other day, I was taking a photo of one of my children. I thought I had taken a great shot, but once I uploaded it to my computer, I realized that, even though my son was standing in the foreground, his image was blurred. The camera had automatically focused on those items in the background. This is what happens so often in our own lives, at least, I know it does in mine.
Sometimes we get so caught up in aspects of Christianity, that we fail to get caught up in Christ Himself. It's not that these aspects aren't important, but it's much like worshipping the creation rather than the Creator. Maybe we started out with our hearts and focus in the right place, but over time, it became less about God.
Then there's the issue of taking for granted those things God has blessed us with, yet another time when our life's camera slips out of focus as we get into a routine of life. That's the next subject I'm going to tackle here, so come back later this week.
I know some of you have expressed interest in the challenge. If you're interested in "remodeling your life", remember, it's not going to be easy. There are days you will feel lazy. There are days you will feel discouraged. There are days that will be painful (especially those times that call for self-examination!). BUT... this is something we all need to do.
If you're not a Christian, I encourage you to begin reading the Word of God. Open your bible to any page in the New Testament and start reading.
If you are a Christian, it's time to stop living defeated lives. The battle has been won. You are God's child. We should start living like it.
If you've decided to join in the challenge, please let us know in the comment section. If you have a website, share it, and I'll post a list of the bloggers who are diving into the challenge with us. Come back regularly for little challenges to help you examine your life and make the most of your time here on earth by "living out loud" and serving others. There will also be more articles on the subject (from me and other guest bloggers!). I'm really excited to dive into the Word of God with you and not only inspect those crevices of our lives, but also step outside of our box and expanding our view of worship and praise!
* * *
You can read a few quotes plucked from The Screwtape Letters at some of these blogs. I am not affiliated with, nor do I endorse, any of these blogs. (Which is not to say I disagree with what they say, but rather I have not looked farther than these quotes.) If you haven't read the book, do it. I think the excerpts from the book (found on these sites) will definitely tempt you to! (And that's one temptation you don't have to feel guilty about!) RightWingNews Terb's World: Straight from the Devil's mouth: Part 1 and Part 2.
Cartoon clip-art from ChristArt.com