Like many living in South Africa, I have been touched by the life of Nelson Mandela. A few years ago my marriage would have been illegal under the Apartheid regime because my wife and I are have different amounts of pigmentation.
It seemed inconceivable that Mandela would die to many people. But he, like all of us, was a man. Unlike most of us, he was prepared to admit his faults, acknowledge his weaknesses and rise from his failures.
In his inauguration address Madiba said: “The greatest glory in living lies not with never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” That is true.
It’s an echo from the greatest Old Testament king, David. He was not perfect, and was prepared to admit it. He was a man who committed murder to hide adultery. He spent so much time falling over that when you read his story in Samuel, Kings and Chronicles you could be forgiven for thinking it was hisx preferred method of advancement: 1) Fall 2) drag feet to position of head 3) stand where head was 4) repeat
Our lives must reflect God in them. David’s life was lived sensitive to God, and as a result he didn’t allow his failures to stop him moving on. God describes him as a Man after His Heart, that is to say seeking God’s will in all things. He committed his battle plans to God before entering the war. He would change tactics if the Spirit advised it.
We lose sight of that sometimes. We point ourselves in one direction, set off, and then fall flat on our nose. That’s not the problem. The problem lies in that we then stand up and repeat the process in the same direction, but this time we ask God to bless the direction. No surprise, we fall again. Now we’re confused. “God told me to do it” is a cry we hear often as we wander from one bruised nose to the next.
It’s not true.
We told God “this is how I’ll do it – now You bless me and I’ll get going”. So God sits back and waits for us to come to Him and ask “How do I do this?” rather than demand His blessing on something He never wanted in the first place.
It’s part of freedom.
Freedom doesn’t mean doing whatever we want. It means seeing the boundaries of our limitations and asking God to stretch us to overcome them in the direction He wants us to move in.
That is crucial. There’s no real “freedom” in choosing our own path. When we do, because we are still in a “fallen” state, we choose a path not His. And any path other than His is the enemy’s.
In “Chariots of Fire” God is described at one point as a “Benevolent Dictator”. It sounds harsh, but there’s certainly truth in that description. God does say Jesus is the only way to be with Him. Jesus says He is the Way, Truth and Life. We can’t move towards God without Jesus. If we try we inevitably end up moving in the opposite direction.
Graves open and swallow us as we try to move without Him and His guidance. We lose sight of Him and we are tossed by the wind an waves of the storm, but keep Him as our Pole Star and we walk over the tempest as if it were a grassy plain.
The last 50 years have been showing a disastrous shambles of mankind in Western society trying to live without God. It doesn’t work. The “free love” of the 1960s and ’70s led to the boom of sexually transmitted illnesses and broken homes of the ’80s and ’90s. We are now on the third generation since World War 2 where young men grow up with no father-figure in the home and the World says that’s fine, but the result is chaos and another generation of lost men living in the prison of their lusts and brokenness rather than reaching to God and saying “Help Me, I can’t do this alone!”
The Western society is described as “multi-cultural” and “embracing”, meaning it “respects” all beliefs equally, but it doesn’t. In the UK, Christian teachers on a Christian television channel have to abide by a guideline that says they may not declare “Jesus is the only way to God” as a categorical statement because it is “hate-speech” and derogatory to other faiths. They can only say “The Bible says…” or “Jesus said…” so it’s a quote rather than an original statement. If they don’t, the show will be told to cease transmission.
Western “multi-cultural” society means “anything but Christian” in practice. Churches have been told to remove crosses from their Church Halls to avoid offending the muslims Cotholic employees wearing a cross on a chain under their clothes are required to remove it to not cause offence, but turbans and hijabs are encouraged. The double-standard is staggering until you remember the system is corrupted by the Enemy. Statements which are anti-Christian in sentiment are ignored while Christians taking a stand for our Faith are condemned as fanatics.
Freedom comes with a price. The price is persecution.
True Freedom will always be battled for by Christians, and the World will always seek to destroy it and replace it with the chains of bondage the Enemy would see us in, restrained and trapped away from God’s presence, and deafened to His Word, editing what can and can’t be said.
As Christians we need to remember Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin that led to his martyrdom. We cannot afford to be silent. We must not allow the Word to be subverted and edited for the sake of discomfort.
We must Live Free or die trying.