Peter was in the garden with Jesus when the chief priest and Pharisees came to take Jesus. Peter drew his sword, and cut off the ear of Malchus, a servant of the high priest. He was reacting to the challenge of the moment. He was defending Jesus against those who would take him prisoner. He was trying to be a help in the ministry of Jesus. Peter had good intentions and motives, but he reacted to the situation contrary to the direction Jesus was going.
First, Jesus healed the ear of the servant then gave Peter words of instruction, rebuke, question, remembrance, and challenge. Jesus told Peter to put away his sword. Don’t fight. It was God’s will that Jesus be taken and crucified. The events of the moment were a part of God’s plan to bring salvation to mankind through Jesus Christ. Peter’s immediate response to defend Jesus was not according to God’s plan. There were bigger things happening.
Am I in danger of cutting off ears? We are so bombarded by the events of today. Life changes and challenges confront us. When dealing with them, it is easy to strike out in quick response. Sometimes we are right in our understanding and assessment. But sometimes, we are like Peter, quick to respond, not fully understanding the situation, or comprehending the will or plan of God with the result of cutting off an ear here and there.
In our current situations, I wonder if we are missing what God is doing. What if God’s will is contrary to our American culture? Do I react to things I don’t like? Do I strike out when it is just the ear of the servant of those God is using to work His plan? It challenges my commitment to the will of God, whatever His plan would be.
This has led to a list of “what ifs” and my responses to them. “What if…” Maybe you are wrestling with these issues too. These are simply questions to ponder. The conclusions are thoughts at this time about the situations. My thinking can change as we see future events and God reveals more of His plan and workings. As I talk with other believers, I find many struggling with the same issues. May God direct us in our actions and reactions to what is happening in the world today. May we always be godly in our responses.
God is preparing the world for the tribulation?
According to a literal interpretation of Daniel and Revelation, the seventieth week of Daniel is a time of judgment and tribulation. A pretribulation view of the rapture says that the born again people alive at that time will be caught up with the Lord in the air before this judgment is meted upon the earth. There is hope for the believer in this promise of God.
Because the judgment will be dispensed, the world must be prepared for the seven years of tribulation. Why would believers be shocked by bad things happening as preparations are made? Would we not expect changes in thought and values, evil getting worse, and people standing in easily observed defiance of the living God?
Yes, God is preparing the earth for the next phase of His revealed plan.
God intends for the American culture to diminish in the coming years?
Many wrestle with whether or not the United States will be a part of God’s plan in the tribulation period. Some say it is. Others say it is not; therefore U.S. will be gone by the time of the rapture. Since the Bible is not clear on the fate of the U.S., we cannot dogmatically confirm either position. It makes no difference which position a person may take, American culture will decline along with the rest of the world in preparation for the tribulation.
Here is the struggle. Do we fight against this decline that God is allowing? Is it an ear we are attempting to cut off or is it standing up for God? Of course, we do our part as citizens within this country and stand as believers for righteousness. But is trying to keep the American culture the primary focus of the believer? I have traveled to several foreign countries, spent time with Christians who live under various forms of government, and observed their manner of life. I sometimes wonder if believers in the United States have substituted patriotism, American culture, and loyalty to country for true Biblical Christianity. Do we stand for America more than we stand in the Lord? Do we equate the two? Just asking the question will make me un-American in some people’s minds.
I love the United States. I love living here, the freedoms we have, the righteous aspects of our culture, and the structure of our government. Our founding fathers built this nation on Judeo-Christian values. As we leave that value system, we see the decline of our culture. Do we fight against leaving the values or do we stand for personal accountability before a holy God? What has the primary focus of our hearts and minds? Is it keeping the American dream alive or being Christ-centered, gospel-centered followers of the Lord? If we lived in another country, under a different political structure, struggling for our life and livelihood, could we be godly? I have seen believers living in such conditions and love their devotion, compassion, and service for the Lord, even to the point of laying their life on the line.
Is my life characterized by walking with my God or standing for the American way of life? Am I willing to let the United States become whatever God would want it to be as the earth is prepared for the tribulation? These are questions which should cause us deep thought, a fervent seeking of our God and His will. If the Lord wants you to be involved in politics and issues, praise the Lord. If you are, as we all should be concerned and active as the Lord directs, remember, we are Christians first, our citizenship is with the Lord, we are His ambassadors, and our primary battle is a spiritual one, not flesh and blood.
Am I willing to let America decline if that is the plan of God? If America falls, does it mean we have failed as Christians? Remember why the tribulation has not started yet. The Bible says in Second Peter, chapter three that the longsuffering of our Lord means salvation, not the preservation of a culture. What is my primary focus as a believer and ambassador of the Lord? Praise the Lord, people are still being saved.
Mockers and scoffers laugh at and ridicule God and His followers?
Second Peter in chapter three says this is going to happen. What will be my response? Why would we be surprised? Should we seek their acceptance and approval or should we simply stand in truth, speaking it in love? Are we more concerned about what people think or about what God thinks? These are hard questions in tough times.
Evil people get worse?
Much is written in First and Second Timothy about the last days. 2 Timothy 3:12-14 shows that people are going to get much worse. Deception will increase. Believers are to continue in truth, walking with the Lord. Knowing the plan of God from His word and knowing His promises, we live by faith, looking for His appearing while walking in His will, whatever it may be for each of us. Don’t be surprised by people getting worse.
What if …
Terrible times come with perversion and evil manifested in shocking ways?
God has told us this is going to happen. First and Second Timothy speak of it along with many other passages. Why would this surprise us? Do we focus on their actions or do we grieve for their lost souls, seeking opportunity to share the gospel in love?
God allows pestilence, famine, catastrophic disasters, and environmental change?
God has told us this will happen. As He prepares the earth for the coming tribulation, we should expect increasing troubles. As time gets closer, these things will increase. In the face of disaster, people can be more concerned about death and are tender to hear the message of God, the good news, the gospel, which speaks of God’s provision for mankind to be saved from eternal destruction and punishment for sin. It gives us opportunity to share the love of God.
God’s revealed wrath against unrighteousness and ungodliness is easily seen?
Romans, chapter one speaks of the wrath of God is revealed against ungodliness and unrighteousness. Sometimes God’s workings are easily seen. Other times we wonder how long before His judgment will come? Death and destruction of ungodly people should break our hearts. People are dying without hope. Do we sit back and watch with satisfaction that they are finally getting their just rewards or do we grieve as Jesus did over Jerusalem? What is my response?
Christians do not desire or listen to sound doctrine?
In Second Timothy, Paul warns Timothy that there will come times where Christians will not want sound doctrine. Why would this surprise us when God has warned us it would happen? Those who do not study will find themselves lacking and ashamed. This is why good people who love the Lord follow causes and take stands contrary to the Word of God. They are lacking in spiritual depth and maturity. Just by me stating this would offend some.
Sound doctrine is necessary for a sound mind. The stability God intends for the believer will increase the more we know His promises. According to First Corinthians chapter two, the spiritual, mature believer will take the truths of God’s Word and make sound judgments based upon them. To do that, we must know His Word. Praise the Lord, the Holy Spirit will help us in our understanding as we study.
Being warned of God that people will not endure sound doctrine, we can each make sure we do not become one of those people. We can be students of the Word, rightly dividing it with the Holy Spirit guiding us into all truth.
Believers get caught up in the issues of the day and lose sight of God’s purposes and work?
As Peter in the garden, I wonder how many ears I have cut off, thinking that what I was standing for or contending about was so important. I hope with age, that I have increased in my ability to know which battles are important and which are not. I certainly do not want to stand against God’s plan or cut off ears while God is doing something else.
It is easy to get caught up in the issue of the day because it is foremost in people’s minds. We must seek God’s perspective on the issues and act accordingly with the fruit of the Spirit evidenced in our demeanor. A question I ask myself is; will this matter in 50 years? It has often been said; we can win a battle but lose the war. We can get people to conform to right action while losing their hearts. What is my focus, right action or right hearts? Who is my focus? What is the purpose of my life and the work of my day?
As a believer we are to walk in the Spirit, committed to God’s will. He will lead us correctly as we walk with Him.
Spiritual maturity is determined by wearing a mask or not wearing a mask?
I ask this question to show how easy it is for issues of the day to control our thinking and attitudes. What if we are required to wear a mask, would we or why wouldn’t we? I remember when I was a motorcycle rider. A law requiring us to wear helmets was passed in our state. The reaction was similar to the mask mandate. Some already wore helmets while others said they never would. I didn’t even own a helmet at the time but soon bought one.
With masks, I have seen people use the issue as a way to determine people’s spirituality. How silly can we be?
Christians are confronted with performance based mindsets?
Does our performance determine our spirituality or does our spirituality determine our performance? It should be that walking in the Spirit; we live godly and righteously in this present world with the Holy Spirit leading us into the good work God sets before us. Godliness does not come from doing the right things. Godliness comes from walking in the Spirit and God producing righteousness through us. This goes to our focus. Do we focus on doing the right thing or on walking with our Lord, giving Him control of everything in our lives?
Christians are required to have a personal, intimate, and consistent relationship with Christ?
Here is the practical conclusion of the matter. We are to walk humbly with our God. We are to have a personal, intimate, and consistent relationship with the Lord, committed to His will, His plans, and His purposes whatever they would be and however He would lead. This is why Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-12 is so important and is my prayer for you. I hope and pray that I will never be cutting off any more ears. Keep looking up for our redemption draws close. “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”