Friday, October 14, 2011

Occupy Till I Come

"For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him." Luke 19:26

I often feel like I am sitting as a stranger in this world, watching events unfold like one would watch a movie on the big screen.  The very fabric of the world's "reality" is in itself unreal.  The systems of the world are all built upon lies, the atmosphere is one of fantasy, and even the truths of this world are merely attempts at manipulation.   And yet, there are those who are invested completely in this madness, caught up in it, believing in it, and even fighting for it.

"Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." John 18:36

All around the world there are growing pockets of civil unrest.  In the U.S. a particular movement called "Occupy" is gaining momentum as people protest in the streets about economic inequity, banking fraud, and overall disenchantment with the current power structure.
occupy: to take possession and control of a place, as by military invasion; to be a resident or tenant of; dwell in.
While the objectives of those in this group seem disparate, one overall theme is that they all seem interested in saving the world or restoring the American Dream.  How do they aim to do this?  So far, by "occupying" public places to make their demands known.  Yet as I read about the activities of this movement, I couldn't help but think of Luke Chapter 19.

"...Occupy till I come." Luke 19:13b

Was Jesus urging Christians to take to the streets, championing our political banners & causes so that our voices will be heard by the ruling elite?  There are even those who preach a false "Gospel of the Kingdom" with its "Kingdom Living" principles stating how we must take the "Kingdom Now" as defined by Christians taking over the systems of this world before Jesus can return.  Yet, we know that this is not true for when Jesus returns, the world will be as Sodom and as Gomorrah (Luke 17:28-30); we can see that now as we look around us...and it will get worse until Jesus comes.  Further, unlike the systems of this world, the Kingdom of God is not temporal and shall never pass away.  God's word is clear that the Kingdom to which Jesus referred is not of this world.

So what did Jesus mean when He told us to "occupy"?  Certainly the Church is to represent Christ in an evil world, preaching the Gospel in order to advance the Kingdom of God.  However, we must also "occupy" on an individual level; working out our salvation with fear and trembling.

Luke 19 starts out with Jesus passing through Jericho.  The nation of Israel conquered Jericho in one of its first steps towards possessing the Promised Land. It is not by chance that Jesus' command to "occupy" comes at this point.

One of the first individuals Jesus is recorded as dealing with was Zacchaeus, a publican who had been made rich by swindling the people (not unlike those whom the Occupy movement fight against today).  In spite of his sin and reputation amongst the people, Zacchaeus would not be deterred from seeking the Lord.  He "made haste" and went to great lengths to do so.  Although he knew that his riches were unrighteously obtained, it was seeing Jesus which moved him to rectify these wrongs.  When the invitation from Christ was given to him, the walls of his cold, uncircumcised heart came tumbling down and Zacchaeus received the Savior of his soul with joy.

That very day salvation had come to him, yet the self-righteous people could not see past Zacchaeus' sin; they even criticized Jesus for having fellowship with such a man.  They could not see that the one who had been lost was now saved, as was Jesus' purpose (Luke 19:10).

After this, Jesus shared a parable with the people to clarify their understanding of the coming of His Kingdom.  He wasn't going to Jerusalem to establish His kingdom on earth at that time, but to enable us to become a part of that Kingdom.

In the parable, a nobleman is going to a far country in order to receive a kingdom.  He instructs his servants to occupy until his return, providing each with the necessary resources.  The servants must "occupy" because they will face opposition.  There are forces coming against the servants because the citizens of that land did not want the nobleman to reign over them (Luke 19:14). This is the very type of environment a Christian must live in every day...within his own soul.

"In your patience possess ye your souls." Luke 21:19

Each Christian has a soulish life which lusts against the spirit and is vying for preeminence, even after salvation (Romans 7:18-25; Galatians 5:16-17).  It is used to being a renegade and doesn't want to submit to the authority of Jesus Christ.  This is why God instructs His servants to:
  • Possess your souls in patience (Luke 21:19)
  • Take up your cross every day (Luke 9:23)
  • Keep under your body and bring it into subjection (I Corinthians 9:27)
  • Mortify the deeds of the body so that you may live (Romans 8:13)
  • Mortify our members on the earth (Colossians 3:5)
  • Crucify the flesh, with its affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24)
  • Hold fast the profession of our faith (Revelation 2:25)
  • Continue in the faith and not be moved from our hope in Christ (Colossians 1:23)
  • Show diligence to the full assurance of our hope until the end (Hebrews 6:11)
  • Establish our hearts for the coming day of the Lord (James 5:8)
We are to occupy.  In order for people to see Jesus in us, we must "occupy" until He comes.  It is important to note that such is not possible to do in our own power & effort.  Jesus Himself must provide us with the resources, which is why He has given us spiritual weapons (Ephesians 6:11-20).

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled." II Corinthians 10:3-6

After salvation, every Christian is enlisted in a war and is under orders to "bring into captivity" all disobedience into the obedience of Christ.  We cannot cast down anyone else's imaginations, nor can we bring anyone else's thoughts into captivity.  We must each possess our own vessels in sanctification and honor unto the Lord (I Thessalonians 4:3-4), because the Kingdom of God is within us.

"And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:20-21

This is the Promised Land God has given us as an inheritance in the new covenant: our citizenship in the Kingdom of God.  Just as with the Israelites, He is teaching our hands to war because we will also encounter giants which stand against us and do not desire to relinquish the land.  Yet, as also with Israel, God has already given us the battle; all we need to do is believe and act upon that belief.  Such is faith.  How did Israel conquer Jericho?  By faith (Hebrews 11:30); and such is also how we gain the victory.  As we do, the Kingdom of God will expand within us.

In the parable, when the nobleman returned, his servants had to give an account of their business and how they had fared in their trading.  We too will all have to give an account - or what Matthew 25:19 calls a "reckoning" - of how we have occupied.

There is a song called Trading My Sorrows which says:
I'm trading my sorrow
I'm trading my shame
I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord

I'm trading my sickness
I'm trading my pain
I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord

I have no problems with the song, but my question is, what about trading our backbiting for exhortations?  Will we trade greed for charity?  Will we trade our gluttony for temperance?  Will we trade our condemnation for compassion?

When our Lord returns, will we have gained ground for the Kingdom - some thirty, sixty, or one hundred fold - or will we have suffered loss (Matthew 13:18-23)?  As we do gain ground, we become vessels fit for the Master to use, revenging all disobedience.

People are so concerned about saving this present evil world, but who is willing to "occupy" for Jesus?  Who is willing to wage a campaign of war - even against their own rebellion - so that the Kingdom of God may be seen and glorified in His people?

"But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." Hebrews 10:39

If you want to know the spirit behind the Occupy movement, click here.

5 comments:

  1. Yes! I was just in a roundtable discussion yesterday at a house fellowship talking about the occupy movement. Call it discernment, but it has not rested well with my Spirit from the beginning. Thanks for the insight.

    ReplyDelete
  2. As this occupy movement has reached Australia, it just occurred to me that the world is preparing and birthing the perfect recipe for a saviour to come and fix the world systems. The world is looking for a saviour but there's only one who can save our souls, his name is Jesus Christ.

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  3. Hi Anonymous,

    You are correct. It is written.

    Things are unfolding just as God states that it will in Scripture. God's word tells us of a global economic and religious system which is constructed to rule/save the world before Jesus returns, and it is happening as we speak.

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/10/24/vatican-economy-idUKL5E7LO1LS20111024

    The world will look to man to save them, but it will only usher in further destruction and the rise of the Anti-Christ. There can be no peace without the Prince of Peace.

    Get ready for the days ahead.

    ReplyDelete

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