Luke and The Lost
We chose up sides on the playground. “Whose on my side?”, we shouted as kids. Sometimes we naturally joined our favorite leader. Other times two elected leaders chose us from a lineup. Then the play began. We had no referees when we played outside. (Rarely did we play inside in those days.) It was up to us to keep the teams fairly matched.
We played baseball, kickball, and other sports. We had to settle “out of bound” arguments by ourselves. We played army, out to hunt and destroy our “enemy” who lurked in the hedges around our homes. Being from Oklahoma, we played “Cowboys”. Our bicycles were horses. We put ropes around the handlebars as reins to guide our horses. It is a wonder I am still alive today.
Sometimes we put cards in the spokes and our horses turned to race cars with big motors. We also played the notorious, now banded from kids’ play, Red Rover. Whatever the game, when picked for a “side” to be on, we were loyal to the end. We would have done anything to win. Sometimes we got hurt, but if we won, it didn’t hurt as bad.
That was the life of a child as I grew up many years ago. The life of a child now is a bit different with technology entering their world in such a way that no one is needed but themselves to enjoy a game. It seems harder for kids to make and keep good friends. They need help from parents and grandparents to lead them to deeper relationships. I’m not saying technology is bad for it has been a tool to connect me with my childhood friends. It also is my tool to write of God’s help to us. But it is only a tool…not a relationship with a real person.
The evil one also has this tool of technology to pull individuals from the crowd of friends, like a wolf pulling a lamb from the herd. He can and does use it to destroy them from the inside out. We are at war. It is a subtle war, (satan’s way), but it is war! Know this. Know the enemy. Be alert to his ways. Don’t fall for his schemes. Chose whose side you are on! Choosing well means life or death.
I think these thoughts as I read the next passage of Luke’s gospel. Jesus is accused of working with the devil. It is a ludicrous assumption so Jesus explains. There is no neutral ground. You are either with me or against me, He states clearly.
“This is war”, He declares. What really jumps to the forefront today is, “If you’re not helping, you’re making things worse.” We might be able to take care of ourselves and feel good about that as followers, but what about those who are struggling to choose whose side they are on who work and live around us? This is war. We must point others to Jesus…not ourselves…but Jesus!
Luke 11, The Message
No Neutral Ground
14-16 Jesus delivered a man from a demon that had kept him speechless. The demon gone, the man started talking a blue streak, taking the crowd by complete surprise. But some from the crowd were cynical. “Black magic,” they said. “Some devil trick he’s pulled from his sleeve.” Others were skeptical, waiting around for him to prove himself with a spectacular miracle.
17-20 Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, “Any country in civil war for very long is wasted. A constantly squabbling family falls to pieces. If Satan cancels Satan, is there any Satan left? You accuse me of ganging up with the Devil, the prince of demons, to cast out demons, but if you’re slinging devil mud at me, calling me a devil who kicks out devils, doesn’t the same mud stick to your own exorcists? But if it’s God’s finger I’m pointing that sends the demons on their way, then God’s kingdom is here for sure.
21-22 “When a strong man, armed to the teeth, stands guard in his front yard, his property is safe and sound. But what if a stronger man comes along with superior weapons? Then he’s beaten at his own game, the arsenal that gave him such confidence hauled off, and his precious possessions plundered.
23 “This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse.
24-26 “When a corrupting spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘I’ll go back to my old haunt.’ On return, it finds the person swept and dusted, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits dirtier than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place.”
27 While he was saying these things, some woman lifted her voice above the murmur of the crowd: “Blessed the womb that carried you, and the breasts at which you nursed!”
28 Jesus commented, “Even more blessed are those who hear God’s Word and guard it with their lives!”
What do we learn?
–We are at war. Every. Day.
–Jesus helps us win the war against Satan if we choose Him as our leader. The battle belongs to Him.
–Be loyal to Jesus.
–Love God. Love others like God loves us and help them find and follow Jesus.
–This is NOT a childhood game. There are only two choices. Jesus or the evil one. Choose well. The war is on. It is a matter of life or death.
Dear Heavenly Father, We become complacent at times and forget there is a war raging against You and the followers who adore You. Help us to stay alert. Help us to do no harm. Help us to encourage others to choose You and follow You.
In Jesus Name, Amen