Obstacles to Disciple Making
A few years ago, I did a Bible study on the Kingdom of God. It remains one of the most significant studies I've ever done. One of the many conclusions from the study was that the Kingdom of God is in active conflict with the kingdom of this world.
Daniel 2:44 reads: "In the year of those kings, the God of heaven will establish a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever."
John the Baptist was beheaded. Our King was crucified. Paul the apostle was locked up and John, the beloved disciple, was exiled. In his letter to the Church in Ephesus, Paul writes, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12.
I don't much like talking about the devil or evil forces trying to take us out. It feels hokey, or worse, I feel the unsettling kinship to the white suited, tent revivalist. And I think that's exactly how he wants it. What was that CS Lewis wrote about devils in Screwtape Letters?
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.
And in conflict, what was that Sun Tzu wrote in the Art of War?
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
If there really is an enemy, if there are powers and forces of darkness, how do you think they feel about you persisting in making disciples of Christ?