“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits…” ~Matthew 7:15
It’s pretty hard these days to log onto social media and not see something negative. There is always at least one person sharing their negative opinion about someone else. One of the largest complaints I see are against Christians. For one reason or another, someone always seems to be upset with a christian, or christian group. And sometimes, rightfully so. I have seen many Christians on social media, on tv, or even on the streets representing and proclaiming false teachings in the name of Jesus. Sometimes it’s easy to decipher and recognize false teaching; if it spreads hate (God hates homosexual people), or if it promotes sin (it’s our job to judge people). But what about the times when it’s not so easy? Sometimes false teaching comes disguised as everything we’ve ever wanted…
So how can you determine what teaching is of God? Shouldn’t everything good be of God? Well sure, in theory. But how are you determining what is “good”? The Christian Extremists in the media think what they are doing and standing for is good. How do we differentiate the sheep from the wolves? I wanted to use this week to share some of my personal experiences in hopes of provoking the right questions to be asked in your own lives. For several years, I was living in a life that I considered to the blessed. I had no worries and no fear. My career was progressing at a very rapid pace, and I never faced a shortage of money. I quickly became materialistic, but never thought anything of it. I considered myself blessed; God was being good to me, so it was ok to reward myself with anything in reach. I was quickly surpassing colleagues who were a decade older than me, and I kept telling myself that God was just rewarding me. But what was I doing that provoked this? I was not doing any missions, I was not involved in my local church and community. I wasn’t even consistently worshiping in my own home! So what was I being rewarded for? Red flag. Then God brought Chip Ingram into my life. My husband and I were blessed enough to be able to hear him speak at a conference, and I had one of those “he’s talking to me” moments. He talked about how sometimes we’re more concerned about the emblem on our purse, than the image should we portray as Christians. I felt a rock in my stomach as I thought about my life; I brought all Louis Vuitton bags with me, and I was planning on buying a brand new luxury vehicle. And for what? I had created an image that portrayed “rich snob” instead of “Godly woman”. Later that day, I sat down with my husband and talked at length about how I was conducting myself. I decided that day to get rid of any temptations and items that did not represent the woman of God I wanted to be. And I’m not going to pretend like it was easy, but thank God for my wonderful husband who helped me through it. God puts people in your life to support you in your troubled times, and THAT is a blessing. Now that the shroud had been lifted, I began to notice all the giant holes in my life. The job I thought was a blessing, was making my health deteriorate. The money I had could not cure depression. I was confused as to how I could have been so blinded. Why was all this “good” being revealed as evil? Then I remembered a quote from the movie God’s Not Dead, “Sometimes the devil allows people to live a life free of trouble because he doesn’t want them turning to God. Their sin is like a jail cell, except it is all nice and comfy and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to leave. The door’s wide open”. That is when I realized I was believing the wolf in sheep’s skin. The Devil works hard to convince us his lies are blessings. Sometimes his goal is not to try and convince believers that God doesn’t exist, but just to keep us quiet. What is an army if they have no weapons? He is a master of lies and deceit; he performs in the dark when you aren’t expecting it.
So what are some questions we should ask ourselves? If the devil is so good at disguising his lies, how can we find the truth? Thankfully we don’t have to wander through life as if we are lost. God gave us the Bible for times like these. If you are questioning something in your life, do some research. Read the Bible to learn about who God is and his characteristics. This will help you determine whether something is of God. Then, ask the question, ‘Is this setting an example Jesus would be proud of? If I am the only “Jesus” someone comes in contact with today, would He be proud of who I portrayed God to be?’ Most importantly, lean on your church community. We were created to help one another through life.
So how can we separate ourselves from the false teachings? It’s easy to get frustrated when it seems like the whole world is against you. While it is true that there are a lot of people against you, God is greater than all our problems. The best we can do is try and be a light through the darkness. Be the good in the world, so others may see through the lies. About a year ago, I sat down with a colleague to chat. After awhile, he leaned back in his chair looking confused. He said, “You said you’re a Christian? You don’t act like one…” So then I asked how he expected a Christian to act. He continued to say “You’re not judgey, you listen to my opinion even if it differs from your own, and you don’t make me feel like I’m any less of a person…” I was shocked. I immediately felt bad for him, as that was the only exposure to Christianity he ever had. I was glad that I was brought into his life so I could change that! We don’t have to change everyone, or combat every “post” we see. It’s not our job to save people, that’s Jesus’ job. Our job is to be the light so that people may be brought to salvation.
What does this mean for Millennials? Be on guard. There are a lot of false teachers and lies. Just because something seems “good”, does not mean it is. Lean on the Bible, and lean on your church community. Seek the advice of fellow believers in your life. Be positive, and clothe yourself with items that make you the man or woman God created you to be. Be the light others can’t see. You may be the only “Jesus” someone ever meets….