The woods had been quiet for a long period and I wanted to at least see something from the tree stand from which I was hoping to shoot a deer. That’s when I saw movement in the distance. Turkeys. At least I had something to look at. I focused on them, watching as they slowly made their way through the underbrush. Then I sensed something else. I slowly turned my head to look over my shoulder. There he was, trotting through the opening in the woods just below me. I did not even have time to lift my bow to drawing position, let alone aim. He was out of sight in a moment. No amount of calling or rattling brought him back. Then I realized my mistake. Focusing on the turkeys had made me insensitive to the approach of a very fine trophy. I failed to accomplish the purpose for which I was in the woods.
As Christians, our purpose is to be salt and light in the world. We are to hold forth the word of light to the lost. “Ye are my witnesses,” the Lord said of His people. “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel,” is what Jesus said to His disciples. That is our mission. That is why we are called. That is what we are to be doing in the world. But along come the distractions. The cares of life, the deceitfulness of riches, the desire of other things, cause us to become unfruitful. In so doing we fail to accomplish what we are really to be doing in the world. Our witness is lost.
As I am writing this, major developments are swirling in the political world. We are being led to believe that epic changes are in the offing. But this is like hunting for bear and someone diverts our attention by saying, “Hey, look! A squirrel.” Because while the world is enmeshed in their dramas, we are to be focused on what is of eternal importance. While politics is mesmerizing the populace, the church has largely become inactive in its mission. Except for some.
Even now there have been special movings of God in West Virginia and North Carolina. Multiplied hundreds of people are turning to Christ in these areas. Many Christians are testifying to being revived in their spirits. Preachers who would not speak to each other are kneeling together at an altar, repenting of their pride and division, and rising to be reconciled with genuine love for one another in their hearts.
While God is working in these hearts and lives, are we going to be distracted by the lesser things of the world? We have a living, contemporary illustration before us of comparing what is important with what is fleeting. Are we going to be more concerned about which X-rated candidate will win the election or about what God is doing to revive His church and bring our attention to what is really important? In one sense, this election, though touted as one of the most important in our life time, will actually be one of the most irrelevant. Whoever wins will be nothing more than a leader propagating the continuation of corruption and manipulation in high places. What is important is whether or not your neighbor hears the gospel. What really matters is whether or not we visit the fatherless and widows and keep our witness for Christ unspotted by the world.
While the Soviet Union was cracking down on Christians, one preacher was arrested and imprisoned for witnessing for Jesus. He was sent to Siberia. After several months, he sent word to the group of which he was part. “Send me some Bibles. I have sixty new believers here in the prison.” Did it matter if it was Stalin or Kruschev in charge of the government? No. What mattered was that the witness for Christ was vibrant and the destinies of people were changed for eternity.
Read the Biblical account of the early church and you will look in vain for any handwringing over who was the newest leader of the empire. The newly formed body of Christ was involved in far more important things than the changing leadership of earthly governments. They were having an impact in cities from Jerusalem to Antioch, from Athens to Rome. Whether the leader was Herod or Caesar, the church maintained its mission of reaching lost people and being salt and light in the world.
In the early 1900s a young Russian Christian named Fetler went to England to do ministerial studies. He was greatly impacted by the Revival Lectures of Charles Finny. He returned to St. Petersburg and began holding evangelistic meetings. Among the converts were Dimitri and Olga, who met at those services and were later married. They became the parents of Zhenya, who as she grew older accepted the Lord Jesus her parents taught her about.
During those years there was extreme political turmoil in Russia. The Czar’s regime came to an end. World War I embroiled the nation. The Revolution happened and the communists took control. But the important, eternal events in that Russian family were that the gospel was being faithfully presented and the Christian life maintained.
The circumstances were anything but easy, but God was exalted. Zhenia and her sisters were openly mocked in their classrooms by government teachers who were faithfully promoting the agenda of Stalin to eradicate God from the vocabulary of the people. But he failed. The sisters maintained their faith and openly proclaimed that God was real and the Bible was true. When their family eventually moved to America, several of them joined the Slavic Gospel Association. During one of her speaking engagements, Zhenia met Stephen, who found Christ at that meeting. Eventually they were married. How do I know all this? They were my parents and I heard their story countless times.
Zhenia’s sisters became involved in short-wave radio broadcasting which covered Russia with the gospel. For decades they faithfully proclaimed Christ to the people in the Soviet Union. Many were converted and countless Christians were encouraged in their faith.
I recount this bit of personal history to remind us that eternal things must never take second place to the mundane. That is why Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” We are strangers and pilgrims here, and our citizenship is in heaven. What happens politically pales into insignificance when we think of what really matters.
Remember God’s word for such a time as this. “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Phil. 2:15, 16)
Live for Jesus. That’s what matters.