And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:7 (NIV)
“For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?” -I Corinthians 8:10 (NKJV)
You know how heroes in an action movie go through a heavy skirmish, then try to take a break to rest, but then are inundated with another wave of enemies? Life is a lot like that.
It’s too easy to want to take a breather and rest after overcoming difficult times, whether at work or at home. We’d like to think, “Whew, we made it! Now for some smooth sailing!” Oh, no. This is no time to rest on our laurels.
Per my parents’ Buddhist tradition, my mother, brother, and I will pay respects to my father at a temple for seven consecutive Sundays. I expect much of the same experience that I saw at his funeral service: praying and bowing before shrines to him and Buddha, as well as offerings to him in the afterlife. Afterward would be a lunch of vegetarian food prayed over by the monks.
Thanks to my experience in the funeral service, God forged a backbone for me to be respectful to my late father with my presence, but strong enough to stand upright and respect God above all by not partaking in the rituals.
From that experience, I’ve been learning many lessons, but these come to mind today:
First, these were never our laurels to rest on. The overcoming was because God worked through us, not because we did it on our own. It’s when we think the coast is clear, and let down our guard, that the enemy will see an opening and exploit it.
Second, right is right, whether before onlookers or behind closed doors. Sure, I could go ahead and participate in the seven Sunday ceremonies for my father, but I would be untrue to my Creator, whose first commandment is to not have any other gods before Him.
Third, the spiritual battle I faced when witnessing to my father, and then standing upright in a Buddhist temple amid prostrate worshipers, was just preparing me…conditioning me…from more to come.
Because my mother was a known opponent to believers witnessing to her mother, I witnessed secretly to my father. But the next time around, when it’s my mother’s time, I will face her directly. And like my father, my mother will likely require a Buddhist funeral service as well.
So, if God has conditioned you, grown you, and matured you through overwhelming circumstances, do not get sloppy. Don’t get cocky. He made overcoming possible, not you! True believers must always be vigilant for an enemy who would love to catch us wrong footed…to trip us up and set us back. Pray your concerns and worries up to Him.
Don’t be discouraged if you do fall for a surprise attack or deception. But when you do, earnestly confess and ask God for forgiveness, then rise up again to rejoin the battle as the Spirit-filled overcomer God made you to be!