|2 Timothy 2:3-4 |
3 Endure hardship, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man who is engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life;1 so that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.
1 No man who is engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life; so that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.
Social action is another form of religion. You take pride in being on "the correct side" of things. You feel righteous, but what you feel is really only an increase in pride, an increase in the flesh. Worldly activities count for nothing. Whatever you do in the flesh is not pleasing to God.
The Bible calls us to stay out of the world. Be in the world, but be not of the world. Your focus should be inward, not outward. You can spend your days on this earth in correcting "evil" or you can seek the will of God; until you are under his control and capable of understanding his instructions and carrying them out with his power. As the disciples were told by Jesus to "remain in Jerusalem waiting for power from on high", you are called to turn inside and seek the heavenly Jerusalem, seeking the light to change you into a vessel equipped with his power and suitable for his service. (Of the 650,000 Quakers, a very small percentage were preachers; most were middle class shop owners, laborers, soldiers, farmers, etc.; but all had an office in the Body of Christ, with their lives being shining examples of Christian virtue.)
Your removing of self from involvement in the world is not a betrayal of your "goodness," it is a commitment to seeking his will without outside competitions. A good soldier does not get involved in civilian affairs. Any action in your flesh to correct the evils of the world, however holy the motives seem to you, it will only retard or halt your spiritual progress -- whatever the purpose: slavery, women's rights, protecting the environment, prevention of cruelty to animals, anti-drug campaigns, alcohol abuse, child abuse, hunger, globalization, abortion, war, etc.
From the Word of the Lord within: "You can spend your time trying to correct evil, or you can spend your time seeking me. Forgo the world. In no way do I diminish those who spend time reading the web site. Practice random acts of kindness." Notice the word random in the previous message. Random is the opposite of systematic, scheduled, continuous, periodic, etc. Why? So that you will not become so occupied with your efforts that you lose the necessary focus of seeking God with all you heart; and to sit, wait, watch, listen, and obey. So with our excess we respond in secret with kindness to those in need that come in front of our face, and/or we can financially support charities; but we don't take up a cause that absorbs our time. Until you have seen Jesus appear in your heart to guide you and bring your salvation, ignore any messages you hear that order or encourage you to spend significant time away from waiting on Him.
We satisfy those randomly encountered needs only if we have excess funds to satisfy them; and if possible, we should restrain our own expenditures, so that we have excess funds available — in other words, we should always maintain savings so that we can respond randomly to those needs that we encounter randomly. Aside from being able to respond to randomly encountered needs of kindness, financial common sense is to also maintain savings to respond to unanticipated expenses necessary for our own lives; so we don't give away any of that necessary cushion of savings. Further, if we are a business owner, we also maintain significant savings so that our business can survive and/or adjust if there is a downturn in demand or some crisis that reduces our revenue; neither do we give away any of that necessary cushion of savings.
We are called to focus on the heavenly treasures, to turn inward seeking the light, to focus on what is beautiful, pure, noble, noteworthy of respect, truthful, and good. If we spend our energies and time in correcting evil, we miss the opportunity to be changed inwardly. After we are changed, then we can toil together with God in the causes of his choice; and there will be causes, but he will be the one who orders our activities — His Will, not ours.
If you think you are "called" to do something, I ask you: Where in the Bible does it speak of being "called," as you use it? Called is to be summoned or named. The Bible has not a single reference to "called" being something that God is requiring you to do, except to come to Him. When he wants you to do something, he gives you commands and orders; not a feeling, a desire, a burden, a door opening, a draw, or a "call." This word is thrown around by some sects to justify anything anybody feels an inclination to do, as being "called." When you are led by God to do something, he tells you exactly what to do and exactly when to do it.
However holy our fleshly social actions feel, they only puff-up our pride — the opposite of what God desires for us. Seek first the kingdom. Mat 6:33. There is only one thing needful: to sit at His feet and listen to His words that he speaks to us. Luke 10:39,42. From the Word of the Lord within: "He told us it was not enough to seek God, we must seek with all our heart and soul. You will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart."
Based on the advice of Edward Burrough, (click to read), a giant in the early Quakers, until we can distinguish between the voice of the Lord and the voice of the enemy, we should do nothing for the Lord but repent.* When we can hear the Voice of the Lord, we walk in the light; and William Penn wrote, "Though it is the duty of all to walk in the light, and to wait for it, that by it they may be instructed in the way of life and salvation, yet it is they only who are actually led** by it, that can rightly discern between the false spirits and the true."
* Any command to repent from the Lord should be first pure, then peaceable, fair, gentle, easily accepted, full of mercy and good fruits, immediately understood, and sincere. James 3:17
** By way of review: to be guided or led by the light, the light must first arise in your heart like a magnificent star, so that you are shown everything to do and told everything to say; the unmistakable arising of the light comes from faith in the voice.
There is a voice of the Lord like thunder over the waters described in many Old Testament passages. This is radically different than the small still voice we hear from within our hearts or from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit and the Word of the Lord within speak with words from Jesus, so we are hearing from the Son of God. But until we can truly hear the Voice of the Lord, we will not know for sure it is the Lord speaking to us. From the Word of the Lord within: "You will always have doubts until you hear His voice. My voice is like thunder over waters. You will hear His voice when He calls you." We will hear the Lord's voice like thunder over waters for the first time after we have submitted to the baptism of fire and death to then be called forth and resurrected with Him as a new creature. Then, as John 10:3-5 states: we will know his voice, he will lead us out of the world to the kingdom, and we will flee from other voices. When you hear His voice for the first time, you have passed over from death to life; and once you have heard His voice like thunder over waters, you will always know whether or not it is the Lord speaking to you.
We first have to listen to the Holy Spirit and the word of the Lord within to hear and obey His many teachings and commands. Then with long persistence and patience in doing obedient works of repentance, we experience the baptism of fire and death, to then hear the Voice of the Lord as we pass from death to life. Until then, we have to be on our guard to not be deceived by the enemy, pretending to be the Lord speaking to us. This is why, until we can distinguish between the voice of the Lord and the voice of the enemy, we should only follow commands heard that urge us to repent from our behaviors we understand to be wrong.
You may hear the Lord tell you to go ahead with your considering to buy something or do something that you feel is necessary; and providing it is nothing that you know to be wrong, or it is nothing He has told you not to do in the past, you can follow His suggestions before you can distinguish His voice. If you don't need what you are considering to purchase, He may plainly tell you, "you don't need it." If it is not necessary to do something you are considering, He may tell you, "it's not necessary." If it is necessary and/or needed, he may encourage you to proceed.
A "call" is particularly used by preachers, who have "heard the call." Being touched by God, or having a spiritual experience, is not his call to be a preacher; it is a summons to seek him: Many are called, few are chosen. Far, far too many people interpret a touch by God to mean he wants us to work for him in a non-secular job; this is not true. He wants us to stay where we are, making as few changes as possible in our life, so that we can hear him more easily as we try to quiet our minds to listen for his teachings and commands. And if we start preaching or teaching before we are perfected and directly commanded to, our spiritual progress is stopped dead.
As Christians, we are told the world is passing away for us, so we don't need to keep up with its problems. When we step into the Kingdom of Heaven, which is another dimension, the world, as we see it, is gone; we see from another dimension, even though our bodies are still here on earth. The Kingdom of Heaven is within us and around us; it is another dimension of reality. Everything we now see will be gone from our sight. (Physicists tells us there are several other dimensions than the three + time we see.)
So, we are called to come out of the world and turn inward; to stop thinking about things in the world and think about heavenly things; to give to the poor and build up treasure in heaven. We are to focus on Christ and to focus on loving our neighbor. Being kind to our neighbor. Forgiving our neighbor. Loving our neighbor. Loving everyone at work; they are our neighbor too. Loving every person we come into contact with, (kind, cordial, polite, but not socializing with them), because they all have the light of Christ within them and we are loving Christ when we love them. We are called to follow peace with all men. If we are protesting, we are not following peace with all men. Heb 4:12, 2 Tim 2:22. We are called to be apolitical — having no political opinions. We are called to not put our faith, hopes, resources, or efforts in any worldly power, person, or cause. This is not being callous to the world's problems; for we know that by dying to self, and becoming a soldier under orders from Christ with his power to help us — then we can be more effective than one hundred lifetimes without God's direction and power.