13 This wisdom I have also seen under the sun, and it seemed great to me: 14 There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares[b] around it. 15 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man. (Ecclesiastes 11)
1. You are Not the Popular Guy
Most genuine ‘love-the-Lord-with-your-whole-heart’ Christians don’t have large crowds of people who love them unconditionally, constantly contact them and hang off of their every word. We have been conditioned in contemporary western culture to believe that unless you have a large church or at the very least a ‘ministry’, then you aren’t really making it as a believer. Jesus himself was not the popular guy. He had a following of 12 men plus a few others and all of them suddenly disappeared as soon as the situation hotted-up.
Now he did have thousands of people who regularly turned to listen to Him preach and hoped for a miracle or exciting healing, but few actually hung around because they believed in Him. Often Jesus’ words to those ones were ‘he who has an ear to hear’. So Jesus knew who they were…most weren’t hearing. And of the men he chose to be his first disciples, Judas betrayed him, Peter denied him, Philip doubted him, most of them didn’t know who He really was, and when it came right down to it, most of these guys didn’t really understand Jesus’ ministry. It wasn’t until Jesus died, resurrected and ascended and the Holy Spirit came to them at Pentecost that the church really got going. THEN they were imbued with power from on high and were able to preach the truth. In today’s terms, even Jesus’ disciples would not have made it onto the ‘popular preacher circuit’.
2. You have a history of getting it wrong
There is a difference between being a false teacher with a history of getting it wrong, and a regular Christian who is seeking the truth and in the process actually ends up following a false teacher. Your heart is in the right place, but you keep coming across charlatans who make you think that they are ‘great men of God’ but are in fact, well, charlatans. There are far too many of them out there. Deception is a spirit and many have been bewitched by doctrines of demons. It takes discernment to get it right, and most of us don’t develop that until a little later in life; unless you have a gift of discernment. The real key to our Christian walk is if we are learning something in the process. If there is a marked upward swing in maturity levels because you have learned from your many mistakes you can rest easy. I should add, it doesn’t matter how late in life that maturity comes, as long as it is there somewhere.
3. You have not got that many friends
Similar to number one but more about our personal lives than our public ones. Just look at Facebook. When people actually call faces on a web-page ‘friends’ in order to look successful, you know society is in peril. A genuine man of God seems to have very few people he knows with a like mind. True believers look for kindred spirits, those whose love for Jesus marks them out as being a little bit too zealous or intense to ‘just hang out’. He often has false friends, friends who walk away because he is starting to talk about strange stuff like the end times, prophecy and the rapture, phhht, WHO talks about that anymore? There are few like-minded people today who love the Lord their God with their whole heart, mind, soul and strength, and are willing to go against popular trends in the church let alone in society because they study their bible and know what God actually says on the subject. There is nothing more exciting than talking about what Jesus is doing in our lives or in the world. Why do so few Christians actually want to?
4. People close to you tend to reject or betray you
When you are walking closely with the Lord, your friends tend to fall away. The closer you walk, the more you lose people. If you became a Christian at a young age, say in high school, you will find that there will be few who will agree with you or your beliefs, even other Christians. But as you age you realise that the majority of Christians are pew warmers, non-thinkers who like to go to Church because it is the thing to do. Young Christians often go to church to find a partner. Then they stay in that church to get married, have children and settle into middle age. Then their kids do exactly the same thing. Christianity to many is simply a lifestyle choice not a commitment to a person, Jesus Christ.
If you hold your relationship with Jesus closely to your heart and are completely reliant upon Him, determined to obey Him and follow Him in every part of your life, then others who don’t have that same attitude will of necessity become less important. You get asked to a family barbecue, but you are more concerned about sharing the gospel with a neighbour. So your family start to see you as ‘not there for them’ and the insistence that you make a choice will start to become more vocal. So you make a choice. Not because you want to but because you are forced to. They won’t of course accept that choice, because you are not putting them first. Even Jesus chose His Heavenly Father’s voice over his parent’s or family’s. Jesus is described as a ‘man of sorrows’ despised and rejected by men. He knew what it was to lose friends, and if we follow Him, we will too.
5. Few people agree with your views
It is exceedingly strange to me how many Christians follow after false teachers. It seems that the more people love a particular teacher the less likely he is to be biblical. Therefore, even in your own church, you can find that you will be on your own if you ask questions, challenge the accepted beliefs of the denomination or the currently popular author or speaker. Emerging church and new age seeker-sensitive teachers are some of the most deceptive teachers in Christianity. They are in fact preparing Christians for the coming New World Order in which the Antichrist will rule and reign supreme. He will have a world religion and a false prophet and these Christians will be primed to join that world religion. Already, same-sex marriage, accepting homosexuality as natural and God-ordained, embracing other religions as legitimate paths to God and other errors are accepted freely in many pulpits. If you don’t embrace these things you are seen as a ‘fundamentalist’ and are accused of hate crimes. These accusations are not just coming from the world but the church. We are facing a time when true believers are actually going to be in the minority. I think its important to expect this and prepare ourselves if we truly wish to stay the course.
6. People think you are weird
Have you found people avoiding you? Do people say they want to spend time with you but somehow never actually end up doing it? Do people even tend to hate you on sight? I know this sounds extreme but we have found this happens to many genuine believers. We believe that the spirit of Antichrist is stepping up his attempts to undermine the church and all true believers. If you have decided to love the Lord with your whole life and not leave any stone unturned in your relationship with Him, odd things may start to happen. You might find yourself face to face with opposition you never thought possible. It may just be something minor like slowly losing contact with certain ones. Or it may be really obvious like total strangers suddenly acting strangely around you. I could write a book on this one. We are truly convinced that genuine believers in the last days will be confronting principalities and powers in ways other so-called Christians won’t. Genuine believers are the real threat to Satan, not the popular pastors or authors or speakers or the ones with books on the New York Times Bestsellers List week after week. It won’t be the famous names in the end times who will be making the difference in the Kingdom of God, but the no-names no big deal types, the man in the street, the Christian next door.
7. Nothing terribly spectacular ever happens to you
Now I know I just said that weird stuff can be happening to genuine believers, but we are not having healing meetings, or tent revivals or even back yard revivals. We are using up just about all our energy getting up in the morning, praying our way through the day and sitting around the table praying at night. It is the authentic plodders, the person that most people would ignore on the bus who are living powerful lives. You might not think you are doing anything fantastic or earth-shattering but there is nothing more important than the ordinary Christian, obeying Jesus Christ and being filled with the Holy Spirit. There is no guarantee that ‘great things’ are going to happen to you, but you will be part of something truly inspiring. We overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and our testimony. It is our faith in God which makes us great, not the great acts we do. We can’t all be Moses, Daniel, Esther or Joseph. But we are called to such a time as this to be steadfast witnesses in a dark and dying world.
8. Most of the time you feel like a failure.
If you add up all these things we have been talking about, it is bound to make you feel like a failure. The problem with this is, you actually begin to believe what you feel. This is why it is so important to get into the Word. We are not failures. We are normal. Look at Paul. He famously lists his many difficulties, trials and experiences here:
24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. (2 Corinthians 11)
Few people, unless you are like one of the ‘Red Letter Christians’ who don’t consider anything except Jesus’ words to be of any importance, would dismiss Paul as an unimportant and unsuccessful Christian. He is one of the great saints and theologians of history. He is not only famous, he is well-known, well-loved, well quoted, well read, every single day, by millions of believers. You can’t call Paul a little guy, a man in the street. Yet if we look at his example and compare it to our own, we can’t help but be encouraged.
Look at David, a similar situation. In his own lifetime he was a king yes, but he messed up big time, he barely got into his kingdom with his own life, and he was betrayed by his own children. Not exactly what you would expect from a ‘man after God’s own heart’.
No, I am sorry, but a genuine man or woman of God is not going to be anything like what popular authors and speakers in today’s church profess. Only God counts our failures as blessings. Only God knows how bad we could have been or how many times we could have messed up. He works everything for good, even the failures. So get used to failing, it is better than being puffed up with pride and stepping all over your family in God without even realising it. In fact, in my estimation, a man who fails frequently is more likely to be used by God than a man who is continually successful. God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and the weak things to confound the strong. (2 Corinthians 1:27). Love that verse.
9. You get the blues, feel yukky and get minor illnesses more often than others.
One thing we have sort of expected as bible believing Christians is that we shouldn’t feel bad very often. You should be feeling great! Right? We are blessed, loved and accepted by Jesus, we love others, we are filled with love, joy and peace! But you know what? If you are doing battle with the enemy on a daily basis, if you are getting victory over personal sins and you are confronting unbelievers with the truth of the gospel, you are going to feel pretty darn bad. You know why? Because you are spending your energy – you are wrestling with principalities and powers and probably not even aware of it. It drains you, it causes your body to fight harder to stay healthy, it creates poor sleep, bad eating habits and lack of exercise (unless you count getting down on your knees and up again on a regular basis). You get headaches, colds, flu, aches and pains, hives, bruises, allergies and other stress related physical issues.
Let’s face it, you don’t spend all of your time down at the gym because you don’t worship physical fitness. You don’t spend all of your time making sure you eat healthy foods and constantly go on diets because you are not worried about illness or focused on what you look like. You don’t visit the doctor every other week having multiple tests just in case you might have symptoms of a serious illness because you are not afraid to die. You just live your life, bless the food, go on prayer walks, visit your friends and neighbours to help them, tell them about Jesus and generally spend your energies serving others, not serving yourself. A genuine believer forgets about themselves. In fact, good brothers and sisters will be the ones thinking about us and praying for us. It’s a mutual experience. Don’t be surprised when you get sick, and when you do, take it as an opportunity to pray and ask the Lord to heal you and watch how He answers the prayers of His faithful and obedient sons and daughters! Bless the Lord and thankyou Jesus.
10. Sometimes you feel like God is out to get you – you KNOW for sure Satan is.
A genuine believer can sometimes feel that God is not as close-by as He actually is. In fact, sometimes, if you spend too much time examining your life, especially looking backwards, you can be tempted to look back in anxiety and wonder where your life went. You can get discouraged by the numbers of failures, you can think God has abandoned you, you can start to actually believe God hates you or is out to get you. But again, this is the deception of the enemy. Now you know you have heard that term before. You know Satan loves to lie to us and get us to believe those lies. But maybe you aren’t really aware of just how powerfully easy it is to believe those lies. Maybe you aren’t really convinced of how real those lies can be, they actually convince you that they are true. This is how people can be deceived, both in their own minds, and by false teachers. Those lies sound just so real, so true. And what is worse, those lies convince you that you are wise to believe them. Not believing the lies of Satan makes you feel like a fool. Mainly because Satan’s lies are more often than not found in man’s wisdom. When Satan convinced Adam and Eve of his lies, he began a career of spreading his convoluted and abominable lies throughout all history and to every human being on the planet. So coming to us individually and whispering lies into our ears when we are feeling low is the simplest thing in the world to him. He can make you think you are a total idiot for even believing God exists if you let Him.
We have to always remind ourselves who is our enemy. And when those lies start to sound like truth, go back to Scripture and remind yourself of who your God is, and how much He loves you and how much Satan hates you. God is not out to get you, but your enemy certainly is. Stand firm in the faith that you confessed right from your birth as a son or daughter of God and persevere.
He who remains steadfast to the end will be saved!