No matter what kind it is, whenever someone is in a race their focus is on one thing, to be the first one to cross the finish line. When a person is running a race, it is vital that they keep their mind and focus on the finish line. If they were to get distracted with something or someone else, they run the risk of not only getting beat to the finish line by someone else, but they also run the risk of never finishing the race. For the follower of Christ, we are running a race. The writer of Hebrews encourages us in Hebrews 12:1-2, that as followers of Christ we are to run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
It amazes me, while Biblical end-time events are being fulfilled right before us, so many Christians are oblivious as to the ever-closer imminent return of Jesus for His bride. Scripture tells us that deception will be great in the last days, and we need to be careful to not be deceived ourselves. There are many who are focusing on false prophets and the many false teachings they are promoting, but there is another form of deception that is also gaining ground in the days we are now living in. I was listening to someone earlier today, someone who has become well known and that many are calling a prophet of God, but one word kept coming to my mind when I was listening to him. That one word, which is a form of deception, was misdirection. I can hear some of you right now saying, “What?” Let me explain.
In the “Great Commission”, as recorded in both Matthew 28:19-20 and Mark 16:15-18, we are commanded to go and preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to heed and obey all He had commanded us. This is to be the primary focus of the Church, and the means for accomplishing this task as outlined in these passages is simple, to preach, teach, and disciple others, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is where the misdirection begins. Instead of focusing on what Jesus commanded us to do, many churches have turned their focus on seemingly good things, things that gain the recognition of others, builds a reputation and a positive image within their communities, all for drawing more people to their churches. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus makes it clear that He will build His Church, and in John 12:32 Jesus makes it clear that He will draw all men to Himself. So, why is it that churches feel they need to utilize world-based methods for reaching the lost and building their churches, unless they’ve fallen for that form of deception found in the misdirection. Yes, we should be involved with charitable acts and community service of sorts, but when those things become the primary focus and top priorities of a church or follower of Christ, especially with the hope of gaining more attendees through them, then the enemy has successfully misdirected our focus away from where we’re commanded it is to be, namely to preach and teach the good news of the Gospel as it relates to the cross and the penalty of sin Jesus paid on our behalf, as well as Jesus’ soon return for us.
Speaking of good news. The person I was listening to misunderstands what the Scriptures are talking about regarding good news. This person indicated that the good news the Bible is referring to is the good news that is reported in the news. For example, according to this person, good news is what is reported about the good things our current President is doing, and that bad news is the lies and negative reports being promoted by some in the media. He was basically taking Scripture out of context to support a Kingdom Now mentality that believes everything will get better once Christians start listening to good news and start doing what they are supposed to be doing in the different areas of society and government. Well, the good news of the Scriptures is that Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, came to earth to die a brutal death by crucifixion to pay our debt of sins for us. The good news is continued with the resurrection of Jesus on the third day that proves as followers of Christ that we have eternal life in Him. And, if that wasn’t enough, the good news continues in that Jesus is coming back for His bride, His followers, to receive us unto Him with resurrected and transformed bodies for all eternity. Now, that’s the good news the Bible is talking about. However, apparently this person has fallen for the misdirection Satan is promoting in part because he doesn’t understand even the basics or the message of salvation in Jesus as clearly explained in Scripture.
What I shared previously regarding the great commission is only one area in which the enemy has effectively deceived many Christians through misdirection. The misdirection I was seeing earlier today is something that is inherently a part of each American, and that is in patriotism. Oh, the heritage the Red, White, and Blue represents is great, and it’s one that every American can be proud to be associated with. It’s a heritage that we don’t want to see destroyed and brought to ruins, and our patriotism causes us to seek the return of the glory this nation once had both domestically and abroad. We want to see America restored in so many ways, restored so that our descendants can know and appreciate the same heritage we have for this great Country. The problem with this is that we become more focused on America and seeing it restored, especially without the necessary repentance and returning to God that is desperately needed, than we are with what Scripture tells us and what Jesus commanded our focus to be. We forget that we are first and foremost Christians, followers of Christ, and that America is not our eternal home. Scripture tells us that our home is in heaven with Jesus, and that we are here as His ambassadors. No where in Scripture are we directed to build His kingdom here on earth, or to “expand our influence” in the world to establish a Christian utopia of sorts. In addition to the great commission I mentioned earlier, we have been commanded by Jesus to be watching for His return for us, and to pray that we’ll be counted worthy to escape what is coming to the earth.
People, including the one that I was listening to earlier today, want to be critical of Christians who believe that Scripture teaches things are going to get much worse, labeling us as “gloom and doom” people. Well, to begin with, I choose to believe the Holy Spirit-inspired Scriptures more than someone who claims they have heard from God, believing that God will never contradict His Own Words. Second, people who want to claim Bible believing Christians are “gloom and doom”, they are living with earthly mindsets focused on making life here on earth great. I say that because, while Scripture does speak of some extremely terrible times coming soon, we’re focused more on that which Scripture says is in store for followers of Christ, which is all more good and glorious than anything ever to be experienced here on earth. We recognize that the fulfillment of the signs found in Scripture, including that which pertains to the Great Tribulation period, are merely signs that our physical redemption is drawing ever closer, and that we will soon be with Jesus for all eternity.
The danger with this misdirection, a misdirection I believe is from the enemy of our souls, is that we become more focused and concerned about life here on earth, whether it’s trying to better society or in trying to make America great again, than we are in watching for Jesus’ soon return for us. On multiple occasions Jesus made it clear that we are to be watching for Him, and this strongly emphasized command of His to us is non-negotiable. Like it or not, Jesus also makes it clear that those who are not watching for Him will be caught off guard and left behind. Satan, appearing as a great angel of light or the source of a warm, fuzzy feeling as some describe, is doing all he can to keep people from what God has in store for followers of Christ. If he can’t destroy you, and if he can’t pull you away from living your life for him, then he’ll do whatever he can to get your attention misdirected onto things, good things, that will keep you from being watchful and ready for Jesus when He returns.
As one person put it, the greatest problem with deception is that it is so deceiving. Deception comes in various forms, and it is our responsibility to guard ourselves from it. We are to study the Scriptures, stay in an attitude of prayer and worship to Jesus, and pay attention to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit who will help us stay clear of the enemy’s different traps. Always remember, the Holy Spirit will NEVER contradict any of the Scriptures. And no matter how convincing or good sounding a “word” may be, if it contradicts Scripture then it’s not of God, though it may be of another spirit associated with Satan and the powers of darkness.
If your vision has gotten off somewhat, now is the time to get it restored, put back into focus, and realigned to what God’s Word says, the whole Word and not just parts of it. Restored vision, that’s what many in the church needs right now. Just as a vision of 20/20 is considered perfect vision in the natural, so is a vision that is focused on Jesus and what Scripture says about our path to eternity with Him.
Sometimes trying to reach people for Jesus can look the same as what you describe here. The difference can be so subtle. I am do glad God looks at the heart and also promises that His Word will not return void.