An Idaho rancher will head into the big city now and then. Wearing a Stetson hat, white button-up shirt, blue jeans, and cowboy boots, they stand out from the rest of us. They come from a different world.
Born and raised in the city, I have grown up on quarter acre plots, heavy traffic, and carefully tended lawns. Stars at night get lost in the clutter of light. The constant sounds of life disrupt any forms of stillness. I imagine how different life would be without distractions – man against nature – where survival depended upon hard work, wits, and experience passed down from generation to generation.
While standing in the presence of a man with a weathered face and calloused hands who has spent all his years on the ranch, I stand a little straighter — and wished I had a cap to tip, a bolo tie to fix, or adjust a six-shooter on my hip. I’m standing the presence of manhood from a bygone era.
Ranchers in Idaho are from a different world than I’m used too.
For those who have placed their trust in Christ, we also live in a different world. The warnings of Scripture are for us not to get used to it.
When reading through the book of Ephesians, a strong impression is given to all believers whose lives are in Christ and are identified by Christ. They are different. They are not only set apart from the world, but they are children of light in a world filled with darkness. They are called to be discerning amidst a world of distractions. A different pattern of living is prescribed that is not based on following rules, but one that is devoted to remaining in Christ.
Sounds so easy. But when we underestimate the power of darkness, our human nature has a strong tendency to be forgetful, distracted, and well… follow the impulses of the flesh rather than promptings of the Spirit. It’s a battle. Perhaps that’s why the Bible paints a portrait of warfare, chariots of judgment (Zechariah 6), and the importance of putting on the armor of God.
War is hell. And that’s exactly where Satan wants you to be.
Lights on top of a hill are not only a place to be led, but a target to destroy. While we believers are called to shine our lights to display the presence of Christ within us, the forces of evil see us too. We are agents to be tracked, soldiers to be defeated, a skirmish to be strategic against. And if we are not careful, we will be destroyed.
The Bible clearly tells us to not fear, but be concerned. To not be terrorized, but wary. To not be tricked, but be discerning. Be aware. Be still. Stand firm. Be disciplined. These are the words of instruction that are found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and they still resonate today.
Perhaps in my spiritual walk, I’m that man with the weathered face and gnarled hands, the battered helmet and dented shield, who has seen his share of battles and could tell the stories of near misses and miraculous victories when all hope seemed lost.
We live in a different world. That’s why we don’t place our hope in what we see before us, but set our eyes of faith on what is unseen.
I look forward to that day where we will stand before the presence of Christ. I will stand a little straighter because of Him and tip my cap because of Him. And it will all be worth it – it will all make sense.