The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis presents a fictional look into the strategies employed by our enemy. I find it true in my own life. Sometimes he uses direct temptation, sometimes busyness, sometimes discouragement, and sometimes distractions to keep me from focusing on the most important things.
Last week, I returned from a fruitful ministry in Russia. On Easter Sunday, I preached an apologetics message on the truth of the Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-19).
Then the distractions and discouragement came:
- I received a letter from someone leaving the church for unnamed reasons. (You cannot fix what you don’t know.)
- One person expressed concern about the behavior and habits of one of our attendees. (Instead of shepherding the heart, we try to manage behavior.)
- I learned of someone who chastised an individual because their style of worship was considered to be too loud. (Instead of acting biblically, we practice legalism.)
In the midst of all this, I was working on:
- a sermon on Judas betraying Jesus with an emphasis on How will you respond when your hour of trial comes?
- a lesson on Discovering your S.H.A.P.E. (Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and life Experience) for my Sunday School class.
- a cross-cultural simulation game to help train a short-term ministry team.
Instead of focusing on preaching the gospel, making disciples, and equipping people for service, I find myself distracted and discouraged by peripheral issues. Any coincidence? I think not.
Enough venting for one day. Back to work and prayer. I’m reminded we are in a spiritual battle for the minds and hearts of men and women.