- Love and Liberty
Refuse to Kneel
I have failed. Many times. I have read how Peter denied the Lord Jesus and thought to myself that I would never say I do not know who he is. But I have denied him. I have not verbally denied his Lordship, but in my works, I have denied him. Yes, by deliberately giving in to the temptation to gratify my flesh in the past, but also by placing self-interest before speaking and standing for him. I have not maliciously worked against him, but I have chosen self-preservation over obedience to him in inconvenient circumstances. I failed to speak and take a stand as I should have at times when I was in the role of pastor, fearing the conflict it would cause with church members. I spoke, but I was not as clear and straightforward as I should have been on certain issues. I have failed to be as straightforward and clear as I should have been at times when speaking to people in the workplace. I have spoken against sin and for holiness in the workplace, perhaps at times when others would not, but I believe that I was too general and not as specific as I should have been, fearing that I could draw the ire of my employer and having my means of providing for my family threatened. I have had thoughts of how speaking and taking a stand could lead to losing my income, my house, and my security. I have thought about how speaking and taking a stand could result in me losing my independence and having to live on lesser means and giving up the possessions that I have acquired for my family. It is easy to rationalize and say that I must preserve a certain way of life for my family, and that I should not say or do anything that would jeopardize it. As a husband and a father, I have responsibilities when it comes to protecting my family and providing for them. But I must choose obedience to the Lord over making sure we are meeting certain standards of living.
“Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper. And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
The Lord has commanded men to love their wives as he loves the church, so we must take that into account when viewing this passage. I do not believe the Lord is commanding a contradictory principle here, but it does appear that he is calling upon all of us to choose following him over family interests. There is to be no wavering. What is it to love God? “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (1 John 5:3). Denying ourselves and even family interests for Christ is not burdensome to those whose hearts are committed to following Christ. In fact, the most precious gift that I can give to my wife and children is a husband and father that surrenders all to Christ and follows him with no reservations. As the passage above illustrates, there are many excuses that people give as to why they will not follow Christ. Notice that indulging in wicked practices is not their goal. One said I have property to tend to. Another used being married as an excuse. I certainly do not believe that it is a sin to own property, or that we must abandon our wives in order to follow Christ but notice that people use these (and many other things) as excuses not to follow Christ. It is true that following Christ is to take precedent over my wife’s plans for me, or my plans for her, and family interests in general. But here is a novel idea: If I am committed to following Christ and my wife is committed to following Christ – we can follow him together and enjoy our relationship with one another as we do so. But if I veer from the straight and narrow, my wife is not to follow me down the broad road that leads to destruction, she is to follow Christ. That is preferring Christ over a spouse or family. But again, we can follow him together and not have this problem. We are called to love God with all of the heart, mind, soul, and strength. Remembering the biblical definition of what it means to love God, we realize this is not about having certain feelings toward God, though we certainly will have an affection for the Lord as our great God and King, it is about having an obedient heart and disposition and preferring his will above all else. The Lord knows we have great affection for our wives and children, and I do not believe he is referring to these feelings at all. This is why we can also be commanded to love our enemies. We do not have to have affection for them, but we are commanded to seek their well-being through goodwill. We are also to have a heart of goodwill toward the Lord, obeying his commands, living for his purposes, and being co-laborers with him that he might receive the rewards of his suffering on behalf of mankind.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to kneel to the image of Nebuchadnezzar. They refused to submit to the idolatrous dictates of the State and they were cast into a fiery furnace for their refusal. One can imagine many professing Christians kneeling in order to preserve their lives, or telling their family members to kneel in order to save their lives, and using the rationalization that they do not really “mean it”, and God knows their hearts. Day after day they submit to the evil system, supporting its immoral wars, its theft through taxation, its politically correct speech, its coercive measures against churches and people in general, and its anti-family institutions. If you kneel before the State, you are denying Christ. Even if you are claiming you “don’t really mean it.” I will not kneel to the system, I will not kneel to a man or a group of men, I will not kneel to a company, I will not kneel to a political body, and I will not kneel to a written constitution. I will cooperate with others in society when it is not antichrist to do so, or when it does not result in unnecessary harm for doing so. I refuse to kneel to the system. I will kneel to one one but Christ.
A husband and a wife that are following Christ together will prefer obedience to him over earthly security and a certain standard of living. In doing so, they will teach their children by word and example that this is the only way to truly live, and the only way to inherit eternal life.
Thank you, Lord, for revealing to me how I have denied you. I confess that I have sinned, and I ask you to forgive me. May I never again allow intimidation by the State, an employer, or other professing Christians to rob me of courage. I choose to obey you in all things, to lead my family down this path, and to speak and take a stand for you, no matter the consequences. Give me wisdom and discernment that I may know what to say and do, and when to say and do it.