Tuesday, March 23, 2010
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Stonewall Jackson was one of the South's greatest generals in the Civil War, and he died on the battlefield - shot by mistake by his own men. He's possibly the most famous victim of one of war's greatest tragedies. You know, "friendly fire," they call it. It's bad enough that a fellow soldier is killed by enemy fire, but the heartbreak is compounded when someone is shot by their own.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When You've Been Hurt By Friendly Fire."
It happens in God's army; people who are deeply wounded, shot by their own. Hurt, betrayed, disappointed by church folks, by people who claim to be Christians. You may be one of those. You know the disillusionment that can cause, the cynicism about anything Christian, the desire to distance yourself from Christian things like you'd keep away from a dog that had bitten you. If you've been spiritually wounded by friendly fire, you're on my heart today. More importantly, you're on God's heart; whether He's on your heart or not.
When you're physically wounded, you find medical help so you can recover. How do you recover from the spiritual and emotional wounds of friendly fire? Let me suggest four steps to spiritual recovery. I don't think you want to keep living with the negativity, and self-pity, and resentment, and withdrawal of those who've been wounded; that stuff just eats you up inside. I think you might be ready for some steps to recovery.
They focus on seven little words in Hebrews 12:1-2, our word for today from the Word of God. These verses are about how to finish as a winner in the spiritual race we run here during our time on earth. It calls us to "...run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." I wish you could say these four words out loud a few times, "It's all about Jesus." Get your eyes off Christians and churches, and remember who got you started spiritually and who will be at the finish line. It's Jesus.
Recovery step number one is realize it wasn't Jesus who hurt you. Maybe you've been withdrawing from Christians. Whatever you do, don't withdraw from Jesus. You've never needed Him more. Recovery step number 2: Defy Satan's strategy to isolate you so he can have you. The Bible says, "The devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him..." (1 Peter 5:8-9). In Africa, lions try to catch a gazelle that's away from the herd. If they're alone, well, the lion can have them. If they're with the others, they're usually safe. God never designed for us to try to live for Christ alone. If you're holding back from getting close to some of your brothers and sisters in Christ, you're setting yourself up to be a lion lunch.
So, the third recovery step is this: Realize that God's people are where home is. That's why the Bible warns us not to "give up meeting together" (Hebrews 10:25). There are many believers who don't shoot their own, who are imperfect but genuinely loving people. You've got to risk finding a church like that; you need them and they need you. One other recovery step: Let go of the resentment instead of letting it grow. Ask the God who has forgiven you so much to give you His grace to forgive those who've hurt you. The feelings you harbor aren't hurting them at all, but they're killing you!
Above all, don't let Christians make you miss Jesus! Jesus never said, "Follow My followers" or "Follow My leaders." He said, "Follow Me." It's all about Jesus - the One who died for your sins so you wouldn't have to. It's ultimately Christ you accept or reject, not Christians. It's the cross you have to decide about, not the church. And it's Jesus you'll meet when you've taken your last breath. All that's going to matter then - all that really matters now - is what have you done with Jesus? If you've never given yourself fully to Him as your only hope, don't let anything or anyone keep you from Him one more day! Tell Him today, "Jesus, I am Yours."
I'd be very grateful if we could help you know you really belong to Him. And one way that could happen is if you would accept my invitation to visit our website YoursForLife.net. Would you check it out today? He's waiting, as He has been for a long, long time, with arms wide open to love you.