Be On Guard!

When it comes to expensive pieces of property or ground it’s easy to think of places like Park Avenue in New York City, mansions in California or Buckingham Palace in London. Maybe you consider the little plot of land your home is on as invaluable, possibly to you more valuable than those mentioned.

Then there are places that are so valuable or important that they are protected at almost any cost. The White House comes to mind as does many other places. But when it comes to a place that is expensive, valuable and sacred, there is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. In this country that place would be Arlington National Cemetery, specifically the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is protected by The Old Guard, part of the 3rd US Infantry Regiment. The Tomb has been continuously protected since July 2, 1937. It is protected 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Even on September 11, 2001, the guard never stopped its duties within site of the damage at the Pentagon. During 2003, when Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, the Old Guard was given permission to suspend their duties for safety reasons but declined and continued their sacred assignment.

We put value on places for many reasons and protect them with everything from a “Keep Out” sign to armed guards and everything in between. The more valuable we perceive it the more extravagant we are willing to protect it. No cost is too high and no extreme is beyond reason. Yet the most valuable place to a follower of Christ is often left unprotected and unguarded.

That place is the area between us and Christ. How often do we let people and things fill that space? Honestly, more than we are willing to admit.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship (page 97): “But since we are bound to abhor any deception which hides the truth from our sight, we must of necessity repudiate any direct relationship with the things of this world – and that for the sake of Christ. Wherever a group, be it large or small, prevents us from standing alone before Christ, wherever such a group raises a claim of immediacy it must be hated for the sake of Christ. For every immediacy, whether we realize it or not, means hatred of Christ, and this is especially true where such relationships claim the sanction of Christian principles.

Nothing can come between us and Christ.

Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10: 37-38 (NIV).

Is Jesus telling us not to love our parents or our children? Of course not. But he is telling us in no uncertain terms that we are not to love anyone or anything more than He. We are not to allow anyone or anything, no matter how good, or for that matter according to Bonhoeffer, no matter how Christian, between us and Him.

So for a follower of Christ, if this place is so valuable, so important, so sacred, why do we neglect to protect it? Why do we guard our homes, cars and things with more vigilance than the area between us and Christ?

ABOVE ALL ELSE

The Adversary would like nothing better than come between us and Christ. The attack may be obvious or so subtle we miss it. The attacks may be relentless and we just eventually give in or maybe it’s disguised as “good” or even “Christian-based” but in the end the intent was separating us from the Cross. No matter the method or form it leads to sin and to our ineffectiveness as followers of Christ.

At times it could be our pride, our inattentiveness or arrogance. None of these should ever fill this space. We are called to be humble and on alert. The humble heart of a servant can more readily recognize something trying to come between us and Christ than a proud, arrogant heart.

Christ calls us as individuals, and although the fellowship and support of fellow believers is helpful, we are responsible for protecting this area. Maybe you see this area as your heart or your mind, however you picture it, it is the place we must do battle and protect. And we cannot do it on our own power and strength, we must rely on Jesus for the power to reject anything that might seek to come between us and Him. The Word of God tells us that if we ask for wisdom, He will give it to us generously.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 (NIV).

When you pray and ask God for wisdom, ask Him to show you what you allow to come between you and Christ. Be prepared. He will answer and the answer may not only surprise you but be painful also. It’s easy to recognize some things like pornography, sexual sins, etc. But harder to recognize our attitudes, people and even activities like church and serving.

In the end we could protect all of the “stuff” in our lives and not protect the most important place. It doesn’t matter how you picture it or think of it, it matters that you protect it with resolve and a ruthless attitude of vigilance. Whether your attitude is like that of the soldiers who protect the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers or a mother bear protecting her cubs, the space between you and Christ is the most valuable space in your life.

Run to the Cross!
Hugh

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