Somebody you know hates Jesus. Or dislikes Him. Or at the very least doesn’t want Him. And if they do want Him, it’s not so He can be Lord of their life. A lot of surface issues might have given them cause to feel this way, but one thing’s for sure—when it’s your dear friend or loved one writhing around in such darkness, it doesn’t make you feel good.
A friend of mine came to faith in Christ. His wife didn’t. He told me that in those tense days, whenever she cleaned the house and found his Bible, she’d throw it in the trash. Another buddy loved to join us for gospel preaching activities on a nearby campus. Since his wife, a non-Christian, would get infuriated by that, he had to sneak out of the house to do it. Imagine—a man not sneaking around for whiskey and women, but for the gospel. Another fellow spoke of his father beating him and throwing him out because he wouldn’t give up his faith. A woman told me how she had married the man of her dreams, only to have him forbid her from going to church or speaking of Christ within his earshot.
In every case, these non-Christians seemed hopelessly obstinate. They were so far gone you couldn’t imagine them as followers of Jesus. No one could say or do anything to change their minds, either. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about—the feeling of total helplessness. Somebody you know hates Jesus (or a variant on the theme). It’s the place where reasoning doesn’t work. You try to help by forwarding You tube videos with Ravi Zacharias or William Lane Craig to them, but they don’t watch any of them. They did watch the dancing cats routine, though. You know—the one that went viral and got twenty million hits. You sent your friend/loved one a book to read but you’re pretty sure it’s propping up a table leg somewhere in their house. Not only have you not succeeded in helping them, but they seem to be avoiding you. Great. Now they don’t want Jesus or you.
Why do some people get into a place where no amount of proof, tears, or kindness seems to get through to them? They’re so strong against the faith, it’s almost magical. Well, you’re perceptive to notice the strange, resilient, illogical quality surrounding your friend’s unbelief. It’s not there because he or she is strong. More accurately, the thing that’s holding them is strong.
Jesus referred to that power as the “strong man”—in other words, the devil. He also said, “How can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house” (Matt. 12:29). You don’t deal with your friend first. You deal with what’s holding him first. But in order to bind (restrain) the devil and free your friend, it’s going to take strength beyond your own resources. Freedom will not come from your ability to argue somebody down to the mat and pin them. The devil is an old hand at slipping out of any logic we could possibly apply. The Bible describes him as, “the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). In order to get a title like that, you have to be good at persuading people to believe the most extreme kinds of unreality.
But since you can’t see through all that high level drama, and can only see your friend standing in front of you being purposely obnoxious, you argue with him or her. Maybe you get mad and say things you wish you hadn’t. Or you just go home, silently giving up on them. Instead, imagine them the way they really are: behind bars. Shackled. Owned by something that has gotten into their heads.
Before we deal with them, we have to deal with what’s guarding them.
Let’s talk about it in the next post…