Judges chapters 14 and 15
I am sure most of you have at some time or another been called upon to lead in your life. It goes without saying that in order to be a leader, you need to have people following. A natural leader is one who, when he/she stands up and says; “let’s go”, people follow.
Leaders lead, because they have a cause, there is something they are passionate about and rally others around that cause. Sociologists tell us that this generation – the millennial generation are attracted to causes.
Being a Christian means that you are called by Jesus to the ultimate cause, the cause of saving souls for eternity. There is no greater cause. Quite often this is the most unpopular cause, if you truly obey Jesus, and put into practice what the Word of God teaches us, you will be in the minority, you will be going against the stream of culture. Unfortunately, even in the church if you take seriously what the word of God says, you will incur opposition, people will be provoked by your passion and many will push back, because the cost is too high. Are you willing to give your life for an unpopular cause?
Sampson was unconventional, and he did not follow the rules at all. He was a judge, a tribal leader over Israel for 20 years, but we don’t read that he rallied an army, he seldom had the support of the Israelites, in fact they opposed him. He was a loner and a rebel. But for all his faults, Samson saw the real enemy. Samson saw that the people of Israel were apathetic and had lost their way. They had not taken the land as Joshua had instructed, and were comfortable living in compromise with the Canaanites and the philistines.
Samson was a one-man army using unconventional methods, as a result even his own people didn’t approve of what he was doing. You can read some of his exploits in Judges 14 and 15. Judges 16:24 indicates that he had done many more feats than those listed in these two chapters, feats that had aggravated the Philistine people.
As we look at Samson’s life, one gets the impression that he was a fun-loving man, with a sense of humor not taking life too seriously. He certainly didn’t take his calling seriously, he paid little attention to the requirements of being a Nazarite. His strength was probably unlike anyone who has ever lived. The speed required to catch the foxes or jackals, and the strength to carry the city gate and part of the wall for miles were supernatural.
For 20 years, he fought a lone battle against the philistines and didn’t rally the children of Israel around the cause. Samson directed his attacks against the Philistines who were slowly taking over the land, infiltrating the culture, through intermarriage and trade. The Israelites did not see what was happening but Samson did and he fought against it. God had appointed Samson to be the man to begin the process of freeing the nation from the Philistines.
Sometimes the enemy encroaches on us imperceptibly and slowly, we need to be alert to recognize the danger.
So who is our real enemy? Christians are known to fight for causes, and all of these are issues that need to be resisted, I am not advocating that we passively allow our nation to deteriorate into social atheism. However, I believe that sometimes we pick battles that God did not intend for us to pick. We need to ask God for wisdom and for direction to identify the real enemy (See Ephesians 6:12). Too often we see people as the problem, but Satan is at work, developing his schemes to steal kill and destroy.
Jesus said in the sermon on the mount; “You are the light of the world”, we need to be a people of the light, shining the light in dark places, not condemning sinners but proclaiming the Gospel in love allowing the Holy Spirit to convict people of their sin. Confront evil by shining light. What I mean by shining light, is not simply doing good things for people, we need to be presenting the Gospel message, pointing people directly to Jesus as the only way the truth and the life.
Many mission organizations and ministries I have come across have noble intentions, they are helping educate the illiterate, helping to bring fresh water to sick children, building houses for the poor and needy, all of these are necessary and we must support them (read Proverbs 19:17 and Isaiah 58:10).
But helping someone out of poverty, or giving them a new skill that will help them in life is a temporary measure if we do not lead them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (see Romans 10:13-14).
We need to look at the temporary pain and suffering in light of eternity. Jesus is the only way of salvation. If we help people, pat them on the back and hope that by our actions, they will find Jesus, we are doing them a great disservice.
I recognize that this is not a popular message, it is counter culture, our culture celebrates the sports star who goes and helps the African village he comes from. Our culture celebrates the movie star who takes a child out of an obscure village and gives the child a “better” lifestyle with every conceivable trinket and gadget.
This is an unpopular message it is counter culture. It is similar to what Samson did, he provoked the enemy in order to wake up his fellow countrymen. What Samson did was not popular but he highlighted what was really going on.
As Christians let’s begin to think differently about the ministries we do. Do we share the Gospel? Or do we do good things, with the hope that people will one day think kindly of the church.
The reality is that there is only one cause that is ultimately worth our lives and that is the Great Commission that Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:19-20. That is a cause worth dying for, that is a cause that will demand a cost from us, possibly even persecution. But this is the only cause that has eternal rewards.
Let us be a Great Commission church, a church that is shining the light of Jesus in our community.