When measuring the magnitude of an earthquake’s impact, the most extreme readings are generated from its epicenter. The earth’s underground jolting quickly makes its way up to the surface directly overhead, where the data is then evaluated and analyzed, both historically and geographically. If an earthquake is large enough, its seismic waves can be measured all around the globe.
The same kind of chain reaction happens in the spiritual arena.
2020 will be remembered as the year America was hit by a societal earthquake with powerful aftershocks.
The coronavirus pandemic led to a global shutdown, which led to an economic meltdown. Next came the horrifying George Floyd arrest and murder, which led to protests in most American cities, which led to riots, which led to a movement calling to defund local police departments in major US cities.
We aren’t even halfway through the year—and America still has a national election on the horizon. It’s not a stretch to forecast that, quite possibly, our most heated election ever is just around the corner.
Society has severely been altered. The shockwaves will be felt for decades unless Jesus returns before then.
These earthquakes registered in the spiritual arena as well.
Our sacred mission
Believers are struggling with how to respond as Jesus would want us to. Social media has given everyone a pulpit. If we are not careful with our opinions and the way we express our convictions, we could be a part of the Enemy’s plan to divide the church. We have a mission during this time when our country and the world needs us.
So, how do we address the needs and hurt within our nation and still pursue our sacred mission to reach people who need Jesus so desperately?
First, let’s remember an important truth: Evil and strife are all around us, but there’s more to it than what we see. Physical battles on the ground are a mere reflection of the spiritual battles raging in the heavens. Satan is our enemy and no one else. He’s behind the scenes and is viciously fighting to steal, kill, and destroy whatever he can because he knows his days are short (John 10:10). John says in his epistle, “The whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19 NIV)
So, we are saddened by the hate, division, and depravity on display in our nation as we watch the news.
But are we really surprised?
We shouldn’t be. This is Satan’s major goal.
How people can see Jesus in you
In the New Testament, a Greek word was used several times to tell us the best way to represent Christ no matter the situation. As defined in Strong’s Concordance, enduo means “to clothe oneself, to get dressed, to sink into, to put on.”
The word implies that we need to get used to our new clothes because we’ll be wearing them for a long time. “Sink into” those clothes like a comfortable chair. Scripture tells us that when we put these kingdom clothes on, we look like Jesus.
That’s who I long to be like. Especially in these difficult days, do you?
Paul knew it would be easy for believers to assimilate into the world and look no different from everyone else, so he often told us to “put on” our kingdom clothes.
How do we do that today now that believers need to live like Jesus more than ever in our polarized society?
1. Put on the light / Christ
Husein, a former Muslim, once told me in the Gaza Strip: “I’ll probably get arrested for telling Muslims how to be saved at the mosque here. But every Christian should go to jail at least once for sharing their faith in Christ, don’t you think?”
Husein was winsome, smiling, and fearless in the midst of the danger. He shared Christ with known terrorists and never backed down.
The light of Christ was all over him.
Paul’s urgency in Romans 13:11–14 reminds me of Husein and the underground church in the Middle East today: “Understand the present time: The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So, let us put aside the deeds of the darkness and put on the armor of light. . . . Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” (emphasis added).
Daily seeking to put on Christ gets me ready for the day and reinforces who I stand for as a believer.
2. Put on love
My wife, JoAnn, recently told our Uncharted Team how she has been approaching African Americans she meets at stores, in the neighborhood, and at church and openly talking about George Floyd’s death. She tells her new friends how shocked, sad, and heartbroken she was to see the video but that she is sure they are not shocked because they have probably dealt with racism their whole lives. She humbly and sweetly asks for forgiveness.
Every single person has thanked JoAnn warmly and hugged her tightly.
I’m following suit, and so is our whole team. It has been healing to see the responses as the truth comes into the light and Jesus deals with it.
As the body of Christ, how do we defeat racism?
One person at a time.
The love of Christ is truly the most effective way to do this.
In Colossians 3:12–14, Paul writes, “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another. . . . Over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Jesus told us that all people would know us by our love. Pretty plain and simple, isn’t it?
Believers need to show compassion and love to all people. When we do, it shows we value people just like Jesus did. We stand with them.
Daily seeking to put on the love of Christ gets me ready for the day and reinforces who I stand with as a believer.
3. Put on the armor of God
Over the last twenty-five years of our work in the Middle East, we’ve personally witnessed rampant spiritual warfare. If we don’t prepare for it before we begin each day, we will get creamed. So we daily don the armor of God.
In Ephesians 6:10–20, Paul writes, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood.”
The armor of God is not a figurative illustration Paul used because he was in a Roman jail and thought the soldiers guarding him would make a nice visual for describing spiritual warfare. We are commanded to “put on” the armor or we can be defeated fairly easily.
But there is no need for defeat for the Christian; this armor is foolproof. When we put it on, we are realizing “earth ain’t heaven” and that we’re in a daily battle behind enemy lines.
Just to name one of its six pieces: the shield of faith, when put in place, will “extinguish all flaming arrows.” Not one fiery dart will get through since the shield of faith is 100 percent effective. Remember: our fight is not with people; they are merely the Enemy’s captives.
As we say at Uncharted when we are ready to go to work in high-risk Middle Eastern cities and villages that are home to various terrorist groups: “Shields up! Armor on! Pray! Stand!”
Daily seeking to put on the armor of God gets me ready for the day and reinforces who I stand against as a believer.
Our new normal
2020 has vividly shown the body of Christ that difficult days are here and probably will be until Jesus returns. This is the world we live in now. But, for believers to represent Jesus as his ambassadors, we need to look like him. That’s a challenge in today’s world, for sure.
Believers in Christ, we need to navigate our new world carefully, especially after the magnitude of the earthquake we all have just been through. There may be more on the way.
By putting on Christ and his light, putting on his love, and putting on the armor of God, our kingdom clothes will put a spotlight on who Jesus is and give hope to the world. We’re here to point the world to the cross of Christ and the empty tomb. But, if we look no different than everyone else, no one will listen to us.
Now more than ever, we need to live all-out for Jesus and fulfill our sacred mission.
We will do that each day if we prepare ourselves by engaging our hearts and minds with the truths of who we stand for, who we stand with, and who we stand against.
Tom Doyle is the bestselling author of Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?, Standing in the Fire: Courageous Christians Living in Frightening Times, and Women Who Risk: Secret Agents for Jesus in the Muslim World, written with his wife, JoAnn. Tom is the president of Uncharted Ministries, which just launched a powerful new video series of former Muslims telling their stories of their journey to Christ called I Found the Truth.