Yesterday I was talking to a friend among a group of friends about hard conversations. He knew he needed to tell this other friend this awkward thing (we nodded, "Yes! You totally need to tell him). But he didn't want to (we groaned alongside him, "Yes! That is soooo hard").
We all took a moment to gripe about how we never really want to do the good, hard things God's calling us to do--not before we do them anyway. Later we'll look back and be glad we did it. But in the moment, it feels like swimming upstream in a river of half-dry cement.
Someone said, "I hope one day when I'm like fifty or something, I don't have to deal with this. I hope I just want to do all the good things. I hope righteousness gets easier and easier until I don't have to fight for it anymore because it just flows out of me."
And we all fell silent and hoped...
That does happen. But also it doesn't.
Over time we mature. We find ourselves transformed more and more into the image of Christ. Things that were hard aren't so hard any more.
But here, there will always be hard things, always forces to fight, always pressure to do the wrong thing, always something to push against.
I said to my friends, "This is the way it is for us Christians, because we're The Resistance."
For the last few years I've watched my wardrobe take an interesting turn. I've shifted from a closet full of color and prints, flow-y sweaters and floral dresses, to what I have now: grey t-shirts, dark jeans, boots, and jackets--a motorcycle jean jacket and two (yes, two) army green parkas. I look like a character from The Walking Dead.
I didn't make a conscious choice to change the way I dressed. I think it sprung from this feeling inside me, this feeling that I needed to be ready to fight.
A few months ago I told my daughters a story about a broken kingdom ruled by a dark queen, about how the kingdom hadn't always been dark, that the previous king and queen had been good and generous, loving, but the dark queen had deceived the people and convinced them to overthrow the ruling powers. So the king and queen left--no need to force them. They walked through the city in their robes and crowns, down the winding streets and into the woods. And no one had seen them since.
Rumor had it an army had formed in the woods, and any day The Resistance would emerge from the tangled trees, led by the king and queen, to take back the city and free the people from their slavery.
The moment I said those words my daughters' eyes widened and sparkled. They smiled like cats with mice in their paws. There's something magical and epic and heroic about an army compelled by what should and could be, willing to defy what is.
Something inside us, even the five year old us-es, longs to resist.
I typed the word "resist" into Bible Gateway tonight, not expecting much. I couldn't remember a passage about resistance--the principle yes, the word no. But then this came up, from the book of James, and I felt like you needed to read all of it:
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God...
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
God will lift you up. He'll do it here and now--some. He'll do it here (and there) and then fully. Either way you look at it, you exist today in opposition to "the world." That doesn't mean earth. It doesn't mean the people on the earth. It means you directly defy the prince of this world, the father of lies, the ruling dark queen. It means, for as long as the devil sits on a throne, you fight for The Resistance.
My prayer for you today is that you'd do hard things. Push through the half-dry cement. Sweat. Cry. And remember: your fight is worthy, your Commander good and true, your enemy weakening every day.
Fight on, brave rebel. And raise a glass. To The Resistance!