I’m sure that you probably heard the brouhaha surrounding Atlanta based pastor, Louie Giglio last week. On Tuesday, the White House announced that he had been chosen to deliver the benediction at the Inauguration. It was a good choice for the White House considering this year marks the 150 anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared the American slaves free, and since Louie just concluded the Passion2013 event which in part focused the attention of 60,000 young people on the problem of modern slavery. (http://www.enditmovement.com/) Though President Obama’s liberal social outlook and Louie’s conservative Bible-based teaching don’t mesh on many points, it appeared that the administration had chosen to put aside those differences to unite around the common goal of the raising awareness and ending human trafficking. That is, until a group of gay activists dug around and found a message Louie preached about homosexuality 15 years ago. Though his message was solidly biblical and pointed those (and anyone) trapped in a lifestyle of immorality toward the healing power of Jesus, these activists quickly labeled him as “vehemently” and “rabidly” anti-gay. A petition with a paltry 900 signatures was submitted to the Inauguration committee demanding reconsideration. The media fanned the flames of the controversy, and on Thursday, Louie chose to sidestep the whirlwind and politely declined the invitation. The statement issued on the Passion City Church blog reminded readers that his “greatest desire is that we not be distracted from the things we are focused on…seeing people in our city come to know Jesus, and speaking up for the last and least of these throughout the world.”
I’ve since read a lot of articles, blogs and commentaries on the topic from a variety of sources and almost all of them majored on the social shift in society, or why Christianity was being sidelined in our culture. While some of that may be true, I was surprised that not one of them that I read focused on the obvious spiritual attack that was being waged by our real enemy. While Louie was at the center of the controversy, I believe the actual targets were not in the public spotlight at all.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world
and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Back up a couple of weeks to Passion 2013. God moved mightily in the lives of thousands of college students and behind-the-scenes workers at the event. Countless stories emerged that told of changed lives as individuals encountered the living God. One Chinese girl who was touring the east coast ‘happened’ to be in the Omni hotel when two girls stopped to chat. In the course of their conversation, they invited her to the conference where she eventually gave her life to Jesus. Another young man who was previously ‘not interested in religion’ told his mother on Day 2 of the gathering that he’d finally discovered someone (Jesus) who loved Him more than she did. Students who were regular users of drugs, and alcohol turned their back on their addictions, and one of my best friends
personally got to pray over a group of young men to strengthen their commitment to rehab. Hundreds pledged themselves to renewed purity and called on Jesus for strength to change. As the conference concluded and young adults repacked their suitcases on Friday afternoon, they took with them a fresh dedication to live for the glory of God.
With a sweeping move of the Spirit of this intensity concentrated in one place, is it any wonder the enemy launched a full scale attack? And, what better way to cause doubt in those with a new found faith than to raise the keynote speaker to a public platform and then attempt to hang a label on him, and smear his name? Oh, Louie is OK. While he was no doubt discouraged and disillusioned, his faith remains strong and his commitment is unwavering. Though it may have dinged his armor a bit, I don’t believe this public attack was chiefly about him. It was more about trying to shake the confidence of the next generation because as the conference reminded them… “Together we are a force for good.” There is nothing the enemy fears more than a united body of believers who are excited, enthusiastic, and ready to really believe God for great things!
So as all this hoopla settles into the background, let’s not point fingers nor shake our heads at what seems to be a setback, but instead, let’s recognize this event for what it really is and boldly pray for protection and courage for these students (and for those like them), for their families and for the lives they will touch in the months and years ahead. This isn’t the last time they will be attacked. What they do with Jesus – and what He does with them – is important… more important than we can understand at this moment. It’s from this group, God will raise up those through whom He will shape our future!
And for you personally, this blog isn’t just a reflection on last week’s news. Remember that scripture makes it clear that things aren’t always as they seem on the surface. If you’re going to stand firm through the inevitable firestorms, you must realize where your real battles come from and pay attention. “Be self-controlled and alert,” as Peter writes. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) When God moves in your life in a powerful way, you can expect the enemy to come against you too. The attack may not be public or widely known, but be certain, the devil is your accuser (Rev. 12:10), and you can count on him to press in on you in some form. Spiritual warfare is real, and the goal of any attack is to destroy anything that is godly and holy. I urge you to keep your eyes open, and your spiritual sensitivity sharp. Resist the enemy by filling your mind with truth, engaging in regular worship, surrounding yourself with strong believers, and praying always. And then, lean hard toward the Lord, and trust that He, “the God of all grace,” will “make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10)