Friday, May 25, 2018

Stronghold Starter #1: Apathy/Judgement..."Why Should I Care?"

Let's go to the gates that have secured Garden of Eden.  Paradise is barred.  Angels with a flaming sword see to that.

Go a little further and you will see a family.  A father is tilling the soil, sweat dripping from his forehead.  A mother is preparing vegetables, soon to be placed in a pot that steams over a fire.  Two sons are in the distance.  We don't hear what they are saying, for they are moving further away.  Soon one son returns from back over the horizon.  He has a sort of sneer on his face.  Are those blood splatters on his tunic? 

Now, for the encounter:"Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Where is your brother Abel?'
'I don’t know,' he replied. 'Am I my brother’s keeper?'" (Gen. 4:9)

Let's unpack this horrible moment and its origin.  Pride is at the core of this as it is with all stronghold starters.  Cain had pride in his offering, despite it not following the Lord's instructions for offerings:

"Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast."

Obviously, the Lord has instructed that the offering be from a firstborn creature, not from a fruit or a vegetable.  The Lord was training humanity to see that a life substituted for a life pleases Him and makes restitution, even this far back in our history.  Of course, this foreshadows the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world; these people did not know that, of course.  But the Lord asks not for our understanding (though He will reveal His plans as time goes on) but our obedience to His Word.  

Abel was obedient and Cain was not.

Let's listen in the dark satanic whisperings in Cain ear: 

Forget he’s your brother!
He doesn’t deserve to live for making you look bad with his sacrifice!
What’s wrong with your fruits and vegetables? They’re good enough!
Who does Abel think he is, bringing that lamb? Why should he be favored over you?
Is he special because he’s being obedient? Get real. He’s just kissing up.
It doesn’t matter what you bring…just bring something.
He’s always making you look bad!

Are you just gonna sit around and let him get away with it? Again?

Pride.  Pure and simple.  That's the beginning of the end.  For despite pride at the core of Cain's heart, you see a somewhat going-through-the-motions kind of guy on the outside.  

Until the dirty deed is done.  
The Lord then confronts Cain, and we get an unbridled response of apathy and judgement from Cain.  In essence, he is saying,   

Why should I care?  
He's not my problem.
He's his own problem.
He should be taking care of himself.
No one is looking after me.
If he's not around, that's his issue, not mine.  

Pride says, I don't have to care, because you are not my problem.
Pride says, If you have inconvenienced me in any way, I can ignore you.
Pride says, It is about me ultimately.  So, what do you have to do with me?  

Ugly.  God wanted this family to live in community together.  So, when Abel prepared the offering, Cain could have helped.  It wasn't Abel's offering per se; it was the family's offering.  So, the fact that Abel did it on his own, with Cain skulking around elsewhere, says that Cain had already isolated himself from his brother early on.  Cain has a "me versus you," kind of thinking, which quickly degrades into "I am better than you."   

Now, for the solution to a prideful apathy:

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." (Gal. 6:9-10)

How can we do this?  

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Col. 3:15-17)

Who do we follow?  

"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!" (Phil. 2:2-8)

Cain needed to see his brother as a companion not a competitor.  We need to see each other like that as well.  We are the Body of Christ, with His love as the animating substance in all the members.  

There are people who suffer from auto-immune disorders, when the body attacks itself. Pride, manifesting itself in apathy and judgement, is when His Body attacks Itself.  

Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate pride in your heart, then lay it on the altar.  


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