Yesterday we talked about the pioneer spirit that must be possessed by an element of the church to lead us back to the old road. Over the next 6 days, I’ll be sharing some of the character traits and mindsets we must possess in order to do so. This series comes from my book, The Way Back.
If you do not currently recognize all of these characteristics in your life, please don’t assume you’re not a member of this company. If you are a born-again follower of Christ, His DNA is in you. In many ways, the Christian’s life is a treasure hunt, a process of internal discovery, searching for the hidden facets of the glorious Christ that Father God buried in our nature. When we find them, even radical change, if needed, is possible. Robert the Bruce, infamous for his cowardly betrayal of William Wallace, later rose up to lead Scotland’s struggle for freedom. The apostle Peter just weeks after denying Christ was leading the pioneering efforts of the early church. The apostle Paul was persecuting Christians one day, suffering with them the next.
America has become a nation of conformists. Whether we are being led down the latest fashion path, parroting the latest buzz words, or allowing the time-honored standards of morality to be altered, we are - in so many ways - a nation of followers. God’s word, however, commands us not to conform to our culture (Romans 12:1-2), but to change it by being salt and light (Matthew 5:13-14). The salt and light analogy means we should supply flavor, preservation, direction, and revelation to the world around us. We believers should be the change-agents. However - and I know I’m stating the obvious - one cannot be an agent of change while following the crowd!
Going with the flow is only smart when you’re on the right road, moving in the right diffraction. Pioneers, forerunners, pathfinders, etc., all have one thing in common: They don’t go with the flow, they create it. One of the requirements, therefore, for those whom God will use to lead America back to our roots is a willingness to be different.
People are more apt to ride the bandwagon of conformity than leave the herd. But only those who dare to be different become dreamers, and only dreamers make a difference. There is originality in you, a uniqueness that God wrote into your DNA. Don’t waste it by becoming a clone or copy.
Become a Voice
John the Baptist, the pioneering forerunner who prepared the way for Christ’s earthly ministry, was certainly different; and through his unique life and message, he was successful in creating a different flow in Israel. John was “a voice of preparation” (see John 1:23), a road builder; and his message bulldozed through the spiritual and cultural issues of his day, paving the way for Christ. America desperately needs some 21st-century road-building voices of change.
For societal change to occur, paradigms, mindsets, ideologies - the components societal roads are made of - must be altered. John the Baptist built a highway of change by challenging the paradigms of his day. Change-agents think differently than the masses; over time, they influence those masses to think differently, as well. We certainly won’t change America by standing on street corners screaming for passersby to repent. We will change it, however, by the mind-altering power of truth.
Many in America, including the church, naïvely believe they can change our nation through laws and statutes. Successful agents of change, however, know this is futile. They understand that for change to be both real and permanent, there must be a change of heart and mind. This is why the radicals of the ’60s and ’70s sought to take over our education system. Sad to say, they succeeded and, consequently, have shaped the thinking of a generation into radically new paradigms regarding government, education, morality, and religion.
There are many religious voices in America today. Few, however, have produced any degree of societal change. Sadly, the “change” many leaders in the American church want is simply the size of their congregations and ministries. Their paradigm for success is defined by numbers. To do so they innovate, produce better graphics, use brighter lights, provide more entertainment and shorter services. This, of course, has failed. America is still speeding pell-mell down the wrong road.
Difference-makers know that the way forward is often backward - to the old road. We must lead people to Jesus, not to ourselves; to truth, not a religious system; to a lifestyle, not a building. Referring to Jesus, John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” (John 3:30). The true purpose of becoming a voice for God should be to point people to Christ, not grow our ministry or congregation. It is worth noting that John, whom Jesus described as the greatest man born at the time (Luke 7:28), eventually lost his head. We are expendable and so are our ministries; Christ is not. He is looking for voices who care more about His kingdom than they do their careers...difference-makers.
Pioneers Are Giant Killers
Caleb, one of the 12 spies whom Moses sent to spy out the land promised by God to Israel, was certainly different. He went against the grain and made it into God’s “Hall of Difference Makers” (Hebrews 11). In fact, God used this very word to describe him. “Caleb,” He said, “has a different spirit” (Numbers 14:24).
By describing Caleb as different, the Lord was actually comparing him to 10 of the other spies who were conformists, weak in their faith, and sadly, still slaves at heart. These spineless, pioneer wannabes affirmed that the Promised Land truly was as wonderful as God said. Unfortunately, they also pointed out that it was ruled by giants, protected by strong armies, and filled with fortified cities. God forgot to tell us about the giants - 9 feet plus in height, they opined. And as cowards often do, these 10 spies poisoned Israel with their fear and unbelief. To fear-controlled believers, “giants” seem bigger than God.
Ironically, the 10 fearful spies were actually leaders in Israel (Numbers 13:2), yet didn’t possess the faith needed to advance into the land of promise and challenge the demonized giants living there. They were leaders who wouldn’t lead, fathers who wouldn’t fight. They had become settlers - not pioneers - and settlers fear giants. Fearful and faithless people build walls to keep giants out; pioneers dispossess them. Shockingly, the 10 “settlers” actually preferred going back into slavery in Egypt (where their masters fed and clothed them, and they didn’t have to fight) than risking their lives for the cause of freedom.
Caleb, however, was different. Not only was he willing to fight the giants, but Caleb offered to tackle the biggest. He requested the town of Kiriath-Arba as his battle assignment. Why is this significant? Kiriath Arba means “the city of Arba” and Arba was “the greatest of all the giants,” (Joshua 14:15).
Caleb’s attitude toward the giants and their fortified cities was simple: Let’s go kill these evil giants and possess the land. I’ll take the biggest!
There’s a different spirit for you!
Nameless, Faceless Pioneers
America was built on the backs of different-spirited pioneers. Somewhere on the Continental Divide are the bleached bones of a nameless, faceless pathfinder who died opening up a pathway for you. Arlington Cemetery houses the graves of unknown soldiers who died preparing the way for your freedom.
America now needs another generation of selfless, no compromising pioneers. The frontier these 21st-century pioneers must conquer is one of mindsets and beliefs, not a mountain range; and the minefield we face is one of ideas and ideologies, not an Omaha Beach. But the need for different-spirited pioneers is just as great.
The church, too, was built by forerunning pioneers. The soil under the Roman Coliseum is stained with the blood of pioneering martyrs - our brothers and sisters - who died to advance the cause of our pioneering Leader. They’re watching us from the balcony of Heaven and their blood is crying out for a generation to emerge who won’t lower the standard. This great “cloud of witnesses” is waiting for a generation of difference-makers to arise in America that will once again be willing to lay down their lives for Heaven’s holy cause.
I pray you choose the path of a pioneer. Leave the crowd - don’t be a follower - be different! Buck the broken system and rock the proverbial boat. May your commitment to the cause make the complacent nervous.
Let’s go find the old road.
Pray with me:
Father, only the different make a difference. We ask You to awaken the spirit of reformation in the church. Raise up individuals who refuse to accept things as they are and determine to be difference-makers. Your church should be leading the way in this, but we have become conformists. Awaken the Spirit of Christ in us.
We ask you to give creative ideas to individuals, ideas that will cause them to have great influence, even wealth. Give them loud voices. Use their ideas, strategies, and passion to take out giants in this season. Change our bloated, overfed government; remove the leftists, socialists, and secularists. Give us those who love America…and You. We ask this in the name of the exalted Lord of all the earth, Jesus. Amen.
The difference-makers are being awakened and will take out the spiritual giants in our land.
Click on the link below to watch the full prayer.