In one of his final prayers before his crucifixion, Jesus asked God to protect his followers. He was very specific that they were to be protected – not taken out of the world, but protected while in the world. This request echoes God’s promise throughout the Old Testament that he would prosper and protect those who do his will and keep his Commandments. Jesus was inferring by his prayer that his followers would, in fact, do just that.
So here we are, nearly 2000 years later, and God is still making good on Jesus’ prayer. Genuine followers of Jesus are still prospering in everything they do and still being protected, AS LONG AS THEY CONSISTENTLY AND WILLINGLY CHOOSE TO DO GOD’S WILL AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS.
There is an unfortunate and essentially anti-Christ school of thought prevalent in mainstream Christianity today which teaches that all it takes to secure God’s protection is some kind of hazy belief in the “blood of Jesus” or the messiahship of Jesus or the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, or just simply having faith in God or belonging to a certain denominational church and attending once a week. Jesus did not teach this. He definitely did not teach this. He was adamant on many occasions that being his follower went beyond mere “belief” – that being his follower meant always DOING God’s will and FOLLOWING the Commandments, even if it meant leaving hearth and home and children and work and possessions and everything and everyone you thought you loved behind.
Being a follower of Jesus is a very physical calling. You don’t just sit on your butt on a pew and call yourself a follower of Jesus. You don’t post a blog once or twice a week and call yourself a follower of Jesus. Being a follower of Jesus is a 24/7 job – it infuses everything you do, every decision you make, every word you write or utter. If there’s something in your life that is against God’s will and does not adhere to the Commandments, you get rid of it, if you are a genuine follower of Jesus. You don’t just let it slide. You get rid of it because once you know it’s there and you choose to look the other way about it, you enter into hypocrisy, and there is no protection for hypocrites, only condemnation.
I know a pastor who’s married to a witch. His children are heavily involved in the occult, and yet every week he stands before hundreds of parishioners and preaches. Sadly, he is not unique. Many people who claim to be followers of Jesus are holding onto relationships that are ensuring their condemnation and lack of God’s protection. In Ezra, just after the building of the second temple, the Jews were told to get rid of their “strange” (that is, non-Jewish) wives they had married while in captivity in Babylon. They were also told to get rid of the children they’d had with those wives. They did it – they left their wives and children, without hesitating and without grumbling and without looking back.
When Jesus chose his 12 disciples, he also required them to leave their wives and children, as well as their jobs and homes and possessions. They did it, without hesitating and without grumbling and without looking back. They just up and left.
God’s protection does not come lightly or cheaply – it never has. If you take the time (and I hope you do) to read the Old Testament, you’ll see just how much was expected from those who wanted to be blessed and graced by God’s protection. It wasn’t enough just to “call on God” – those who wanted God’s protection had to DO his will and KEEP his Commandments. That was the agreement. If they slacked off and started backsliding, they lost God’s protection, but if they had a change of heart and genuinely turned back to God, doing his will and keeping his Commandments, then God resumed his protection. However, if they turned back in words only, they forfeited God’s protection, in some cases forever.
I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to do God’s will and keep his Commandments if you want God’s protection. Search your heart and search your lives to see if there are things in you or around you that are preventing you from doing God’s will or causing you to break the Commandments. You need to get rid of these things, just as quickly and decisively as the Jews in the Old Testament got rid of their “strange” wives and children, and Jesus’ disciples walked away from their former lives. You don’t have to belabor the issue – once you identify that something is keeping you from loving God with all your heart and all your soul, out it goes, like trash. God will guide you and give you the strength to do this. That’s his job. Once you signal your willingness and do whatever is required to CLEARLY DEMONSTRATE that you’re putting your spiritual money where your mouth is, God will step in, take the reins, and clear the path.
May you always – ALWAYS – choose to do God’s will and keep his Commandments, no matter who or what you have to walk away from or leave behind. There is no-one or nothing more important than doing God’s will, just as there is no-one or nothing that offers better protection than God.