When Joseph was warned in a dream to flee the country with Mary and Jesus, it must have seemed like a nightmare to the young family as they snuck away in the middle of the night with just the clothes on their backs. The world they knew had suddenly become hostile and frightening, and all they could likely think about was getting someplace safe, at any cost. How ironic that their “safe” place would be the very nation the children of Israel fled during the exodus, and that the man (Herod) they were fleeing from would be a descendant of the children of Israel. Strangers who were former enemies were now a safer bet to Joseph, Mary and Jesus than their own people.
Three decades later, Jesus would again be faced with the same threat of danger from his own people, only this time, instead of warning Jesus to flee, God guided him to stay and face the danger head-on.
All of us, at different times, will be guided by God either to flee or to stay, depending on the circumstances. The same nightmare forces that threatened Jesus all those years ago are still in play today and are still seeking to eliminate Jesus’ followers. Thank God for our sake that God is still one step ahead of them.
I’ve written here before about the importance of keeping your head down. Over the past few months in Nova Scotia alone, two tight-knit Christian communities that openly defied the mandates and restrictions were suddenly struck with widespread outbreaks that affected nearly every member. The communities were then vilified in the media, and their international leadership publicly ordered them into compliance.
The nightmare that Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled from all those centuries ago is alive and well and living wherever you are. It may be hiding under a rock for the time being, but it’s there, waiting for the signal to emerge. I’m sure what happened to the two shamed Christian communities in Nova Scotia was just a coincidence and was in no way a planned event to make an example of Christians in general, as a warning. I’m sure everything that’s happening now is entirely natural and in no way being statistically massaged to support an unpublicized agenda. I’m sure our elected and unelected officials are making choices based on the best interests of the people they serve, and not on their own best interests or on the interests of those pulling their strings behind the scenes. I’m sure integrity abounds in the ptb and that we can believe at face value everything they tell us, all the time.
Meanwhile, back in reality, we need to be equally ready either to flee or to face our nemesis, depending on what God guides us to do. This is not the time to be putting down roots or planning anything long-term, unless you’re willing to walk away from your roots and plans at a moment’s notice. The last thing Joseph and Mary were likely expecting was to have to flee into the night, leaving everything behind.
As Christians, we’re equipped by God to be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves. We need to use that equipment now more than ever and not be lured into making a bad situation worse by fighting fights that are not ours to fight. Jesus never protested the Roman occupation of his country. He never protested the abuse of his people by the Roman soldiers. But he did go head-to-head with the religious powers-that-be who taught lies in the name of God and oppressed the poor by withholding God’s Word from them.
Our enemies are the same today as they were Jesus’ day and our battles should be the same. When God gives us the signal to flee, we flee; when God gives us the signal to stay, we stay; and when God gives us the signal to fight, we fight. God’s signals will not be vague or require the services of a tea-leaf reader to discern; they will be as blatant and vivid as the burning bush was to Moses, or the dream to flee was to Joseph.
No matter the situation, wait for God’s directive. Don’t act on an emotional response or at the goading of some well-meaning but misguided person. Wait for God’s directive.
The times are dangerous for us Christians and growing more dangerous by the day.
When God says “Go”, go.
When God says “Stay”, stay.
And when God says “Fight”, fight as if your very soul depends on it, because it does.