One of the first lessons that I learned as a young Christian was that other people were not as excited about my converstion as I was. My parents thought that I had fallen into some kind of a cult. I accepted Jesus as my Savior in 1972 and that was a time when newspaper headlines and news broadcasts on radio and TV were filled with stories of young people being lured into cults.
Cult members met people at airports or walked the streets of major cities selling various items for fund raising and seeking new converts for their masters. Often it didn't take more than just a smile or invitation to a simple, common meal to get a young person interested in joining. Once a young person was hooked into a cult, family members and deprogrammers hired by them had an almost impossible task in trying to extract such brainwashed teens from any one of the many false prophets popular in that day.
Before my conversion, I was attending a Lutheran Church with my parents. It was a pretty building with mostly sincere and almost certainly unsaved congregation members. Even after going through what is known in that denomination as the Confirmation (of your faith), I still knew almost nothing about God, the Bible and had not been told about being born again. Neither had my parents. So it stands to reason that they had no idea what I was talking about when I returned from a youth group meeting sponsored by a local ministry and said that I had accepted the Lord and been born again.
My folks probably would not have made a big thing about my newly found enthusiasm for God and the Bible, however, I was changing before their very eyes and that troubled them. I started going to youth meetings on a weekly basis and began to use the King James Version instead of the Revised Standard Version of the Scriptures. I stopped attending the Lutheran Church and started hanging out with other Christian teens from the youth ministry.
Common sense would dictate that any teenager who turned to God in such a positive way would be a blessing to his parents (unless they were atheists). I mean, I could have gone in the other direction like so many of my peers in those days becoming addicted to drugs, smoking, alcohol or getting involved in all kinds of criminal or deviant behavior. It surprised me that my parents seemed to think my new found faith in God was probably in the same category as being addicted to drugs.
I was always interested in electronics. During this time I had a couple of drawers in my room filled with wires, circuit boards and other stuff from Radio Shack. I recall that not soon after my conversion, I came home from school only to find my parents sternly sitting in our living room and waiting for my arrival. Before I knew what was happening, they produced an alligator clip and asked if the people at the youth ministry were giving me drugs?
At first the whole situation seemed ridiculous, then I realized what was going on. People that use pot use alligator clips as what they call a "roach clip" for their drug. I have never used drugs or even tried them, but I could see how finding such a thing in my electronics drawer might upset them and lead to the wrong conclusion considering their heightened state of concern and belief that I might be involved with a cult.
I explained that the alligator clip was for my electronic experiments and kit building and they saw their mistake. I was disappointed that my parents would even think I used drugs considering how much I have spoken out against such things. Besides, I pointed out that the clip had a long wire attached to it for testing currents and circuits and would probably not have made a very good roach clip in that condition.
Looking back, I now understand what was really going on. The moment I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, the battle was on. If the devil cannot keep us out of heaven, he is going to do his best to keep us from having a fulfilling and fruitful life in Christ. The Bible makes this very clear:
"Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."
(Matthew 13:18-23 KJV)
The fact that my parents thought that I joined a cult weighed heavily on me. I respected and loved them very much. At that point I could have bowed to their will, stopped going to the youth ministry and sat in my old church where many are called, but few are chosen (and many are cold and a few are frozen!). Instead, I decided to continue on in my new life and share the joy I had with others.
I found out later that my decision was justified. Following God was not disrespecting my parents. I still loved and obeyed them in other matters, but I was certain that I was on the right road and wasn't going to jump off for anything. In one of my early Bible studies I discovered this verse:
"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
(Matthew 6: 24 KJV)
The devil will use the things of this world, including our very own families as in my case, to keep us from growing in the Lord. Remember the parable of the sower that we looked at earlier:
"He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful"
The care of this world is a powerful tool at the devil's disposal. Christians have to be careful and vigilant to avoid traps set by Satan. The Bible makes this clear:
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
(I Peter 5:8 KJV)
The devil will use any situation that presents itself to side track us. Any problems, concerns or struggles we're going through are wonderful opportunities for him to get us away from God. Sometimes he will create these opportunities, so we really have to be ready to defend ourselves. The Bible tells us how:
"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;"
(Ephesians 6:11-18 KJV)
God has provided Christians with a spiritual suit of armor to protect us against the attacks of the devil. The key elements of resisting these attacks are faith in God, prayer and obedience to God. Faith means taking God at His Word despite any circumstances we're in. Through prayer we seek God's Will for our lives and an expectation that He will help us make the right decisions. Obedience means that we try,each day, to do what God has told us that He expects of us as outlined in the Bible.
It's easy to become overwhelmed by the troubles and concerns of this world, especially when they directly involve us. One way to see light at the end of the tunnel is to avoid being trapped by concerns that do not involve us. Sometimes even good causes can be a trap to get us away from God and serving Him the way he would like for us to do.
Before your use your time and efforts for anything, pray about it and look for answers in the Word. Remember what the Bible tells us in Matthew 6:33 (KJV):
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
There is no shortcut. We must put God first in our lives which means faith, prayer and obedience to His Word. When we do, it gives us a correct spiritual and scriptural perspective that will allow us to decide where to use our time and efforts and how to deal with personal issues that might be trying to tug us away from the Lord.