I stopped making disciples of myself (or at least did my best to stop that kind of self glorifying work). I started to do whatever I could to show others Jesus and what he was like. Instead of expecting sinners to come to me, I started to go to them. Instead of expecting sinners to clean themselves up so they could come to the church, I realized I was as filthy as anyone, and that I am the church only because of grace. And because of that grace, I could go to people where they were and show them and tell them the good news in a way that would really be good news to them. To bring the gospel in a way that made an impact on them where they were in that moment.
As my family started to live this out, everything seemed to be going well. Very well. Neighborhood events, dinners, people seeing and hearing the good news in many different ways. Within this picture of gospel community, Satan made a vicious attack on us–spiritually. He attacked us with the very people we were reaching out to.
We have lived in the same neighborhood for eight years. For the first five years, we never did anything to make disciples of Jesus. For the past three, we have done everything we could to self-sacrifice for the sake of making disciples of Jesus. Have we done this perfectly? By no means. It’s interesting that we were left alone for the first five years, but now during the last three, Satan has been on the prowl like a roaring lion.
Instead of attacking us by physical illness, something Job-like, it came as a knock at the door. It was a neighbor we had been tirelessly reaching out to, trying to show Jesus to his whole family. He came on a Friday, when he knew I wouldn’t be home. For twenty minutes, he cussed at my wife, saying he had put up with her for eight years, but in reality had hated her the entire time. He then listed off ways in which he found her to be disgusting.
These things he listed–these charges that weren’t grounded in reality–though they hadn’t really happened, they were the four things my wife had been trying deeply to rid herself of since leaving our previous church where we were once the good little moralists. The only people who knew the depth of these four struggles were myself and my wife. Our MC (missional community) knew most of them, but not the depth of the hurt these four things had caused our souls. God knew everything, and we came to find out, so did Satan.
Shortly after, my wife called to let me know what happened. As a husband, I was furious. I had to decide if I’d go to jail, or respond to my enemy in love. Would I disciple my family and the neighborhood to Jesus, or to myself?
I gave him a call, we spoke, and I called out his lies where they needed to be called out. In the end, I told him we’d respect his wishes for our families not to interact further. I did my best to show him love, all the while wanting to take him to the wood shed. We live literally ten feet apart.
DON’T BE SURPRISED WHEN SATAN ATTACKS
We are told many times that we’ll be hated, attacked, and despised for living a life of hope and peace. We need to be ready to be attacked. Peter even says don’t be surprised by the fiery ordeal amongst you. Jesus says to know that we’ll be hated because they first hated him.
When my wife was attacked by our neighbor, our first thought was, “Why?” If I listed all the ways we’d loved this family, you’d think I was making it up. Again, a reminder that we should never be loving others for what we’ll get from them, but only because of how much our Father has loved us.
On the question of why Satan attacks, he attacked us because of what was happening in the neighborhood. We have had so many people see Jesus and hear about Jesus in the last three years in our neighborhood that Satan could not take us being on his turf any more. If he is like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, who is a lion going to attack? A lion attacks for food or for protection of the herd. I believe he was attacking here because he was trying to protect his herd against his enemy: Jesus.