Jesus teaches us to expect slander, to expect misrepresentation. Further, He teaches us to believe that when this happens, it is a sign that we are gaining on it. In Luke 6:22-23, Jesus tells us to rejoice and leap for joy when we reviled, excluded, shunned, and held in contempt. In Lattimore’s translation of that passage, Jesus tells us that we are “to frolic” when this has happened.
We are able to do this, Jesus teaches, because we know the outcome of the story. We have the big picture. We know that great is our reward in Heaven. But being heavenly-minded is not an opiate — being heavenly-minded brings real earthly perspective.
Conservative activists who are surprised or indignant at the gross lopsidedness of the whole system are being foolish because they are expecting the devil to be a gentleman. They are expecting him to fight clean, and to avoid every form of fighting dirty. What makes us think he might do that?
It would be tedious to go through all the available examples of this kind of thing. Just one should suffice. Occupy demonstrations are closely associated with vandalism, drugs, sexual assaults, riots and such, while Tea Party demonstrations are closely associated with middle-aged people in funny hats who pick up after themselves. Which one is the screaming threat to our commonweal? Right.
The only thing that is missing in this farce is our ability to see how funny it is — and how much God doesn’t care that they are cheating. In a battle of accusations and counter-accusations, they will always have the advantage. Let them have it. Devils make better accusers, always, and we are not in this to create right-wing devils. No, we have a better game to play than that.
I said a moment ago that those who are heavenly-minded have a clear earthly perspective. They keep their heads. They are not thrown off by trash talk, or the mainstream media’s inability to report on the trash talk. When they cheat, and we get angry, this is nothing less than us enabling their cheating to work, to have its intended effect. The appropriate response is for them to cheat, and for us to grin.
So if we keep our heads, we are still engaged in the conflict, and we are engaged in it because it matters (deeply) to us. But it does not matter deeply to our ego, which means that we are in a position to think while we fight. This means that while we look at the terrain, and think about what is at stake, we can settle on what is the decisive point. A decisive point is a place that is significant enough to matter to the enemy if you successfully take it, and insignificant enough to actually take. This means that the selected target is both strategic and feasible. Thinking nationally, in our culture wars, New York City is strategic, but not feasible. Moose Breath, Idaho is feasible, but not strategic. We could take Moose Breath for Jesus in about three weeks, but when we had, it wouldn’t matter all that much. The reason our ministries are located here in the Palouse is that there are two major universities located in these two small towns, eight miles apart. Pullman, Washington is the home of Washington State, and Moscow is the home of the University of Idaho. The small towns make it feasible, and the universities make them strategic. To identify and go after a decisive point is the way to have a disproportionate impact.
The example given above concerning New York City was not meant to discourage Christians from ministering there. Of course, many of us should be there. But when we are, we should know that within a place like New York, there are numerous decisive points within the city. With a nation before us, one of the decisive points we have selected is the small town with the big university. With a city before us, there will be the same kind of decisive points available. But we won’t see them if we are not aware of the concept, and if we are not thinking about it.
We don’t have infinite resources at our disposal — we do serve an infinite God, but He loves to supply our needs on a day-to-day basis. That keeps us trusting Him. That means we must be the stewards of the resources He has already given, and this means we have to be selective. We have a limited number of troops, and so we have to decide where to put them. Joab was not a very good man, but he was a good general — and he divided his troops wisely for the battle (2 Sam. 10:10-12).
To return to the earlier point, understanding the decisive point helps us understand what our objective actually is. If our goal is to advance the kingdom, then we will be able to think clearly as we meditate on what will actually help to accomplish that. If our goal is personal fame and glory, then we will fail in one of two ways. First, we will be easily distracted when the enemy slanders us and lies about us — because our goal is personal glory, we will react violently and unproductively when that is threatened or besmirched. The other thing that might happen is that we pick a little nothing objective, and capture it with a lot of fanfare, followed by a big awards ceremony. We don’t want culture warriors who can be lured by the trappings of victory without any actual victories — the equivalent of big hats, missile parades, and mirrored sunglasses.
In short, finding the decisive point is not something that an ego can easily do.