I have a love/hate relationship with the saying, “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.” I love it because when it’s properly understood it is powerful and encouraging. I hate it because it’s rarely properly understood or explained. The most common way I’ve heard this phrase used is to encourage someone to follow Jesus or serve Jesus with the idea that if they do this everything in their life is going to be great. The idea so often associated with this gives a false sense of security. It’s as though those who faithfully follow Jesus have no troubles. When it’s understood this way, it becomes a source of frustration and discouragement when troubles and trials come.
Being in the center of God’s will is the safest place to be in the sense that it’s the best place to be. However, it is not the safest place to be if your goal is to have an easy problem free life. In fact, just the opposite is often true. Sometimes the center of God’s will is where the greatest battles are going to be fought. It’s in the center of God’s will that you’ll find Satan throwing out his biggest attacks on you in an attempt to derail your service to Jesus.
We learn a powerful lesson on this in Revelation 2-3 by comparing two of the churches. There is the poor but devoted church in Smyrna (Rev 2:8-11) and the rich but lukewarm church in Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22). The church in Smyrna is a church that receives no rebuke from Jesus, only commendation. Yet this same church is poverty stricken and terribly persecuted. Jesus specifically tells them that Satan is about to ratchet up the persecution and more of them are about to suffer and may in fact die for their devotion to Jesus. The church in Laodicea by comparison is rich and seemingly living a life of ease. Yet this church receives no commendation at all from Jesus, only rebuke. There is no mention of overt satanic opposition to their lives or faith. Which of the two churches would be considered to be in the center of God’s will? The church in Smyrna would but there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly safe, at least as we seek to define it, about being a devoted believer in Smyrna.
Part of what we have to recognize from this is that Satan doesn’t want us to be fully devoted followers of Jesus. Satan is fine with a nominal belief and probably even a nominal devotion to Jesus. But a full fledged life of devotion to Jesus is something that Satan seeks to attack. If we truly devote our lives to Jesus, then we can expect that Satan will put roadblocks in our way. This week I’m going to continue Exposing Satan’s Playbook by looking at Satan’s Roadblocks to Following Jesus.