Flight or Fight
When threatened, most ‘humans’ default to either one of two instinctive responses–flight or fight. With flight the threat is generally deemed too great overcome directly, so the threatened subject flees to the shelter of perceived safety. With the other response of fight, the threatened subject concludes that the challenge can be overcome by some kind of forceful resistance; as such they face the threat head on—believing ‘they’ can defeat it.
So, how should Christians approach a crisis? When confronted with threats and crises, such as the current global pandemic, Christians also tend to adopt either of these two ‘natural’ responses. The flight response usually manifests as uncritical compliance to those offering an immediate solution (in this case the state). In taking this approach the subjects choose not to question, critique, or assess the proposed solution on any meaningful level; they simply comply with what seems the easiest short term solution. The fight response, however, often manifests as critical non-compliance. The fight person critically assesses, both, the threat and the potential solution; often determining the solution to be more dangerous than the perceived threat. As such, they are suspicious of the official version of the threat and the authority offering the solution to it; consequently they rebel against it, and in doing so, hope to maintain ‘their’ status quo. Yet, as different as they seem, both fight and flight are driven by the same human motive–self-preservation.
I must confess that during this pandemic I naturally fell into the fight camp. I found myself suspicious of the official interpretations of the Pandemic and their proposed solutions, and I also found myself looking for ways to ‘get around’ the system, ways to avoid compliance in order to maintain my perceived freedoms.
However, as this ‘fight response’ went on, I my mind started drifting toward the shadowy world of civil disobedience and moral rebellion. Then the stark realization fell–the course of my thoughts and developing actions were not only disrespectful of the governmental authority that God had established and placed over me, but generally unloving toward those (usually business owners and government officials) who were simply doing their jobs under the duress of the pandemic. God, acting on my conscience, made it clear: This response was not right, it was not loving, and was certainly not honoring to God– in short, this was no way for a Christian to handle a crisis.
The End is Near
Following this chastisement, I was then compelled to return to the Bible with a fresh conviction to discover God’s way of dealing with life-altering threats; and not just the immediate threat itself, but any prospective threat offered as the potential solution.
God led me to reflect on one of the most obscure passages of the Bible, a scripture that seems to get dusted off and given a fresh interpretation in any epoch-changing crisis: Revelation 13–the famed mark of the beast chapter. Despite attracting most attention from the cults, fringe fundamentalists, and devotees of heavy metal music, the Apostle John’s book of Revelation and the scriptures that are necessary to understand it’s meaning, are genuinely helpful in coming to terms with the Christian’s struggle within the world and how to address it appropriately.
Throughout the course of human history apocalyptic events have driven Christians toward the highly enigmatic apocalyptic literature of the Bible, like Daniel and Revelation, in a quest for answers to the ‘how to handle a crisis’ question. These have become the ‘go to’ scriptures for understanding the meaning ‘behind’ any given challenge—especially one that threatens Christian freedom of belief and practise. Yet, because of the obscure nature of the texts and the inherent difficulty in making sense of them, all kinds of bizarre interpretations have led to creating more problems than solutions. In fact, rather than offering comfort and hope, these interpretations have left beleaguered Christians more fearful and confused than ever, in some cases being led to pursue courses of action contrary to God’s will!
On the surface Revelation 13 presents readers with the phenomenon of the beast. For many interpreters, the beast seems to represent a multi-dimensional force of evil, symbolically designated by the number 666. The ‘mark of the beast’ in question, is generally interpreted as some kind of ‘brand’ that is forcibly placed on human subjects in order to subjugate them. The text seems to suggest, those who refuse the mark (usually those loyal to Jesus) are prevented from participating in the most basic privileges of society, unless they conform to the system and ‘worship’ the beast. Unsurprisingly, in modern times, the mark of the beast has been drawn interest from believers trying to make sense of new technology such as credit cards, bar codes, and more recently–in response to the recent pandemic measures– QR codes and vaccines. In fact, interest has gained considerable traction since the COVID 19 Pandemic, where citizens cannot ‘buy or sell’ unless they scan the QR code, or potentially will not be able to travel unless they are vaccinated.
Does this imply that the reign of the beast is imminent? Are these new restrictions covertly ushering in a new dark age of evil? By submitting to these new restrictions, are Christians unwittingly renouncing their loyalty to Christ? And, most important of all, if the worst is true, how should Christians handle it?
Because such apocalyptic texts are so readily prone to misinterpretation, I want to set out my interpretive principles, to help you understand that my assessment is grounded in a careful methodology. Firstly, any text can only be correctly understood in its context, both broad and narrow. Secondly, exegetical consistency must be maintained; that this, the genre, structure, and style of the literature must be respected. Finally, any obscure meaning can be clarified by cross-referencing the wider testimony of Holy Scripture, because all bible texts share a common divine source and thematic unity.
The Beast Rising
And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. 4 Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?” 5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. 6 He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast– all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. 9 He who has an ear, let him hear. 10 If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. 11 Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. 12 He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. 14 Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17 so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18 This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666. Revelation 13:1 -18 (NIV)
As you can see, this passage it takes narrative form and employs colorful symbolic language, in order to encrypt the message that only those who need to understand it, can. It also should be self-evident that the text ‘cannot’ be taken literally. For example, no one seriously expects to see a hideous creature that appears as a composite form of various wild animals, being conjured out the sea by a dragon. Obviously, these things are symbolic representations of something else. The key for us is to work out what that ‘something else’ is.
It is uncontested that the dragon is Satan (Rev 20:2), who has the power to bring into being the first beast, which comes out of the sea (the sea, being the domain of people, Rev 17:15). But who, or what, precisely is this ‘beast’?
Fortunately for us, an almost identical vision is given in the Old Testament book of Daniel (chapter 7). In Daniel, the characteristics of the Revelation beast are broken into four by Daniel’s vision, and the translation is expressly given, ‘The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth.’ Daniel 7:17 (NIV) As such, we can deduce that the composite beast of Revelation 13, either, represents one great kingdom with all the power and might of four kingdoms, or symbolically portrays chronologically contiguous kingdoms as really being one entity–thus, representing all the kingdoms of this world. Irrespective, we can see that we are dealing with a this-worldly human kingdom/empire, animated by the sinister power of Satan. Furthermore, this human empire is ruled by various kings, who doubtless act on behalf of dark lord, and whose personal power is inseparably equated with this world empire; as historically evidenced in the original Revelation context, by the rule of Caesar Nero being equated with the rule of the Roman Empire.
Evidently, this kingdom/empire has two express purposes: The first one is to fight against God’s people and destroy them, and the ‘the beast’ is bestowed power by Satan to that end. The second is to have authority to dominate and rule, ‘…over every tribe, people, language, and nation’ Rev 13:7 (NIV), presumably to stop those under the spell of the beast from converting to Christianity and placing themselves under the rule of God’s Kingdom.
There are only two possibilities for human existence: Submission to the beast or submission to God. Hence, those given over to the world empire cannot be loyal to God’s Kingdom, for it is not possible to submit to both simultaneously; a person can either worship Christ or worship the world empire–never both!
It should come as no surprise, that this message of exclusive loyalty is perfectly consistent with the New Testament’s testimony: Paul writes, ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.’ Eph 6:12; John writes, ‘Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.’ 1 John 2:15; James also says, ‘You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?’ James 4:4; and Peter states, ‘Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.’ 1 Pet 2:11.
We may deduce then, that this world empire is hostile to Christ and those under Christ’s dominion are called to avoid any devotion, theoretical or practical, to this counterfeit kingdom. This clash of loyalties invariably leads to open hostility and persecution from Satan’s side. Even in the face of such hostility, to the point of death, Christian believers are called to patiently endure in their uncompromising devotion to Jesus, and maintain a consistent obedience to his will, ‘This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.’ (Rev 13:10 NIV) No suggestion of forceful resistance, or cowardly retreat is offered from God’s side!
The Plot Thickens
In the vision of Revelation 13, another beast emerges. This time, the beast comes from out of ‘the earth’, and appears to act on behalf of the first beast in a prophetic manner. This beast appears as a kind of propaganda agent, acting on behalf of the first beast to promote its agenda. This second beast has the appearance of a lamb, yet speaks like a dragon; it appears innocent and trustworthy, much like Jesus (the Lamb of God), but speaks deceptive falsehoods on behalf of Satan. In fact, John refers to the same later on as ‘the false prophet’ (Rev 16:13, 19:20, and 20:10).
While commentators have suggested this earth-beast might be the Anti-Christ or some particular messianic person, this is not easy to sustain exegetically. Indeed, because the first beast doesn’t represent one historical kingdom ‘only’, it would be reasonable to assume that this earth-beast represents more than one person alone, but a quasi-religious prophetic institution that provides a socio-politically oriented flow of highly deceptive propaganda, designed to deceive the nations into worshipping the first beast and the dragon who gives it power.
However, it is not as important to know ‘who’ it is, but rather what ‘it’ does.
The false prophet’s aim is to exercise, ‘…. all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast…’ Rev 13:12 This earth-beast/prophet makes the people of the world worship (ascribe worth to) the first beast by deceiving them with great and miraculous signs. That is to say, the propaganda presented by this pseudo-prophetic entity is so convincing, that the inhabitants of the earth are absolutely convinced that the world empire, represented as the first beast, its values and it’s inherently this-worldly emphasis, is beyond comparison and that they should offer their whole lives in service to it and its agenda.
On a practical level, this earth-beast/prophet phenomenon might materialize in different forms: A philosophical theory, a political ideology, a socio-moral movement, an economic system, mainstream or social media, commercial advertising, or a false religion. Whatever form it takes, the important thing to note, is that its primary goal is to convince people under the sway of its deceptive power of the undeniable veracity of the world empire, and that nothing exists beyond it; and, presumably, if it does, it is imaginary or impotent. Ultimately, the goal of the second beast is to stop the whole world from seeing through the veil of deception and catching a glimpse of another alternative–God’s kingdom. It’ aim is clear, to get along in life you have to go along with ‘the system’.
Furthermore, the false prophet not only aims to deceive the nations into worshipping the first beast, but establishes a system of idolatry, designed to force those giving allegiance to this world empire, to not only to pay homage to its ubiquitous power but to deify and idolize it. How are we to make sense of this?
Again, the apocalyptic book of Daniel helps clarify our interpretation. In Daniel 3, we read, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.’ Dan 3:1(NIV). The express purpose was to ascribe god-like greatness on the ruler of the Babylonian empire, and strict orders were also given, ‘… Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.’ Daniel 3:6 (NIV) At this time, there were three Jews, unflinchingly loyal to God, who refused to bow down and worship the statue: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. For them, the image represented a form of idolatry offensive to God. Defying the state order, these three men were subsequently thrown into the fire. However, miraculously, God rescued them, which in turn led to a substantive challenge to King Nebuchadnezzar’s god-like authority and subsequent confession from him, ‘…Praise be to the God of who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.’ Dan 3:28 (NIV)
As you can see, in ancient days, loyalty to the world empire was proven through an explicit act of worship to an image of its deified emperor. This was also true for the original readers of the book of Revelation, those who lived under the Roman regime with its cult of emperor worship. In their context, as with ancient Babylon, submitting to emperor worship, symbolically enacted by paying homage to an image, was necessary to establish loyalty to the regime and get along in life under Roman rule. Though incredulous to some Western Christians, there may come a future time when people of the world are asked to ascribe worth to the world empire via some form of gratuitous idolatry related to an empirical leader of a global totalitarian regime, simply to sustain their social existence; yes, it is entirely possible that the worst is yet to come.
Notwithstanding this, a general lesson remains for valid for all people in all times, that if you buy into the propaganda that you cannot get along in this world unless you go along by ascribing worth to the world empire and the things that signify it—whether you like it or not, you are marked as a servant of the beast. Furthermore, it is easy to see beast-like qualities in Fascist, Communist, or Islamic regimes, but for those of us who live in seemingly benign Capitalist societies, in which worship of the ‘almighty dollar’ subtly predominates with the derivative priorities and practices that attend such deification, we should also be aware that loyalty to such a system may equally be paying homage to the beast!
The Mark of the Beast
He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666. Rev 13:16-18 (NIV)
Despite the best efforts of ‘enthusiastic’ believers to designate the mark as some kind of tangible brand, code, or physical symbol, sound exegesis of this text will not permit such a translation.
Just think about it, if the dragon, two beasts, and pretty much everything else in the chapter is a symbolic representation of ‘something else’, how is it possible to arbitrarily decide that the mark or number of the beast are literal marks? Indeed, to uncharacteristically determine that these symbolic designators are actual things, rather than symbolic representations of something else, represents the most inconsistent form of biblical interpretation.
Moreover, it would not be out of place to suggest that such a careless interpretation has greatly damaged sincere believers, binding their consciences with fear and failing to help them address the ‘real’ threats facing them. Not to mention the untold damage such interpretations have done to the reputation of Christ and his church through senseless fear mongering in the midst of a hurting society. By extension then, to suggest that money, credit cards, bar codes, QR codes, and vaccines might be covert forms of the mark of the beast, which might accidently or carelessly be embraced by unwitting Christians, simply cannot be supported in any way from this text.
So, if the mark of the beast is not literal/physical thing, then what is it?
The verses in question seem to suggest that the earth-beast/false prophet forced everyone, without distinction of class or status, to receive a mark on their forehead and hand, such that they could not subsist in the world unless they carried the brand of loyalty to the first beast (World Empire). However, the Greek word translated as ‘forced’ can mean ‘made’, ‘caused’, ‘enabled’ etc. Forced implies no choice, but given that the role of the false prophet was deception, it is more than likely his tempting powers caused them to be marked as loyal to the first beast—that is, having been deceived, the deceived subjects voluntarily chose to receive this designating mark.
Furthermore, it is the symbolic ‘location’ of this ‘symbolic’ mark that gives us the best clue to its real meaning. The mark is placed on the forehead and right hand. In the Old Testament, Moses cites these words to the redeemed Israelites regarding the festival of unleavened bread: ‘This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of the LORD is to be on your lips. For the LORD brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. ’Exodus 13:9 (NIV) Observance of this festival out of devotion to God, is like a ‘sign’ of God’s ownership and a tangible reminder that the Israelite is to be ever mindful of meditating on, speaking about and practicing God’s law; being grateful that God redeemed them from slavery. Notice even in this historical book, the marks are not literal but refer back to the keeping of an observance.
Satan, the perennial ‘copy-cat’, parody’s this mark concept by applying the same idea to those enslaved by the beast’s deceptions. Such that those sealed with the mark of the beast, are committed to a life of belief and practice commensurate with the first beast’s this-worldly agenda. Thus, the mark symbolically represents a commitment to follow the will of the first beast on account of buying into the deceptions of the second beast. Thus, on account of the powers of deception wielded by the earth-beast/false prophet, a spirit of deception has taken hold of the subject, causing them to think and act in line with the beast—giving their whole mind and body to its service. Such that those receiving the mark are enabled to get along in Satan’s counterfeit world without hindrance.
That the mark is not a literal mark is further confirmed by references to a mark ‘sealed’ on the foreheads of those loyal to Christ and his kingdom. In Revelation 7:13, 9:4, 14:1, 22:4, we see references to the saints being marked or sealed on the ‘forehead’. Now, I have never seen a Christian walking around with a literal mark on their head, proving they are a disciple of Christ, have you? I am guessing the answer is no. It would seem that marks relating to devotion, if they can be seen at all, are only seen by God, and can only ever evidenced visibly to others in the outside world as: Holy character, practical devotion, and charitable action. This, now, brings us back to our original point and main message.
The central thrust of Revelation 13 is ‘not’ to warn Christians to watch out for deceivers, who might secretly nullify their salvation by stealthily branding them with the mark of the beast. On the contrary, it assumes that the Christians who are loyal to Jesus will through long-suffering and faithfulness maintain the testimony and witness of Jesus, and in spite of the trials they are going through, honor their lord. In fact, in facing these trials well, faithful believers will expose Satan’s grand lie, the futility of his counterfeit world empire, and the deceptions of the false prophet. Moreover, their courageous obedience will be instrumental in rescuing those being misled by the beast’s deception; whose names are written in the book of life (Rev 13:8)—leading them into a joyful knowledge of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
However, if there is a deception to be aware of in this crisis, it is this: That Christians must not be deceived into embracing the natural human responses of fight and flight—responses of self-preservation. Not only do such responses dishonor God, but will invariably lead to abject failure of those adopting them. In fact the bible offers us a stark reminder of the futility of this crisis approach, in the failure of the Apostle Peter.
For Peter, there was no greater crisis that the knowledge that his lord and savior would soon be arrested and crucified. Peter determined in his own strength that he would not abandon his Lord, despite Jesus declaring that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed at dawn (Luke 22:34) Then Jesus retired to the Mount of Olives to pray, and wait for his impending arrest. He instructed his disciples to pray that they might not fall into temptation—they failed on the first account, and would soon fail on the second. When the time for the arrest came, Peter went into fight mode; he drew his sword and cut off the right ear of the servant of the High Priest. Immediately, this drew a rebuke from Jesus, who curtly reminded him that life by the sword would result in death by the sword. Power, violence, and self-determination are never the ways of God; Jesus clearly stating that he was not leading a rebellion. Moreover, Jesus reminded Peter and the disciples that he could easily call upon 12 legions of angels to halt the arrest, but the way of humility was necessary to fulfill the scriptures (Matt 26:53-54) The way of fight was sternly rejected by Jesus.
Peter, with a greater degree of caution, is still determined to remain true to Jesus in his own power and follows at a distance. Incredulously, this same Peter who had proudly boasted he would never deny Jesus, who arrogantly rose up and drew the sword in an attempt to alter history, now adopts the flight strategy. He was challenged three times that he was a close associate of Jesus, and denied the fact on all three occasions; the final denial was so vehement that he called curses down on himself and swore that he did not know the man. Peter went from fight to flight in a heartbeat. Indeed, in his flight there is not a more spectacular example of cowardly retreat recorded in all the annals of human history. Proving, that in the face of a value-laden crisis, flight is apostasy, the denial of Christ for self-preservation.
As you can see, from the empirical evidence, both fight and flight are not only unbecoming of the follower of Jesus, they are practically useless in accomplishing the will of God.
How should a Christian deal with a Crisis?
We have considered non-critical compliance (flight) and found it wanting, we have considered critical non-compliance (fight) and found it counter-productive. Is there a third way?
There is, but it is not easy. It is the way of Jesus Christ, the way of self-denial, the way of surrender, the way of love, the way of obedience, and ultimately the way of death. Dietrich Bonheoffer, in The Cost of Discipleship wrote, ‘When Christ calls a man to come, he bids him to come and die’. Of course, there are times when Christians face a crisis that it will result in their actual death, but in the very least, facing a crisis in the way of Jesus must entail a death to ‘self’—self-interest, self-gratification, self-fulfillment, self-determination, and self-will.
Make no mistake, the exposition of Revelation 13 was no entertaining ‘side-show’ to tickle your curiosity, it was placed in this essay to set the Christian life in its most realistic context—the world of cosmic conflict. Pandemics, wars, despotic regimes, famines, floods , fires, and calamities of all kinds are the common lot of humanity in a corrupted world racked with sin and animated by Satan and his nefarious motives. These phenomena, whilst appearing as mere natural events, and even having a human provenance, are instruments of the evil one to destroy, disturb, and distract the world from seeing the truth—that the world empire we encounter is really a counterfeit kingdom. Behind the veil of human history is really a divine conflict of epic proportions that no human can overcome in their own strength, except God intervene.
This is why the Apostle Paul wrote, ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.’ Eph 6:12-13 (NIV)
Jesus knew, and the other apostles came to know, that flesh and blood cannot stand in the cosmic battle, and as soon as you draw upon it, you have made a conscious chose to dispense with the power of God—the only power that ‘can’ prevail. When it comes to dealing with a crisis, whether it is a global pandemic, a world war, a financial crisis, or the most hideous anti-Christian persecution imaginable, attempting to address the matter at hand with human resources is utterly futile. Realize this, you have entered into the realm of spiritual power, and only a greater spiritual power can overcome it.
Paradoxically, the secret to accessing this power is human weakness and humility.
Have you carefully considered the life of Jesus? Did you ever see him use his divine power for any other purpose than to help others or reveal the truth to the ignorant? No, never. He could have easily drawn on his own power and accomplished great things, as we have just witnessed in the account of his arrest, but he did not. Self-willed power is not the way of God. As contrary as it might sound, weakness, humility, and surrender are the way of Christ—and the only way for his followers. For in weakness the power of God is most evident.
This is why Paul said ‘Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:9-10 (NIV), and again he wrote, ‘For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you.’ 2 Cor 13:4 (NIV)
But I fear, me simply suggesting that you need to adopt the mindset of Christ and walk in weakness and humility, to be equipped to handle crises in this broken world, will only fall like water off a ducks back. Why? Because so many of you have become so accustomed to listening to the Word on a regular basis, and doing nothing about applying it, that you have come to believe that simply knowing a truth equates with doing it. It does not!
Friends, I do not want to chastise you as one who is superior, but want to offer an admonition as an imperfect fellow pilgrim on the narrow road to life; one who seeks to follow Jesus, but often fails. Faith ‘in’ Jesus, can only manifest itself as obedience ‘to’ Jesus, and obedience to Jesus means surrendering to God, and relying exclusively on his power; not only to confront any crisis well, not only to prevail in holding onto an unflinching loyalty to Christ in the midst of that crisis, but to actually make a difference in the lives of others, by bringing the power of God into the midst of the crisis with loving service to those in need. And in doing so, breaking through the veil of Satan’s counterfeit kingdom, revealing the kingdom of God in all its glory, and by the grace of God, setting the captives free from the ‘real’ disease—the disease of sin and death.
One final word. If this kind of devotion to Jesus and his ways, seems like ‘a bridge too far’, just start small. Think of one small thing in which you can yield your self-will to God, and be open to where it might lead. You may just find God will take you on a life-changing journey.