Nothing educates quite like a journey to a third world country. To be in situations where we truly see how totally dependent on the Lord we are opens the eyes in a way that nothing else can. To say, “Give us this day our daily bread,” takes on a whole new meaning when you have no idea where your next meal will come from. Bathing out of buckets or in rivers makes an American shower an indescribable luxury and there is no way to explain how comfortable these pews are this morning. Life there is harder than it is here, but we do share one common experience.
The devil is on the prowl seeking someone to consume (1 Peter 5:8). He is perpetually lurking outside the door waiting to attack. It does not matter if it is an ornate mansion door or a simple opening in a jungle hut, he is there. He hides, disguising himself in clever ways. If we drop our guard for even a minute, he will take advantage of us. If we think that easy living means that we are immune, we are mistaken. He deceives through luxury more often that he does through depravity. A full stomach may be more susceptible than an empty one.
The evidence is everywhere. We see his handiwork from the primitive villages to the nicest homes. He disrupts relationships; husbands and wives, parents and children, friends, neighbors, the church. The primary proof of his presence is a world torn apart. Sin does that, and it is everywhere. He would like to rip us out of the hands of God, but He cannot (John 10:28-29). So, he does the next best thing. He persuades us to loosen our grip on the Lord. He succeeds at a frightening rate.
The churches in South America bear the scars of sin and Satan. The situations varied, but the root cause was the same. The symptoms were different but the disease was identical. Churches in disarray. Families in peril. Christian soldiers who have laid aside the armor of God to clothe themselves in the ways of the world. Sin infiltrates and deforms, and it does so from the third world to the most advanced nation on earth.
North American congregations have the same wounds. They are just more subtle. We are so prosperous that we can anesthetize ourselves to the pain with creature comforts. Surround sound fills our ears, and flat screen televisions occupy our minds. Our days are full, and our hearts are empty. We run the wheels off of our cars in pursuit of meaning which only comes through Jesus Christ. The problems of every nation are not the product of poverty or adversity. They are the fruit of sin, and only the blood of the Savior can pay that debt.