God has called me to help him get his church back into the world, and I’ve accepted that call.

Not that church people don’t live amongst unsaved people; it’s just that for the most part, many of us aren’t that invested in the souls and lives around us who need Jesus. Our hearts don’t beat for the lost like Jesus’ does.

Earlier this week, I shared a VLOG about 5-2Thrive (five to thrive), a bridge-building lifestyle I’ve been preaching at our church for some time now. This past Sunday I preached about the first element of 5-2Thrive, which is regular and strategic prayer for lost people around us. The first half of my message, however, focused on the spiritual condition of the lost so that even before we begin, we know what we’re up against. The Apostle Paul says,

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (II Cor. 4:4). People who don’t know Jesus are blind to him, to the truth he brings. Can you argue a blind person into seeing? Nope. They can’t see. An unsaved person’s mind is blinded. Period.

So then, how does anyone get saved? Well, Paul says, think of how it happened with us.

“God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (4:6). We were saved, in other words, because God was able to shine his light past/through our blinded mind into our hearts, which enabled us to come face to face with Jesus. The question remains, however: What is this blindness Paul talks about? For the answer to this question, we have to jump ahead a few chapters, into II Corinthians chapter ten.

“Though we live in the world,” Paul says, “We do not wage war as the world does” (10:3). Aha! So we’re at war. Devil bashing time, right?

Wrong. Let’s keep reading.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (10:4). So we’re not targeting demons, we’re targeting strongholds. What’s a stronghold? Popular wisdom states that a stronghold is a place where the enemy is keeping us in bondage. There is some truth to this definition, but often times we speak as though the devil has exerted such influence that our free will is off the table. Francis Frangipane brilliantly asserts that a stronghold is a wall the enemy fools us into building between ourselves and God. And we build it brick by brick, using three powerful raw materials:

“We demolish ARGUMENTS and every PRETENSION that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every THOUGHT to make it obedient to Christ” (10:5). An “argument” refers to a person’s logic—their world view and the paradigms that support it. A “pretension” is something we pridefully cling to as though it were true. The word “thought” here refers to the perceptions of the mind. Here’s how they work together to create a stronghold—that blinding influence in the mind that Paul speaks of earlier:

Our world view is made up of hundreds of paradigms—some large, some small. An example of a large paradigm might be, “There is no God.” An example of a smaller paradigm might be, “Christians are a bunch of hypocrites.” These paradigms work together to form a view of life that often shut God out of the equation or casts him in a strange light (ie, another religion). Secondly, our pretensions cause us to feel a sense of pride about our belief system. We cling to falsehood as though it were true, and this reinforces our blindness. Thirdly, with our paradigms and pride in place, our moment by moment perceptions are skewed. For all intents and purposes, if our paradigms don’t allow for Jesus, our pride keeps those paradigms in place, and our individual perceptions rule him out, we’re blind to him. Satan is intimately involved with the construction of this wall between us and God, eagerly supplying the falsehoods we need to build a house on sand, brick by brick.

The question is, what can we do about it? I’ll get to that later this week.