"When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam, 'What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?'"1
Someone once said … perhaps in jest … perhaps not … that in some instances God's Spirit could depart from our midst and we wouldn't notice any difference. With today's training, education, and skills—plus our sophisticated technology, gadgetry, and ear-splitting amplified music, we can do an impressive job without God's help. It's very easy for highly motivated, gifted, success-oriented, and numbers-conscious leaders to run ahead of God and, like crooner, Frank Sinatra, "do it my way."
Don't misunderstand me, I'm not against technology nor am I against church music (I greatly appreciate both—at least some of it), but without God's blessing we labor in vain. Actually, I've been in small groups where there was no technology and no music but where there was an overwhelming sense of God's presence. I've also been in church services where all they had was an "old-fashioned organ" and again there was an overwhelming sense of God's presence. I've also been in services where highly charged worship leaders were trying to get us to jump up and down "for the Lord"—and where those of us who wouldn't comply were accused of resisting God's Spirit.
The reality is that charismatic type personality leaders—be they musicians, pastors, or TV evangelists—can manipulate a crowd and get them hooting-and-a-hollering about the same as rock music "stars" can get their audience to do. We don't need God's Spirit (the Holy Spirit) to do what a rock star does.
When Balaam was about to use his God-given gift and calling for the wrong reason with the wrong motive, God had to use a donkey to stop him dead in his tracks. Read the story in Numbers 22. It's fascinating. Imagine the shock when Balaam's donkey spoke to him. One can't help but wonder which one was the donkey.
Maybe, just maybe, God may have to use a few "donkeys" today to get his people to hear and see what is happening in many of our church circles and in the world around us—a world which is hell-bent on getting rid of every vestige of Christian truth and God's Word—and to wake up and realize what radical religionists are hell-bent on doing to all Christians, Jews and Americans. To overcome this ever-increasing evil, great preaching, impressive teaching and inspiring music, no matter how good, won't do it. It's going to take facing reality, sincere dedication and commitment of every Christian, earnest prayer for revival, and lives that reflect the love of Jesus in all that we are and do. Nothing less will overcome evil with good.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help especially us Western Christians—who know little if anything about persecution for our faith—to see the world in which we live as you see it. Help us to understand what is going on in the world today and to stand guard against all evil in the power of your Spirit, and to so live that your truth and salvation will triumph over all evil and the terrorism that is accelerating throughout the world today. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Numbers 22:27-28 (NIV).