Finding Unity in a Polarized World

Our world is polarized socially, especially along political lines. When people in the world are nasty to each other, we Christians are not all that surprised; what’s disturbing, however, is that our culture’s polarization is surfacing in the church and producing strife and division among followers of Jesus.

In this piece, I’m going to state the problem, and then offer a way forward. In stating the problem, I want to point to two issues that are especially polarizing in the church right now: (1) politics, and (2) COVID-19.

Two Issues
First, political priorities are dividing believers. For example, a pastor of a racially diverse congregation told me his biggest challenge right now is people leaving his local church because they disagree with the political priorities of other believers in the congregation.

Scripture calls us to stand resolutely for four values that are currently politically charged issues in America:

1. Care for the poor. We’re called by God to care for the disenfranchised, marginalized, strangers, foreigners, orphans, widows, and under-privileged.
2. Racial harmony. As our Creator, God has ordained racial diversity so we might show forth the glory of His image together. Disciples of Jesus view racism as sin, and support racial equality.
3. Sanctity of the family. Scripture reveals that marriage is instituted by God and is only between one man and one woman.
4. Sanctity of human life. Human life is a sacred gift, and abortion is murder.

Many Christians probably hold to these four values, but not all list them in the same order of priority. While all of us have values and convictions we hold dear, we recognize that some take precedence over others. For example, some Christians view the horror of abortion and the sanctity of the family as of paramount importance. Others consider the cause of the poor and issues of racial equality as of primary importance.

While we might agree about the nature of the social problems in our nation, Christians are sometimes polarized because they disagree about which governmental policies and laws will best address these problems. Furthermore, Christians are often polarized by what I would describe as values prioritization—that is, our opinion about which of these four convictions are most important.

I’m suggesting that the best way to address societal ills, and the order in which they should be addressed, is disputable.

Second, COVID-related practices are dividing believers. For example, I’ve heard stories of believers leaving their church because their church insisted everyone wear a mask during services. And I’ve also heard stories of other believers leaving their church because their church refused to require everyone to wear a mask.

I’ve heard of believers who are displeased because their church won’t meet during COVID-related restrictions. On the other hand, I’ve heard of other believers who are displeased because their church is continuing to meet despite COVID-related restrictions.

The best way to respond to COVID-related issues is disputable, and yet Christians are becoming so distressed by their church’s responses and COVID policies that they’re allowing disputable matters to separate relationships in the body of Christ.

That’s our problem. Now, what can we do about—or how should we respond to—these polarizing forces from the culture?

A Possible Solution
The issues here are complex, and can’t possibly be addressed fully in a brief blog. I’m asking for grace, therefore, because I won’t be able to answer every question in this brief piece. Rather, I simply want to contribute the perspective of one Bible passage to the discussion.

Please consider how Paul addressed polarizing issues in Romans 14. In that chapter, he dealt with what the New International Version renders “disputable matters” (Rom 14:1).

On some matters of conscience, there’s room biblically for differences of opinion. For example, Paul wrote, “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind” (Rom 14:5, NKJV). In another place he added, “Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you” (Phil. 3:15).

Concerning what matters can we allow different opinions? Well, for starters, I believe there’s room for differences of opinion when it comes to politics and COVID. Let’s look at Romans 14 as our guide.

The chapter begins, “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things” (Rom 14:1, NKJV). “Doubtful things” may not be the best translation here. Other translations render it in a variety of ways:

“Without quarreling over disputable matters” (NIV).
“But not to doubtful disputations” (KJV).
“But not to quarrel over opinions” (ESV).
“Not to determinations of reasonings” (Young’s).
“Not for decisions of reasonings” (Berry’s Interlinear).
“Not for judicial differentiation of inward reasoning” (Englishman’s).

The general sense seems to be that we should not dispute with one another over issues in which differences of opinion are permissible.

In Paul’s day, believers had differences of opinion regarding eating meat or drinking wine. Some would consider those foods unclean if they had any association with pagan idolatry. Paul also mentioned believers having different opinions regarding certain days being holier than others. He considered these issues disputable.

Paul showed that disputable issues always tend toward two polar responses: “Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him” (Rom. 14:3). The two polar responses? Paul said that one group tends to despise, while the other group tends to judge.

Those with the freedom to eat meat tended to despise those who didn’t eat as being pitifully bound by rules that were nailed to the cross of Christ. Those who didn’t eat meat that was tainted by idolatrous associations judged those who did eat as being naively ignorant and having a seared conscience.

The same thing still happens today. When it comes to disputable matters, the issues almost always divide into two groups. How do the two groups view each other? One group despises while the other judges.

This despise/judge tendency is clearly evident in almost all the cultural issues that are polarizing society today. I’ll illustrate my meaning with the examples of politics and COVID.

In contemporary American politics, Conservatives tend to despise Liberals for selling our nation to socialism and supposing they hold the moral high ground. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to judge Conservatives as being callous, backward, bigoted haters.

As regards COVID and face masks, one group tends to despise the other for being duped into believing the masks accomplish something. The group that’s despised, however, tends to judge the other group as unloving and not preferring one another.

In Romans 14:3, Paul urged us against either extreme of despising or judging. Why? Because God has received that person, and therefore so should we.

I don’t have room here for the exposition that Romans 14 deserves. I hope this blog inspires you to study it carefully on your own. For now, look at the bookends of our passage: Romans 14:1 and Romans 15:7.

Receive one who is weak in the faith (Rom 14:1).

Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God (Rom 15:7).

If we’re not to judge or despise one another, what are we to do? Paul’s summary statement was very clear. We are to receive one another—regardless of that person’s opinions on disputable matters.

Rather than separating from one another and huddling in opposite corners, we are to embrace and receive one another in the affections of Christ. This injunction comes not as a suggestion but as a mandate.

Paul didn’t write, “Therefore, argue until you’re able to convince one another of your opinion.” Instead, we are to receive one another, since we are “individually members of one another” (Rom 12:5), even when the other person has different opinions on which social issues are more important.

I call on every disciple of Jesus to resolve that you’ll never separate yourself from precious fellow believers because of differences of opinion on disputable matters.

Opinions may be disputable, but one thing is not: Our biblical mandate to receive one another.

Be filled anew with the love of Christ! Receive one another!

We Need Trials

Tree ImageWe don’t like trials. We don’t want them, and we don’t enjoy them. What’s more, I don’t think we should ask for them. But the truth is, sometimes we need them.

Peter pointed to this when he wrote, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:6). If need be. What a fascinating phrase.

Why would we need trials? Because without them we get soft. Like a body-builder who stops exercising, a strong believer without any trials inevitably grows flabby. Trials cause our spirit to make diligent search (Psalm 77:6), and that passionate pursuit of Christ keeps us lean, growing, reaching.

Look around right now. As our world grapples with the coronavirus, believers the world over are fasting and praying and seeking God. This trial is pressing us into God. It’s confronting everyone, believer and unbeliever alike, with an opportunity to call on God.

Trials are not a blessing. Proverbs 10:22 says, “The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” When God blesses you with wisdom, provision, direction, or protection, they come with no sorrow. But trials often come with great sorrow. Trials aren’t a blessing, therefore, but a trial. In the end, however, they can produce great blessings in our lives if we respond properly to them.

Sometimes, we imagine the blessed life to be one of financial prosperity, excellent health, fulfilling relationships, and a happy family—free of troubles, crisis, or pressure. But a blessed life is not a trial-free life. A trial-free life makes us soft, fat, and sluggish. The blessed life is that which endures through trials and overcomes (Revelation 3:21).

Since He scourges every son He receives (Hebrews 12:6), how can I possibly consider myself blessed if He never chastens me? To be left alone is a curse not a blessing.

Since pruning is essential to bearing more fruit (John 15:2), how could I think it a blessing for the Vinedresser to never prune radically in my life?

I watched a winemaking documentary once in which they explained what makes a vintage wine. A vintage wine is coveted for its exceptional flavor. I thought a vintage wine would come from a perfect growing season—plenty of sun, ample rain, and warm temperatures. Actually, it’s the opposite. Perfect conditions might produce much wine, but they don’t produce a vintage wine. Vintage wine comes from hard seasons in which there was too much rain, or not enough rain, or too much cold, etc. A hard season forces the vine to work harder. The harvest might be smaller, but it’ll produce a wine they’ll talk about for years to come. The wine of 1992.

During drought, vinedressers don’t irrigate. They intentionally stress the vines by withholding water. Why? Because if they were to irrigate the vines, the roots would turn upward to capture the moisture. Without surface water, the roots have only one direction to go: Deeper. Desperate to survive, the vine will thrust roots into places never before reached. In the push to find moisture, untouched nutrients are accessed and absorbed.

You’ll never get a vintage wine from an unstressed vine.

Pruned plants look bad. Take apples, for example. I was in apple country once in November, and said to my companion, “Look at that apple orchard!” It looked horrible. The trees were leafless and bare, with hardly any branches whatsoever. My friend replied, “That orchard was bad, they had to kill it.” I smiled to myself because I knew something—the orchard had been pruned. The trees looked grotesquely ugly, but next harvest I knew they would produce huge apples.

God’s not trying to make you look good; He’s trying to make you fruitful. We need trials if we’re to be fruitful.

Arizona has a tourist trap called the Biosphere. Looking like a big white bubble or half-globe, the Biosphere is an array of enclosed buildings that house a variety of scientific initiatives. Among their experiments, they wanted to see how fruit trees would produce under ideal conditions. With temperatures carefully controlled, they gave them perfect amounts of fertilizer, light, and water. The trees produced an abundant crop but with one problem: The branches snapped. Why? Cultivated indoors, they were protected from wind. They knew no storms.

Wind stresses trees by forcing branches to remain flexible. Without wind to move them, branches become too brittle to sustain the weight of the harvest and eventually snap.

Trees need wind, and so do we. We need storms in our lives that make us flexible and adaptable to the movements of the Holy Spirit.

I was speaking in a Texas church once, and a sister who was interested in my personal story was asking about my vocal affliction and associated limitations. She asked, Does it hurt when you talk? I answered, Every word has been painful for 28 years. Her response was heartfelt and compassionate, Oh, I’m sorry.

I replied, God has never apologized to me for this trial.

In the Bible, God never apologized to anyone for their suffering. I can imagine God saying, Job, why should I apologize to you for your horrific trial, when I’m going to use this to give you the first book of the Bible, make you the first signpost in Scripture to the cross, use your example to encourage believers for millennia to come, make you the father of a stunning generation, and give you an eye-to-eye visitation with Me in glory?

Joseph, why should I apologize to you for the horror of your dark Egyptian prison, when I’m going to use your consecration to make you a feeder of nations and the preserver of your family’s national heritage?

Jesus, why should I apologize to You for forsaking You in Your hour of consummate suffering, when I’m going to use Your cross to vanquish Satan and make You the Redeemer of the entire globe?

He doesn’t apologize for our trials because He redeems them for greater blessing than if the trial had never happened.

How do we grow, mature, become more fruitful, and change our world? Through trials. We need trials if we’re to be history-makers.

I don’t think it’s biblical to ask for trials. But I do think it’s biblical to pray tearfully and desperately for all of Christ. Whatever it takes. Jesus, I’ve got to know You more. Do whatever it takes, until I’m fully Yours and surrendered to Your holy purposes in the earth.

For that cry to be answered you may, if need be, suffer grievous trials. But always remember, stressed vines produce vintage wines.

Rekindling Our First Love

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At the launch of 2020, the Holy Spirit’s agenda for us is clear: He wants the first commandment in first place in our hearts. The first commandment — to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength — comes before every other passion, vision or mission (Matthew 22:37–38). Nothing is more essential as we step into this pivotal decade.

Good news: The Holy Spirit is willing to do whatever it takes to restore our first love (Revelation 2:4). Start your year by praying the dangerous prayer, “Whatever it takes.”

It’s time for dangerous, desperate praying out of holy desperation — when you’re willing to pay any price to have more of Christ. What merciful kindness — when God disrupts our soft, middle-America Christianity and launches us on a journey to pursue His face.

For me, that journey has meant a profound return to the cross of Jesus. Because the cross is where everything starts.

Back to the Beginning

To reclaim the vitality of a thing, sometimes you have to go back to its inception. For example, to renew vitality in your marriage, you may want to go back to the things that first brought you together. As another example, when the Jews asked Jesus about divorce, He talked about how God instituted marriage way back in the beginning. The principle applies to our first love. To rekindle our love for God, we should go back to the beginning. It all started, for all of us, at the cross. That’s where the two of you first met.

It’s at the cross that the fountain of love was first opened. This is where gratefulness, abandonment, fire, passion, devotion, zeal and longing flow. This is where love is excavated, revisited and explored.

Go back to the nails, the stripes, the bloody wood, the thorns. Go back to the naked horror and the writhing, contorted trauma. “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16).

God Withholds Nothing

The adversary tells me, just like he did with Eve, that God’s withholding from me. He tells me that God is withholding the answers to my prayers that would make me everything I could be. And when I hear that ancient accusation I just go back to the cross, because the cross nails that accusation.

When I come to the cross, I see a God with nails in His hands, a nail in His feet and thorns on His brow, who stands on the nail, spreads His arms wide and says to me, “I give you all My strength. I give you My mind. I give you My flesh. I give you My soul. I give you My heart. I give you My last breath. I give you My last drop of blood.

When I look at the cross, I don’t see a God who’s withholding from me. Rather, I see a God who is giving me His best. He’s giving me His only begotten Son — His everything. Therefore, I declare to my generation, My God withholds nothing from me. He’s already given me His everything! And if He hasn’t answered my prayer yet, it’s because He’s got a better way to answer it than I have in my best imagination.

And now I find the courage to stand on my nail, spread my arms, and say back to my Beloved, “I love You with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, all my body, my time, my finances, my giftings and my strength. I am Yours, and You are mine.

“The fire of God’s love is so empowering that no trial in life can extinguish it.”

The Cross Awakens Love

How does God renew our first love? Through trouble. Through the cross. There, I said it.

Don’t despise the means God uses to make you more desperate for Him. Satan may have a hand in your trial, but God has a purpose to make you desperate for everything He’s willing to give.

Are you in a fiery trial? It’s not the fire that changes you; it’s the pursuit of God in the fire that changes you. Harness the distress of your trial and press into God with the desperation of someone who’s drowning. He wants to become your survival.

It was a fiery trial that launched me on my spiritual journey. Over 20 years ago, I suffered a debilitating physical injury (fallout from a bad surgery) and nearly lost my way. With the desperation of a drowning man, I began to cling to the words of Jesus like never before. Psalm 119:92 became my personal experience: “Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction.” His promises and the words of His mouth became my survival. I’m here today only because of His word.

This is where He brought me back to my first love.

For years, my prayer life was reduced to three words: “I love You.” “I don’t understand You; I don’t see what You’re doing; I don’t know where You’re taking me; I’m not even enjoying You right now, but I love You.” Just giving Him my love, in the darkest place of my life, that’s all I could do.

And now I realize, it’s the most powerful thing you can do. When you choose to love Him in the greatest trials of life, you become eligible for some of the most powerful promises in Scripture.

“All things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation” (Psalm 91:14–16).

He used the greatest trial of my life to bring me into the kind of intimacy with Jesus that I always wanted.

The cross opens to the deepest intimacy. Why do we run from the very thing that will bring us into the bosom of our Beloved?

The Fire of God’s Love

Song of Solomon 8:6 says, “Love is as strong as death,” because love took Christ to His death. That same love empowers us in the face of the greatest opposition, just as those who faced the wrath of the accuser “did not love their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:11).

Song of Solomon 8:6 also says this love is like “flames of fire, a most vehement flame.” The fire of God’s love is so empowering that no trial in life can extinguish it. This is what the next verse means when it says, “Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it” (8:7). Waters in the Bible often symbolize problems and difficulties that seek to overwhelm and drown us. This verse is saying, “There is no opposition great enough to quench this love for Jesus that burns in the hearts of God’s saints.”

Many saints in the Bible knew overwhelming circumstances, and many today continue to experience deep floods of adversity and crisis. But even after Satan levels his greatest attacks, God’s people come through with a deeper, more fiery love than ever. Revelation 12 depicts Satan (the dragon) in his last days’ rage, spewing a flood from his mouth in order to try to drown the church, but he’s not successful. The grace of God lifts up a standard against that flood. When the enemy would seek to drown us, the Lord kindles a fire within us that cannot be extinguished. It’s a fiery love for the Lord Jesus.

In the hour when God’s people experience their greatest tests, the Lord is reserving a revelation of Himself and His beauty. He is saying to us, “Don’t be afraid or intimidated of the dragon’s floods, because when I reveal Myself to you, the revelation of My love will be stronger than the rage of Satan.” God has a fire that will consume the greatest floods — the very fire of God Himself.

Do you feel too weak to love Him with this kind of extravagant love? Are you aware of your inner wounds, emotional handicaps, addictions and proneness to sin? The Lord would answer, “The issue is not your weakness but My fire! When I release the fire of My love in your heart, everything will change. I will awaken in you a love beyond anything you’ve ever experienced. You will see My Son!”

Love Him With Everything

Jesus created the human body for crucifixion. At creation, when Jesus was fashioning a body for Adam that He Himself would one day inhabit, I can imagine the Father saying to Him, “Son, are You sure You want to put all those nerve endings in the hands like that? That’s where they’re going to put the nails. And are You sure You want to put all those nerve endings in the feet like that? That’s where they’re going to put the nail.”

I imagine the Son replying, “Yes, Abba, I know. I want to feel their sorrows in the depths of My being. I want to feel for them in every part of My being.”

How does Jesus feel about you? He feels about You in His hands, in His arms, in His shoulders, in His neck, in His face, in His scalp, in His back, in His gut, in His legs, in His knees, in His feet, in His toes. His love for you runs the full course of His entire body, soul and mind.

And now, this is how we love Him too. No matter the troubles; no matter the distractions; or the temptations; or discouragements. The cross has awakened us to the greatest romantic adventure of the centuries. Love for Jesus runs the full course of our entire beings.

Love gets all of me. Worship gets all of me. The cross gets all of me. All I want to know is, how can I give more?

Kneel again at His cross today. Give Him your love. Let this love grip, shake and take you. Love Him in 2020 with all your mind, flesh, soul and strength. May the fire of this love so consume you that all is burned away except for one thing — love for the face of Jesus Christ.

Pray the dangerous prayer. “Anything. Everything. Whatever it takes.” +

Bob Sorge is the author of more than 20 books and is best known for “Secrets of the Secret Place,” which inspires and strengthens believers in their secret-place relationship with Jesus. Visit to order this book. More of Sorge’s teachings can be found on his Oasis House Ministries website ( and his YouTube channel (

Scripture in this article is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Resolve the Crisis in Your Marriage Jesus’ Way

Brad and Anna had a happy marriage. They were both devout believers in Jesus, fell madly in love, and married soon after college. In time, they began having children, were active in their church, and to all appearances seemed to have a peaceful, happy family. 

But something dark lurked in the shadows. Brad had an addiction to porn that he couldn’t shake. Anna didn’t even learn of it until after they were married. Sometimes Brad would talk about it with Anna, but shame kept his struggles mostly secretive. Brad began to lose his resolve to fight temptation and slowly sank even further. 

Throughout their marriage, Anna expressed her support. She prayed for Brad and held him accountable when he asked. She cried to God on his behalf but felt powerless to help him. She urged him to see a counselor, but Brad was a private guy and went to the counselor only a couple times. He began to lie, telling Anna he was doing better. In actuality, his thought life grew darker and eventually he had his first affair with a co-worker. 

Brad loved the Lord, but when the affair started he began to feel more distant than ever from Christ. He felt trapped. That’s when he signed onto a dating app and met a woman he really fell for. The second affair quickly became serious, and Brad’s heart toward Anna grew cold.

By the time Anna knew Brad was in a serious affair, it was too late. Brad pulled away from their church, divorced Anna, left her with the kids, and remarried. 


Why do believers like Brad and Anna sometimes divorce? Christians really want their marriage to work, and yet the percentage of divorce among believers is virtually the same as among unbelievers. Are we missing something?

Yes. We’re not following Jesus’ path for relational reconciliation. Jesus’ way is very clear: 

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Matt 18:15-17

If you’re married to a believer, then your spouse is also your brother or sister in Christ, and this passage applies to your marriage.

Most Christian marriages fail because of sin that hasn’t been handled Jesus’ way. Sin is like a deadly cancer that kills marriages when not removed carefully. We must identify sins that are hurting our marriage and go after them.

Start by asking, Is my spouse sinning against me? Am I sinning against my spouse? What commands of Scripture are being disregarded or violated? Start by identifying the sin, along with a verse that addresses that sin. Disciples of Jesus are eager to repent and pursue obedience with all their hearts. 

Look at some of the things that destroy marriages: rage, railing language, not submitting to one another, adultery, being unkind, abuse, unforgiveness, threatening divorce. They’re all sins

One of our biggest mistakes is to tolerate sin in our marital relationship. When we do, we violate Jesus’ command. When our brother or sister—our spouse—sins against us, Jesus commands us to rebuke them (Luke 17:3), and show them their fault (Matt 18:15). To refuse to do so is to refuse Jesus. This is one of the most rampant mistakes in Christians marriages today. Submit to Jesus and stop tolerating sinful behavior in your home. Let’s remove from our marriage any sin that hinders love.

In Matthew 18, Jesus gave us three steps resolving serious problems in our marriage. Let’s look at each.

Step One: Go to Your Brother or Sister

If your spouse sins against you, go first to them privately and tell them their fault. Explain to them the nature of the sin you think they’ve committed against you, hear their perspective on the incident, and then both of you will hopefully be eager to repent of the ways you were wrong. Bring Matthew 18:15-17 with you to the visit so your spouse understands you’re obeying Jesus.

When addressing someone’s sin, be gracious, wise, gentle, loving, kind, and ready to forgive (Eph 4:32). When you bring Matthew 18 to your spouse, you’re not stifling the romance of your relationship but are actually giving the romance of your relationship a basis to thrive. Nothing kills romance in a marriage faster than overlooking cancerous sins that undermine the relationship. 

What if your spouse doesn’t hear you in step one? Then take it to the second step Jesus gave us. By doing so, you’re not dishonoring your spouse but are rather honoring both them and Jesus.

Step Two: Take One or Two Witnesses

Jesus said, “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established’” (Matt 18:16).

Jesus told us to set up a gracious and kind confrontation. Find one or two witnesses to labor with you in helping your spouse find repentance. This is done when your spouse isn’t willing to go with you to consult a pastor or counselor. Jesus is describing something more confrontational than a counseling appointment. He’s describing your taking someone with spiritual authority to your spouse who is resisting repentance.

Be thoughtful about who you take to your spouse. Choose someone your spouse honors for their walk with Christ. That person may have some suggestions to help you walk out the crisis more wisely. When the time is right, take them to your spouse. If your spouse is a sincere disciple of Jesus, they will hopefully be won by the appeals of a wise leader in the body of Christ. 

When step two is invoked, many situations turn around and move toward healing. But what should you do if your spouse doesn’t receive this leader? Jesus gave a third step. 

Step Three: Tell It to the Church 

Jesus said, “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector” (Matt 18:17).

When you tell your story to the church, you are asking the church to come to a unified judgment on the matters between you and your spouse. The church stands as a corporate witness before you both, appealing to both of you to receive the judgment of the entire congregation. The witness of the church carries more authority than just one or two leaders. The church’s united witness carries an authority that no true disciple of Christ can dismiss. Our hope in implementing this step is that the sinning spouse will come to their senses, submit to the witness of the church, and repent. 

Bring your appeal to the governing body of your local church, whether elders, pastors, or deacons.

If your sinning spouse is unwilling to go with you, then present it by yourself. This council of leaders will determine the course of action they’ll take in order to pass an informed judgment.  

If your sinning spouse is unwilling to receive the judgment of the church council, Jesus said, “Let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” In other words, he is to be viewed at that point as an unbeliever—someone who has broken faith, is no longer walking as a disciple of Jesus, and needs to be evangelized again. 

I’m appealing to local church leadership councils to hear every case brought to them by their members. Even when cases aren’t handled perfectly, Jesus honors our efforts to obey His process. 

Jesus meant for the local church to serve as a governing body for the health of its members. Leaders in a church court are deeply invested in the health of the church and care deeply for each and every member. The entire process is bathed in the affections and love of Jesus Christ.

It’s time for believers in troubled marriages to use Jesus’ wisdom in Matthew 18 to bring resolve and healing to their home. Jesus’ path seems rather confrontational, however, so why would someone want to invoke His three steps? 

Let me suggest six reasons to do this.

  1. Obedience

Jesus gave us Matthew 18:15-17, not as an option but as a command. He left no room for sins between brethren to fester or be ignored. As disciples of Jesus, we follow His pathway simply because we want to obey Him.

Jesus’ way is a fabulous gift to you. He has provided for the church to cover you spiritually so you don’t have to weather the storm alone. To obey Him is not burdensome. Rather, His way will lift a burden from you. Don’t deny the gracious gift He’s provided for your marriage. Do it His way and He’ll honor your obedience.

  1. Faith

A second reason to follow Matthew 18:15-17 is because we believe in Jesus’ wisdom. He alone is wise. 

The unrenewed mind thinks, “If I follow the steps of Matthew 18 in my marriage, it’ll be blown apart or become intolerable to stay in.” But faith believes His wisdom surpasses ours and produces eternal fruit. 

Some people don’t follow Jesus’ advice here because they feel hopeless about anything changing. In other words, their faith is depleted. Build yourself up, therefore, in your faith (Jude 1:20). Get your eyes back on God and renew your confidence in His ability to heal your marriage. 

When we believe and obey the words of Christ, God steps in! (Because God likes faith.) He makes up for our lack, releases His power, and does amazing things on our behalf that can leave us astounded. 

  1. Peacemaking

When you follow Matthew 18:15-17, you’re being a peacemaker in your marriage. Where anger, resentment, suspicion, frustration, and anxiety have damaged the peace in a marriage, repentance will restore it. 

Outbursts of wrath kill the peace in a home. We must confess such sins so we can see the peace of Christ restored to our home. 

To make peace is to declare war on all the divides and separates.

  1. Protection

When a home is in good spiritual order, it’s guarded by an encampment of angels that circle everyone in the home with safety (Psa 34:7). Sin can compromise that spiritual perimeter around a believing family. Follow Matthew 18:15-17, therefore, to re-establish a spiritual hedge around your home.

Don’t be shocked when your home becomes a battleground. Satan has declared war on marriages and families. The war is real. He wants to break up your marriage and devastate your children. 

Parents, you’re the gatekeepers of your family. Withstand every attempt of darkness to compromise the spiritual security of your home. Do it for the sake of your children.

  1. Love

Another reason to do Matthew 18:15-17 is for the sake of love. Let your love for your spouse and Jesus win the day. When sin has caused a breach in love, go after the breach. You’re not attacking your spouse, you’re pursuing love.

Tackle the issues head-on, early in the journey, to preserve love and restore the romance of your marriage.

  1. Preservation

A final reason to obey Matthew 18:15-17 is to avert divorce and preserve your marriage. I consider this the greatest benefit of following Jesus’ counsel. When we resolve conflicts Jesus’ way, our courage can save the marriage. Passivity is deadly, but courage is redemptive. Doing it Jesus’ way doesn’t guarantee that your spouse will be won to the wisdom of Christ, but it provides the best chance of saving the marriage.

I’m presenting this message to militate against divorce and to fight for marriage—your marriage. 

We have a vision—for radiant wives who are nurtured and loved by their husbands, for respected husbands who demonstrate integrity in business and family, for upright children who establish healthy families of their own, and for grandparents who glory in the legacy they grant their descendants. It’s a vision worth fighting for. 

If we’ll fight for our marriages Jesus’ way, I’m persuaded many marriages like Brad and Anna’s can be saved, reconciled, and restored to health.

This blog post is adapted from Bob Sorge’s new book, STUCK: Help For the Troubled Home. For information, visit


Get Control Then Lose Control

EXPLORING WORShIP bLOG (2)Through their leadership style, some worship leaders maintain such a high platform profile that they actually distract people from worship. It’s hard to see the Lord when the leader is so large. I believe worship leaders can provide clear leadership while also seeking to be invisible before the congregation. How? By setting their focus on the Lord. When worship leaders engage with Jesus, the eyes of the people are naturally lifted to Jesus as well.

I’d like to present this dictum to worship leaders: Get control then lose control. Let me explain.

Get control. Exercise your strongest leadership at the launch of the worship service. Step up and take charge. Call the people to praise. Encourage and provoke with cheerful optimism. Lay hold of the meeting and gather the room. Sensing your confidence, the people will relax and follow.

But then, lose control. At some point in the worship service, take your foot off the gas, release your ability to muscle the meeting, and decide in your heart to give room to the Holy Spirit. It’s fairly easy to take control of a worship service; it’s threatening to our insecurities to surrender that control to the Spirit’s lead. Why? Because we don’t know what He’ll do with it. And yet, this is where worship leading becomes most effective and where running with Jesus becomes most adventurous.

An enthusiastic leader might be able to stimulate an enthusiastic praise service, but no human is capable of empowering people to worship. Only the Holy Spirit can unlock the heart. This is why we lose control to the Holy Spirit. We give Him room to move on hearts in ways we can’t accomplish even with our best leadership skills. If we insist upon holding a tight rein on the entire worship service, we can miss the sovereign move of the Spirit.

As long as we maintain control of the worship service, we’ll have a human-directed service. When we surrender our control, we open to the possibilities of a Spirit-led worship service. Notice that I didn’t say we’ll have a Spirit-controlled service. Why not? Because the Bible never talks about being Spirit-controlled. It speaks of being self-controlled and Spirit-led. The Holy Spirit will never try to control us but will graciously lead us in worship when we move over and give Him the driver’s seat.

The Holy Spirit never controls people, and neither should we. To get control means, therefore, that worship leaders don’t take control of the people but of the meeting. And to lose control means we give control of the meeting to the Spirit’s lead.

Some worship leaders today don’t let go the reins of the worship service until the tick of the clock indicates we’re done. But I’d like to advocate for an intentional letting go in order to make room for the Spirit. The Holy Spirit won’t impose Himself over our leadership; He waits to be invited in.

How can worship leaders lose control?

Ask. Stop and ask the Holy Spirit what He’s doing in the moment.

Withdraw. Pull back from the microphone and give the Lord room to move in a way we hadn’t planned.

Wait. Before moving straight into the next song, pause and wait upon the Lord.

Bow. When a worship leader goes to their knees, it signals a dependence on God and a reach for more of Him.

It’s threatening to the ego to lose control because, if the Holy Spirit doesn’t step in and help in a way we can identify, we can appear to be aimless and incompetent in our leadership. Worship leaders are always putting their pride on the altar. We’re willing to look bad so the Holy Spirit can have His way.

We don’t know everything God wants to do in worship, and rely upon the Holy Spirit from start to finish to accomplish what He alone can do. The potential of worship is as limitless as God Himself. Only God knows what He can do when we surrender to His leadership. Let’s give Him room to work “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20). That awareness may one day lead us to say something like this: “Let’s take a little more time to enjoy the Lord’s presence as we sing this line again. It’s possible that God is doing as many things in this room right now as there are people. Let’s take the time to allow Him to complete His work in our hearts.” God is always doing more in corporate worship than leaders realize or understand. So get control and then lose control.


This blog is adapted from chapter eight of Bob’s just-released book, EXPLORING WORSHIP, THIRD EDITION.



Look Three Directions in Worship


Some churches are highly interactive between worshipers in their worship services while other churches prefer to go vertical and focus only on Jesus. Some might argue that one model is to be preferred over the other, but I argue for both. In fact, I see corporate worship looking in three directions: up, around, and within.

My model for this comes from the worshiping seraphim at the throne of God. Here’s how John described their worship: “The four living creatures,each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:  ‘Holy, holy, holy,  Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’” (Rev 4:8).

The seraphim are preoccupied first with God. They gaze unceasingly upon His holiness as they worship. What a fabulous occupation!

Secondly, the verse says they “were full of eyes around,” so while worshiping they are also looking around at all the sights of the throne room.

Thirdly, the verse says they were “full of eyes…within.” Part of their gaze in worship is inward.

Just as the seraphim look up, around, and within while they worship, so do we.


Our primary focus in worship is to go vertical and gaze in amazement upon the Lord. We bless Him and minister to Him (1 Pet 2:9). We bask in His presence and encounter Him personally. We talk to Him and He talks to us. We’re entirely distracted by the glory of who He is, and are careful to let nothing distract us from the privilege of standing before Him and pouring our affection upon Him. Worship isn’t worship unless we first of all look up.

But worship doesn’t stop there. It also looks around.


Corporate worship doesn’t block out everyone else and everything else that’s around us, as though to pretend no one else is in the room with us. Rather, congregational worship is delightfully aware of the other worshipers in the room. Worship brings us together in true spiritual unity. Worship services actually give us opportunities to minister to one another. We speak truth to one another in the lyrics we sing (Eph 5:19). We encourage one another to magnify the Lord together (Ps 34:3), and we advertise the fame of His name with our songs.

But worship doesn’t stop there. It also looks within.


Corporate worship does things within us that catch our attention. We find ourselves liberated on the inside to exalt Him with greater abandonment. We find ourselves becoming better equipped to express the true feelings of our heart to Him. As we magnify His greatness, faith fills our hearts and surges within. We realize that the holiness of God is actually bringing us into holiness as well. Our hearts open in preparation to receive the preaching of the word. It’s amazing, while you’re worshiping, to look within and actually see the ways He’s changing you into the image of Christ.

When you join God’s people in exalting the name of Jesus, therefore, let your heart go in three directions. Set your eyes fully on Jesus; enjoy your brothers and sisters who are worshiping with you; and delight in the good things God’s doing within you.

Look up, look around, and look within.

This blog is adapted from chapter six of Bob’s just released book, EXPLORING WORSHIP, THIRD EDITION.



Loyalty Message (1)
The dictionary defines entropy as a gradual decline into
disorder. The word points to the tendency of everything in the
universe to ultimately die and become inert. In other words,
everything in our world constantly tends to deteriorate and break

Our cars are always breaking down. Our houses will never
maintain their condition unless we repair things as they break, touch
up the paint, and replace worn carpets. Our muscles want to atrophy,
our physique wants to soften, and our minds want to grow lazy.
Everything in life is always deteriorating.

The same tendency happens in our spiritual lives. It’s so easy
to become cool, distant, and disengaged in our relationship with
Jesus. Have you ever felt like everything in life is conspiring to
squeeze out your connection with Jesus? I know how you feel. If we
don’t devote ourselves intentionally to prayer, our prayer lives can
easily fall into disrepair.

No matter how long you’ve known the Lord, your spiritual vitality
can deteriorate. Even the most mature believers among us must fight
to hold onto everything they’ve gained in Christ.

My point is this. If your walk with Jesus has lost any of its
vibrancy and fervency, you’re not alone. This temptation is common
to all believers.

Holding to our first love is something we must sign up for.
Again. And again. Sometimes we need to re-up and step back into a
passionate pursuit of Christ.

I’ve written a book designed to help believers with this. RESET
is written to help believers put behind them everything of the past,
step into a new day, and jump-start their prayers lives.

Is it time to reset your prayer life? If so, I hope this resource is a
strong help:

It’s time. Gather a group of friends and do a #PrayerReset
together. God bless you!

5 Ways to Awaken Your Spiritual Vitality

Awaken Blog Window

For a vine to produce succulent grapes year after year requires constant dressing. The vine must be pruned, fertilized, protected, watered, and harvested. If the vinedresser gets negligent or lazy, the health of the vine suffers.

In the same way, for our heart to be healthy and alive in Christ requires constant attention. The neglected heart begins to shrivel and die.

Jesus addressed this issue in a letter to the church at Sardis. At one time they had been spiritually vibrant and were known as a revival center, but through neglect they had shriveled and were dying.

Here’s Jesus’ letter to them:

Rev. 3:1 And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, “These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: ‘I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Rev. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.’”

If you’ve known Jesus for a long time, you know there are times when we’re tempted to relax in prayer. We might have a name for being spiritually vibrant, but that vitality can easily fall into disrepair. Our reputation can outshine our reality.

When things are dying, what should we do? Jesus’ letter to Sardis contains five injunctions—five ways to renew our spiritual vitality. He told them to watch, strengthen, remember, hold, and repent.

1. Be watchful. Be attentive to your spiritual health. Take your own temperature. Scrutinize and evaluate your heart condition. Evaluate your current ability to see and perceive. Are you able to see your true spiritual condition, or are you self-deceived? How is your faith and love? Do you still weep when praying the word? Take candid stock.
2. Strengthen. Strengthen those things in your heart which still have some life. Expose the cooling embers to the Holy Spirit’s breath. This will take time, energy, and effort. Just as a muscle is strengthened through exercise, our heart is strengthened through spiritual exercises in the word and prayer.
3. Remember. Remember the joy you had in the past in times of special devotion to Jesus. Review your journal. Remind yourself of the things God has spoken to you in years past. Renew your vows.
4. Hold. Hold fast to the things you’ve received from Jesus in the past. If they’ve been slipping from your grasp, rise up and lay hold. Again. Renew yourself in the precious promises you cherish. Refuse to relinquish or lose anything of those good things which you’ve received from Jesus.
5. Repent. The main idea in repentance is changed behavior. Don’t just nod compliantly and affirm your desire for renewed passion. Change. Actually change. Actually do something. You know what you need to do. Now do it.

Recently, I wrote a book entitled, RESET: 20 Ways to a Consistent Prayer Life. I tried to make it relevant and helpful to new believers. To my surprise, however, seasoned believers have also been strengthened by the book’s message. Who isn’t tempted to relax and neglect prayer?

Perhaps this blog is coming at just the right time for you. Is it time to reset your prayer life? Listen to Jesus’ counsel. Watch, strengthen, remember, hold, and repent.

For more information, go to


IP chp 3 graphic

The following is an excerpt from my newest book, Illegal Prayers.

Look closely at verse 5 of Luke 11.

Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves.”

Our parable is in black and white until you see two words that turn it into technicolor. The first kaleidoscopic word is midnight. To grasp the story, you’ve got to see the entire proceedings shaking down at midnight. Everything in the vignette is unplanned, inconvenient, and ill-timed for everybody.

When Jim first shows up at Dave’s door, knocks, and asks for bread, he’s not doing anything wrong. It’s permissible to knock on someone’s door. Once. But when Dave says, “It’s midnight. Shut up, get off my property and go back to bed,” and Jim continues to knock and call out, we have laws for this kind of behavior. We call it trespassing. Harassment. Disturbing the peace. Once Dave says, “Get off my property,” and Jim continues to stand at midnight and call for assistance, he is now breaking the law.

I am not stretching the parable to suggest Jim is breaking the law. If you don’t think this is illegal behavior, then go ahead and give it a shot. Go down the road, knock at somebody’s door at midnight, refuse to get off their property, and see what happens. You may find yourself in handcuffs.

Jesus could have put the parable at another time of day, such as high noon, but by placing it at midnight He subtly designed an illegal setting. When you see that Jesus positioned Jim to be breaking the law, you realize He was actually advocating illegal prayers.

Jim is now violating city ordinances. In a very real sense, he is serving his friend Dave an ultimatum. “I’m not going anywhere, so you have a choice. Call the cops, or give me your three loaves.”

But Jim is thinking to himself, I don’t think you’re going to call the cops. Our friendship is too strong. Our families are too close. We’ve known each other for too many years. Before you call the cops, I think you’re going to drag your carcass out of bed, go to your pantry, and get your three loaves.

Jim is now putting pressure on the relationship. He’s about to discover if their friendship can sustain this kind of strain or if it will break. Jim is wondering, Are you just a fairweather friend? Are you my friend only when things are great, or are you also my friend when things are hard?

By straining the relationship, Jim is drawing on his relational equity with Dave. He’s about to find out whether he’s accrued enough collateral in their relational bank to cash in on it in a time of need.

Illegal prayers leverage relational equity.

Relational equity is earned through time spent together and favors done for each other. Jim has undoubtedly done many little favors for Dave over the years, and now he has the boldness to expect a favor in return. In terms of our relationship with Christ, this reminds me of 1 Timothy 3:13, “For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.” When we are faithful in our service for Christ, we gain the boldness to pray audacious prayers in our time of need.

Jim felt secure enough in his friendship with Dave to demand assistance in a way that actually broke the law. In a similar sense, if you’re going to pray illegal prayers, you better have a friendship with God. Don’t wait for a crisis to hit before you start investing in your relationship with God. Build relational equity with God now, so that when the crisis hits you have a friendship to fall back on.

Just because you’re bold in the presence of God does not mean you’re a spoiled brat with a spirit of entitlement; it means you’re someone who has confidence in your beloved Friend.

Confidence will say to God, “If You say no, I’m not leaving. If You say later, I’m not leaving. The only way I’ll quiet down is if You give me Your three loaves.”

Illegal prayers are rooted in the relational confidence of knowing your God and, even better, being known by Him. You can have enough confidence in your friendship to believe that ever before He gets angry and swats you into outer space, He’s going to give you the healing bread He has in His heavenly pantry.

The title of this book—Illegal Prayers—wasn’t chosen because I thought it was a clever title. I chose it because of what’s going on in the parable. Jim is praying illegal prayers at Dave’s door. But Jesus’ parable is not the only instance of illegal prayers in the Bible. There are a few others.


Hannah could not have children, and it vexed her soul greatly. Consumed with longing to have a child, she went into the house of the Lord and began to pour out her heart in prayer. Finally, in the anguish and desperation of her soul, she said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life” (1 Sam. 1:11).

She was so desperate for a son that she said, “If You give me a son, I’ll give Him back to You.” And as the story turned out, she gave birth to a son whom she turned over to Eli, the priest. Thus, her son Samuel was raised in the house of the Lord by Eli.

Was Hannah’s prayer legal? Is it permissible to abandon your child like that? How about “abandonment” laws? True, she gave him to the care of another; but Eli wasn’t that great of a caretaker. He had a poor record with his own sons, so what made him fit to be a father to Samuel?

At the least, the story is unconventional. And yet, God used Hannah’s barrenness—and the desperate cry her barrenness generated—to answer her prayer and give her a son. The cry of a desperate mother enabled God to procure, in Samuel, the prophet He needed to transition the nation of Israel from the era of the judges to the era of the kings.


In the days when Babylon was the ruling world empire, Babylon invaded Israel and took Daniel, along with many other Jews, back to Babylon. Because of his wisdom, Daniel was promoted to a place of political prominence in the kingdom. Later, when Babylon was conquered by Persia, Daniel continued to serve in a place of eminence in the empire. He had so much favor with the king that the princes of Persia grew envious.

The princes conspired a way to get rid of Daniel. Under false pretenses, they convinced the king to enact a decree that no one be allowed to pray to any god but the king for thirty days (see Daniel 6). If someone prayed to another, they were to be thrown into the lion’s den.

As soon as Daniel learned that this legislation had been signed into law by the king, he went to his home, opened his window toward Jerusalem, and prayed to his God. He would allow nothing to stop his practice of praying three times a day to the God of Israel. If he could no longer pray legal prayers, then he would pray illegal prayers.

And his illegal prayers got him into serious trouble. He was arrested and thrown into the lion’s den. But God stood by His man, sent His angel, and shut the mouths of the lions. What started as illegal prayers ended in a mighty deliverance.


In the book of Isaiah, God invited us to pray in a manner that strikes the reader as illegal or, at the very least, irreverent.

Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: “Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons; and concerning the work of My hands, you command Me” (Isa. 45:11).

Some translations have reworded the verse to make it more palatable, but our translation here is altogether accurate. God is actually inviting His servants to command Him to do what they want.

Commanding God? Telling God what to do? Isn’t that presumptuous, arrogant, and disrespectful of His sovereignty? Isn’t that kind of praying illegal?

The Overcrowded House

Here’s another story that somehow seems to be suspiciously unlawful:

And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-12).

We know that Jesus broke many rules of His day. He ate with unwashed hands; He allowed His disciples to pick and eat grain on the Sabbath; He told a cripple to carry his bed on the Sabbath, etc. But in this story, He broke one of my rules! I have a rule that says you must repent before you can be forgiven. But here, Jesus forgives a man who didn’t even repent of his sins. Can you do that? Is that legal?

Furthermore, the four men who brought him to Jesus broke the law. Folks, you can’t just take apart somebody’s roof, even if your motives are noble. Call it breaking and entering. Call it vandalism. Whatever you want to call it, it’s illegal.

But Jesus called it faith. And healed the man.

Woman with a Hemorrhage

Here’s still another biblical instance where laws were broken. There was a woman in Israel who had a problem in her reproductive organs that precipitated ongoing blood loss. None of the physicians she consulted could staunch the flow of blood; instead, her condition grew worse.

One day she heard that Jesus of Nazareth would be passing through town. Jesus! The Son of God! The Healer! It’s now or never. Faith filled her heart. If I could just touch the hem of His garment, I know that would be enough. I know I would be healed of this infirmity.

But there was a problem. The law of Moses commanded that anyone with this kind of bodily discharge live sequestered and isolated from the community (Num. 5:2). Such a person was ceremonially “unclean,” meaning they were prohibited from coming into the temple to worship while thus defiled. Furthermore, Moses’ law explained that, if a person who was unclean because of a hemorrhage touched someone else, the other person would be defiled by that touch and rendered ceremonially unclean as well—that is, unable to worship in the temple until ceremonially cleansed (Lev. 15:19). God considered it unjust for an unclean person to defile others through physical contact, even though their personal problem was unfortunate. So He passed a law stipulating that an unclean person must be quarantined from others until cured.

The law, therefore, prohibited this woman from mixing in public places. And yet, Jesus was thronged by multitudes. How could she possibly touch the hem of His garment when He was surrounded by such masses? Furthermore, everyone in town knew she lived in seclusion because of uncleanness. If they saw her in the crowd, they would thrust her out immediately. What could she possibly do to get within touching distance of Jesus?

She grabbed a shawl, draped it across her shoulders, and pulled it down over her head. Then bending low so that her face was not visible to anyone, she began to shove her way through the crowd.

As she pushed through the legs of the crowd, she might have whispered, “Excuse me,” under her breath. Each person she wiggled past and brushed against was defiled by her physical contact. “Excuse me, sorry about that.” She wasn’t meaning to defile others; she simply had no other option. “Pardon me, sorry about that.” But she continued to push and shove her way to Jesus.

By the time she got to Jesus, she had broken the law some 235 times (or however many people she had touched on her way to Jesus). That’s why, when Jesus called out, “Who touched My clothes?” she trembled in fear and tried to hide. She didn’t want to be exposed as having violated Moses’ law countless times in order to receive her healing.

When she could hide no longer, she fell before Jesus and told Him everything. How did Jesus respond to her illegal quest? He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction” (Mark 5:34).

What kind of faith is so bold that it is willing to defile even the Son of God Himself in order to get an answer?

This woman knew that to touch His garment, she would have to push past a crowd of opinions. So will you. There are all kinds of rational voices that will try to talk you out of pushing through to Jesus’ hem.

“You deserve hell, so just be thankful for what you’ve got.”

“He’s already done so much for you, if He never does another thing for you, it’s more than enough.”

“You just need to focus on giving glory to God, whether by life or by death.”

“This is not about you.”

I agree with all of you. You have great theology. But get out of my way. I’ve got to touch Jesus!

Jesus Advocates Illegal Prayers

These examples of illegal prayers in the Bible serve to substantiate the scenario Jesus painted in Luke 11 with our fictitious characters, Jim and Dave. By having Jim on Dave’s doorstep at midnight and refusing to remove himself—which is against the law—Jesus was advocating illegal prayers. Jesus was intimating, “You have a relationship with God. Go for broke. Break the law. Forget the rules. Push the envelope. Violate protocol. Brook no denial. Demand attention.”

Jesus’ message here is quite startling. “You’re a beloved friend—a child of God. So ditch propriety. Go for the jugular. Call the question. Press the point. Strain the relationship. Despise political correctness. Contravene convention. Test the limits. Cross the line. Throw caution to the wind. Pray illegal prayers.”

When you go to offering such bold prayers, you might want to keep your voice down—because if someone overhears your prayer, he might step aside, fearing a lightning strike. “You’re not supposed to talk to God like that!”

But that eavesdropper is not the one with whom you have this friendship, and he’s not the one to whom you’re praying. So just move yourself out of his earshot, and talk to your Friend.

If you enjoyed this excerpt and want to learn more about my newest book, Illegal Prayers, you can click here.