A Cross Not A Flag
By: Danny Wallace
Bold statement time. The seven-headed beast that John describes in Revelation 13 is religion operating under the full authority of anti-Christ. It is not a beast that stands against religion – religion “is” the beast.
The spirit of anti-Christ was already present when Jesus came to save the world. That spirit has grown in intensity, and incorporated a portion of Grace in its message. It has also associated itself with the name, and authority of Jesus Christ, though Jesus is far from its heart, or agenda.
Let this bold statement preface all that I say here. I have good friends who are passionate about the children of God occupying, and influencing the seven cultural mountains of society. At their heart, and at the true origin of that ministry is a desire to lift Jesus high upon the mountains of business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, family, and religion. However, as great voices, and many ministries have joined in that movement, and in similar movements across the decades, we are seeing that “at large” it is more about religion gaining power on each of those mountains to mandate “religious,” not Christ-like living.
Before I leave this point, let me make it very clear that those I personally know and respect have no such agenda. Theirs is only to lift up the finished work of Christ in all the earth, and to bring His great blessing, love, and forgiveness to the culture of these seven mountains. That is a very good thing,
Though it is the desire of Christians to encourage the children of God to “bloom where they are planted,” it is a purely religious concept to believe that Christians are mandated by the sacrifice of Jesus to move into areas of culture and “change” anyone to our way of living, or thinking. That has always been, and always will be the mandate of religion. It is simply one more version of a performance gospel.
Christians simply fly in the Grace, joy, and absolute freedom of Jesus Christ “wherever” they are. There is a great difference between “blooming where we are planted,” and “enforcing a culture” where we are planted. One is the Covenant of Grace, while the other is the Old Covenant of religion.
True Christians lift up Jesus, and His finished work, not the religious culture of organized Christianity. If simply lifting up Christ on our particular mountain were the intent of the culture changing movements then we would instantly accomplish the miracle that many in those movements legitimately seek, since the true children of God are already in place in all areas of culture.
However, what is coming, as a result of this movement is not what any child of God ever sought, or imagined. What is coming is a surge of religion that empowers the beast, and enslaves the people. Those mountains of culture will eventually be ruled and controlled by religion, posing as Christianity, and therefore, ruled by the anti-Christ, if we don’t awaken to discern the difference.
In that time religion, not the heart of Christ will be calling the shots. When religion has the power to implement the mandates of anti-Christ, the sign, or number needed to buy or sell will represent those who submit to religion’s authority, signifying that they deserve the right to buy, sell, and feed their family. That sign will thus seek to signify that such a person is blessed to buy, or sell because they are God’s children, when in fact, they are nothing more than the bastard children of a religious anti-Christ. Anyone who dares to oppose the beast will be denied basic rights. Those rights will be easily, and quickly withheld from anyone that doesn’t walk to the beat of its self-righteous drum. After all, religion had no problem spitting in the face of God, and then nailing Him to a tree, why do such drastic measures surprise us as being prophetic unto religion’s future legacy?
Sound far-fetched to you? I can’t imagine why. History records such behavior well. The most horrible, and atrocious battles have been fought in defense of religion. Even though Christ never encouraged such a thing, religion has majored in chaos, and human carnage in the name of “holy battle.” Jesus held out His hand to restore the severed ear of a soldier sent to shackle, and present Him for false prosecution, while religion sentenced Jesus, “the Healer,” to a cruel death.
When I spoke in the Faroe Islands I was taken to the spot where the original, religious settlers brought citizens to a large rock to profess Christ. If they did not profess Christ their heads were chopped off. I remember saying to one gentleman that it was a horrible thing. He replied, “Not really – it worked. Today, we are a Christian nation.”
I say this with much respect. I know what he meant, and I know what most Christians mean when they continue in the mistaken belief that the United States of America is, or ever was a Christian nation. The truth is that both nations have been largely “religious” nations. Christ is only now coming to be lifted high in obscure places within these nations, and in all nations of the earth. And wherever Christ, and His finished work on the cross are exalted, religion continues in its lifelong battle to crucify Grace, and shut it down.
If God granted me one prayer, the same as a mythical genie might grant the man that has unleashed him from a bottle might grant “one wish” in gratitude for his release, I would surely pray this prayer.
“Jesus, let the bondage and tyranny within the halls of religion crumble and fall – leaving not a stone, remnant, or speck of dust behind.”
As I write this article I would love to tell you that the true intent of those bearing the heart of Christ within the original idea of bringing Jesus to the seven mountains of culture would come true. I would love to tell you that the walls of religion will fall, and Christ will be truly exalted.
I would love to tell you that before Christ returns, the beauty of Grace, and the joy of freedom would cover each of those cultural mountains. But I cannot. For that to happen, every brick of religious bondage must first fall from the hearts of each of us that are called to carry only the cross of Jesus up the hill our own destiny, and biblical prophecy reveals a mass refusal to do so.The events leading up to the end of the story are clear. The truth is that the beast of religion will only grow stronger, richer, and far more powerful – crushing all who defy it, or stand in its way. Anti-Christ will be loved, cherished, and highly respected – a description fitting of religion’s highest, in a world where religion finally has the power to mandate its absolute will over man.
However, in the midst of all of this chaos there is peace. There is peace in knowing that all of this is really “much to do” about nothing. The focus, and center of all scripture is returning, just as He promised. Stay the course children. Lift Jesus high enough that every burden, wounded, and battle-scarred heart can clearly see Him. He will give them strong wings of Grace to fly high above their former battles.
Jesus feeds His children when all food has been denied. Jesus warms our souls in the icy land of religious tyranny. Jesus has the porch light burning on the front porch of our Papa’s home. What wonderful family stories we will tell in the safety, warmth, and peace of home.
Soon, we will all rest there. First, let every brick of religious bondage fall from the wall around our own hearts, so that each of us who are called to carry only the cross of Jesus up the hill of our own destiny will reach that mountain to shine the light of Jesus, not to plant the flag of religion.