“What out! Stand firm in the faith! Be strong like men! Hold on tight!” I Cor 16:13 (Simple English Bible)
Ronnie gradually just dropped out of the church. It was a slow process — first, just a Sunday on occasion when he didn’t feel like it. After that, he skipped a month. Then, there were more times he didn’t go than when he did. One of the elders of the church visited Ronnie in his home, just for a chat. Ronnie wasn’t evasive, shy or felt guilty at all. When asked, he said that he didn’t think it was worth it. He had everything he needed.
I am sometimes surprised by this attitude. It seems that the less people have, the more they rely on their faith in God and are determined to stay strong. Even those who have ‘unsurmountable’ problems grit their teeth and stay the course.Perhaps this is a sly way the devil works — give someone enough of whatever they wanted and then they’ll just fade in the background noise, comfortable, pampered and satisfied.Is this indifferent attitude is worse that outright rejection?
Paul encouraged the Christians in the corrupt city of Corinth in strong, unambiguous terms. He was a fighter and stayed focused.
So can we!
“There was a follower of Jesus in Damascus. His name was Ananias. The Lord spoke to Ananias in a vision, saying, Ananias! Ananias answered, Here I am, Lord!” Acts 9:10 (Simple English Bible)
His name meant ‘God has been gracious’ (Ananias is the Greek form of Hananiah). He had a simple task but an unenviable one — to go and speak to the worst persecutor and enemy of the church! Saul of Tarsus was in town. The Christians in Damascus had been forewarned that this aggressive rabbi was coming to clear out this new cult and he had the authority to do so from the highest council in Jerusalem.
Sometimes, when we answer God’s call, we acknowledge who our great God is and answer, Here we are. After all, we understand that we are His servants, committed to do His will. And there are times when we skirt the issue and try to duck our responsibilities — we’re too busy, too lazy, too skittish, too shy, too scared. We understand what we’re supposed to do but try and ease back out of the front lines.
Commitment is a strange word. It doesn’t necessarily mean to agree to something once upon a time and that’s the end of the story. Commitment means to make the same choice over and over, every day. No matter what. No matter how difficult. No matter how discouraging. Because it is God who leads and we who follow.
PS Ananias obeyed God, just read the following verses.
“Since I am leaving to prepare a place for you, you can be sure that I will come back and take you with me so that you will be where I am.” John 14:3 (Simple English Bible)
She died quite quickly after her illness. Amy was young, had a good career and planned on being married to the man she loved within a few months. All the arrangements had been made, friend and family invited and she was looking forward to a wonderful life. But after a doctor’s check-up, Amy was diagnosed with cancer and died shortly after.
We have this idea that life is permanent. We make plans, we anticipate good things for ourselves, we try to control our finances and count on the future actually being there. Whilst there is nothing wrong with any of this, we also have to understand that life isn’t guaranteed. What we have set aside and depend upon, sometimes will not be there.
Jesus promised us that He would be there. He is preparing a place for us and He keeps His promises. Our future is assured in Him, no matter what happens in this life. We can have the confidence and boldness that His preparations will be there!