Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Single-Minded Focus: Endurance as a Soldier

“Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer.”

~2 Timothy 2:3-4 (NIV).

I wanted to call this article, Is Jesus Your Idolatry? but I resisted as it’s a little too confrontational. But, the truth is, at times, by our self-indulgent actions, we make a mockery of what we’re truly to stand for as Christians. We’re saved, sure, but we don’t always worship the right Jesus by our everyday actions.

I mean by this that it’s easy to say our ‘hallelujah’s’ and our ‘amen’s’ in time and at the right places and on cue, looking like a Christian, assimilating and bonding with others in peaceable and cordial love, but where are we when the rubber really hits the road?

A Smattering of Hard Questions for All of Us

Are we actually enduring the hardship of forgiveness? The people that have hurt us; are they truly being forgiven—like in an ‘abandoned’ sort of way? We will constantly be amazed at how far God will take our compassion if we trust him in these sorts of affairs.

Are we contending with insight and discernment? It is a great temptation to leave well enough alone when we’re burdened with a heart for discernment. Sure, we all have our limits, but God knows our true limits.

Are the knees swollen (figuratively speaking) from sending our troubles to God in prayer? Too many times we’re given to ‘react’ by way of a God-vacant instinct, or a life lived without prayerful intervention. The more we pray the wiser we can live and the closer to Jesus we are.

As God speaks silently to our hearts via our piqued moral consciences are we unbendingly obedient to ‘this Word’ yet? This is a strong and mighty charge. I quiver at the actual writing of the words. But, we mustn’t shirk from the most compellingly difficult things of God. We keep training.

Is God speaking to us regarding our own process of discipleship, and not about someone else’s journey? It is too easy to judge; to look over the fence. God’s interested (as far as we’re personally concerned) in our own yard, not in the other person’s. It’s not God’s Spirit speaking these words to us of the judgment of others. God’s gentle whisper encroaches our own awareness regarding our own journeys—and what we have further to do, as well as encouragement for things we’re done well. Discipleship: it’s us and God, period.

True Christianity is always about answering the hard questions.

Enjoying the Fruit of Our Labours

Those enjoying the fruit of their Christian labour will inevitably have some sores and scars to prove it. And these are not life-ending things; they’re life-tending things.

They’re merely badges of honour as we tremulously wait upon God and forego the temptations to go the world’s way. We know in this, of course, that our relationship with God rests on these daily decisions we’re making.

The true fruits of benefit—even as they’re also bestowed on others to the glory of God—are known simply via the deeper, narrow path of Matthew 7:13-14. It can come no other way.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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