There are points in all of our journeys when the biggest thing we can do is to remain true to Christ. Forget all the extra things – the icing on the cake stuff as it were; instead what matters is continuing to follow Jesus as worshippers who serve. I don’t know if that is a place you have ever been to? It can be a dark, challenging place where it is really easy to lose one’s way. There are so many conflicting emotions at work at that point pulling us in different directions at the same time. These emotions can be saying lies such as: ‘you must have gone wrong somewhere,’ ‘it shouldn’t be this hard,’ or ‘if you compromise your commitment to Christ & focus less on church for a while then it will be okay – you can always pick it up later.’ Have these sort of thoughts ever come to you in the dark times? What did you do about them? The best thing is to submit to God, resist the Devil & he will eventually flee – not always at the first time you resist him – but if you keep submitting to God & resisting Satan, he will be forced to flee from you.
What do we do then when we are too busy, or too many things are going on in the family, at work, or in our lives to focus on Jesus? We do need to examine ourselves – with the help of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit & the wise counsel of godly, mature Christians – to ensure that we are not in disobedience to God, or not acting in ways that are not led by love for our brothers or sisters in Christ. If either of these two wrong things are at work in us – then a door is opened which allows the enemy to gain a foothold & really buffet us. However, God’s Word is really clear at this point – God is still our loving Father. What He does is allow suffering or difficult times into our lives as part of His work of sanctification (setting us apart for Christ’s service) – He disciplines those whom He loves (and this can be very severe & hard at times) in order to produce godliness & holiness in us. The difficult times are not a sign of God’s neglect; rather, they are a sign of God’s hand at work changing us from being self-reliant or living under the control of a sinful stronghold gripping our lives – into a more Christ-dependent people who are know how to find forgiveness, pardon & freedom from sin, self, Satan & the world in Christ.
If we examine ourselves with the help of God’s Word, the Spirit & wise Christian counsel & find that we are not in sin – then it may be that God is pruning us ready for a new season of fruitfulness. As we are led by the Spirit there will inevitably be seasons of change as we move from one level onto the next level. Change can be very difficult. Some people embrace change seeing in it the chance for something new & exciting to happen; others view change negatively. Change in itself needs to be managed in order to be effectively delivered. Even when managed, on the outside, it can appear that there is only chaos – whereas in fact what is happening is that a transition is taking place. Change for change sake is not what we are about. Rather, changing in order to become more effective & better suited to the reality of the challenges we face, & will face, is a better way of seeing it. How do I cope with change?
Hearing the voice of the Spirit, & obeying it is very important. An individual can hear & respond in a godly way. Asking the questions, ‘what is the last thing God spoke to you about? And what are you doing about it?’ are really powerful ways to hold each other accountable to holding true to the Lord Jesus. On a bigger scale, recognising the value of accountability & holding ourselves accountable to each in love are tremendous means of growing in grace. As we think about holding the line in our lives – it can be very difficult to do so when compromise or going back seems so easy. I believe God is calling us to persevere, hold true to Christ & continue to follow the pathway of radical, whole-life discipleship. May God help each of us, & us as a church, to continue on Christ’s pathway by empowering us with His Spirit, filling us with his love & grace, helping us to get rid of the baggage of yesterday, committing tomorrow in faith to Him, & living in Christ’s fullness today. Amen