Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Life of a Christ-follower is a marathon... not a sprint

"And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household." -Matthew 13:57 (ESV)

I'm not so sure Jesus' words, here, were necessarily intended to be attributed to us, but most anyone can relate with what He meant, and it certainly seems to fit the mold for most of us. He had been sharing, in form of "parables", with crowds of people, and with His own disciples present. Verse 55 seems to point to people, which He had been teaching at synagogues in His own home town, asking the question..."hey, isn't this that carpenter's son? Where in the world did he get this kind of knowledge??" These were people, maybe relatives included, who knew Jesus as a carpenter's son, Joseph's son, Mary's son. People probably knew of his upbringing, his humble lifestyle, and meager beginnings.

There seemed to be a built-in "doubt" ....and it would appear to be because they "knew who he was"; at least they thought they did. You can imagine what they likely though.... "yeah, Joseph's boy. Didn't they kinda' run out of town about 30 years ago or so? He doesn't come from any special family, not educated really. I don't know about him."

Though this may be a truth, generally, in "life", and this may be good general advice for all ...I think this reality of Jesus' ministry teaches a very important lesson to His followers.. Christians. Sometimes doubters and nay-sayers come from those closest to you. Sometimes ...within your very own household. 

(a) Don't be derailed by doubters! Don't let this surprise you. It is difficult for people, even thos of best intentions, to overlook a past, a history, they may know of you, or of your family. It makes it difficult to swallow that, through the work of the Holy Spirit, God can have done an amazing transformation of a life. Yet that is precisely one of His specialties, for which He is glorified! Don't be derailed by doubters. And if people in Jesus' own hometown would doubt Him spite of His "obvious" knowledge of God's word, and for those that saw His miracles ...then why should you or I be surprised by the fact that people will have doubts about the change that has been established in us?

(b) Don't be bitter toward doubters! It is important to remember that Jesus' provision of salvation was, and is, for ALL! Being dejected doesn't provide a free pass, or any sort of excuse, for bitterness. Be prepared for this! If these are un-believers ....they are the very people you are trying to reach with the good news of Christ. If they are believers ...then it may be only time, patience, and perseverance that make the truth you carry believable, or hear-able. Stick to it, be salt and light, speak truth, and live truth day by day by day. Don't push your agenda. Rather, allow the Holy Spirit to open doors, and close doors, as He sees fit ...all to fulfill the Lord's purposes ...not your own. He must increase, while we must decrease. The Christ-follower's life is a marathon ...not a race. Stay around people long enough and they're likely to see the best, and the least, of you. If you let this knock you down ....then our example, our witness is deeply cut. When your example is positive, and truth, salt, and light are evident .....let these things simply speak for themselves. Use words when necessary. When your example is shaky, faulty, or poor, display an genuinely repentant heart. No doubt..... some will hang their hats on your failures. Keep on keepin' on. The Lord's work in your life will be developed, and displayed, over the long-haul. Remember, we are a people of no reputation. Our walk with Christ is not for our glamor, but for His glory.