Friday, July 15, 2011

The Cost of Faithfulness

(I thought I would re-share this with you.  Written over a year ago, it's a reminder of the cost we may pay for our faithfulness to Christ.  I hope it encourages you.)

As I sat down to study and read my devotionals this morning, my mind was still heavy over the loss of an old friend last night.  By loss, I mean he decided to delete me from his Facebook friend list.  I have known him for almost 40 years, we went to school together and when we reconnected on FB, it was a pleasure to know he seemed to be the same sweet person I remembered.  But time has a way of changing people in ways we can't fully understand.  

My friend and I had both changed, which is a good thing from certain perspectives, because I needed to change, as I'm sure he did.  We had matured and grown but most importantly at a specific time in our lives, had received and embraced convictions that now mastered our lives.  As we went on reestablishing our once-solid friendship, we were able to disagree over some things and still love and respect each other.  But it appeared that another change was beginning to be revealed that my friend found he couldn't, nor wouldn't, tolerate.  It was this that caused a tear in the fabric of our friendship, one that pulled at the threads of reason and truth and brought damage to it.  Whether or not it can ever be mended is not clear to me at this point.  But I still cling to a thread of hope that it can and after going into God's Word and receiving confirmation and peace over the conflict, I must leave it all in the Lord's hands to sort out.

Christ once said, "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth?  No, I tell you, but division.  From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three.  They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." (Luke 12:49-53)

Jesus could have further added that there would also be division between friends because there would be those who would refuse to believe what others would bring them in the way of the truth of God's Word.  They would reject it and, perhaps, respond with willful separation from their family or friends and turn to others they have surrounded themselves with who bring them a false and destructive message.

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, THEY will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  THEY will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."  (2Tim. 4:3-4 - emph. mine)

People such as those mentioned in Paul's exhortation to Timothy are not thrust upon those who refuse to hear the truth.  They are unable to infiltrate a church or a heart that is divinely guarded and protected by God.  Instead, they are invited in or sought out by the ones who want their ears tickled because of their desire to create a god of their own choosing rather than the God of the Bible.  The message these false teachers bring is more pleasing to their sense of fairness, individual responsibility, and what they, themselves, desire from God.  Rather than believe the truth that is being told them, they prefer the "myths" of sly, malevolent, untruths that appease their conscience and allow them an excuse for every aspect of their lives and how they live them.  In other words, THEY choose to "exchange(d) the truth of God for a lie" (Rom. 1:25) with conscious willfulness and blatant disregard for the true message they have received.

We have a tendency, whether we consciously know it or not, to compromise God's truth in order to prevent dissension or division.  After all, who wants to lose a valued friend or loved one over an argument?  But it goes much further than simply wanting to maintain a relationship with someone you cherish by avoiding conflict.  If we are who we claim to be, that is Christ's chosen, then we have a responsibility to obey His command that we "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19), and to "be prepared in season and out of season [to] correct, rebuke, and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction" (2Tim. 4:2) those who are being grossly misled.  There should never be compromise when it comes to preaching or teaching the Word of God.  We must choose whom we will serve, God or man, and remain firmly grounded on His truths.

The cost of remaining faithful to God can seem devastating to us at times.  It can mean being isolated from the ones we love here on earth, being castigated as "hateful", "mean", "self-righteous", or a host of other accusations.  It can cost us friendships.  But I think Oswald Chambers in today's devotion from "My Utmost For His Highest" speaks loudly of our responsibility to our Creator in how far we must go to assure God we are doing our best for Him, in spite of what may come out of it.  It's where I want to be and how I want my God to see me: faithful to Him regardless of the cost.

"The Price of Vision" 

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord."  Isaiah 6:1

"Our soul's history with God is frequently the history of the 'passing of the hero.'  Over and over again God has to remove our friends in order to bring Himself in their place, and that is where we faint and fail and get discouraged.  Take it personally: In the year that the one who stood to me for all that God was died - I gave up everything?  I became ill?  I got disheartened? or - I saw the Lord?

My vision of God depends upon the state of my character.  Character determines revelation.  Before I can say, 'I saw also the Lord,' there must be something corresponding to God in my character.  Until I am born again and begin to see the Kingdom of God, I see along the line of my prejudices only; I need the surgical operation of external events and internal purification.

IT MUST BE GOD FIRST, GOD SECOND, AND GOD THIRD, UNTIL THE LIFE IS FACED STEADILY WITH GOD AND NO ONE ELSE IS OF ANY ACCOUNT WHATEVER (emph. mine).  'In all the world there is none but Thee, my God, there is none but Thee.'

Keep paying the price.  Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision."

To Christ be all the glory, honor,  and praise!  And may our Lord and Savior have  our complete devotion, in spite of the cost!



Karie said...

Hi Karen, this is another beautifully written article. Being faithful to the truth we have been given is sometimes difficult, but always worth it. I believe that one of the most important things we can do to show our gratitude and faithfulness to our Savior is to love each other under all circumstances; that is something you are very good at. Thank you for your example as a charitable and kind friend.

Unknown said...

Excellent post, Karen. i really see God using you through written word.

Unknown said...

Excellent post, Karen. I really see God using your strengths of the written word to reach others.