“Watch, stand fast in the faith and be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.”1 Corinthians 16:13-14
For the longest time, the second part of this verse was my go-to life verse. I felt like I could plaster it all over social media because there was nothing too religious about (career wise) but it send across the message of love, that is Jesus Christ. It wasn’t until recently when I decided to look it up, I realized that there was more to the verse than I had originally thought.
It can be easy for people to think that living a Christian life is the easy way out. To have a God who grants your requests, like a genie in a bottle, to give food to the poor/needy and to sing song together on Sundays. But the older I get, the more I realize that being Christian is anything but easy. In fact it is not for the fainthearted and takes a life time to be anything close to perfect.
My faith requires sacrifice, not of animals or of objects but of things close to my heart so that I can fully do the work of the God that I love, without anything hindering me. It takes a lot of effort and discipline every single morning to sit down, to read the Word of God and to learn from it. It is even harder to apply it to my life without changing something about myself, which is easier said than done. It makes other people question my state of mind and makes some decide they want no part in it. It starts with me giving up my confused, broken and ever doubting will, to the complete and perfect will of my Father in Heaven. There’s nothing easy about that.
Now there’s nothing wrong with singing songs on Sunday, or God granting our requests, or even disciplining myself to get into God’s word. The point is that too much of either side, makes us weary and makes the Christian life seem impossible. It is difficult to maintain a balance in anything in life i.e. weight, career, family etc. In my own life I took the loving people bit so far that I could not see when I was in harm, because I did not watch, I did not stand fast in my faith and so I couldn’t be strong and brave. In the same way, you may be holding tight to you convictions, always watching others but forgetting to love on people.
Jesus warns us of this very thing, in Matthew Chapter 10. He doesn’t just send us out into the world, to figure it all out ourselves he tells us exactly what will happen.
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. “Matthew 10:16
In her book Psalm 91, Peggy Joyce Ruth talks about this verse. What do you think about when you picture sheep, wolves, snakes and doves?
- Sheep- couldn’t harm a fly, can’t really run away from danger, follow the leading of the shepherd, are prone to danger.
- Wolves- predators, always looking for what to eat.
- Snakes- fangs to cut into flesh, venom to intoxicate prey, strong coiled bodies to suck the life out of anything it can get its hands on, quite but can strike at any time
- Doves- soft, feathery, white, just looking to survive not to hurt anything.
We need a shepherd because we as sheep do not know how to survive on our own, we don’t even have the capacity to defend ourselves from the wolves in this world who are actively seeking out prey, hence we must follow the leading of the shepherd to survive. At the same time we are called to be willing to defend ourselves when needed, so we are not trampled upon but to go about our daily lives, trying not to causing harm to others.
In other words, Jesus tell us that we, as Christians going out into the world need to make sure that we do not let ourselves be unnecessarily harmed by failing to follow the Shepherd, forgetting to watch, stand fast and be brave WHILE at the same time looking to love others and to make sure we do not intentionally cause harm to others.
To me that sounds, so hard and I realized that being a Christian not only means just loving on people but to also be able to defend myself. But as the saying goes, nothing worth having comes easy. Eternal life is no exception. In the pain and hardship of this life, who doesn’t wan to spend an eternity with the Creator and with people you have lost, to know that nothing can harm us anymore. That is why the Christian life requires so much balance, and balance is hard work because we can be pulled in all directions, we’re life sheep after all.
When we become Christian, life doesn’t become easier in fact it may even become harder. God doesn’t promise that we won’t fear or be in pain, but He promises that His son, Emmanuel, will always be with us to help us lead this difficult life. We are never alone in trying to lead a good Christian life, help is always on the way, right beside you even. Easier said than done, I know but it is up to us to decide whether we want to walk through this life with someone who has loved you since before you were formed to when you go up to be with Him, or get to the end of life having missed out on the greatest love of all, the greatest gift of all because of a few temporary pleasures.
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”Philippians 2:13