Always This Way
Charles Colson in Loving God shares this:
Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people.(Jeremiah 7:23)
What God wants from his people is obedience, no matter the circumstances, no matter how unknown the outcome. It is always been this way -God calling his people to obedience and giving them at best a glimpse of the outcome of their effort.
Most of the great figures of the Old Testament died without seeing the fulfillment of the promise they relied upon. Paul expended himself building the early church, but as his life drew to a close he could see only a string of tiny outposts along the Mediterranean, many weakened by fleshly indulgence or divided over doctrinal disputes.
In more recent times, the great colonial pastor Cotton Mather prayed for revival several hours each day for twenty years; the Great Awakening began the year he died. The British Empire finally abolished slavery as the Christian parliamentarian and abolitionist leader William Wilberforce lay on his deathbed, exhausted from his nearly fifty year campaign against the practice of human bondage. Few were the converts during Hudson Taylor’s lifelong mission work in the Orient; but today millions of Chinese embrace the faith he so patiently implanted and tended.
Some might think this divine pattern cruel, but I am convinced there is a sovereign wisdom to it. Knowing how susceptible we are to success’s siren call, God does not allow us to see, and therefore glory in, what is done through us. The very nature of the obedience He demands is that it be given without regard to circumstances or results. The centurion in Luke 7:5-13 rightly perceived Jesus’ authority as that of a military commander to whom one gives unquestioning allegiance.
The Bible makes clear that unquestioning acceptance and obedience to Jesus’ authority is the foundation of the Christian life. Everything else rests upon this.
This year Peters Creek celebrates 175 years. I’m sure the founders had great dreams for the church. I wonder if they ever saw even a small fulfillment of those dreams. We no doubt are seeing some of them come to pass. As we labor, especially in these days of change and transition we must be aware that we don’t always see the results. The unfortunate thing in our microwave society is our expectation of instant results. As we move forward as the people of God, we can’t measure success by human standards. I was thinking as I sat in the sanctuary doing the online Bible study that I will probably never know who has been touched and transformed. As we continue doing drive-in church, I wonder who we may be influencing for the cause of Christ. Only heaven will tell. Our place is that of discerning God’s will and then obeying it whether we ever see the outcome or not.
Dr. John Thompson