We’ve all been there. You make the decision to start going to the gym. You have a goal and vision set in place so you head to the gym and start working out. Sadly, you won’t see any progress after the first day. You could even spend 12 hours working out nonstop and still look the same (just sweatier). One trip won’t give you instant results. Two trips and you’ll still look the same. Honestly you won’t see much difference for quite some time. No one knows exactly when, but eventually you’ll start to see progress. If you have a deeply-rooted commitment and continue to workout even with a lack of visible progress, eventually you will get results. However, this period of time spent working out and seeing nothing can be a challenge to overcome. It takes drive, commitment and consistency. It all must be based on a deeply-rooted desire to achieve your goal.
The moment you are baptized doesn’t make you perfect. One day of studying scripture doesn’t make you a bible scholar. One worship service doesn’t make you holy. But if you have a deeply-rooted desire to be like Christ, you are consistent in study, things will begin to change. Christianity takes commitment and consistency to have the results God wants us to have.
Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” These Christians were devoted to the teaching and fellowship. This is exactly what God wants from each one of us.
So how is our dedication to Christ? Is it consistent? Do we have a deeply-rooted desire to imitate Christ? This won’t happen overnight. It is my prayer that as children of God we dedicate each day to him. Wake up with the intent to be a light, and you will be amazed at what happens.
Not much is worse than investing time, emotion, and resources into something that doesn’t pay off. Like spending days working on an engine, only to have the transmission give out. Parents with small children are familiar with the frustration of cleaning their house, then having it trashed nanoseconds later. Or putting time, financial risk, and great sacrifice into starting a business, only to have a terrifically mismanaged pandemic destroy it.
In each of these examples, a person’s reaction to negative outcomes is rarely positive. Having invested so much in something, we hope to have good outcome.
Jesus invested heavily in Judas, only to be betrayed by him. He healed people, brought dead loved ones back, fed people, and gave them hope. He worked very closely with his apostles for years, only to have them miss the point the entire time he was on earth (Acts 1.6; Mk 8.14-32).
I am grateful that he isn’t like us. He doesn’t give up on us when we mess up (I Jn 1.9). He has immense patience with us (II Pt 3.9; I Tim 1.16). But it isn’t blind acceptance of dysfunction — God is patient with our flaws to give us a chance to change (Rom 2.4). God doesn’t make decisions the same way we do!
From our perspective, humanity was a terrible investment. Jesus invested something we aren’t capable of investing, only to have most of humanity reject him. But he didn’t scrap the car, yell at the kids, or harbor resentment. He gives us his patience, his love, and time. It’s up to us to make the most of those things while we’re here!
“…Cared More About The Lost!” (But, when did I last invite someone to church or invite someone to study the Bible?)
“…Checked On The Sick And Shut In.” (But, when did I last make a call or visit to them?)
“…Was Friendly!” (But, do I talk to, welcome, and make feel at home visitors and more than my close circle of friends?)
“…Did A Better Job With The Singing.” (But, do I sing out, show enthusiasm, and participate with my whole heart?)
“…Invested More In The Youth.” (But, am I doing all I can to help them grow, from my attitude toward the church to my personal investment in them?)
“…Was Active!” (But, do I volunteer when help is needed, prioritizing it over the things of the world?)
“…Was Growing.” (But, how invested am I in being an ambassador for Christ, 2 Cor. 5:20?)
So often, we talk about “the church” in a passive, third-person way. We are critical of her leaders, her activities (or lack thereof), and her members as if we are detached observers. The picture of the early church was of individuals who were personally invested. We are overcome by the consumer mindset of the culture when we sit back and take shots at the perceived shortcomings of our local congregation. Look at the New Testament Christians. Barnabas didn’t fret about how stingy or discouraging the church was; He was generous and encouraging (Acts 4:36-37). Stephen didn’t express his frustration at the church’s lack of courage and conviction; He literally preached himself to death (Acts 6-7). Dorcas didn’t wring her hands at how uncaring and detached the church was; She continually did deeds of kindness and charity (Acts 9:36). They may have been extraordinary in their actions, but they were just “regular members of the church.” They were the church. They didn’t sit in judgment of her. Why? They were too busy working to build her up. When I am tempted to play armchair analyst, I should begin with my own faithfulness and involvement. There is so much the Lord expects me to do to help the church. My investment may cause others to be grateful and excited to be a part of the church! I can most influence me (2 Cor. 13:5)!
On January 20, 1961, in John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, he uttered the famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.” Here is the very ending of the address: “With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” If that is true of a citizen’s mindset of a nation, how much more a Christian’s mindset in that holy nation, the church?