It’s easy to overlook the pressures and burdens the primary church carried upon its shoulders. At the time Jude was writing his letter to the faithful, the church was in its infancy, being persecuted, tortured, and martyred, and that handful of men who were the tip of the spear for spreading the good news of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, set the tone for what would follow. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, the way they went about ministry would become the blueprint for those desiring to follow in the footsteps of Christ.
I’ll give a new book two chapters to grip me and compel me to follow through with the rest of it. Time is a commodity in my world, and if something doesn’t stir within me after the first two chapters, there’s always a list of things waiting to be done on the other side of my reading time. It’s not me being pretentious or snobbish; it’s me realizing that either the writer isn’t up to par or the premise of the story is lacking to such an extent that if I don’t stop after two chapters, I’d eventually stop after ten, and I would have wasted a few hours hoping it gets better.
Beginnings matter. A handful of souls began to preach a risen Christ with no guarantee of a salary, a pension, or that their blood wouldn’t wet the dust of the town they were in by the end of the day. They had no blueprint. There were no books on growing a fellowship or on rules for running successful multi-campus church services. They were flying blind, uncertain of what tomorrow would bring, but fully trusting that the God they served was already preparing the way.
I don’t call it blind faith because it’s not blind. I call it trust because just as my daughters show me more trust every day because I’ve never betrayed it, the children of God trust Him more because He’s never betrayed their trust, either. There’s a difference between trusting God, who has never failed or fallen short, and trusting men who break our trust more often than not for no other reason than because they can.
I often look back on the lives of those who came before, who began laying the foundation of the faith and the Way, and I can’t help but be stunned at how tenuous it all was. Other than an abiding faith in Christ, there was no profit in these people continuing to spread the gospel once persecution became the norm. If all they were there for was profit or popularity, the first time a Christian was fed to lions in the coliseum or dipped in pitch and lit ablaze would have been the last time anyone identified as a believer. Do you think those who would rather call themselves life coaches than pastors will still be in the public eye once persecution begins in this country?
People are always looking for evidence, from the shroud of Turin to the spear of Longinus, but the greatest evidence by far is that a non-violent, decentralized faith, perpetuated by a group of simple, everyday people, survived the full brunt of the Roman Empire’s wrath, and even thrived in the midst of it.
Yes, other religions have survived the centuries, but none were targeted for extermination by the greatest empire the world had seen to date. This reality is what gives me hope and peace. If the faith survived during a time when martyrdom was a foregone conclusion for many who followed Christ, the faith will survive whatever pressure diplomats, politicians, and governments bring to bear.
The only unknown is whether this present generation has the same resolute determination to remain faithful to the end as those who came before them. Will this generation stand? Will this generation defend the truth even if it means losing their livelihoods or lives?
When Jude admonished us to contend earnestly for the faith, it was not during a time of peace, love, and understanding. It was during a time of persecution, privation, and hardship. We do not contend for the faith only when it’s convenient, easy, or we are certain there will be no repercussions.
We do so in the face of hardship, especially then, because the more the enemy attempts to silence the children of God, the more boldness the children of God must show. We do not shrink back from those walking in darkness. We press forward, knowing that we walk in the light, and the light chases away the darkness.
Those who will evermore be remembered for being the first to walk the narrow path did not have the luxury of countless tomes written about every verse in the Bible; they didn’t even have the luxury of having a Bible. They had faith in God, the promises of Christ, and each other to carry them through some of the darkest, bleakest times in the church’s history.
Their goal and purpose was to remain true to the words of Jesus and faithful unto God. They didn’t map out their growth or have a five-year plan that included reaching the nations of the world because, nowadays, every ministry wants some sort of global outreach. They fled the tyranny and oppression of the Roman empire, and everywhere they went, they preached a risen Christ.
Recently, I had someone trying to sell me something I didn’t need and couldn’t afford ask me where I saw myself in ten years. I think his angle had something to do with appreciation, but since I didn’t want to waste his time or mine, I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Either doing what I’m doing now or with Jesus.”
That ended his pitch and our conversation.
Do the work. Be present. Make time for God. Pick up your cross every day, and follow after Him. Everything else comes into focus on your way to your destination. It may be unknown to you, but it’s not unknown to Him.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.
Posted on 12 September 2023 | 11:00 am
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