In Times Like These: Remain Standing And Strong!
“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong” (1Corinthians 16:13, NLT).
Despite the persecutions of Christians around the world, a recent poll shows that Christianity is growing in leaps and bounds around the globe, with many coming to Christ. It is like the more they try to kill the Way, the more the Way thrives. Just as this is happening, there is an equally growing apathy towards the things of God by some that are already in the faith. There is something not too right with the above picture: On one hand, the Way is growing in leaps and bounds with people being added to the Kingdom despite the persecutions, while on the other hand, the attitude/character of some in the Body is causing others to question their faith. The question we ought to ask ourselves as sons of God is, why should the character/attitude of another in the faith discourage me in the faith? For the one questioning his faith, such should look at the point of his joining with the Vine (Jesus Christ). Remember, your joining is to the Vine (Jesus Christ) and not to a person, Church or denomination! Are you still attached to the Vine or you are on the ground because of the delights of the world or the actions/words of people?
In the account of the Vine and the Branches in the Gospel of John 15:1-8, two ways of being detached from the Vine are clear. Firstly: “Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes and He prunes every branch that produce fruit so that it will produce more fruit” (John 15:2). Meaning, God as the Vine Keeper, personally removes branches that are not bearing fruit or have stopped bearing fruit according to the Amplified Version. Secondly, some branches on their own detached from the Vine: “…However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing” (John 15:5b, AMP). Meaning, these branches on their own accord detached from the Vine. On the ground where they lay, they may look green and healthy, but because their sustenance from the Vine has been cut off they begin to wither. Please note that the casting into the fire bit for these branches do not happen immediately but is at the end of their lives.
The above clearly shows that our sustenance in God is not dependent on any person’s input but on our vital union with the Vine (Jesus Christ). No wonder Apostle Paul, by the Spirit, declared: “Therefore, be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well beloved children [imitate their father]” (Ephesians 5:1, AMP). You may argue that people have input or influence over our lives as we serve Christ because same Apostle Paul, by the Spirit, said we should imitate him. True! But look at the verse again: “Pattern yourselves after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah)” (1Corinthians 11:1, AMP). Meaning, ‘follow and imitate me as I follow and imitate the Master. The day I stop following or imitating Him, don’t follow or imitate me’! So many are following leaders in the Body of Christ that they KNOW have stopped following and imitating Christ. It is a matter of time before apathy and falling away sets into their hearts! This is why we are encouraged: “Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the Throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2, AMP).
There are so many in the Body that the Lord had placed on platforms of authority upon the mountains (systems) of the world, unfortunately, many of them had forgotten the sons of Who they are, and have become imitators of the nations around them (1Kings 17:7-20). It is easy to see these ones, point finger at them, and use them as an excuse to stop bearing fruit or to detach completely from the Vine. Don’t be discouraged, Beloved. Stand and Remain strong in the faith you have in Christ Jesus. Let your roots go down deep into Him, such that He is the Anchor of your soul, not a person or denomination. He’s got you, no matter what is happening around you! However, your pact in the bargain is to REMAIN STRONG IN Him: “So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36). May the Lord grant you the Grace to remain standing and strong, as He works out and perfects all that concerns you, in Jesus Christ name! God bless you!