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As the days, months, and years pass by and we grow closer to the day that Jesus returns, we may see many fall away, many become confused, or many become so exhausted that they just give in to the world. It may seem easier and less painful to just give in. Sometimes having faith means that we may find ourselves to experience and feel suffering or pain. No one naturally wants to suffer and therefore may turn away from their faith, or hide their faith, or hold a superficial faith and belief. I see more and more people in our world today and even in the church that try to view God as they see in their own image of how they would like to see Him. The problem with that is that we are truthfully created in His image and no matter how hard we try to paint God in view that we desire, the truth remains the truth and God is who He is and always will be. Understanding that God always will be the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we must remain steadfast and unwavering in this faith.
In our reading from Colossians this morning Paul writes to us about the supremacy of Jesus our Lord. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He represents everything that we were meant to be in being created in the image of God. All things were created by him and for him. He is the one who holds all things together, meaning the planet, the moon, the sun, and the Stars. We like to think that we are the ones in control of all of these things and we make rules and laws and spend billions of dollars on research on how we can save our planet from destruction. If only we would understand that it is not us who has control over these things for it is Jesus Christ our Lord who is in control of all. Through him he has made peace and reconciled us to God by the shedding of his blood. We were once enemies of God because of our evil behavior but because of His death we are reconciled and made holy in the sight of the Father. Paul tells us that we are free from accusation under one condition, we must continue in our faith, let it be established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This means that we must have a steadfast faith.
In the next few verses to finish out this chapter Paul speaks about the sufferings that he is enduring for his faith. He says that he rejoices for suffering for the church. Paul desires so much in his heart to be like Christ in everyway yet also understands that he himself can never possibly obtain such perfection. It is for this reason that he and all of us need Jesus to fill in the gaps. However, Paul views his physical suffering as a time to “fill up in his flesh what is still lacking in regards to Christ’s afflictions.” All of this is for the sake of the body of Christ which is the church. He is a servant to the gospel and is loyal to the commission that the Lord has set out for him. Nothing will stop him from this mission, not prison, not physical beatings, not hunger, not even death for even in death Paul has continued fulfill his commission through his letters to the churches which we all may read today. Was all of his suffering that he experienced worth the price that he paid? By remaining steadfast in his faith generations of the church who have followed have learned to do the same and to also become servants of the gospel. Paul’s suffering for the faith was not and could not ever be in vain and the same goes for us who remain steadfast as well.
The Book of Amos shows us an example of what happens to those who have not remained steadfast in their faith. There is this lie that has spread out into the world and even in the church if you can believe it that we have all the time in the world until judgment comes so until we are free to do whatever we please. However, Amos shows us otherwise in his vision of a fruit basket full of ripened fruit. The Lord says that this basket symbolizes time. The people of Israel have spent their time doing as they please and have forgotten the Lord and all of the good things He has done for them. It seems like it is not much different than the world we live in today. The Lord tells Amos that “the time is ripe” for His people Israel and they will be spared His wrath no longer. “The songs in the temple will turn to wailing. Many, many bodies – flung everywhere!” And then “Silence!” There will be no more. What could they possibly have done to have earned all of this? “Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, ‘When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?’ – Skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat.” Rather than see the blessings of the gift that the Lord has given them through the Sabbath day and the festivals that they celebrate they view them as a hindrance which keeps them from their profits through dishonest gains. They just look forward to their greed rather than looking forward to their rest and worship for the Lord.
The day will come says the Lord “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight, I will turn your religious festivals into mourning and all your singing into weeping. I will make all of you wear sackcloth and shave your heads, I will make that time like mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day.” The days are coming “when I will send a famine through the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water (but something much worse), but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.” All of this because the people had not remained steadfast in their faith and turned to other things in place of the Lord.
We have all heard the story of Mary and Martha hundreds of times. Martha was busy trying to be a people pleaser and a good host and was so diligently working to serve as she thought. However, her sister in her mind seemed to be lazy and was just sitting there listening to Jesus instead of helping. Jesus explains to Martha that Mary is concerned with more important things and it will not be taken away from her. Mary is being steadfast in her faith and holding on to every bit of what she can of the Lord.
We are called to be steadfast in our faith and that means sharing our faith as well just as Paul did regardless of the sufferings he experienced. However, it seems that in this day and age Christians, fear to share the gospel with others in the fear of rejection. Yet there are those out there needing to hear the truth. I heard of an atheist recently that said that they respected everyone’s beliefs but that we should not bother others with our beliefs and let people be whatever they want to be. There is a problem with that though. Let’s imagine that this person ended up with a diagnosis of a deadly cancer. You find out about their cancer and you just so happen to have the end all cure for this deadly disease. But you believe that you shouldn’t bother other people with this cure so you don’t share it with them and so this person dies. Don’t you think that this person would have wished that you had bothered them. We have the cure to the deadly disease known as sin. It is the end all cure all to this cancer. I believe that it is time that we start bothering people with this cure. We must remain steadfast in our faith even in the face of rejection and possible suffering. You never know who might be looking for a cure for the pain that they feel in their lives due to sin. We must not judge for ourselves who does or does not deserve this cure. We must be at the ready to share the faith that has brought us freedom.