Focus Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
Have you ever been a Conference Christian? You know, you get all fired up after a weekend retreat and come home and do something eccentric because one of the speakers said, “Go Big for Jesus or Go Home!”? And then you Go Home! And Go Big! only to lose your fizz after a few days of the daily grind?
I am sorry to say that too often in my life, my retreat experiences have been like a shaken of can of Mt. Dew - all pent up excitement, exploding in no particular direction, with no fizz remaining after the initial explosion.
This happened to me in High School. I went to a weekend church retreat and on the first night they showed a video of a bunch of kids going to their public school with a white shoe on their right foot and a black shoe on their left foot and when fellow students asked them about it, they said something along the lines of, “if you love God, you are right in the light and if not, you are left in the dark”. The video went on to show these students leading practically their entire class to Jesus. There was weeping and praying around flagpoles and dozens and dozens of students giving their souls to Jesus Christ in locker-lined hallways.
So of course, this is the way everyone should lead others to Jesus, right? I thought so.
I was so fired up and had glorious visions of doing exactly the same thing. I mean, all weekend long, I was surrounded by such excitement and energy and endless possibilities, all because of Jesus – I just had to let others know how they too could experience life this way! How could people not want to feel the power of Jesus!? Who doesn’t want their whole life ending in exclamation points?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Exclamation Points for Jesus!!!
So, the first day back to school, I donned one white Converse and one black Converse. Who wasn’t going to love this? I couldn’t wait for someone to ask me about my two different colored shoes! What a cool way to get my friends to ask me about Jesus!
But then I got to school. And my expectations of a cool experience? Not even close. Let me remind you this was high school. Immediately after getting out of my car, one kid takes a good look at me and just shakes his head. One kid asked me if I was racist after I gave him my shoe line. A couple of girls actually said, “that is SO awesome” and then laughed their way down the hall. But mostly my fellow students just looked at me as if I was absolutely nuts.
And just like that, fire doused. Fizz, fizzled.
As a teenager, I may not have realized the difference between the lights, music, and tear-jerking circles of emotion-sharing, and learning to worship God in new and fun ways in order to deepen my relationship with Christ. But as an adult, I hope I have learned the difference between the two. One triggers excitement in the moment and the other, excitement in God.
This lesson continues in adulthood. My worship should NOT be dependent on my surroundings. Not playing a song I recognize? That’s OK, I am not worshiping the song. Devotion not relatable to a specific moment in my life? That’s OK, I am storing treasures in my heart. Hit a brick wall in sharing my testimony? That’s OK! I am obedient to God in my sharing!
We cannot stop responding to GOD simply because the response from man does not meet our expectations. Paul and the Thessalonians knew this and faced this challenge with prayer and hope. Paul encouraged them to keep their confidence in God and not on the ramblings and responses of man. Paul coaches them so lovingly with this truth in 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5:
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, 2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.
3 But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you.
5 Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:3-5)
As true now as it was then – not everyone has faith, some will present illogical arguments and some will present seemingly logical ones, but our fire for God cannot be built upon the response of man! God will establish you – take care not to let someone else’s wordly ideology overshadow the truths God has promised you - otherwise your confidence is in man and not God.
Man is fickle. I challenge (ie. Double dog dare) you to log how many times your mood changes throughout the day and the reasons why for one 24- hour period to prove the point. I am sure my log would involve the lack of caffeine or chocolate, other drivers, and one or two teenagers. That’s fickle!
But God is constant and we can rely on that. I am encouraged by Matthew 28:19-20 -
19 Go therefore[a] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (NKJV)
This command cannot be taken lightly. This is not a suggestion or a “wait until you are ready” dictate. This is God telling you to find your testimony and “git to gittin’”.
Be Philosophical as in 1 Peter 3:15 – “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”
Be Confident as in Jeremiah 1:7-8 – “But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.”
Be an Example – Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Be Bold as in Psalm 40:9-10- “I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.”
So you can don your Chuck Taylor’s in a variety of colors, write a blog, go on an international mission trip, organize a testimonial party, witness to youth, get into a debate, sing, play, serve, or silently witness through loving example – just do what God made you to do! However it is God has gifted you, use that gift to share your testimony. Just don’t stop obeying God in his command to share that testimony! Don’t be a “Conference” Christian – be on fire for God all the time so you can be called upon in God’s timing and not man’s.
And remember why you are sharing. Remember that sharing your testimony, sharing the word of God, comes not from anything worldly but because you have truly humbled yourself before him, have received his grace and know the peace that can only come from the Father through the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ and you cannot help but want others to feel the same kind of freedom from whatever chains and burdens they still carry. THIS is where your fire comes from.
Where is your fire? What is your testimony? How will you share it?