By Jim Schneider, Executive Director, VCY America
As years pass from one to the next, most individuals see it as an opportunity for a fresh start, a new beginning, or a time to enact change. Sadly, the “change” desired or resolutions made often fall by the wayside in a matter of mere days or just weeks into the New Year. One has to question the level of commitment or firm resolve that went into the decision-making process.
In similar manner as we look across Christianity, it is distressing to see the resolve that once was a marker displaying the convictions of the church has also been cast aside for the sake of expediency or cultural acceptance. It is becoming more important today to be liked than to stay true and faithful to the teachings of Scripture. Doctrine has been discarded in order to see record numbers coming through our doors.
Many a pulpit are silent today on matters which the Word of God addresses. We have forgotten what it means to be salt and light. Consider a couple examples. Even though God instituted marriage as between one man and one woman, we’d rather not bring up the topic before others. Certainly, we don’t want people to think we are intolerant or judgmental. We allow our biblical values to be surrendered to the acceptance of preferred pronouns and we keep our mouths closed when our local library, fast-food restaurant, places of business, or the local farmer’s markets sport drag queen events. We’re told it’s all about diversity and acceptance and being “who you are” or “how you feel.” Yet, God, the Creator of life, did not make people that way. In fulfillment of Romans 1 we see in our culture the fruit of our turning our back on God whereby He is giving us up to uncleanness, to vile affections and a reprobate mind.
Further, whatever happened to the resolve of the church to share the Gospel with others? We’re told it is not a socially-acceptable thing to do. After all, you can’t be harsh and judgmental. You cannot force your religion on others. You have no right to talk about sin, repentance or eternal damnation. You have to remember there are a diversity of beliefs and who are you to say that your way is right? These attitudes are nothing new, but since the beginning of the church such attitudes prevailed. An important lesson can be learned from Scripture:
“And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” (Acts 5:40-42)
The apostles were resolved. They knew the only answer for mankind was salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ and they were willing to pay any cost to have this message proclaimed. The religious leaders of their time tried to intimidate them, threaten them, and even beat them to stop the message. Are we willing to suffer as they did? They actually rejoiced that they could suffer wrongdoing on account of the name of Jesus.
Being resolved for the Lord is not just something that happens automatically. It takes prayer. It takes sincerity. It takes commitment. So that when tests do arrive, your resolve will take over to be faithful to the Lord.
Consider the resolve of these Biblical characters:
There was Daniel – “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who answered to the king after refusing to bow down to his image – “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.’ (Daniel 3:17-18)
Moses – “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” (Hebrews 11:24-25)
Job – “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:20-21)
Habakkuk – “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
While there are countless additional biblical examples, the message is clear about the deep resolve each of these individuals had which guided them through the toughest of times. May we pick up this mantle in 2023 and be RESOLVED!