Such a Great Salvation (7)
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12.1, 2
Let’s face it
Let’s face it: running the marathon steeplechase which the Lord has outlined as the course of our great salvation is just not convenient.
Indeed, for many people, it might be quite inconvenient to follow Jesus ever more deeply into His great salvation. Such a way of life takes time. It requires discipline. Demands change. It means learning new skills. Reading. Praying. Paying careful attention to how we use our time. Discovering new ways to live for God’s glory in even the most everyday details of life. Turning away from habits of thinking and living which are contrary to the mind and example of Christ. Watching for open doors of opportunity to talk about the Lord. Increasing and improving in Christlike living in all areas of life.
And setting aside a good many things we might otherwise enjoy, but which are like junk food shops along the route of our race.
No, it is not convenient to press on like this toward the upward calling of God in Christ, not when we consider so many other matters to be of equal importance as our calling to follow Jesus.
For many of us, our experience of Christian faith involves finding a niche that suits us just fine. We want a faith that’s good enough to assure us we really believe, to comfort and console us as needed, and to provide wholesome spiritual enjoyment with like-minded friends.
A convenient faith?
We want a faith that is convenient, one that fits in with all the other things we think we need to do. Alongside believing in and serving Jesus, we need time for those interests that give us the happiness and contentment we seek.
We want faith on our terms and our timetable, and we want to enjoy it without having to give up too much of what everybody else has and seems to enjoy. Our Christianity must be convenient; it must fit our chosen lifestyle and schedule.
But a faith that we practice only to the extent that it is convenientfor us may not be saving faith at all.
The parable of the great supper
In the parable of the great supper (Lk. 14.15-24), Jesus likens the Kingdom of God to a man who prepared a sumptuous repast, and invited many to attend. When everything was ready, he sent his servant to announce that the hour had come.
But those who had been invited began to make excuses for why they would not be attending. One claimed he needed to inspect a piece of property. Another wanted to test a yoke of oxen. Another had just been married and therefore insisted he could not attend.
It just was not convenient for these people to set aside their other interests and concerns to comply with the invitation for a great supper and an enjoyable evening with a generous neighbor. They preferred their own diversions and occupations to the hospitality that had been prepared for them.
The result, Jesus explained, was that “none of those men who were invited” would “taste” the sumptuous dinner of their gracious neighbor.
To the extent that we prefer anything over following Jesus and growing in our great salvation, we are like those ungrateful neighbors, excusing ourselves, for one “good reason” or another, for not daily feeding on the Word of God, not practicing prayer without ceasing, not learning more about how our great salvation applies to all our roles and responsibilities, not being more consistent as witnesses for Jesus, not setting our minds on Him in His exalted glory, and not working out our salvation or pressing on or running our race any more diligently and vigorously than we do.
That’s not the kind of Christian life and salvation many who profess to believe in Jesus choose to follow. It’s just not convenient. I don’t like to read. I have other things I like to do. I don’t want to upset my friends or co-workers. Learning new things is hard.
Excuses, excuses, excuses. Jim Kennedy once reminded me that an excuse is “the skin of a reason, stuffed with a lie.” The lie we inhabit when, claiming inconvenience, we don’t press on to lay hold on our great salvation, is that what we have of faith at present is “good enough for me, and so it will have to be good enough for Jesus.”
Claiming inconvenience for not running or exercising may not be a big deal. But claiming inconvenience when it comes to fixing our eyes on Jesus and running the race He has set for us is nothing other than neglecting our great salvation. And those who neglect that salvation will invariably drift from it, thus perhaps demonstrating that they have no real appetite for the Lord’s great supper after all.
1. Why do you think so many Christians seem not to be growing in their walk with and work for the Lord?
2. Our time comes to us as a gift from God. What should we do to make sure we’re making the most of His gift (Eph. 5.15-17)?
3. Is there anything in your life standing in the way of your laying firmer hold on your great salvation?
Next steps – Transformation: Spend an extended time in prayer – an hour or so – waiting silently on the Lord as you review all the ways you use your time each week. Are you claiming inconvenience as an excuse for not growing in any way? Repent, and seek the Lord for a new course of action.
T. M. Moore
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This is the end of Part 1 of our series, Such a Great Salvation. For a free PDF of the seven lessons in this series, click here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.