By Bob Stock
Two stories in Scripture that capture two critical aspects of following Jesus—abiding and pursuing—have been on my mind recently. Their importance to us as believers is so critical that it’s difficult for me to believe that without these aspects in the forefront of our lives, we should examine the validity of our faith.
The first story is found in Luke 10:38–42, the story of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus while Martha served. Jesus stated that by Mary’s listening to His words, she was doing the only thing necessary! She was abiding in Him, listening, communing, meditating, communicating, letting His words sink into her mind and spirit. This is a critical first and on-going aspect in a believer’s life. Without plugging into Jesus, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Martha did good work, but had no life or joy within her. All the seemingly necessary work distracted her; she missed out on the most important and critical aspect of Christianity—abiding in Him.
As believers, are we Mary or Martha? Abiding in Jesus is not only a critical aspect of a believer’s life, but an on-going one.
As we learn to abide in Jesus, we fall in love with Him, bear abundant fruit, desire to follow Him, and keep His commandments. Which leads to the second story found in Judges 6–8. In summary, God told Gideon to use only 300 men to take on 135,000 Midianites so that He alone would receive the glory. After the initial battle, most of the Midianites were defeated. About 15,000 survived and fled the battle scene. Then the verse and scene that convict me: “Then Gideon and the 300 men who were with him came to the Jordan and crossed over, weary yet pursuing” (Judges 8:4). Weary yet pursuing. I love that image. Gideon and his 300 men were tired and exhausted, yet they pursued 15,000 of the enemy at God’s command with clarity and a determined focus.
Jesus’ last mandate to His present and future disciples is found in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19–20).
Are we following Jesus’ mandate to the point of “weary yet pursuing”? Or are we distracted by earthly attributes like jobs, money, possessions, family, comfort, and safety?
Oh, that we would have Gideon’s clarity and determined focus in pursuing God’s command whether or not we receive support and encouragement from others (John 14:15).
The Gideon story applies particularly well to those of us involved in some way with reaching the unreached of the world. There are some 7,000 unreached people groups, and 1,500 of those are unengaged! These figures can be overwhelming when viewed from our human perspective, but from God’s, not so much (Matt. 19:26). After all, Gideon took on 135,000 Midianites with 300 men holding trumpets and pitchers, but also with the hand of God. Pretty good odds, I’d say.
Red flags that abiding and pursuing are not critical in our lives regarding the Lord, using missions as an example:
- Spending time and money on annual vacations, but concerned over the time and cost of an occasional overseas mission trip to the point of rarely, if ever, taking one.
- Being more excited and attentive when our favorite sports team plays than when a missionary who sacrificed family, home, friends, security, comfort, and country for the Lord visits the church.
- Failing to both tithe 10 percent and give generously to missions.
- Spending more personal time on social media than reading the Word, communing with the Lord, and worshiping Him.
- Having difficulty remembering the last time we witnessed to someone outside church.
- Failing to follow through on commitments made to the Lord and others.
- Feeling it’s more important to leave all our financial legacy to our children rather than a significant portion to missions.
- Putting security and comfort before obedience and risk when they diverge.
- Assuming a passion for missions is only for a few people “called” to missions in the church, not for all.
Oh, Lord, make us like Mary and Gideon, abiding with and in You forever and relentlessly pursuing You and Your commandments, regardless of the circumstances.