The Advent Part 16
Jesus was gone, and all that the disciples saw as they looked steadfastly into heaven was the cloud that had received Him out of their sight. Even though He was gone, they still looked toward heaven hoping to catch one last glimpse of their Master, so overwhelmed by what they had just witnessed that they could not look away. Then two men dressed in white stood by them, and spoke to them. The angels of the Lord knew who the disciples were, they knew that they were Galileans, because it is what they called them, and they also understood the emotional state the disciples were in, and so they had been sent to strengthen, to edify and to encourage.
Much as we would like we will never understand the full measure of God’s love and goodness toward us, we will never see the fullness of His mercy and grace, even though we get glimpses from time to time, and perceive it if only in part. God could have let the disciples stand there, looking to the heavens until the sun set and darkness covered the land, yet in His goodness He sent His messengers, to remind them that one day Jesus would return in like manner as they had seen Him go into heaven.
There are no words that could have been spoken at that particular moment that would have given the disciples greater encouragement than these. Yes, Jesus had gone back to the Father, but He would return again, He would return in glory and power and majesty, and take unto Himself those who are His.
Those called of God to a higher calling cannot allow themselves to be overcome by sentiment or emotion, they cannot allow themselves to be sidetracked or distracted by the trials, disappointments or hardships or this life, and no matter what they cannot cease their journey. Yes, oftentimes the road gets hard, yes oftentimes we are spiritually exhausted and we think to ourselves that just a little respite, just a little nap, just a little rest would do the trick, but we cannot stop, we must press ever onward toward the prize.
The enemy is always in pursuit of us, and just as those who in the dead of winter lay down in the snow thinking that they will only rest their eyes for a few minutes and end up being found months later frozen to death, the believer who chooses to lower their guard, to put down their sword, to do away with their shield and just rest for a while, runs the risk of never again awakening spiritually.
There are no days off for the servants of Christ, there are no respites, there are no vacation days, this journey of hours is a lifelong one, and it is when we breathe our last upon this earth that we will enter into our eternal rest. Yes, it is tempting to stand rooted to one spot, look steadfastly toward heaven and hope to catch a glimpse of Jesus, but His command to His disciples, both those two thousand years ago, and those today, is to labor faithfully, diligently, and consistently.
God’s work ought not to be dependent on our disposition, or our circumstances. We don’t do the work of God only when we feel like it, we don’t do the work of God when everything else is going smoothly, we don’t do the work of God only when it’s convenient, we don’t do the work of God only when it is profitable in some way, we don’t labor only when we are in perfect health, or when the weather is just right.
Once again we look to Jesus as our example, we look to Jesus as the prototype of that which we ought to be, and we can readily conclude that Jesus labored, without ceasing, until the day He was taken up and a cloud received Him out of the disciples’ sight.
John 5:17, “But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’”
I realize I’ve mentioned this at some point, but it bears repeating because the essence of it is one that needs to be deeply rooted in the heart of every servant of Christ. It is when we approach ministry as a job rather than a calling, as a career rather than a divine mandate that we begin to assimilate the practices of the world, and as such begin to mimic them. When we begin to mimic the practices of the world, something detrimental to the house of God occurs in our hearts. We are no longer concerned for the lost, we are no longer concerned for the hurting, we are no longer concerned for the hungry and the naked, all our concern begins to turn itself inward, onto ourselves, and the only things we become concerned with is what kind of retirement package we can get from our new pastorate, what sort of perks, whether or not the job comes with a parsonage and a ministry vehicle, whether we get paid vacations, and whether or not dental and medical are included in the contract. Having received all the perks and benefits that we bargained for, we then begin to tailor the messages we preach and the teaching we present in such a way that they do not offend or challenge those responsible for our paycheck, but rather we flatter them and make them feel at ease. Jesus begins to be marginalized because by His very nature He is controversial and divisive, the sermons on repentance begin to be nonexistent because they are challenging and uncomfortable, rebuking sin becomes less of a priority than pizza night because anyone in their right mind would rather have a slice than be told that their sin is leading them to perdition, and slowly but surely what was to be the house of God, the household of faith, the congregation of saints, becomes a social club wherein God is never discussed but everyone’s really nice and welcoming and tolerant.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.