Spiritual Heroism Grows Out of Ordinary Christian Living
You and I are going to have opportunities to live out our faith heroically in the next several years. I could be wrong — I hope I am — but I believe there are new faith challenges in our future. I want to be ready for it, and I know you do, too. And on one level, I’m convinced it’s simple. All it takes is everyday Christian faithfulness today.
A friend of mine showed the simplicity of it all as she was losing her life to breast cancer, slowly but surely, at age 35. My wife and I would go to encourage her, and we’d always come away feeling we were the ones who’d been encouraged. Someone asked her how she kept up her joy. She said, “I’ve been seeking to live the Spirit-filled life since I became a Christian, and I’m just trusting God now the same as always.”
She lived it and she proved it: To be prepared for heroic Christian faithfulness, practice everyday Christian faithfulness.
Ordinary Christian Living Prepares Us for Heroic Christian Living
I think of Barronelle Stutzman. She’s a florist who serviced gay customers but not gay weddings, and has been subjected to crushing penalties for it. I met her at a religious freedom discussion. She’s no firebrand; in fact, she spoke as little as possible, preferring to let her Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys tell her story instead.
She never set out to be a lightning rod for gay hatred. She never planned to become a symbol for Christian conscience. I got the distinct impression instead that she was used to simply doing the right thing and trusting God with it.
An elder missionary once told me, “You never get past the basics.” You never graduate from prayer, daily time in the Word, fellowship with fellow believers, studying the truths of the faith and living a life of trust and love. The good news there is that you don’t have to be an elder missionary to do what they do. Just live the basics.
Do the Right Thing, Trust God, Be at Peace
The test, when it comes, may be in the form of challenging your belief. For that, just start in on the basic discipline of learning how to explain why you believe. Even if it’s just a little at a time.
Or the test may come in the form of an ethical challenge, as it did with Mrs. Stutzman. On that, one of the best messages I’ve ever heard was also one of the simplest. Its three simple points were: Do the right thing; the rest is up to God; be at peace. Steve Douglass was vice president of Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru) at the time he gave that message. But it isn’t a mission-agency-executive message, it’s a normal Christian living message. It applies at any point in our lives, and it will help prepare us for any future.
Grow in the Basics Through Practice
Of course we grow through practice. Those who are ready for “solid food” (mature Christians, that is) are the ones “whose faculties have been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)
So if we know how to trust God as we do the right thing filling out our income tax form, we’ll know how to trust Him doing the right thing when the boss asks us to fudge the numbers on the report. If we practice doing the right thing then, that will prepare us to do the right thing if the day comes when someone threatens our homes or livelihoods.
It’s simple, yet not everyone does it. That passage I just quoted from Hebrews followed right after this stern warning: “Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.” (Hebrews 5:12-13)
Whether we’ve got especially challenging times ahead or not, none of us wants to remain children. We can prepare. Spiritual heroics are about living the ordinary Christian life, and keeping at it no matter what.