God’s armour, His protection, His strength are ours when we choose to serve and obey Him. It requires our single-mindedness and determination in the face of temptation and distraction, a knowledge of and belief in Jesus’ promises that He carries the yoke with us and that His yoke is light, and that He “will never leave us or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5, NRSV). Jesus knows that we cannot overcome this spiritual battle on our own. By being yoked with Him, the burden of temptation and of resistance weakens so that we can persevere and stand strong
When we accepted God’s gift of salvation, we did so on faith; in other words, we believed from the heart. It follows that believing every promise of divine assistance and comfort needs to also move from an intellectual understanding to an acceptance of the heart, followed by a submission of the will. The knowing of those promises has to spring from deep within our being. No matter how many sermons we hear, enjoy, and agree with intellectually, they remain dead works without real redemptive and transforming faith. As long as our believing remains an intellectual exercise, the heart remains unmoved. Most of us have become inured and blind to this condition. How many of us can genuinely say that we have put what was heard in a sermon into action? Or was it that the pinch of conviction that was felt was soon forgotten and that life continued as before? We need to recommit, to break this stalemate and genuinely repent from our religiosity. There is no other way. Without ongoing renewal, our Christian walk is or becomes mere ritual and is a mockery of what being a Christian means in actuality. To follow Christ is costly, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”[i]
Unless we slay our idols, by God’s grace and strength, we cannot call ourselves Christians.
A former Muslim who converted to Christianity said, “A Christian without a testimony is not a Christian!” He did not imply that a testimony is sharing of one’s faith, the gospel, and the Four Spiritual Laws, but rather he meant that one’s way of life is a testimony. His was a very sobering assertion.
Let us consider what redemption would look like if our choices were imbued by a concern for kingdom values. We would be ever vigilant that we not fall into a religious piety that is far removed from true obedience to and worship of God. Our obedience would not depend on living in a Christian subculture, but would rather be a full immersion in life without compromise to the standards of Christ. Bonhoeffer was of the opinion that only by living completely in this world could one learn to have faith, embracing all the duties and aspects that living in this world, while not of this world, entailed. Such obedience is difficult to achieve in our individualistic society. We desperately need one another to spur each other on and help each other up when we fall. We can overcome the enemy as brother helping brother and sister helping sister by the grace of God.
Among the idols identified, some merit particular attention because of their prevalence in our present society: parental coddling, technology, earning in order to consume more, entertainment and recreation.
[i]The Cost of Discipleship. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. (New York: Macmillan, 1963).