Be vigilant and faithful
“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear, hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” – Jude 20-23
I admire Biblical characters such as Noah and Moses. They were true to their calling. Noah was instructed by God to preach to the people of his time and to build a boat, an ark. He did that, without ceasing, for approximately one hundred years, until God brought on the flood.
During the time of his preaching and construction of the ark, not a single person came to faith or believed that the pending flood would take place. Yet, even though his contemporaries thought him a “nut case”, he did not stop and was not discouraged. He just remained faithful to what God instructed him to do.
Moses was called to lead God’s people, the Israelites, out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. The people humiliated him. They challenged his authority, yet he remained faithful to his calling. He had his moments of discouragement, but he did not quit.
Last Sunday we celebrated the last Sunday in the church year. We refer to Sunday past as the Sunday of Christ the King or the Sunday of the Fulfillment. Yes, we celebrate the Fulfillment because we have come to the end of Pentecost, which brings us again to Advent.
As we celebrate the closing of the church year, we are reminded of our calling, to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and build his church here on earth. This is a mammoth task.
The people of our world ridicule the church and display a contempt for God, similar to the people in the time of Noah. Christ’s command to the church is to, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Notwithstanding that we in the church are sometimes frustrated, maligned and feel that we are fighting a losing battle, we must remain faithful. In the words of Mother Theresa, who spent her life ministering to the hungry, sick and dying in the slums of Calcutta, India, when she was questioned about her quest to continue even though she knew that success was beyond imagination, she responded: “I am not called to be successful; I am called to be faithful.”
The evangelist implores us, in the above text, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” In being faithful, the evangelist tells us to “be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained with corruption.”
Most pastors would like to see all of the pews in the church full every Sunday. But it is not up to you and me to determine whether the church is successful. It is important that we remain faithful servants, telling people about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We cannot change people. Only the Holy spirit can do that. As God’s emissaries in this world, we help to dish out God’s grace to humankind. Through the life that we live, people come to know our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, we give hope to the world.
Noah and Moses did not measure success by the numbers. They were concerned with the proclamation of God’s word. Mother Theresa was not interested in success. She was faithful in her Christian duty to the poor, the sick and the dying.
The benchmark of success in the church is to be vigilant and faithful, share the gospel and give hope to the people of the world. We are to do this until He comes or calls us home. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas, or telephone: 323-4107; E-mail: [email protected], Website: www.Nassaulutheranchurch.org.