If you are like me, one of the biggest challenges of the Christian faith is simply keeping up your energy level. Despite practicing a faith of love, peace, hope, and acceptance, Christians are some of the most vilified and persecuted people on earth. This is sometimes difficult to remember in America. Even with the erosion of Christian values and the removal of public displays of faith in recent years, you are still free to practice your faith as you see fit. The worst we face here are prejudice and insult. Most will never have to choose between their faith and their teeth. Most will never face the reality of torture simply because they profess to love Jesus. For those in America and other countries of religious freedom, be thankful daily for that freedom and pray for our brothers and sisters who do face persecution, torture and even death.
Still, the Christian life in America is exhausting. While our trials would be laughable to those living under oppressive governments, they do not seem so trivial to those of us who endure them. Every day we are surrounded by non-believers. We are called to be different, to live different and to stand out. We are called to demonstrate the love of Christ to all people, even to those who, truth be told, drive us crazy. If we are to have a significant impact on the lives of those who do not know Christ, we cannot afford a letdown; we cannot afford a slip. Our days are spent guarding our lips, counting our words and diligently determining how to respond to every situation. It’s as if people cannot wait for us to slip up so they can point out that we are no better or different than they are.
While it is true that we are no better, it is definitely not true that we are no different. We have the Spirit of God living within us. We have pledged our allegiance to the Creator of the Universe. For we who are wholly committed to this servanthood, we desperately long to love everyone we meet and to tell them the reason for our joy. We long to be caring friends to all those around us; we long to be careful and attentive listeners. We long to reflect the love and character of Jesus. To live up to the label of “Follower of Jesus” is the ultimate goal.
Yet, I get tired. Following in the footsteps of Jesus is a long and arduous journey, one fraught with peril. I never want to quit, but I often want to rest. This is not an option. Time is both finite and fleeting. If I rest, to whom might I miss the opportunity to minister? If I rest, who will fill my place? Each of us has a distinctive and equally important role to play in this world. We all have work to do that was created specifically for our talents and gifts. We are, each one of us, a vital cog in the plan of God. Rest is not an option. When you are exhausted and in need of rest, retreat to a time of prayer and study of God’s Word. Drink deeply and return to the front lines. I need you there; we all need you there. I want to be there with you. Oh, that Christians would take their call seriously, push through their exhaustion, and live a life of total commitment to their King.
They will laugh at you, but its okay; they laughed at Jesus. They will mock you, but it’s okay; they mocked Jesus as well. They may hurt you, but this too is okay; they put Jesus to death. Remember whom you serve. Remember what He endured for you. We must not rest, we must not tire. We have got to share the love of Jesus with the entire world. This must be our lone desire.