How Far Will You Tread With Jesus

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and
one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much

Luke 16:10

How are we to know the depths that we will tread with our savior? We are not confronted daily with persecutions, at least not ones we would attribute to what Jesus says – “They will deliver you to tribulation, and they will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name.” (Matthew 24:9) I do not fear for my physical life daily because of my allegiance to Christ. At times, it feels as if I should, but I don’t think Christ calls us to trouble ourselves with these kinds of thoughts constantly. After all, did Christ not say he has come to give us joy and peace? We live in a country where we are exclusively met with unbridled amounts of peace on a daily basis. Should we feel guilty for the peace we have? I think what Paul directs Timothy to pray for in 1 Timothy 2:1-3 would answer that – “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” So here we are in America; rich, blessed monetarily, leading peaceful, quiet lives, (hopefully and most importantly) godly and dignified in every way, not confronted with persecution of a most threatening kind. How, then, if my life is not being pressed down in such dire ways, am I to know if I am to stand the test, if it comes, of such a persecution, of such tribulations, of facing a sword on account of trusting Christ?

There is another idea that must be brought out before the answer to the question above is answered. Often, people will claim, that we don’t know trials, we don’t know tribulation, and we don’t know testing troubles as the rest of the world. This is often built in reality, but said in motivation out of an exalted position, that they are better for their troubles, that they know what it is really like. I am not fully convinced that this is so. Surely the way that Christ tests and proves our faith is by putting us through trials, through things that show the trueness and depth of our faith and to bring us deeper into it. But the idea that you must be physically placed on a cross to know the depths of suffering is not precisely what Christ is calling us to. There are plenty of believers throughout all of history who were never met with trials of these ways yet had faith that was as deep as the heart can bear, and hope that would follow Christ into the darkest of despairs. Simply because I do not have a sword to my throat demanding me to recant my beliefs does not mean that I have not traversed with Christ in the heights of his love and understood the depths of his sufferings. The faith that will travel those lengths and bear the burdens begins before we enter the furnace.

How then are we to know whether we are going to tread the depths with our savior that he will lead us to? There are two answers. The first, we don’t know the depths we will travel. But the second, whatever depths our savior takes us, we will tread and triumph, but not because of anything we’ve done but because of Jesus holding us. I have sat at tables with young men who declared that unless you are a martyr for your faith, then you haven’t truly honored Christ in the best way. What would this young man say to Peter, who said to his saviors face, “Even if I must die with you, I will never deny you!” Then, only a matter of hours later, Peter said of this same savior, swearing a curse upon himself, “I do not know the man!” not once but three times. Where then is your confidence? If Peter, who walked with Christ, sat with him and had God himself teach him, but could not even keep himself from failing, how much less we? It is as if Peter faced the sword three times, and every time he recanted. Peter was foolish, as were the rest of Christ’s disciples, who, in the same verses (Matthew 26:30-35) declared in response to Jesus’ telling them that they would all fall away, that they surely would not. If not even the disciples, then what are we to make of ourselves? We have no way of knowing the depths that we will tread with our savior, whether we will stand or whether we will deny.

But we do have this confidence about our trials, temptations and sufferings. It is that though we may fail in them, our savior is in heaven pleading with the Father that, like Peter, our faith will not fail. We cannot rest in anything in ourselves. We must learn from the disciples and trust in Jesus that he will uphold us on that day when the floods are crushing, the fires are raging, the winds are blowing and our hearts faint under the weight. What will sustain you in that day will not be your will power, it failed the disciples and experience tells us that it will fail us in that moment. But what will sustain you is Christ’s grace and intercession for you, asking the Father to hold that faith that lives in you. So instead of saying foolishly, like the disciples, “I will never fail you”, may we instead plead before our God, “Lord, help me! My faith is small and my flesh is weak, sustain me!”

Here we must confront how our minds think so often. We think ourselves better if we imagine going through some tumultuous trial, but we neglect the simple trials we endure every day. We think that we would stand triumphant against the sword, but each day shows us that we fail in the smallest of trials. Christ is not always and constantly calling us into the persecutions we deem so glorious. What he is calling us into everyday is to battle those trials, persecutions, and temptations that we are so neglectful of. O, that we would be a people who take the daily trials we face and rest upon the grace of God to bear us up and have victory. We will have confidence when we are faithful in the little things that God sends our way, for “he who is faithful in a very little is faithful in much”. So Christ’s demand for triumph is not “Overcome those glorious things that receive so much praise from others” but instead, “Be faithful in those trials you face every day” – be faithful when you are tempted to be a coward and step away from speaking on behalf of Christ against sin, be faithful when deceiving another is a simple covering away, be faithful when you need to ask forgiveness because your anger rages out of control, be faithful when you are tempted to be vile, crass and crude. There are so many little things every day, do not be negligent, instead look to Jesus and rest in him that he will sustain you, from the least of trials to the greatest of persecutions. We are far better off resting in Christ to help us conquer those simple trials we face and fail in every day than if we stand in the day of great persecution but only because we trusted in ourselves.


One thought on “How Far Will You Tread With Jesus

  1. What you are saying reminds me of the Desert Fathers of the early church. The Roman Empire which had once slaughtered Christians now required you to be a Christian to get a government job. Now everyone was a Christian, you just had to be born and baptized. These men (some crazy, some deeply commited to Christ) asked themselves, am I a Christian? I mean how do I know, is all that’s required of me to be born and bapitized? What is it to know Christ as a living, indwelling person? So they went out to the Desert. They followed the model Jesus gave in His temptations in Matthew 4. Check out The Life of St. Anthony by Athanasius. We must ask ourselves “what does it mean to count the cost of following Christ in our society wherein it seems to cost so little?” And we must remember that to follow Christ means to hate father, mother, brother, sister, friend, wife, children, even my very life. “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”

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