Monday, July 30, 2012

Alone (or so it seems...)

For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.     Philippians 2.20, 21
Paul writes these words from prison to the church at Philippi. He is sending Timothy, his precious son in the faith, to greet them. Paul is longing to encourage them, to hear of their well-being while bearing chains for preaching the gospel. And he feels alone, save for Timothy.

When I think of the early church, I typically assume greatness, super natural growth, and the witnessing of miraculous power. I realize and know that there was persecution, but I tend to recall Paul's accomplishments and somehow it seems "pretty", exciting, and super-hero-like.

But his "aloneness" struck me today as I read this passage. Maybe because, as of late, I've been contemplating standing alone. The church will be challenged at times; we will, as individuals, be ostracized and left out. We may face difficult times here in America, even as believers throughout time and in other places have faced hard things. Indeed, we may look around and feel small, outnumbered, even alone.

There are giants in the land, increasingly so it seems. And consequently we may find ourselves asking, "Are there really others who trust in God, who believe His Word, who lay down their lives to follow Him only?" The time may come when we feel like Paul, who had no one to trust save Timothy, his son in the faith. But did he let go? No, he focused on the work of God - This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent. John 6.29

We must be circumspect. Look around and see. This is not getting easier. The stakes may seem a bit higher. But here's the truth: They really aren't. The price is the same. It has always cost you your life to follow Jesus.

We fool ourselves. Look at Paul. Study your history books. Read current events. It is the same story - those who follow Jesus will suffer persecution.

Grow today. Abide in Him. Tap into His abundant grace - that divine enablement to do what He calls us to do. Hey, we may even be called upon to stand alone. It's helpful to know that people like Paul and faithful brethren throughout the ages as well as sisters and brothers today - all around you and in faraway places -  have done and are doing that very thing.

We may be alone, but we will be in good company.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the Light of His Glory and Grace.