Of all the things I would have been known for growing up, being a good student was most certainly not one of them. In thinking about why, I can’t honestly come up with an answer to explain it. If asked, I’m sure most of my teachers would say that I just didn’t try but to me that still doesn’t explain it. I could certainly come up with excuses but I’m sure they would only point the finger at someone else instead of myself, where the responsibility really rests.
All through my middle and high school years my mother would continually remind me that I would regret not doing better and as most moms usually are, she was right. I will remind her that I did pass every grade but for many, it was by the skin of my teeth; a fact highlighted by a stint of summer school I endured to get through my grade 10 year. But in the end, her words rang true the day I graduated and even more so when I started University as I was not at all ready.
My university career didn’t last a year and nobody, including myself, was surprised. I knew the importance of an education but had chosen the hard road and it cost me in the short term; as it often does for others. Everything from education to employment, parenting to marriage, so often the reality is that many are not ready; not ready to take on the roles and responsibilities either placed in front of them or as a result of their actions. Truth is that we handicap ourselves in our lack of preparation and examples are always readily available.
The Christian faith has never been immune to this problem and this issue of readiness, or lack thereof, is one always to be dealt with head on. For the person seeking encouragement, it can often be found in the witness of others. A great example for me is found in an encounter Paul has with Peter regarding something Peter should have done or at least been ready to do. But, as is the case with fear, it can compel a response in one person and the exact opposite in another.
Galatians 2 v 11 – 13 outlines a time where both Peter and Paul found themselves in a place called Antioch. When Peter arrived he would eat with Gentile, uncircumcised believers. In laymen’s terms, this is referring to people who were not Jewish. But when friends of James showed up, who insisted on circumcision as necessary to the faith, he would no longer eat with them. Fear had crept in resulting in action and as is the case with actions, they often influence others. In Peter’s case, there was no exception as many believers, including Barnabas followed his lead. Paul, recognizing the problem responds with the following in verses 14:
“When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas (Peter) in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?””
Only from a position of readiness was Paul able to act and from there, effectively ministered the truth to the betterment of all around him.
In trying to understand what it takes or what it looks like to be ready I’m fearful some would want to respond by quoting Jesus from a verse found in three of the Gospels where He was speaking to his Disciples. In the interest of this write up I will go with the account found in Luke 12 v 11 – 12 where Jesus states:
“When you are brought before the synagogues, rulers, and authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say. For at that time the Holy Spirit will teach you what you should say.”
On the surface, the verse appears cut and dry. The Lord of all creation is providing us with another road and an easy one at that. And, being honest, who wouldn’t want the easier road anyway? But believing this to be reality would be to wrongly interpret the scripture. What is the danger in doing that? Misinterpretation always leads to incorrect application. For the person, whose desired position is one of readiness, it will require investment and relationship resulting in the clarity needed to minister the word.
In the case of Jesus’s words found in Luke one would be wise to understand the context of both the people and the times. The audience in question had hearts to know and be filled with his word, both at present and historically from the Old Testament. For to them, to be filled with the Word was to be filled with true life, the life of Christ and for reference, see John 1 v 1 and v 14. They also had the desire to be in community with the Father, by Him, through the Spirit resulting in a strong prayer life. It is from this position that the truth of the scripture rings true and the fear, the worry Jesus refers to, is replaced with eyes that see and ears that hear, allowing us to respond in correspondence with and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
To close I can thankfully say it wasn’t long after I had left university that God drew me to himself and saw fit to educate me both secularly and in my spirit. My mother’s warning had been supplanted by Jesus’s call to repentance and new life. A call that, decades later, continues prepare me and those God puts in my path while knowing and living in the truth of Psalm 119 v 105 which states:
“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.”
I pray this to always be the case for myself and my family as Disciples of the King and pray this to be the case for you as well; both in the world today and the one to come where we will all meet Jesus face to face.
God Bless – Sean Bosse