“If you love me obey my commands” Jesus.
To some degree we all know intrinsically that love is a verb, it’s ‘More than words’. Paul says we should worship by “offering our bodies”, John says if we say we love God but don’t give it expression through loving other Christians we are “liars”, James, the brother of Jesus, says that “faith without action” is no faith at all! In fact at one point Jesus says that if you don’t put into practice his teaching it’s like building your house on sand; it’s going to come crashing down! It’s like one big Nike campaign ‘Just do it’! Which happens to big one of the things I’m not very good at.
I was on the train to work. I work at a church. So, there’s this guy preaching in the train and his hearts in the right place, but he’s just not very good at preaching. And I hear God whisper to me “Ryan that should be you”. To which I respond “No thanks!” Eventually I was convinced that God was asking me to preach in the train. I really didn’t want to, but it was just so clear that I had to. I prepared, set a date for a month later, prayed and decided I was going to do it. The day came. I bought my ticket, boarded the platform, waited for the train. I was ready! The light went green. I was ready! The train pulled into the station. I was ready! The doors opened, I put one foot into the carriage and my plan was to immediately greet everyone “Ek groet jou in die naam van die Jure!” but I looked around and it was the worst train carriage I’d ever seen in 12 years on the train! On my far left were these gangsters, straight from Poolsmoor, holding high their cell phones dancing to the music. I thought they’d kill me. On my immediate left were these two big Muslim ladies, with big bomber jackets, to my right was a group of the naughtiest looking school teenagers just looking for someone to laugh at; everyone was staring at me, watching my Bible which was shivering vigorously in my hand… I wanted to raise my voice but I wasn’t ready! Instantly a million justifications flooded my head; ‘You’re not a train preacher, you’re not even Afrikaans. You’re not an evangelist, you’re a pastor. You’re going to die.” So, I decided that I would wait for the next station and run across to the following carriage. So, at the next station I ran to the next carriage, but this one was completely empty, well there were like four people in it! ‘That would be just awkward’ I thought to myself, ‘I can’t preach to four people, do I make eye contact? What happens if they’re together and have to get off the following station?’ So, at the following station I jumped into the next carriage. This one was way too full. I couldn’t even open my Bible, no one would even know I was preaching! So, at the next station, I decided, I would run back to the dangerous carriage I started at. But when the next station came, I realized it was my stop. I got out of the train at first relieved, then overcome by disappointment, then guilt. I preach week after week to lovely Christian folk at church yet I was unable to ‘just do’ what God had asked me to do. I stopped walking, sat down to pray and I heard God say to me that I need not fear, He would be with me, and that I should get back on the next train home and preach. I repented, confessed my unbelief, got back onto the next train and preached the gospel. And my preach was terrible!
Most of the Bible is written in a culture of persecution but in Cape Town we are tormented by a culture of assimilation; silenced by aggressive secularism and tempered by a generation of well-meaning lukewarm older brothers and sisters. As “Saul clothed David with his armor” we too have been clothed with faithlessness. Is it just me or is it hard to reconcile New Testament norms with our experience of Christianity. I don’t feel like God needs me to do anything for Him, I need to act for me. What is God saying to you? Just do it! Let’s make decision today to be people of action. Faith trumps any circumstance you find yourself in. Bad health, bad job, bad church or a bad marriage. Bonhoeffer was imprisoned, Luther on the run, Newton was blind, Cory ten boom stuck in racist country. But they acted in faith. They stepped out. They trusted God. So, here’s to the fellowship of the unashamed, the movement of the Spirit, the misfits and strangers, the redeemed, the disciples of Jesus! Let’s join arms and just do it!