Science debates the concept of perpetual motion; that is, once an object is set in motion, is it possible to continue motion forever? Whether this is physically possible is debatable, but that it should happen spiritually is non debatable. The inspired apostle Paul wrote, "Continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast" (Colossians 1:23).
What Paul meant is that if we stop moving forward in our Christian lives, we lose ground. Perseverance is the key to victorious living. Perseverance is much better than a good start and a bad ending.
Jesus taught about a sower whose seed fell in various locales. One group of seeds quickly germinated and sprang up, but withered in the sun. Another group likewise sprung up but had no rootage to sustain them. The point is obvious. A good start isn't enough! I've known some people who seemed to make a good start in their Christian commitment, but who weren't committed for the long term and withered.
Another analogy the scripture uses is infancy. New Christians are called babies, but mustn't remain babies. I don't think I've known anyone whose body remained infantile through adulthood, but I've known several cases in which cognitive skills remained infantile; thus grown men and women had the minds of little children. Both of these cases are tragic, and it's also tragic when believers fail to grow beyond spiritual infancy and remain spiritual infants.
Aesop made famous the story of the tortoise and the hare. What a foolish contest that was since the hare was much faster. But after a good start, the hare took a break. The tortoise made steady progress and won the race. As Aesop said, "Slow and steady wins the race."
We cannot afford to "take a break" from the path of Christian growth. When we stop going forward, we actually go backward.
And it's true that many people along the faith highway have taken the exit ramp.
Jeff Foxworthy makes us laugh with his redneck jokes. For example, "You know you're a redneck if your life has been changed by an episode of 'Walker Texas Ranger.'" He also gave us the redneck dictionary. One of his Southern verbs is "usedtuhcould," as in "Can you dance?" And the response is "I usedtuhcould!"
Their number is legion in Christendom--those who used to be committed to the faith. They used to attend Sunday School, or teach, or give or be a deacon or sing in the choir or have a joyful faith. But now all of this is past tense.
Going forward doesn't mean we don't mess up, for we all do. But it means we get up when we fall and press on to the glory of God.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church's website is siluriabaptist.com.