Acts 14:23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
Over the years I have become more and more impressed with the faith the early believers had in the Lord they proclaimed. We depend on seminaries and committees and organizations, when Paul and Barnabas depended very simply on the Lord. Frankly, we also don’t often go to prayer and fasting when it comes to decisions. We’re more likely to have a pot-luck dinner! It’s almost like we’re not really serious about what we say we believe. The current atmosphere of hostility to genuine Christian faith in various parts of American society may turn out to be a very good thing, because it will force believers to get serious about their faith. Is it real, or is it just a social convenience? Up until now there were few risks if any to being a Christian in the US, in stark contrast to how it is in, say, North Korea. There are of course exceptions, like gang members who face getting killed by their own gang if they genuinely commit to Jesus Christ as Lord, but in general, being a devout Christian has been seen as an admirable thing. Just in the past few years, that has turned around to the point that standing up for Biblical morality will get you labeled as a bigot at least, and can cost you your job and your livelihood. At the time of the American Revolution we had the expression, “sunshine patriot and summer soldier.” Today, we have Christians who cave to social pressure and online insults, becoming silent if not actually withdrawing. We need to learn from our brothers and sisters in places where openly saying Jesus is Lord can get you killed. We need to commit ourselves on every level to the Lord in whom we say we believe, just as Paul and Barnabas did, doing a bit of fasting to let our flesh know it’s not in command, to clear our hearts and minds to listen obediently to whatever our Lord would say to us.
I’m preaching to myself here! I don’t think I’ve encountered any real downsides to being a Christian. I’ve been excluded from some social circles, but they weren’t ones that would have really benefited me in the first place. However, I’ve made lots of decisions, even about this church, without getting really serious about asking God what He wanted. Right now I’m genuinely seeking the next person to lead this congregation, but I haven’t done much fasting in connection with that. I have watched pastoral succession in other churches and seen that it can have a massive impact in various ways. I want the next pastor of this church to take it far beyond where I have brought it, and I know that in Christ that is entirely possible. I need to be focused, fixated, on my Lord, seeking Him and listening to Him and obeying Him, so that His purposes may be accomplished in and through me on His schedule for His glory.
Father, thank You for this strong reminder. Help me not just say, “oh that’s nice,” and then fail to follow through. Help me listen obediently to You no less than Paul and Barnabas did, so that I will not get in the way of what You desire for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!