Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5(NLT)
I dislike tests; always have! Generally my reasons are two-fold:
1. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times) I just haven’t paid enough attention to preparation. There’s nothing worse than having your ignorance tested!
2. Nerves – I hate anxiety, the kind of apprehension that, even though I have prepared, and know the material, my mind will misunderstand the question, or my learning will prove faulty…and I will fail even though I tried.
These two reasons are why I have supreme interest and, at times, deep admiration for, those who constantly put themselves through testing. To me it would seem masochistic to put myself through the humiliation of a test if it weren’t required.
On the other hand, it is a healthy practice to measure where you stand when you’re trying to accomplish something. And this was Paul’s point entirely when he strongly suggested that the believers at Corinth take the examination of faith. This church had a myriad of disputes, power-struggles and weird practices that the apostle had to deal with. Their idea of what Christianity looked like was more worldly than Christ-like, and Paul spent much time correcting their mistakes. He now told them to self-examine for evidence that Christ was indeed among them.
That self-examination sounds an awful lot like what my Mom used to say to me when I left the house – remember who you are! Paul was reminding Corinthian church folk to remember whose they are; they belonged to Christ, so He should be visible in their actions, daily relationships and attitudes.
I still don’t like tests, and this testing of my faith in Christ – after more than forty years of following him seriously – is no exception. When I take an honest look at the way I serve the Lord, the fail points of my faith can be a painful experience.
But I do it anyway. And I’ve learned it’s not masochism – it’s healthy, because when you look back and see how Christ has led you through difficult times, and how you responded in faith here and there, and you see the different way you look at things now than you did five years ago…understanding, like Paul suggested for Corinth, that Jesus really IS among all of it, that, as the hymn-writer put it, He was leading me all the way.
And if I wouldn’t take that test of faith, just because I’m afraid, or it’s inconvenient, or some other excuse…how would I know where I stand in my discipleship; how would I know if I’m growing in Christ? I’d be like the farmer who chose to NOT plant beans, cotton or corn because of weevils, blight or drought; he just wanted to play it safe. He might avoid the disaster of failure, but how will he feed his family?
And how would I feed my soul?
The test of faith isn’t about embarrassment or test-anxiety; it’s about learning how to feed your soul, serve your King, and getting ready for that great gettin’-up mornin’.
It’s a test worth taking!