John 6:61-69 (NIV)
“Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Jesus’ words are stuck in my head, “You do not want to leave too, do you?“. I envision Jesus looking at Simon Peter with drawn face of sadness and a heavy heart as the dust cloud of the deserters slowly cleared the air. People Jesus had spent time with, people with whom He had invested Himself in, they were gone and would never return to the fold. They were AWOL and some where in the minds of the disciples perhaps there was this lingering decision whether or not to follow them. Many who had heard Jesus teach that day had trouble swallowing the teaching. They wrestled over His words, which led to the dispersal of some.
Still today, there are those in our churches who come listening for the sweetness of the Word, but run quickly away when its truth finally sinks in. Pastors are also included in this group. Every person who encounters the truth of Jesus must face this, and He looks at each of us as the dust is slowly clearing and says, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Some of us hesitate, many wishing to walk away also. Dare I say that there have been days, in which I’m ashamed to admit that I have wrestled over His truths also. But read again the words of Simon Peter and imagine yourself saying these words to Jesus as well, “”Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” Can such certainty come from your heart today? Do you have this assurance in your walk with Him? It doesn’t matter if you are preaching to a congregation of 5 or 500, is His truth still on your lips, in your words and in your heart today?
Some will walk away from your church because they simply cannot fully commit to Him. It is just as tragic as the day it happened to Jesus so long ago. Some, who have been in the pews for years, may one day come to this conclusion as well. Others, perhaps the light will come on and they will experience a deeper sense of Christ as they take such steps to a deeper faith in Him. But it matters little whether people hate you and the consistency of Christ in you, remember what Jesus Himself said to his disciples; “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18) Be consistent in your faith! Be persistent in the need for others to receive this faith as well! Be unrelenting in this love of Christ, even when it comes at the cost of friendships, loved ones, and even fellow pew dwellers. Don’t be haughty or prideful either with His truths. Don’t lord it over anyone or feel as if you are better than anyone either. Remember Christ wants servants to love and to shine, not tyrants and judgmental hypocrites.
Desertions will take place, grumblers will come and go, but remain faithful to Him and declare as Simon Peter once did, “”Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
-Just an encouraging thought for you today…keep on fighting the good fight!