Thursday, June 3, 2010
Just after my graduation from theological college, my wife and I decided to take a trip to Turkey. It was a historical tour and we visited some of the sites of the ancient Greco-Roman civilizations. Most of the sites contained only ruins and provided only a glimpse of the glory of the city that existed then. Entire streets made of marble with buildings supported by ten-metre marble pillars had existed once where we now walked. It must have been an engineering feat to raise such magnificent structures considering that the only technology available was a pulley system fueled by raw human muscle-power. Yet for all that glory and magnificence, what we saw now was only a pale shadow of the cities as compared with the splendor of their heydays. Even the Grand Theater of Ephesus where Paul’s friends from Macedonia, Gaius and Aristarchus, faced a mob led by the silversmiths of Artemis, did not look like it could seat 24,000 people as it once could.
From history, we can see that most civilizations decline and fall by first decaying internally, which makes them weak and susceptible to foreign invasion and conquest. The same truth applies to our Christian life. No one ever falls from grace overnight. The early signs are probably things like being too busy to read the Bible or Christian literature, not praying, etc. In our busyness, we begin to forget the many blessings of God. We also begin to move away from regular fellowship with our church friends citing family commitments, etc. Too soon, we lose interest even in Sunday worship as our sense of the majesty and awesomeness of God diminishes and worship becomes mundane. At this stage, just a small spark is enough to trigger us and make us leave the community. I have seen even worse cases with the believer falling into sin to the extent of being almost helpless in looking for deliverance.
The Christian faith is like our muscles. They need to be exercised to be kept in shape. Years ago, I used to run regularly throughout the week. But now after many deskbound years of inactivity, I find it hard to start up again. Now, as I try to heed my cardiologist’s advice by exercising regularly, I found it hard going. The muscles would scream in agony at being subjected to the strain. As with our muscles, so it is with our Christian faith. We will find it hard to trust in God’s love, when crisis looms, if we have not exercised that trust through regular reading of his Word and obedience to the commands therein. We will find it hard to experience his healing and comfort when we face adversity, if we have not been faithfully communing with him in prayer. We will find it hard to even share our problems with our church friends, if we have not been communing with them in a shared spiritual life in our small groups, etc.