26 February, 2016 40 days of change-Lent, 2016
Determined – Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. 1 Corinthians 15:58
To be bold, first requires us to take a stand on an issue and then see it through. It combines the characteristic of decisiveness and perseverance, which we thought about earlier in our lent reflections. You might picture a dog’s pursuit of a bone as determined. Winston Churchill’s resolve to win the war was determined. And yet, I think Christians struggle to get right the issues we should be standing firm on, and the stance we should be taking on those issues. We don’t want to major on minors, and we don’t want to be so entrenched we ought to be buried because of our insensitive dogmatism, or so wishy-washy we appear to be whimsically afloat without backbone or purpose. Oddly, it is similar to the difficult task of finding the right pillow. It seems easy to find pillows that are far too soft or far too hard. But to find the ones that have the right amount of firmness seems as desirable, yet unreachable as sleep to the insomniac.
We see Jesus as a very determined deliverer. When he explains to his disciples that he was going to die, Peter pipes up with a somewhat impertinent plea that Jesus should re-think the divine plan. Jesus gives him, or if not Peter the source of his pitch, a firm rebuke of ‘get behind me, Satan.’ I can just see Peter stepping back shocked, scared, maybe quite bewildered about what he had wrongly said, but definitely not bewildered about what Jesus was going to do. Jesus was going to go forward regardless of the cost or the consequence. He was very determined. And yet, Jesus never lost sight of the people along the way. Even though his focus was on the cross, he earnestly desired to have a last meal with his friends, he showed kindness to his betrayer, he took the time while on the cross to ensure his mother was looked after by John. He had that determination to keep to the plan but not plow under the people who would be along the way. He was determined in the right things to the right degree.
Athletes are suffering more and more concussions. In sports where they wear helmets they find that the helmets may be doing more damage then good. The helmets were designed to not allow any movement of the head on impact, but that might just be part of the problem. Inviting us to change in the area of determination may not be an invite to become more determined; it may be an invite to have the correct degree of determination. Some of us are too hard and some are too soft. What are you? If you are too soft, then start with one area of your life, build up the new found sense of principle and courage and make a commitment to stand firm. When you feel you’re slipping cry out to God. If you are too hard, then identify an area that you’ve been too hard nose about (if you can’t think of one, ask a friend), then intentionally pray for grace in that area and seek a respected view that contrasts with yours. The right degree of determination may mean a change of a little more or a little less, but it most likely means a change for each of us.