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Are We Contenders?

Have you ever had one of those days where your heart was deeply discouraged? I did this week.  As I looked around me, I saw so much brokenness, disappointment, perversion, and pain that my heart DESPAIRED.  My heart ached as I looked at our world.

The younger generation’s highest ambition is driven by a desire to be social influencers – even while they are drowning under the waves of pressure that come from having to be perfect and perform.

Leaders are caving in to the pressure to “believe their own press,” and then succumb to the temptation to let the longing for power and prestige overtake them.

The Church is working hard to be relevant rather than live out an uncompromising holiness and trust that the Gospel, pure and simple, is beautiful; that it will be an offense to some but to others it will bring life.

People I love, who started out following Christ, have turned back and walked away from their faith, disillusioned and disappointed.

And me?  This weariness I’ve felt in my soul tempts me to go on autopilot – to conserve and protect, rather than lean into this dry and arid place, being generous with how I bring streams of cleansing, living water.  Pride tempts me to say, “How could he/she?” rather than “Lord, I need You! What must I do to keep from going that way?”

On my run that morning, I cried out to Jesus. I didn’t even know what exactly to pray. So, I just cried, “Help me, Lord.”

I hit the play button on my phone and began listening to a podcast. When speaker used the word “contend”, it caught my attention, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Am I a contender? …for this world, …for the lost, … for the Church?

Jude talks about “contending for the faith” in Jude 1:3. To contend is to strive like an athlete with extreme intensity to win a victory. To fight strenuously, not holding anything back as you struggle for the saving truth of Jesus Christ and His teaching.

Not “truth”.

Not “my truth”.

“Jesus’ truth.”

And as I prayed, I heard the Spirit whisper, “Will you contend? Will you humble yourself so that He can renew you first?”

Who am I as God’s holy temple in this world? Am I cleansed and holy? Are my doors open and welcoming? I believe God is about something so much bigger than any of us….and I want to be a part of it.  Is the state of my heart, ready for what God wants to do at this time in history?

This morning, as I ran, I asked the Lord, “Show me how to contend.” And what I heard Him say was so simple: “Listen to Me, and do what I say.” Jesus doesn’t just send me out into battle to fight the good fight. He goes before me, and behind me, and beside me. He is with me. And He tells me what to do and shows me how to struggle for His truth.

In Jude’s introduction he says he is writing to those: “who have been called, …who are loved by the Father, …who are kept by Christ.”

Do you hear what I am hearing? All of those verbs stress the action of God. He loves. He calls. And He keeps. This is a comfort. And Jude reminds us of something so hope-filled in his conclusion.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling or falling into sin, and to present you unblemished [blameless and faultless] in the presence of His glory with triumphant joy and unspeakable delight….to the only God and Savior be glory…”

Will you to contend with us…for our churches, for the next generation, for the despairing world in which we live?

Will you pray that our churches rise up in truth, and uncompromising holiness? Will you contend with us for a generation that needs Jesus?

C.T. Studd was a missionary in the late 1800s. We used to sing a song in youth group based on a poem he wrote, and I’m reminded of it now:

“Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice

Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God’s holy will to cleave;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years, Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;

Each with its days I must fulfill, living for self or in His will;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

                                                                                                                                                            with grateful heart,

                                                                                                                                                            Amy Ellenwood

Amy and her husband Mel serve as Josiah Venture missionaries, a partner ministry in Concentric’s alliance