John Bevere said, “Anyone in your church will backslide if they do not use their gift.” That's a bold statement. Is it true? And if it is true, does it mean being active with our gifts will guarantee we never backslide? What do I need to cross the finish line with confidence?
I have had the privilege of spending a lot of time with my spiritual parents, Drs. George and Hazel Hill, the founders of the church I pastor and of Victory Churches International. I have had the opportunity to travel with them and even stay in their home on a number of occasions and the one thing I admire most about them is their insatiable passion for the Word of God and for prayer. They are even more impressive in private than they are in public - and that’s saying something!
I remember them saying one time, “We have never backslid once, not even a little! Each day we are more passionate for God, His Word and His Church than we were the day before.”
And do you know what? It’s the truth. I believe them. I’ve witnessed it first hand. They have been Christians for over 35 years and have never questioned their faith, never wavered. That’s unusual, don't you think? I know in my life I have had moments of doubt and struggles and setbacks with my faith. So how do they do it? What makes them special?
I was meditating on these questions one day and what hit me was the amazing fact that only a few years after being born again, Dr. George planted his first church. And he has been planting churches and ministries ever since. They have dedicated their entire lives to the expansion of the kingdom. They’re entire Christian life has been lived on purpose! In other words, they are so focused on going forward, that taking a step back is out of the question, even for a moment. I think there’s a lesson in that.
The Apostle Paul wrote this to his protege Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-5 (Msg)
"You're going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They'll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you're doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God's servant."
In other words, the best way to avoid backsliding is to keep our attention focused forward and to continually advance. The key word in this passage is the word "doing." It indicates that we must be active, using our gifts for the sake of others and for Kingdom advancement. Mother Teresa once said that she couldn't imagine doing her work for more than thirty minutes without prayer.Why? It was because she had to. She had put herself in a position where her strengths were on such a demanding climb that she lived in a place where she actually needed God's help every day to survive. And He was delighted to give it.
Living this type of life is risky. It’s much more comfortable to be passive - to fight only when I need to. If you are like me, you often find yourself placing a higher value on being safe and comfortable over giving, serving, and sacrificing for the sake of the kingdom. But look at how James, the brother of Jesus, warned us in James 2:14-17 (Msg)
"Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, "Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!" and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?"
If you want to experience God on a deeper level, if you want to guarantee you will never backslide, you will need to activate your faith and use your gifts for the furtherance of the Kingdom. It is time to take our faith on a more demanding climb, to a place where we desperately need God help everyday, and where He is delighted to give it.
Question: When have you found your faith to be the most alive and passionate? Please comment in the "Leave a Reply" box below.