Traveling, Fighting, Following

english-classWould these words describe your life: traveling, fighting, following? They should! When God wanted to give a picture of what being a Christian really looks like, these are three of the pictures He chose. You could call a Christian a pilgrim traveling on a journey, a soldier fighting in a battle, or a sheep following the shepherd. These three very different pictures have some- thing in common – something that we need to take note of.

We are told in Ephesians 5:16 to redeem the time because the days are evil. In this text, the word “redeem” means: to buy up, ransom, to rescue from loss (improve opportunity). In today’s world there are innumerable ways to spend our time, many of which profit nothing. Going back to our three pictures of a Christian, the one thing that they all have in common is focus. And if we are going to redeem the time, it is going to take focus on our part.

As a Christian, our life is a journey. We are not going to be here on earth forever. In fact, the amount of time we spend on earth is said to be like a vapor in comparison to eternity. My life here on earth is not just about me. It is all about knowing the Master and doing His will. Truly, learning to know the Master and doing His will is a journey. Christ’s call on our lives did not end with Salvation – that was simply the start of a journey.

In Luke 15, Jesus tells us the parable of the Prodigal Son. Although the object of this parable is to give us a picture of the Father’s response to a sinner’s repentance and return to God, I would like us to focus on the two journeys taken by the prodigal son. The first journey was one that led to the pig pen. A journey traveled without an end goal in mind. A journey traveled without a clear focus. A journey that consisted of a lot of wasted time. The second journey was a journey that led the son home to his father. This journey had a clear focus and end goal in mind.

I would like to ask you a question – “Would ‘traveling a journey’ be a good description of your use of time?” Is your journey of life characterized by a focused use of your time? If so, the result will be a planned destination. If not, the result will be an unplanned, unwanted destination (like the pig pen for the prodigal son). We read the story of the prodigal son knowing where he is headed, but he didn’t know. If you are spending your time without focus and without your end goal in mind, you are on a similar journey to that of the prodigal’s first one that ended in despair.

The second picture is that of a soldier fighting a battle. Numerous times in Scripture we are told that we are in a battle. Jesus said the gates of Hell will not keep the church from rescuing sinners from its grasp. Gates are defensive, therefore the church is on the offensive – fighting a battle for the souls of men. Paul told Timothy to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. He goes on to say that no man that wars will entangle himself with the af- fairs of this life. Therefore, the affairs that one is involved in (the way one spends their time) will tell whose side he is fighting on.

Battles are fought with focus, a clear objective for the battle at hand. No one enters a battle without a reason for engaging in the fight. Let me ask you a second question – “Would ‘fighting a battle’ be an accurate picture of your use of time?” Or is your time spent in a passive “go with the flow” kind of attitude? For you and me to redeem the time, we must acknowledge that we are in a battle and live accordingly.

The third picture is that of sheep following a shepherd. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we are the sheep. Jesus said his sheep hear His voice, know His voice, and follow Him. My third question for you is this – “Does ‘following the Shepherd’ explain why you spend your time the way you do?” When you have some free time, would “following the Shepherd” be a good way to describe how you use that time? Or maybe you are someone who does not have any free time. If so, does your extremely busy life portray a picture of a sheep following their Shepherd? The Good Shepherd does lead His sheep to still and calm waters – times of rest and refreshment. If your life is so busy that you are not drinking from those still waters and having your soul re- stored, you are not following the Good Shepherd.

Traveling, fighting and following are three verbs that describe the lives of God’s children. These are three verbs that are active, not passive. We are called to redeem the time, and the only way we can do this is by living a life of focus with eternal purpose. Living everyday like we are traveling a journey. We are to fight the battle of life that we find ourselves in. Following the Good Shepherd everyday in everything we do. When we do this, we will be redeeming the time. When we don’t, we will be time wasters, just like the world.

By Rick Rhodes (I Witness News/Fall 2010)

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