We are creatures of habit. We like predictability and calm familiarity. Most of our daily activities like exercising, having that morning cup of coffee, showering, and going to work are habitual and done without much thought. But haven’t we all had a day that started ‘wrong’ because your pattern was interrupted? Or gotten a new boss at work and been forced to adapt to the change that they bring with them… and you hate it? Interruptions to patterns generate anxiety; some only cause a wrinkle in our days, but others seem to create a chasm that seems insurmountable to cross. In insurmountable moments, Jesus reminds us that navigating change isn’t done alone—we have a Helper, sent by the Father that can teach us how to persevere in those moments.

Reading the book of John, we see Jesus has been an interruption to the earthly kingdoms reigning the days and habits of those He encounters. With each encounter, Jesus brings a new way of doing things and often people hate it! The disruption and great anxiety that the incoming Kingdom of God brought with it was not unexpected to Jesus and He used those moments to remind the disciples they should expect the same reaction and yet encouraged them to persevere. They would need to become resilient.

Resilience is the ability to recover, spring back or withstand difficulties. After He departed from them, they would need to remember how love had shaped them. They saw with their own eyes that Jesus Himself, bearing the witness of God’s love, was suspected, neglected and ultimately rejected by those who needed it the most. Another gospel records Jesus’ teaching, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44 ESV). This was no easy task for the disciples then or for disciples today.

Loving and living like Jesus, even the hardest to love— rather especially the hardest to love—comes at a cost. Jesus was aware that for some, the cost would be too great. He knew their flesh was weak, their hearts might fail in times when their message was rejected, and they’d be tempted to give up hope on the very people that God had sent them to witness to and instead consider them hopeless to change. This cynicism disconnects people and sometimes entire groups of people from being included in the calling of every Christ follower to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). No one is too far gone to be reached by the Good News. As disciples of Jesus, we must remember that conviction and change of heart is the role of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8) and it’s our responsibility to abide in Christ and bear fruit in the midst of the hard and even hate. Jesus’s last advice here on earth was to “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Jesus warned His disciples they might also fall away in another way and choose conformity when faced with objection by those living by the standards of the kingdoms of this world who saw this new Kingdom as foolish. The pressure from the outside would cause instability of their faith and they would lose their nerve to bear witness. For a positive example of commitment to the transformational Gospel, the apostle Paul is a great role model. He had nerve! When writing to the church in Galatia he said, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” He willingly risked displeasing others to be pleasing to God.

My prayer is that we heed the loving warning of Jesus and accept encouragement from the Spirit to stand firm and resilient in our faith in this ever-changing world. Take heart and have some nerve!

Jessica Klootwyk
Group and Women’s Discipleship Director

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