If you desire to walk a godly life in Christ Jesus, there will be a price that you must pay. For many of us in the West, there has been little cost in taking the path of discipleship. But if we are to be disciples of the Lord Jesus, there will be times of challenge to our faith that will bring maturity, and with maturity will come fruit. The Lord, the Vinedresser of His vineyard, will make it so:
1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful (John 15:1-2).
Your faith will be challenged, so ask God for a sensitive heart to be led by the Spirit so that you will know and realize the challenge when it comes. The testing of your faith will be for you to compromise and take a side path rather than the highway of holiness to God. For instance, when Sadhu Sundar Singh of India converted to Christ from his family religion of Sikhism, his family demanded that he compromise and leave his faith in Christ. When he told his father of having seen Jesus Christ, his father replied, “don’t bring disgrace on your family by joining those dirty outcastes," referring to the fact that the gospel had taken hold among the lower caste system in India. The local Christians were mainly of the sweeper castes that did all the dirty work in the village. How could Sundar bring such shame to his family by becoming one of them? He could no longer eat meals with his family and was told to eat outside.
After all kinds of pressure for him to abandon his faith, his uncle took him down into a deep cellar and opened an iron box filled with money and precious jewels. His uncle promised that it would all be Sundar's if only he would abandon his faith in Christ and return to his family's religion. Sundar refused to renounce Christ. He knew he had to do something to release him from these daily trials and attacks to turn him from the faith. One day, he went out and cut off all his hair. To a Sikh in the Punjab region of India, long hair was the chief of the Five Signs, his glory, the Kev which he wore tied in a knob at the top of his head.
The shock and horror of his family at this act knew no bounds. His father ordered him out of the family. He had to sleep the night under a tree. Sundar knew he had to leave, but before he left, his sister-in-law, unsmiling, put some food out under the verandah, where outcastes were allowed to eat, and indicated that it was for him. After eating the food, he left to see a local Presbyterian pastor. When he got there, he began to have violent spasms of pain. His family had poisoned him! Later, he found out that his only Christian friend, who had also converted from Sikhism, had also been poisoned and died. The doctor came quickly but said that he could not stop the amount of poison he had taken. He left him to die. Sundar turned to the Scriptures and read aloud the passage:
17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mark 16:17-18).
Sundar was entirely well the following day, to the doctor's amazement. The Lord had healed him. For the first time, the doctor read the New Testament, and a complete turnaround came to him from that point. For Sundar, this was a time full of joy at the working of the Lord in his life. The peace of Christ was with him, and he was free from religion full of rituals to an authentic relationship with God. How about you, dear reader? Is your relationship with God something real? Get the real thing—faith in Christ. Keith Thomas