In my article on the Two Streams of Civil Religion I said, “Our task is not to fight or take flight, it's to endure and invite.” Have you ever noticed how frequently the theme of endurance comes up in the New Testament?
One of the frequently used expressions to encourage endurance is “stand firm.” You’ll find it mentioned in three of the four gospels (Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:13, Mark 13:13, Luke 21:19), the majority of the apostle Paul’s letters, (1 Corinthians 10:12, 1 Corinthians 15:58, 1 Corinthians 16:13, 2 Corinthians 1:21, 2 Corinthians 1:24, Galatians 5:1, Ephesians 6:14, Philippians 1:27, Philippians 4:1, Colossians 4:12, 1 Thessalonians 3:8, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Timothy 2:19), James (James 5:8) and Peter (1 Peter 5:9).
In fact, the only books that don’t mention “standing firm” are John, Acts, 1 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, 2 Peter, 1 2 and 3 John, and Revelation. But in fact, in many of these books you’ll find endurance encouraged directly (John 6:27, Acts 13:18, Hebrews 12:2, Hebrews 12:3, Hebrews 12:7, 1 Peter 2:20, Revelation 2:3, Revelation 3:10). And of course, I could go on to speak of Paul's marathon metaphors. I don’t know about you, but when I find a theme being repeated over and over that frequently, I tend to think it’s a major theme. But are we willing to heed it?
3 thoughts on “Endurance as Discipleship”
When I think of the admonition to “stand firm” the R.E.M. song comes to mind….
Got the tune buzzing through my head now 🙂
Thanks for the list of Scriptural references, Matt! A quick comparison of them seems to point to two major streams… one being to stand firm/endure with “end times” in mind, and the other being with the sense that God-developed, God-proven character enables one to do so or results from one doing so. Not being a language scholar, I am ignorant as to how many of these passages are addressed to individuals (i.e. singular) and how many refer to a group or community (i.e plural). Any ideas?
I’ve been on a little journey exploring links between the individual and the community in terms of walking in the Way of Christ. One interesting development is that now when people ask me “What church do you go to? I hardly relate to the question at all (for several reasons, not relevant to this thread to enumerate). I’m in such another space about that kind of stuff. Now I answer such queries with “the Church of Sydney”… funnily enough the inquirers give me a blank stare and respond with comments like “I’ve never heard of that one, where is it?” Then I explain that it’s a pity nobody refers to all the Christians in the metro area that way, but that I see myself as related to all the various denominations and local churches and have friends in many of them.
Tying in with “standing firm/enduring”… I often find myself having to stand firm in and endure through intercession “assignments” for Sydney’s fractured Church situation” with “end times” in mind, bemoaning the fact that few people seem to get the unity and community aspect of God stuff in this hip-hop-happening city, and I’m beginning to suspect that in the current times, the “character” aspect of standing firm/enduring will determine readiness and outcomes related to the immanence of Christ’s return. I am not implying that I have strong ideas about exactly when that blessed event may occur, but I am convinced that there is a growing sense of urgency about needing to stand on the earth right now, with an “as it is in heaven” attitude (i.e. living with an intentional “in-breaking Kingdom of the Heavens” approach to individual and community life).
There is, these days, a growing proliferation and maturation of “the systems” of this world that demonstrate the antithesis! I just wish “the churches that comprise the church of Sydney”, and in any region of the world, for that matter, would get a sense of this so they could stand firm and endure in a more united way, which would affect how their individual people were in terms of effective witnesses in their localities. This would be enhanced if, conversely, individual people caught the vision I am endeavouring here to articulate, so that effort comes from both the church-community and the individual-person aspects of this “revelation” to complete the picture. A new conundrum – “shining The Light” into the world by “burning the candle at both ends”, perhaps?! More of the world and everything in it/upon it/around it may receive the salvation that some of the Scripture passages in your list mention (i.e. be made whole/recreated) if this could be understood and implemented… I am endeavouring to stand firm whilst enduring on this one…