FOCUS – The well-chosen investment
by Captain Amanda Reardon
A few years ago, an Army missionary couple from Canada, was driven out of Pakistan at gunpoint. Their command of the local language and their successful soul winning caused the government to perceive them as a threat. Being a Christian in Pakistan is dangerous in general. Some have lost their lives for their faith.
So when a group of young Pakistani women graced the platform at the International Millennial Congress by dancing to the song “I am the Candle of the Lord,” the congregation was quite moved. Each dancer held a candle, and never was that metaphor more meaningful. Those women shine for Christ daily in a very dark corner of the world. In my cozy home in Phoenix, I can only imagine what their commitment to Christ will require of them.
A woman at our corps who recently became a soldier called Christianity “consuming.” With that description, I understood how fully she grasped Christian commitment. Every part of a Christian’s life must be within the embrace of and completely infiltrated by her Christianity. If one tries to compartmentalize her life, tucking Christianity into one cubby only, she can not expect others to recognize her as a Christian. She can not assume that her candle has illuminated much darkness.
Humans seek and usually find something in which they can invest their lives. Some choose to let themselves be consumed by Christ. There are others who invest their lives in pleasure. Some invest their lives in achievement.
The idea of a life’s investment resonated with me while in Atlanta for the Congress. While the Army was conducting its event, there was also a science fiction convention in town. The streets of Atlanta were a comical sight: uniformed Salvationists strolling alongside Jedi knights, Captain Kirks, and many assorted (and often immodest) characters I could not identify. Again and again, old friends reconnecting at Congress were heard saying: “God’s been blessing me. What has God been doing in your life?” I wondered what people said to each other at the sci-fi convention. “Isn’t Luke Skywalker great?” or “What did you like best about the Star Trek tribble episode?”
Sci-fi conventions are harmless in and of themselves. But there are some people who have invested their lives in that sort of thing and are consumed by it. And while we Salvationists were feasting on the Holy Spirit, who descended on the Congress as if to smother us, those poor souls were engaged in much idle chatter and, for some, the near deification of fictional characters. There’s nothing wrong with being a fan of science fiction, but to let it be one’s life investment is not only wrong, it is sad. The contrast of the Salvationists whose lives are invested in the eternal against some sci-fi fans whose lives are invested in the fictional was striking.
Tragically, churches are full of people who would claim that their faith is their life’s investment, while their actions clearly show otherwise. Is one consumed by his Christianity if he never opens his wallet in church? If he is “too tired” to attend weekly Bible studies? if he prioritizes family time first on Easter and Christmas, rather than worship time? if he dates women who do not share his faith? Such a soul has stuck his faith in that cubby. It may be part of his life, but it does not control his life.
I wonder if the burning bush would have caught Moses’ eye if only a twig or two were aflame. But witness the bush! It is completely on fire, yet not burned up. Witness the Christian! He is completely “on fire,” yet still maintains his individuality. He still has interests, quirks, likes, dislikes, yet all of it is burning with the fire of the Holy Spirit. All of it is worthy and sanctified to God. And everyone who knows him, even those who encounter him casually, can not miss the light or the warmth of his fire.
Is it your desire to dispense light and warmth to a dark, cold world? Do you wish to burn with the fire of the Holy Spirit? Then invest your life. Consecrate yourself to him. Decompartmentalize.
The young woman who recently became a soldier at our corps returned her uniform to me less than three months after being enrolled. She worships nowhere now. After so many months of discipling her and watching her develop, my heart is broken. I guess she decided she was not ready to have her life consumed.
At least she had the integrity to turn in her uniform. God help the unconsumed who still wear theirs.