By PAT HUTCHENS, A rework of Imitation of Messiah by Thomas A. Kempis—
Consider how those who went before us in the faith lived. They were called “holy.” Holy means “set apart.” Holy means “dedicated” to God. These great men and women are examples of true faith, of real religion. Ask yourself, “Compared to them, is my life holy? What is my life set apart for?” They were called saints, holy, friends of God, friends of Yeshua (Jesus). What does that mean? It means they served God even when hungry and thirsty. It means they worked long and hard, even when exhausted. It means they prayed and fasted. It means they meditated on God’s Word. It means they turned from the world to serve the living God. It means they persevered even when severely mocked and persecuted for their faith.
Oh, the trials and tribulations a true follower of Yeshua endures. The apostles, the disciples, the martyrs, those who believed in Him, His own mother Mary who bore and raised him – they were called to endure endless personal trials and sorrows for a greater purpose. So will anyone who chooses to walk in the footsteps of Yeshua, the Anointed one. They “hated” their lives on earth in comparison to their lasting reward in heaven. The holy fathers and mothers of our faith lived disciplined lives, sometimes as nomads in the dessert. They suffered grievous temptations. They were often assaulted. Countless men, women and children were killed. They prayed frequently and fervently, yet longed even more for spiritual things. They bravely fought against the flesh and self-will. They turned from the world and reached out toward God. In the day time they worked hard and at night they prayed. In fact, they learned to “pray without ceasing.”
By obeying God, they renounced riches, worldly honors, friends, family as well as all racial and ethnic bonds. They expected nothing from this world. Often they ate only enough to stay alive and denied themselves the simple necessities of life to share with others. They were called the “poor of this world,” but they were enormously rich in grace and virtue. Outwardly speaking, they had nothing. Inwardly they were filled to overflowing with grace and heavenly blessing.
They were called “strangers” in this world, but they were called “friends” by Almighty God. Their reputation in this life was nothing. In the eyes of the world they were less than nothing. In God’s eyes, however, they were precious and beloved. They humbly stood firm to the end of their lives. They lived in simple trust and obedience. As they walked in love and patience, they grew stronger and stronger in their spirits, and obtained great favor with God. To all men and women who seek after God and His Kingdom, they are examples, role models for living. They show us how to look to God rather than lead a lukewarm life with no purpose or eternal reward.
Oh how great was the love of those first followers of the Lord Jesus. How they prayed. How they determined to live holy lives. How they revered God’s Word!
Today spiritual standards are low. Many find themselves content with just staying out of trouble, appearing good, donating to a few good causes and going to worship when they feel like it. So many are lukewarm or even cold-hearted. How quickly and easily do we give up and move on to some new thing. How often we neglect even the smallest attention to the Sovereign Lord. Religion, even faith, has become old hat, low in the list of personal priorities. We have become “weary in well-doing,” lax, lazy and lukewarm in serving God. May holiness and devotion to God not altogether fall asleep in our hearts.
Instead, we must repent and pray fervently for God to visit us with the Holy Spirit. Let us return to the faith of our fathers. Let us be willing to put aside anything and everything that hinders. May a new generation arise on fire for the Kingdom of God. May God empower us anew – to so live as people of faith that those who come after us will call us “holy” mothers and fathers of the faith.
A rework of Imitation of Messiah by Brother Thomas A. Kempis