From: Charlie Glenn
“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62).
We are accustomed (and rightly so) to seeing Jesus as our loving savior and shepherd; it is easy to overlook the stern warnings that are also an essential part of His teaching. The image of the hand on the plow is such a warning, and an urgent one for Christians today.
Religious faith and practice, social scientists and daily experience remind us, are no longer taken for granted in Western culture. This can be a very good thing, if it sharpens our awareness of the radical nature of Christ’s calling to be transformed rather than conformed to the world (Romans 12:2). Lukewarm and conventional religiosity is not pleasing to God (Rev. 2:15-16).
But this secularization, the growing assaults on religious convictions as “bigotry,” and the general degradation of cultural norms create the serious threat that many immature believers will fall away. As Jesus both warned and promised, “because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13). Will we be among those who stand firm to the end?
I’m reminded of one of the freedom songs that, in the Sixties, strengthened our resolution to confront racial injustice. It was (like most) adapted from the gospel hymns of the Black church, and taken from today’s warning, by Jesus, to those who would follow Him. Here’s how it went:
We are soldiers in the army,
We have to fight, although we have to cry,
We have to hold up that blood-stained banner,
We have to hold it up until we die!
Yes, I’m a soldier,
I’ve got my hand on the Gospel plow,
And when I get old, I can’t fight any more,
I’ll have to stand there and fight anyhow!
“Stand firm then,” Paul wrote, “with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17).
My prayer is that, young or old, we will stand firm in Christ, so that “we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39). Let us pray that God give us strength to hold fast to the Gospel plow, following it to the end of the furrow that God has prepared for each of us, so that at last we will rejoice to hear his “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21).
Mary and I are excited about Ryan’s new ministry to relate university campuses more closely to the life of Church of the Cross.