SIDELINE FAITH by Gary Wilkerson

If you are a Christian who chooses to sit on the sidelines of faith, going to church for comfort only, you will not get much resistance from the enemy. But if you are determined to live for Jesus—if you have a vision for the hurting, the lost and Christ’s body—Satan will throw his entire arsenal at you. Your journey will be fraught with trials and perils that shake your soul.

Paul’s journey to Rome, as described in Acts 27, illustrates how some of us react to Satan’s buffetings. As the ship carrying Paul completed the first leg of the journey, we read: “Because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix . . . and spend the winter there” (Acts 27:12, ESV).

Paul was against this decision, not just because it took them out of the way to reach Rome but because the Spirit warned his heart about it. At the time, though, it seemed the most convenient decision to make. Later, the ship ran into serious trouble, nearly costing everyone’s life.

I point this out because when some Christians encounter the enemy’s resistance on their mission, they decide to “go to Phoenix for the winter.” Granted, all of us need vacations to refresh our spirits from constant ministry to others’ needs. But I’m referring to something different—to a condition of the heart that says, “Take your mission a bit easier. Pull back and cruise a little.”

When Christians do this, they are soon off course entirely. Their mission is no longer Christ but, rather, taking care of the ship—and that means steering it away from storms. In effect, they withdraw from the resistance that is thrown at them.

These believers don’t know it, but they have been robbed of their high calling. That is no small thing in God’s eyes. If I am sailing toward Phoenix instead of Rome, it means nobody is going to Rome with the mission God gave to me. A ship is being maintained and kept in working condition—but, ironically, the mission for that ship is not being fulfilled.

Comfort and rest are not the point of the kingdom. Kingdom living says, “My life is not my own—I have been bought with a price. Jesus guides me in everything and He supplies me with the grace to accomplish it, no matter what resistance may come.”