I Might Be a Wimp
When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra . . . and there they continued to preach the gospel. Acts 14:5-7
At my gym we participate in classes where competition is an inherent part of the experience. In my late 40s, I’m not terribly competitive, but still, I try. In the rare event that I win, I like to think that I’m kind of a big deal. I’m perhaps in the top 5 or 10 male athletes . . . at the six o’clock time slot . . . in one of the gyms . . . in a small town . . . in west-central Minnesota.
Yearly though, we participate in a worldwide competition in which I get to find out how I compare to other men in their late 40s around the globe. Every year, when I realize that my rank is in the hundreds of thousands, it’s more than a little humbling. Compared to real athletes, I’m terribly unimpressive. As fast or strong as I like to think I might be in my little corner of the world, in the grand scheme, I rank somewhere around wimp.
This realization can push me one of two ways. I can easily become demoralized and just quit trying. Or, I can be inspired to work at being better than I was yesterday. At that point, I have to ask what’s important and how committed I am.
I had a similar experience in reading today’s passage. In the story, Paul and Barnabas faithfully preached the gospel in Iconium until the enemies of Jesus attempted to kill them. Instead of quitting the ministry, the apostles simply moved on to another city and continued to preach. They were so committed to the cause of Christ, that they could not be dissuaded, even under threat of death.
I doubt I would have made it to Iconium in the first place, but if I had and was threatened with death, I would have been done. When, in my pride, I begin to think that I’m tough, I simply need to look to Paul and Barnabas, and realize that I’m a total wimp. When I read of their heroics, I want to be better.
We don’t need to feel bad that we’re not Paul or Barnabas. Still, we can be inspired by their courage, commitment, and relentlessness. When we’re struggling, we can look to their faithfulness and aspire to be better than we’ve been. When we daily abandon ourselves to follow Christ, we’ll become more like what God wants us to be, and that’s a fantastic – not a wimpy – thing.