Standing for Jesus

Ezekiel 1:1, 2:1
Dudley Tyng was a nineteenth century American preacher. He was popular and despised. A strong abolitionist, his sermons rallied a great number of people to faith and service. Of course, those same political sermons insulted and angered others. Their resentment forced his resignation from his church.

Tyng died as a result of a farming accident. A corn thrasher caught his sleeve. The infection from that killed him only days later. His supposed dying words are a part of religious tradition. There are various accounts of what he said and even when he said it. Some say he intended his words for his father or to the other preachers he ministered with. Others suggest they were part of his final sermon. Either way, Tyng said, “Let us stand up for Jesus.”

Considering his passion for Christ, that is a powerful admonition.

The sermon text at Tyng’s funeral was Ephesians 6:14. In the middle of Paul’s talk of our spiritual battle, he tells the Ephesians to “stand firm.” A fitting passage. Another minister was so inspired by the funeral, he wrote a hymn he used in his next sermon. The hymn was Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.

Standing often suggests a readiness of battle. Stand up to someone. Stand against another. But what of standing for Jesus? Christian history is brimming with examples of people using Jesus. They use their faith to justify their military efforts and political agendas. It’s often said more wars have been fought in the name of religion than anything else. That’s not quite true, but point taken.

There is another way for us to consider our standing for Jesus. Instead of taking a conquering approach to the world, we become servants. Devoted servants to Christ.

When God called Ezekiel, the prophet was to “stand up on your feet.” This was how God would speak to him. The impression is God’s appearance humbled Ezekiel. Perhaps he bowed in adoration and fear. That is an appropriate reaction. But God says to stand.

A servant must rise to serve. Likewise, we can’t hide behind our postures of worship and prayer. We can’t be too busy being humble worshipers that we don’t stand to be faithful servants. It’s easy, even common to say, “I’ll pray for you,” or to offer “prayers for Ukraine.” Yes, there is great value is carrying others in your personal times of prayer. But think of the impact if we stand up to go to pray with someone. To call them and offer a prayer of encouragement or healing in real time. Think of the Ukrainians who stood up in prayer as the threat of war hovered over them. Think of Russian Christians who stand up for Jesus by denouncing their country’s political actions. That is no superficial deed.

There is a time to bow humbly in worship. But we also need to stand up to obey the call of Christ.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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