“… contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude 1:3b
As we prepare our hearts for the great Lenten fast, in which, for forty days, we will search our hearts in repentance and surrender, anticipating, again, the passion of Christ, and the glory of His resurrection, we are reminded that Easter is not just a date on the calendar or a historical event to be remembered, like a birthday or a victory in battle—rather, it is an invitation to experience the risen Lord, alive forevermore.
This is the rock upon which our faith stands, this is the objective truth, the faith once delivered—Christ is risen, He is risen indeed! And the simple, yet exceedingly difficult, pathway of preparation to experience His resurrection, is faith, marked by obedience. To contend earnestly for the faith is to walk in daily obedience to His commands, for even though we long for Him, we often desire the flesh even more.
Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” Yet Jesus, who knows the future as well as the past, said to him, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” (Luke 22:33-34) The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, and our best intentions, when met with the reality of the human experience, are difficult to uphold. And Peter, as we so often do, denied the Lord when the pressure was brought to bear, just as Jesus had said. When he realized how he had been deceived by his own heart, he went out and wept bitterly. Obedience requires constant, unwavering attention—we must contend—earnestly, consciously, thoughtfully, intentionally.
As so, beloved, let us begin this journey with thoughtful obedience, for as our heart is renewed and tuned to God, we will become acquainted with His voice, familiar with the shepherds call, ready to follow Him to the cross, the grave, and the resurrection!
Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ” Luke 24:5-7 NKJV
If a man on a boat throws the anchor to shore, then pulls against the anchor rope, does he pull the shore to the boat? Or does he pull the boat to the shore? Even so, as we contend earnestly for the faith, through repentance, fasting, prayer, and the struggle against our flesh to walk in obedience, we do not pull the Lord to us, but ourselves to the Lord.