Loitering for Jesus

“You guys loitering for Jesus?” the visitor asked as we passed each other in the church foyer. I stopped and asked, “Say again?” He repeated the phrase and acted surprised that I had never heard it before. As an Elder, I was in the church foyer during the first service, engaging people in conversation as they were getting coffee or entering late. “I think I can work with that,” I replied. Indeed, I pondered it most of the afternoon on Sunday. Am I simply someone who “loiters” for Jesus, or am I someone serving Jesus?

The ever-helpful Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary offers several interesting definitions. First, there is “to delay an activity with idle stops and pauses,” followed by “to remain in an area for no obvious reason.” And last is this: “to lag behind.” I’m not sure if the gentleman I spoke with was a scholar, but I can see the possibility that he thought I was “in an area for no obvious reason.” I’m not an English major (English is almost like a second language for me), but in looking at these definitions, it appears that there is some forward motion and the “loiterer” is stalling or otherwise lagging behind those who are moving forward.

The Christian life is all about following King Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Jesus told his disciples,

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

John 10:27, ESV

The sheep need to be close enough to the Shepherd to hear His voice, and then, having heard it, follow Him. There are several categories of “loitering” Christians.

There are those who “delay an activity with idle stops and pauses.” These are Christians who have heard the Shepherd’s command.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Matthew 28:19-20, ESV

However, they are stalled out instead of moving forward in obedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience.

Then we have those who “remain in an area for no obvious reason.” These are the Sunday Christians who show up on Sunday and watch the game from the bleachers. Their offering is their price of admission to watch those who are serving and following the King from the relative safety of the chairs or pews in the auditorium. At the end of the service, it’s “game over,” and they head for the parking lot. There is no “obvious reason” for their presence.

Then there are those who “lag behind” in following King Jesus, much like Peter after Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.

“Peter was following him at a distance [KJV ‘afar off’], as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end.”

Matthew 26:58, ESV

We all know how that turned out. He denied Jesus three times. John, who always referred to himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23) marched right into the house of the high priest and brought Peter into the courtyard. Courage comes from being close to Jesus. It doesn’t happen any other way. Jesus tells us,

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

John 14:15, ESV

Proximity allows love to flow both ways, and love for King Jesus is the fuel that powers my service for His Kingdom.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I delaying following my King? Am I one of those who have no obvious reason for being there? Am I lagging behind? If I’m in any of these categories, I need to step up, step out, and get close to my Lord Jesus. He has everything I need because,

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”

2 Peter 1:3, ESV

What say you, Man of Valor?

Adapted from Men of Valor Devotional by Ron Helle, 26 April 2024

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