One of my early jobs as a teenager, straight out of high school was with NIBCO (Northern Indiana Brass Company). NIBCO makes brass valves that are used in various residential and industrial applications. I was employed to assemble the seven parts of the main body and then pass that assembly down the line so that other assembly line members could: tighten it with the proper torque, install a handle, test the valve, and then package it for shipping. Immediately, it became evident that others could only work as fast as I worked and we all got paid according to the amount of product we produced. For the first week or so, I was overwhelmed. I was cautiously excited. My hope was that I would catch on quickly and be able to keep up with the demand.
Though not a perfect comparison, I cannot help but think about life experiences such as this when I consider the overwhelming circumstances into which the apostles were rapidly introduced. These eager men were immersed into the most challenging and mind-straining teachings and demands of Christ-like discipleship. Jesus said to them, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:1-2). Clearly there are serious consequences for causing someone to stumble. The next few verses, challenge even more, “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him’” (Luke 17:3-4). This, like so much of the teaching of Jesus, left the apostles with one solemn request, “Lord, Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5). Indeed, following Jesus was challenging and overwhelming. However, in time they matched the pace demanded and became knowledgeable, faithful instruments in the hand of God.
We are not apostles under direct tutelage of Jesus; but, we are Christians, called to keep pace with the demands of discipleship. We must die to self daily (Luke 9:23). We must crucify self, allowing our actions to reflect Christ living in us (Galatians 2:20). We must not conform to this world; rather, we are to present our bodies (our all) as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2; Luke 10:27). Even though Jesus said, that His yoke is easy and burden light (Mat 11:30), being a Christian is challenging and at times overwhelming. Yet, it is not impossible—we can do it. Our daily interest should be similar, an increase in our faith. Then we should spend time with the one who called us, by drinking deeply of His Word. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). Recall that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). It is able to build us up, equipping us for the work (Acts 20:32).