The Orange Button.
Winston Churchill is an impressive historical figure. Having read most of the biographical work about his life there is much to admire. He and the wide cast of characters who guided the allied nations in World War II were the men and women who championed freedoms cause in that world-wide conflict. Five years ago I was privileged to visit London, England in a study group to learn more about his character and leadership. Most of one day was spent in the underground bunker complex where Churchill directed the Battle of Britain, a horrific air blitz of England by the Nazi air forces. Every room and artifact pulsed with what seemed to me his resolve, determination, and steadfast spirit. Churchill was never a star student and his personal faith is questionable. But, he was a wordsmith and brilliant military tactician. His quotes, even a few of his most humorous rejoinders and responses were displayed throughout those strategic rooms. They inspired me and most everyone in our group. One of them caught my eye while reading a biography recently. He said,
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
Surely the man did know something about persistence, endurance, tenacity, and the spirit of continuing. Whether these qualities were were birthed in his personal faith, or some other achievement oriented character trait, they remind me that steadfastness, or continuing is a valued virtue.
Continuing is a strong spiritual discipline. It is referenced in Scripture many times. That Jesus exhibited a single-minded spirit in the journey to Jerusalem as recorded in Dr. Luke's Gospel is one clear affirmation. The unswerving devotion of the Apostles in the Book of Acts is another. There's little doubt that continuing was a significant influence in propagating the Good News in the first century and throughout history. On more occasions than we can number the on-point faith of believers carried them to next chapters of the Christian movement. Throughout history those pioneers of faith were equipped by God to weather the storms that sought to extinguish the flames of faith. They were gifted, grew the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, and extracted the disciplines of faith to endure great challenges. Continuing was one of their lesson plans.
Continuing is mentioned many times in the New Testament. Several examples include---
In these days he went out to a mountainside to pray, and all night he continued in
prayer to God. Luke 6:12, ESV
The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised
him from the dead continued to bear witness. John 12: 17, ESV
I made known to them your name and I will continue to make it known, that the love
with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them. John 17:26, ESV
And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying,
"Save yourselves from this crooked generation." Acts 2: 40, ESV
And when they had prayed the place in which they were gathered together was shaken,
and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God
Acts 4:31, ESV
And the word of God continued to increase,and the number of disciples multiplied
greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
Acts 6:7, ESV
As usual there are others that will be referenced on Wednesday and Friday. There's also a translation note we should recognize in the broad scope of this topic. Writers of the New Testament were inspired to record the facts of Christ's earthly ministry, the history of the early church, and instruction for living under God's direction. The New Testament depicts the various hardships of first century faith. As a result, the authors penned lessons about many personal challenges in following Christ. We read about patience as a fruit of the Spirit, and the disciplines of endurance, perseverance, persistence, and continuing. In many instances the interpretation of a word was determined by the context of the passage. On Wednesday I will broadly define each of these terms and give a brief explanation of the Greek words used. You know, information within my pay grade.
The traditional American work ethic was the product of our founders and early citizens. Their laws, opinions, ideals of government, responsibility, and work were shaped by biblical truth. Throughout life we've been practitioners of this "don't give up the ship" mentality. You know, all's well that ends well; keep on keeping on; the show must go on; and other quips and adages about staying on point. We're taught that education is an on-going life process; that marriage is till death do us part; that faith involves a life-time of spiritual growth and maturity. Staying the course has been an American reality since our founding.
In our last presidential election 58.1% of the voting-eligible population went to the polls. Church attendance is slack and sporadic, a whopping 37% of our "Christian nation" attending regularly. Marriages last an average of 8.2 years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 study revealed that Americans change jobs an average of 12 times in their careers. Evidently continuing is no longer a valued discipline in our culture.
Doing some exploring the other day I entered "continuing" in the Urban Dictionary search engines. UD is a crowdsourced on-line dictionary of slang words and phrases. They indicated that "continuing" is the most often requested term entered into their word selection process. They have an "orange button" labeled "continue". In their vocabulary treatment hitting the "orange button" means "I have understood the instructions and wish to proceed".
Maybe it's time we learn to use an "orange button" in our many life commitments.