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Stubborn Savior, Stubborn Saints

Webster's Universal Dictionary and Thesaurus defines the word stubborn as follows: "obstinate; persevering; determined; inflexible." The word stubborn definitely carries negative connotations as defined and used in our culture. We see a stubborn person as self-willed, close-minded, unbending and unwilling to change or give up a particular way of thinking about or doing things. We still occasionally hear of someone being "as stubborn as a mule," and that expression is definitely not a compliment. Or is it? Is stubbornness always a bad thing? John Killinger retold a story from Atlantic Monthly (in Leadership magazine, Summer, 1989) that ought to rearrange our mental furniture when it comes to the way we view stubbornness. The story is from the days of the great western cattle rancher. A little burro sometimes would be harnessed to a wild steed. Bucking and raging, convulsing like drunken sailors, the two would be turned loose like Laurel and Hardy to proceed out onto the desert range. They would disappear over the horizon, the great steed dragging the little burro along and throwing him about like a bag of cream puffs. They might be gone for days, but eventually they would come back. The little burro would be seen first, trotting back across the horizon, leading the submissive steed in tow. Somewhere out there on the rim of the world, that steed would become exhausted from trying to get rid of the burro, and in that moment, the burro would take mastery and become the leader. The article went on to make this application: "And that is the way it is with the kingdom and its heroes, isn't it? The battle is to the determined, not the outraged; to the committed, not to those who are merely dramatic."

Could it be that there are not enough stubborn Christians, compelled by a holy determination to persevere and inflexibly do the will of God no matter how much life roughs us up and drags us around? In Hebrews 12:1-3 an inspired writer reminds us not only that Christians serve a stubborn Savior, but that in our own commitment to God we should be determined, persistent, and inflexible — '...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.' Philip Baker wrote, "Achieving in life is not just about being in the right place at the right lime; it's also about being in the wrong place at the wrong time and not giving up" (Secrets of Supers , Whitaker House Pub. p73). Jesus Christ achieved everything
God sent Him to earth to do as our Savior, not by giving in, but by going on. He didn't enjoy the cross, He endured it. He reminds us stubbornness can be a good thing. He proves there is gain through pain, a crown after the cross, glory beyond the grave. We serve a stubborn Savior. We need stubborn saints.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ