Tim Hansel, in his book Holy Sweat, relates the remarkable story of Clarence Jordan, “a man of unusual abilities and commitment.”
Jordan earned two Ph.D.s, one in agriculture and the other in Biblical languages. His talent and skill could have been used for many profitable pursuits, but he and his wife, Florence, decided to help poor people in rural Georgia–both black and white. So, in 1942 they founded Koinonia Farm in Americus, GA.
His idea didn’t resonate well at that time with folks in the deep south. Segregation was a way of life. Ironically, the resistance often came from church folks. They tried everything to discourage and defeat Jordan from boycotting him to slashing his workers’ tires when they came to town.
Finally, in 1954 the Ku Klux Klan had enough of Clarence Jordan. One night they came with guns and torches and set fire to every building on the farm, except Jordan’s home which they riddled with bullets. They chased off every family, except one black family who refused to leave.
The next day a local newspaper reporter, who had participated in the raid under the cover of a white sheet, came out to see what remained of the farm. Amid the smoldering rubble, he amazingly found Clarence Jordan working out in the field.
“I heard the awful news,” he called to Clarence, “and I came out to do a story on the tragedy of your farm closing.”
Clarence just kept on hoeing and planting. The reporter kept prodding, kept poking, trying to get a rise from this quietly determined man who seemed to be planting instead of packing his bags.
So, finally, the reporter said in a haughty voice, “Well, Dr. Jordan, you got two of them Ph.D.s and you’ve put fourteen years into this farm, and there’s nothing left of it at all. Just how successful do you think you’ve been?”
Clarence stopped hoeing, turned toward the reporter with his penetrating blue eyes, and said quietly but firmly, “About as successful as the cross. Sir, I don’t think you understand us. What we are about is not success but faithfulness. We’re staying. Good day.”
Jordan and his colleagues began rebuilding and Koinonia farm is still going strong today.
Faithfulness. It means different things to different folks. Faithfulness to a calling and a noble pursuit like that of Clarence Jordan. Faithfulness to your spouse. Faithfulness to fulfill your promises. Faithfulness to your children. Faithfulness to your employer or employees.
The New Testament uses the word “faithful” over fifty times. We’re assured God is faithful (1 Cor. 10:13). His faithfulness is witnessed in the surety of His promises. Faithful to hear our petitions and answer our prayers. Faithful to protect us from “the evil one.” Faithful to provide spiritual blessings in Christ. Faithful in his patience. Faithful to forgive. Faithful in providing all the provisions we need spiritually and physically.
The real question is, “Are we faithful?
Faithfulness is so much more than regular church attendance. Or even Bible reading. Or prayer. While those may be indicators of our faithfulness and help us to grow spiritually, faithfulness is demonstrated in attitudes and actions.
Do we faithfully commit our lives to the Lord? Trusting His providential care? Believing He will meet our needs? Relying on His Word? Expecting to receive His promises? Honoring the commitment we made to our confession of faith? Living by our convictions? Forging ahead in spite of obstacles with constancy and consistency?
Faithfulness is often displayed in days of crisis. It’s been said that “a man is made in a crisis.” That’s not necessarily so. Often a man is revealed in a crisis. Tough times unmask our true character. Expose our underlying motives. And declare the source of our devotion.
It’s possible to confuse and contort faithfulness to the Lord with blind loyalty to church customs. Or family traditions. Or cultural norms. Or patriotic allegiance. Or dare I say partisan politics.
We all need to spend less time on facebook and social media and invest more time in the Word to learn about and develop true faithfulness.
In the words of the hymnist, R. E. Winsett
Troublesome times are here, filling men’s hearts with fear
Freedom we all hold dear now is at stake
Humbling your hearts to God saves from the chastening rod
Seek the way pilgrims trod, Christians awake
Will you be faithful?
The Lord promises, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman