When I began taking medication for a minor skin condition, I was told that three out of 10 people don’t see results. It hadn’t occurred to me that a medication might not work, and I left hoping I’d be one of the lucky seven. I kind of wished the doctor hadn’t told me, because it bothered me that I might be wasting my time and money, besides risking unpleasant side effects.
At the end of my second month of treatment, the doctor said with a smile, “You’re a responder!” It was working and I was relieved and happy. I kept thinking about how she called me a responder. In this case, my body responded to the medication, but my thoughts soon turned to how I am doing as another kind of responder.
To respond is to do one or more things as a result of an event or action of another. We first notice or hear, then we act. In the case of God’s interaction with humanity, he revealed himself in the Old Testament in various ways and the people responded, sometimes with fear and sometimes with obedience—or lack of it. In the New Testament, God revealed himself in the person of Jesus and the response of the religious leaders was to have him killed, because he was a threat to the status quo.
How does he want us to respond? God formed his plan of salvation before the foundation of the world. He loved us while we were still his enemies. He reaches out to us even when we don’t want to be reached. He never gives up; his love is never-ending.
How does he want us to respond? “Follow God’s example, therefore,” the apostle Paul wrote, “as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
How does he want us to respond? He wants us to respond in kind, to love him and to love others.
We have a choice as to how we’ll respond—or not—to the Holy Spirit each day. The trouble is, sometimes we respond well, and sometimes we don’t. But when it comes to our relationship with God, there’s something we should never forget—Jesus is the perfect Responder. He responds for us even when our responses are weak. That’s why Paul wrote, “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Romans 1:17).
We can trust Jesus to be our all in all, and knowing that he is, we don’t have to wonder if we’re one of the three out of seven who don’t respond. In him, we’re all responders.
Tammy Tkach, 2011