Is there a purpose in the trails we face as a Christian? Have you ever given it much thought I recently explained to a group of Christians that when I received Christ I was lied to by other Christians; salvation while it is a gift from God is not free, it costs you one thing above all else and that is your free will. As a Christian you are called to replace your wants and desires with that of Jesus Christ. It requires a sacrifice that many of us are not willing to make. We may have no problem surrendering a few hours on Sunday morning or even an hour on Wednesday night but how much more are we willing to give God. You see He wants it all. I am sure that while Paul was sitting in the Roman prison there were times when he had to remind himself of why he was there. We see it in his writings to the churches especially to Philippi.
12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Philippians 1:12-14 (ESV)
Do our trials make us bolder for Christ? Do the things we endure provide an impact for the community around us? Paul declares that the every member of the imperial guard knew that his only crime was his belief in Jesus Christ. And while he was suffering in prison those who watched and were believers were strengthened in their own faith. Are we today having that impact on the community of believers we belong to? Jesus told us that if we chose to follow him it would not always be an easy path and that divisions would occur;
51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.Ē Luke 12:51-53 (ESV)
And some of you know and understand this all too well. As personal desires fight for control we have seen problems arise within families about the stance we have taken for Jesus. However, Paul has given us a simple instruction today as he wrote to the Ephesians;
13 Therefore, put on every piece of Godís armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of Godís righteousness.15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:13-18 (NLT)
Today are you standing firm for Jesus Christ? Do those you meet have any doubt about who you are or what God you serve? If so I pray you find the strength to take a stand before the world proclaiming that Jesus is Lord of your life. Have a blessed day as you live in the light of Godís Word.
We all need to be reminded that following Jesus has a cost, and we need to decide if we are going to pay it before the time comes. In these changing times when Christianity is rapidly being pushed to the fringes of Western cultures, and social changes such as Gay Marriage are directly challenging the authority of the Bible and the Church, we better decide which side we are on. I can see a time in the not too distant future when our Bibles will be banned as subversive and dangerous material, because it condemns too many of the things Western cultures want to approve.
Watchman Nee once talked about becoming a martyr as first beginning with choosing to live a martyrs life. Many know that he was imprisoned 25 years and died in prison; but few realize that he was actually in England when the communists took control and actually chose to go back to serve his flock, knowing full well he would eventually be arrested. It was people like him who by their faithfulness encouraged others to do the same, and so faith survived and thrived in China.
May we be found faithful whatever the future holds for us where we are.