The Benefit of Endurance: Part II
The Benefit of Endurance: Part II
† IHS †
As you endure the challenges of this life, may your realize the height, the depth, the width and the breadth of the Father’s love, revealed to you, as you dwell in Christ Jesus!
What’s the use?
There are days, I wonder if all of this is worth it.
The amount of work it takes to pastor a church, to train deacons, to mentor vicars, to work with our school. Why not just work a normal 40 or 50 hour a week job, and have a nice home Bible Study.
It is not that I dislike being a pastor, or that I can’t do anything else. There are days when this job is depressing, and then there are the bad days.
Days were I see the grip that sin has on people and have to wait and watch them struggle. Where I have to watch the effect of that sin on the families and friends who are torn apart by the impact of the sin.
Days where those in the church act less like Jesus than those who seem to be outside the family of God. When people try to run churches and ministries and Christian universities and seminaries as if the bottom line was what mattered.
Days where I see those in the church suffering and hear of those who are being persecuted.
Days where I sit alongside those who are battling life itself.
There is a temptation to ask, “what’s the use”?
That is when we need something because there are days when caffeine doesn’t work!
We need to endure and to do that; we need to see the benefit of enduring.
We Seem So Helpless!
In our reading from Romans, St. Paul notes the way we are before we know God’s love. He describes us this way,
“When we were utterly helpless,”
The context of this is in regards to sin, that point “while we were still sinners”.
The challenge is seeing this in view of sin, not as one part particular sin, but the bondage that sin has us under, apart from being in Christ.
The helplessness that being in bondage to sin causes is that it blinds us to God. It can cause us to chase our desires, rather than choose what is good and right in God’s sight. It causes us to doubt, it can blind us to the hope God has given us. Sin robs us of our strength of character. Sin robs us of our peace with God, the comfort that comes from knowing and trusting in Him.
As believers, we know the damage a sin can cause.
Even as we look at the sins, we commit in thought, word and deed, there is a sense of helplessness. As we look at the sinfulness, the injustice, the evil and brokenness of this world, that sense of helplessness could almost overwhelm us.
Occasionally, it still does.
We’ve lost sight of God, and for the moment, our faith waivers, and we fall.
It is then that we feel utterly helpless, and we ask, what’s the use? What difference will it make? Why do we have to endure?
The helplessness comes from missing the end result, the difference the cross makes.
Here is why: We Are Reconciled
Hear again the words of Paul,
10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.
We need to understand that, the reason Christ died for us, while we in bondage to sin, while we were dead in our sins and trespasses, is to restore us from enemies to being friends with God.
That is what reconciliation is, that is what this is all about, to help us understand God’s desire for His people. To help us hear the words found in John’s gospel,
“15 I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. John 15:15 (TEV)
This is the reason we endure! To know God this well!
You look at all the ways God tells us that we are His; we are His family, the bride of Jesus Christ, the children of God. He calls us by His name, He cleanses us, adopts us, gives us life. He redeems us, paying for us to be freed from the slavery we were in to sin.
We have been made friends with God, as Paul puts it,
Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
This is why we endure, not because of our strength, but the place God puts us, as we trust Him. He places us in life, and the Holy Spirit testifies to us, that we shall share in the glory of God. This is the very work of Holy Spirit, as the Spirit brings to mind the words of Christ, that we know His work, and we trust in His promises.
So Let’s Rejoice!
So how do we endure? How do we find ourselves strengthened, becoming more and more confident in our salvation? How do we do what Paul describes us doing in verse 11?
11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us we do this for each other, coming alongside each other to remind each other of the love of God for us, His family. As I think of that, I can picture time after time that you’ve done this for me. From those who treasure their baptism, to the look in people’s eyes as they come to the feast and receive the Body and Blood of Christ.
I think of Mr. Anderson’s remembering his baptism as he walks by the font, and Chuck’s desire to be part of every baptism since Kay and Rachel were baptized. I think of Chris, and his meddling with his own faith, struggling to not only preach about what it means to pray that God’s name would be holy, but to let God make it happen in His life. I see people enduring things that stymie the imagination, occasionally struggling but looking to God and His people for relief. And I think of the next generation, of Isabelle and XXX, just young children, imitating their parents with great desire and joy at the altar a few weeks ago. Even little Violet, as she cried when mom wanted to take her away from the altar rail last Wednesday night. She was comfortable here, knowing God’s peace. So much so that leaving the communion rail was worth a few cries of objection.
Is it worth it? What is the use of all this?
I love Paul’s prayer for the church, the very thing that turns our struggles into endurance, our endurance based on confidence in God’s faithfulness His prayer which I pray for you as well.
16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT)
That as Paul opened with, that we would endure knowing that,
“we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”