The Greatest Challenge To “American” Christianity
Devotional Thought of the Day:
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:28-29 (NLT)
2 When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God – who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty – and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him. But he must ask in sincere faith without secret doubts as to whether he really wants God’s help or not. The man who trusts God, but with inward reservations, is like a wave of the sea, carried forward by the wind one moment and driven back the next. That sort of man cannot hope to receive anything from God, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn. James 1:2 (Phillips NT)
42 Desire nothing for yourself, either good or bad. For yourself, want only what God wants. Whatever it may be, if it comes from his hand, from God, however bad it may appear in the eyes of men, with God’s help it will appear good, yes very good!, to you. And with an ever increasing conviction you will say: Et in tribulatione mea dilatasti me… et calix tuus inebrians, quam praeclarus est!—I have rejoiced in tribulation…, how marvellous is your chalice. It inebriates my whole being! (1)
So often we quote Romans 8:28 to people who are going through hard times, who are suffering, who are grieving. It often becomes a modern Christian cliche, a pious version of “don’t worry, God’s got this!”
But I wonder if we realize the important of verse 29, and what that means. That the reason God has our back, is because we are to be like his Son, Jesus. We are to be Christlike. a
That’s pretty cool when we think of the promises of reigning in heaven. Not so cool when you think of the suffering and death he endured, even though it was for the joy set before him. Being Christ-like means to love our enemies, to serve those who need our love, to embrace suffering to do it, as is necessary.
But how are we with embracing suffering, with trusting God through times where we put our own desires, our wants, even our own needs (and those of our families and friends) aside, to care for those God puts in our lives.
Think about this, we struggle and argue to take in people whose lives have been ravaged by war. We would rather kill a baby who was conceived in rape than come alongside the victims (not the plural) and provide them with what they need spiritually and physically. We do everything we can to hide signs of aging, suffering, and death. (This I think is one of the strengths of the millennials, btw – they are less likely to hide their grief, sorrow, and pain)
Even in the church, this is true, as we have experts telling us why the church is dwindling in number, for reasons that cannot be our fault, our sin, and to our shame. We don’t teach our people to sacrifice; we don’t help them to learn to pray to embrace the cross. We don’t help them learn to trust God in a way that will convince them of His presence in the midst of the suffering they endure, that they even embrace.
That’s right; I said embrace!
Embrace sacrifice and suffering? Be willing to embrace sacrifice and suffering?
Isn’t enough that life throws enough suffering, sorrow and grief into our lives? Isn’t that enough?
Maybe, but probably not.
Just so you are clear, this isn’t about earning your salvation, it merits nothing in that regard. You don’t get a better view of the throne, or get next to sit next to King David in the choir, and your mansion isn’t going to be any bigger.
It is this, your joy will come, both then and now, from being in the presence of God, and knowing peace that pervades and comforts and satisfies like nothing else can.
For you will be imitating your brother, Jesus, walking with the Holy Spirit, and knowing you are a child of God.
And that my friend, we will learn is more than enough.
May God bless you, as you walk with Christ.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 382-387). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on April 8, 2016, in Devotions, st josemaria escriva, The Forge, Theology in Practice and tagged Abiding in Christ, Christlikeness, God, grief, Jesus, life, love, pain, practicing the presence of God, sacrifice, St. Josemaria Escriva, suffering. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.