Friday, July 28, 2006

World On Your Shoulders?

There is a myth that keeps re-occurring among Christians. It can crush you if you believe it. It is so dangerous that you never should indulge in it for a second.

The myth is that Christianity takes away all of your problems. Just rebuke it in Jesus' name. If it's still there then just pray it away, claiming the promises. If that doesn't work, then pray and fast it away. It just has to leave then!

If you think that's true you could be in for a rude awakening. Consider the Apostle Paul's own words to the Corinthian congregation:

"...serving Him with labors greater by far, with far more imprisonments, with floggings vastly worse, and often at the point of death. Five times I have taken thirty-nine lashes from the Jews, three times I have been beaten by the Romans, once I was pelted with stones; three times I have been shipwrecked, and once I have spent a day and a night adrift at sea. I have served Him on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from the heathen, dangers in the city, dangers in the desert, dangers at sea, dangers from false brothers, through toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, through hunger and thirst, through many a fasting season, poorly clad and exposed to cold. Besides all other things, there is my concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak too? Who is caused to fall without my being fired with indignation?"
(2Co 11.23b-29)

Make no mistake; becoming a Christian made Paul's life difficult, not easy. It added problems. (Of course, it's worth it in the end...but his end came at the point of a sword severing his head from his body.)

In contrast to this spiritual reality is the myth perpetrated by superficial commercialized Christianity. It's message is simply, "Trust Jesus and you'll be more than a conqueror!" Well, that is true (Romans 8.37) however, to be called a "conqueror", by definition, means there are things to conqueror!

Concerning Romans 8.37 John Wesley said, "We more than conquer - We are not only no losers, but abundant gainers, by all these trials. This period seems to describe the full assurance of hope."

Ouch. Trials. Maybe it won't sell a gazillion books but it's honest. Before we get to heaven Christianity is often hard, hazardous and down-right inconvenient.

Paul, though, wasn't derailed by his problems. He adds, "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness!" (2Co 11.30)

Elsewhere we find him telling the Corinthians:

"But [Christ] said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2Co 12:9-10 ESV)

The power of Christ flows through the humble of heart.

And that's the truth.