Often I find myself asking the Lord to reveal Himself to me. In fact I find myself, like Moses, continually pleading for God to “show me Your glory” or to at least let me experience a little of what the early church experienced back in the book of Acts. “Lord, give me something. Anything. Just give me a glimpse, maybe just a tiny taste of Your awe and Your power and Your majesty.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I really don’t know what I was expecting God to do. Maybe a flash of light like Peter and John saw when Jesus was transfigured before them. Maybe a chance to see the Spirit of God move in the wind and fire like Elijah did at the mouth of the cave. Or maybe to feel the very foundation of the house shaken by the power of God like it did when the early church prayed. I don’t know. Maybe something memorable. Maybe something out of the ordinary.
Something more than this.
Have you ever felt the same way? Have you looked at the life of the church portrayed in the Acts and then at your own life and wondered what went wrong? What’s missing? And if you have, did it drive you to the Scriptures or did it drive you to a church service that made you “feel” electrified with pulsating music and long, drawn out periods of spiritual aerobics? You know what I mean. Churches that try to imitate what they think the Spirit “feels” like by manipulating the flesh. We’ve all seen it done and we know how superficial it is at best. It’s a bad copy of the real thing. A counterfeit. A mirage. Smoke and mirrors.
Which brings us back to the Scriptures.
“Lord, is there somewhere in Your Word that will show us how to know You more? Is there some passage that can give us the key to unlocking the secret of getting close to You? Is there somewhere in Your Word that will satisfy our desire to know more of You? Lord, can you please help us out?”
And, of course, His answer is, yes.
First, you must understand that His Word is full of places that show us what is necessary to have intimate fellowship with Him. But many of these have to do with living right and striving for holiness, which is not a particularly popular topic in today’s Laodicean church.
So before we tackle the Graduate Level stuff like sanctification and “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) or “walking by the Spirit and not according to the flesh” (Gal. 5:16) or “not being conformed to the image of this world” (Rom. 12:2), we need to take a step back and examine our level of commitment to living a life of intimacy with the Lord. It’s not something to be taken lightly. It’s a radical change of existence where you will daily die to yourself in order for Christ to live larger and stronger in you. It’s a trade, all of you for all that He is. It will be an adventure of great heights and deep valleys, of pain and hardship and failure— but it is also an adventure of breathtaking seasons of sheer bliss. “Is the pain and hardship worth it?” we all ask. Absolutely! But there’s a price to be paid to hear God speak and understand the knowledge and wisdom of God.
And the question before us is this: Are you willing to pay the price?
If so, let’s begin with some Scriptures that speak of the required level and intensity of our desire necessary to know the wisdom and knowledge of our God.
Proverbs 2 begins this way:
My son, if (a conditional clause) you receive (or, snatch, hold, get) my words and (implied – if you) treasure (or, hide, store up) my commands (not suggestions) within you (2:1).
Uh, question. What does it mean to receive Your words? Can You give me some examples?
So that you incline (or, heed, hearken, be attentive) your ear to wisdom, and apply (or, stretch out, extend) your heart to understanding (2:2).
Ok, got it. But to what extent? In other words, do I apply my heart like I did to high school algebra or is it something greater than that, something more intense? How much do I need to seek the wisdom of God and His understanding in order to experience true intimacy with God?
Yes, if (conditional clause) you cry out (or, call, summon) for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding (2:3).
So am I to cry out for Him like a fan at a football game or like Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire when he cried “Stella!” at the bottom of the stairs or Rocky Balboa when he cried out “Adrian!” in the ring? Or is it more like the two blind men that continually cried out to Jesus, desperate, refusing to be silenced, begging to be heard and healed, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Matt. 9:27). Or is it something more?
Can you feel the rising level of intensity in these words? It’s more than simple mental assent or wishful thinking. There’s a sense of dire urgency, of helplessness, of reckless abandonment in these words. The Lord tells us we must seek discernment and understanding like a drowning man seeks one more breath. We must want it more than anything else, more than life itself.
Does that seem a stretch to you? Does it seem too radical, too over-the-top? Then let’s read on.
If (again, conditional clause) you seek her (wisdom, discernment, understanding, knowledge of God) as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasure (2:4).
Got it, we are to seek and desire and crave the wisdom and knowledge of God more than the very treasures we spend our lives trying to accumulate. We must want it more than gold and silver, more than comfort and ease, more than our own pleasure. We must seek it like the man in search of fine pearls (Matt. 13:46) or the woman with the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10) or the man who finds the treasure in a field (Matt. 13:44). We must be willing to sell all that we have to possess the very wisdom of God and the knowledge of God and experience the very presence of God. After all, nothing else really matters, does it?
Then (the result of all the previous “ifs“) you will understand the fear (or, reverence, awe, terror) of God and find the knowledge of God (2:5).
Simple truth. Clear path. Wonderful reward. But are you willing to pay the price and fulfill the “if’s“, the conditional clauses, to receive the “then” at the end?
I know that I am. Are you? And, if so, will you join me on this grand adventure?
Adveho quis may.
Come what may.
There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
I was reading in the Proverbs and came across a verse that seems to perfectly describe the contemporary church culture of today. Surprised? You really shouldn’t be. After all, we are living large in the land of Laodicea where our mantra, our politically correct slogan, our bumper sticker of choice is: “Look at me, I’m important, I have worth, I matter to me.” We think it’s all about us, all about our wants and our desires and our opinions and our likes and dislikes. Our life literally revolves around us. It’s about who we friend on Facebook, who we tweet with our self-inflated pearls of wisdom and how cool and sexy and desirable we think we look in the thousands of selfies we post for everyone to see. We believe the world is anxiously waiting for us to post the next bit of trivia in our lives so they can rejoice with us at the picture of the meal we are eating or that we just completed 2 miles on the treadmill or how cute our cat looks all curled up on the couch. Our thoughts become consumed with “who is following me on Twitter, how many friends do I have on Facebook, who is checking out my profile? Wow! I must be something!”
And this chain of self-absorbed and prideful thinking then bleeds over into our spiritual lives and we begin to reason that if God were really the God we think He is… no, if He was the God we created Him to be, then He would see things our way. He would have the “mind of His creation” and not expect us to “have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). He would be our clone, our twin, someone greater than us designed to do our bidding and meet our every need. And why not? It’s all about us, isn’t it?
But that’s not at all who God is— and we know it. We just chafe at the thought of having to submit our will and conform our lives to the likeness of someone we can’t control or even understand. And if we were honest, we really want it to be about us and not about Him.
But that’s what the Christian life is all about. The life in Christ is a life of dependency and submission and not of self-will and self-gratification. It’s not a life of relying on our own understanding and choosing what is best in our own eyes. It’s not a life that “seems right” to each of us based on our own carnal, fallen sense of morality and righteousness. It’s not about living by our own rules and then feeling good about what we feel good about.
In other words, it’s not about us. Never has been. Never will be.
If we persist in demanding to be the god in our own life and to judge ourselves by our own standards we will inevitably continue to slide down the way that seems right to each of us. We will continue to journey down the path of living to only satisfy what we want to do, what we feel good about and what makes our flesh happy with ourselves. We will, in effect, reject God’s standards and pay a frightening price for doing so.
Proverbs 14:12 states:
There is a way or a path, journey, manner of living
that seems right or correct, or just
to a man or to each of us
but its end or the end result of going down that path that seems right or correct to us
is the way of death.
The Word of God clearly states the consequence of going our own way, of living like Laodiceans, of doing what seems right in our own eyes, of shaking our fist in the face of a holy, sovereign God who saved us by the death of His only Son— is death. It’s spiritual death, eternal death, physical death, moral death, certain death.
This is not the time to journey down the path that seems right to each of us. It’s not the time to do what our heart tells us to do. Why? Because God’s Word says that our heart is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9) and is not to be trusted. Plus, following our wicked and deceitful heart will only lead us down the path of death and destruction, so say the Proverbs.
Remember the words of Jesus: “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” Or, “Why do you call me Lord and not obey Me or follow My commands?” One answer for the almost criminal carnality and disobedience in the church today is found in 1 John 1:6 where John says: If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
Let’s look at that verse a little closer.
If we say that we have fellowship or communion, participation, koinōnía
with Him or say we are Believers, follower of Christ, Christians
and walk in darkness or live unlike the Lord we claim to love and serve, to disobey His commands and neglect His Word
we lie in saying we are Believers, followers of Christ, Christians
and do not practice the truth or live like the Lord we claim to serve.
In effect, we are heading down the way of death according to Proverbs 14:12.
So which is it? Are we carnal and self-absorbed because we don’t truly know the Lord and are lost and deceived in thinking we belong to Him? Or are we simply losers in the spiritual life and suck at following Christ? Look deep inside of you and ask, Which is it?
It is now the time to stand for Truth (John 14:6), to surrender our lives to the One who created us (Rom. 12:1-2), and to walk as children of light and not children of darkness (Eph. 5:8). It essence, it is high time to become obedient to the Lord and the Word of God.
Adveho quis may.
Come what may.
A report was just released from the Barna Research Group. Among other things, the new data from Barna shows, based on the most recent stats from a random sampling of more than 1,200 adult respondents across the country, that one of every five households has decreased its giving to churches or religious organizations in recent months.
What does this mean for the future trend of ministry today? Simply this.
For the compromised church, the church living large in the land of Laodicea, this trend could be the beginning of bad times. And I mean, real bad times.
Think about it, the entire modern, mega-church movement was born on the back of unbridled prosperity and rabid consumerism. Only in the land of plenty can masses be coaxed into attending a religious service (or show) where personal accountability and individual relationships are neither fostered nor encouraged. How could they be? How do you build a lasting relationship with someone you really don’t know? With someone you only meet on Sunday? Maybe?
When one group is ushered into the auditorium, like docile cattle, as another quickly exits, where is the format for building relationships, for bearing one another’s burdens, for… well, anything other than… “Here’s your playbill, enjoy the show, pay for your ticket on the way out.”
People become little more than the proverbial ships that pass in the night, totally unaware of each other’s presence. They are like commuter traffic at rush hour. All going in the same direction, they suppose, yet totally disconnected from those in the other cars. A wave, a smile, an occasional nod and relationship building is done. How sad.
Over time, they end up serving the machine, the monster, the professional troop on stage and never each other. Or the Lord, for that matter.
Odds are you won’t even sit next to the person you sat next to last week. So even the patented, “Hey, how are you? Just fine, and you? Great!” type of deep conversation cannot build from week to week.
But what happens when the casual Christian, the core base of most mega-churches, has to sacrifice in order to attend? Oh, one’s true priorities will always rise to the top. Vacations and designer jeans will win, church and non-profits will lose. After all, “Why should we give to the church? We don’t really know anybody there, do we?”
Nope. You really don’t. And that’s been OK with them, thus far.
But as giving declines, tough decisions must be made. Business decisions. Management decisions. Cuts and budget readjustments. Cost and benefit analyses. And they must be made by men who haven’t had to make tough decisions in the past and, quite honestly, are ill-equipped and ill-trained to make them.
“We’ve never had to cut back before? What are we to do?”
“We’ve always budgeted expenses, not income. I thought people would always give.”
“Whaddaya mean no Christmas bonus this year? That’s unfair. It’s not Christ-like!”
“Yada, yada, yada… whatever.”
Enough said. I’ll let you be the judge of what the future may bring.
Just think, the days of unbridled consumerism may soon be over.
I sure hope so. Don’t you?
* Just in case you were wondering, Bad Day at Black Rock is the title of a 1955 movie with Spencer Tracy and Robert Ryan. It’s a great little film. If you saw the movie, you’d understand why I chose it for the title of this post.
The Everlasting Stain of Pride
It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glory to search one’s own glory. Proverbs 25:27
In other words, just as people get sick and nauseous and ready to hurl from eating too much honey, they also get sick, real sick, of listening to those who constantly draw attention to themselves through faint praise, self-promotion or by simply putting someone else down.
We call that jealousy.
God calls it pride.
And the Scriptures have much to say about it.
Let’s take a quick look back at the Scriptures and see how the thread of pride, like a malignant cancer or mutating tumor, winds itself around the lives of those who claim to know and love God and subtly, over time, changes good, God-fearing people into a mob of self-seeking free agents. The flesh-exalting sin of pride stained each of them— and each of us, to such a degree that it required the blood of Christ to remedy.
Pride. The resilient, illusive, ever-present source of all sin.
Pride. It was pride, the original sin, that tempted Satan to exalt himself above God and to be cast down, banished from his place in heaven. “How you have fallen from heaven, O star (shining one) of the morning, son of the dawn!” (Isa. 14:12-14; 1 Tim. 3:6).
Pride. It was pride that allowed the serpent’s words to resonate deep within Eve’s heart, attaching themselves to her concept of self-worth and satisfaction with God’s creative order. It was pride that fostered in her a driving desire to be like God, to be better than God, to assume the worst about God, and to lust for His place of preeminence. When the serpent asked, “Did God really say?”— Eve’s pride willingly believed the lie. And, if truth be told, it was pride that caused Adam and Eve to lose their place in Eden and led to the fall of all mankind (Gen. 3:5-6).
Pride. It was pride that hardened the heart of Cain against his brother Able. It was Cain’s pride that demanded God accept his sacrifice regardless of what God required. After all, pride reasoned, “I’m bringing the best of my fields to God as my sacrifice and that should be good enough for Him. It’s the best I have to offer. It’s all I’m going to offer. And if God doesn’t accept what I want to bring… well, that’s His problem.” But Cain’s sacrifice wasn’t what God required. And, as the story goes, neither was it God’s problem. It was Cain’s pride that responded to God’s warning and rejection of his sacrifice by shedding the blood of his brother. “Hey God, You want blood as a sacrifice? Ok, I’ll give You blood. How ’bout Able’s blood!” (Gen. 4:1-8).
Pride. It was pride that prompted Lamech to boast to his wives about the murder he committed. “If Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold” (Gen. 4:23-24).
Pride. Under Nimrod’s leadership (whose name means “rebel”), it was pride that built the Tower of Babel. “Come,” they said, “Let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower, whose top will reach into heaven (or, whose top is heaven), and let us make for ourselves a name; (why) lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Gen. 11:4).
Pride. It was pride that led to the deaths of Nadab and Abihu who disregarded the command of God and offered what they wanted, strange fire, before the Lord (Lev. 10:1-2).
Pride. It was the pride of Aaron and Miriam that brought about God’s judgment of leprosy on them because, dissatisfied with God’s plan, they sought to exalt themselves by questioning Moses’ leadership and God’s supreme plan. “Has the Lord only spoken through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” (Num. 12:2).
Pride. It was pride that kept Moses from entering the Promise Land. Pride tempted Moses, the most humble of men, to exalt himself to the place of God in his own eyes regarding the people of Israel. Remember his words? “Listen now, you rebels, shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” (Num. 20:10). We? Tell me Moses, what part of this miracle did you do? What part are you in the “we” of all this?
Pride. It was pride that led Absalom to publicly rape David’s wives and try to remove, by the force of betrayal and rebellion, the king God had placed to rule His people, Israel. Why? Because pride caused Absalom to believe that he, and not God, knew who should be king in Israel.
Pride. It was the pride of Haman and his jealousy of Mordecai that compelled him to build the gallows, designed for Mordecai, that Haman’s body hung from (Est. 7:10).
Pride. It was the prideful words uttered from Nebuchadnezzar that drove him into the wilderness to live like an animal until he recognized and acknowledged the sovereignty of the Lord. He said, “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Dan. 4:30). This was the question Nebuchadnezzar asked. And God answered in a way that only He could (Dan. 4:31-33).
Pride. Pride was the great sin of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. They were outwardly religious like “white-washed tombs,” but inwardly they were rotten, corrupt and decayed like “dead men’s bones” (Matt. 23:27).
Pride. It was pride that prompted the mother of James and John to ask that her two boys get special, preferential treatment when Jesus came into His kingdom (Matt. 20:20-21).
Pride. And even during the Last Supper when Jesus was teaching His disciples about self-sacrifice by washing their feet, it was their pride that bickered among themselves as to who would be the greatest (Luke 22:24).
But, for me, there is even a more chilling example.
In 3 John 9-11 we read:
I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.
John is writing this letter to a man named Gaius, a beloved elder in the church. It appears that in this church a powerful and influential man, Diotrephes, refused to allow hospitality to be shown to visiting itinerant teachers whom John had approved. Teachers like Demetrius, for example (3 John 12). In fact, it seems that the letter John wrote to the church regarding that very matter was intercepted by Diotrephes, the self-proclaimed resident gatekeeper, and deemed so sensitive to National Security that, taking his lead from our own Government, it was Classified and kept from the congregation.
Where is the Freedom of Information Act when you need it?
Why did Diotrephes do this? What was his motive? What was he trying to hide?
The letter from John states that Diotrephes “loves to be first among them,” or, to put it in the language of today, feels that he is the head-honcho in charge and everything that the church does must gain his approval.
Unfortunately for all of us, there are still many Diotrephes in the church today.
But there is something else in play here.
There is also an element of jealousy on the part of Diotrephes.
John was well known and beloved among the brethren of the church. He was one of the Twelve, the disciple Jesus loved, and his standing and credibility in the church was never in question.
Not so with Diotrephes.
He was jealous of John. Intimidated and green with envy.
When John was present, people dropped everything and flocked to hear him, for hours on end. And why not? After all, just being in his presence reminded them of being with Jesus. John was wise, seasoned, mature, beloved, respected, and full of wonderful, first-hand stories about the Lord. And if that wasn’t enough, it was John who had been given the visions of the future, the apocalyptic revelation of days yet to come.
At this time, what person on earth could compare with John? Who was more esteemed than he? More desired? More sought after?
Certainly not Diotrephes.
And he knew it.
Diotrephes wanted to be like John, to be respected and admired. He wanted to be regarded as spiritual, a natural leader, an anointed teacher— basically God’s gift to the church. He wanted in one day what took John a lifetime to achieve.
He wanted others to come to him, and not John, for the answers to their questions.
He wanted to be the one who set the vision for what God was going to do.
He wanted to be the final authority in all matters, spiritual or not.
He wanted all praise and glory and hope and adoration heaped on him.
He wanted to be the fourth person in the Godhead.
He wanted it all.
And he wanted it now!
Instead of waiting on the Lord to recognize and promote him to a position of true leadership within the congregation based, of course, on his likeness to Jesus, Diotrephes decided to take matters into his own hands. As the proverb warns, “Nor is it glory to search one’s own glory” (Prov. 25:27). Or, “For men to search their own glory is not glory.” It is self-promotion at best. And the root of it is pride.
Diotrephes, who imagined his perceived greatness should be seen by all, could not allow another’s greatness to outshine his. There was room for only one star in the heavens— and it was named Diotrephes.
Therefore, John was a threat.
John had to go.
So as is the custom in our culture, Diotrephes used his First Amendment right, his right to free speech, to malign and criticize John’s ministry, John’s leadership, and ultimately John’s authority. Pretty much the same stuff we do today when pride and jealousy raise their ugly heads among people in church.
Here is John’s response:
For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church (3 John 10).
Carnal, heavy-handed bullying tactics within the church— and the sinister source of this sin, as always, is pride.
He accuses John to others with wicked words.
He personally refuses to recognize John’s authority and receive the itinerant teachers approved by John.
He then expands his iron-fisted control by forcing those who do not bend to his wishes out of the church. They are shunned from fellowship. Persecuted. Excommunicated.
And it appears the congregation does nothing to stand against this evil. Nothing.
Again, much like our church culture of today.
So what was John’s final word on Diotrephes? What did he finally do?
As a loving, caring, compassionate spiritual father to Gaius and the church, John took this crisis and carefully, strategically, crafted it into a teaching moment. One of those, “He who has ears to hear” moments he learned from his Master.
Listen to the application gleaned from the actions of Diotrephes.
Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God. Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself; and we add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true (3 John 11-12).
In other words, you be different. You imitate what is good, and not what is evil. John urged Gaius not to imitate Diotrephes’ wicked behavior by refusing to welcome and accept Demetrius. Instead, he urged Gaius, and each one of us as well, to imitate what is good and just. Why? Because, as he said, “the one who does good is of God and the one who does evil (Diotrephes) has not seen God.”
In essence, lost people act like lost people. Even if they are members of your church.
Don’t be like them— even to the point of rejection.
Adveho quis may.
Come what may.
Which Jesus do you follow?
My Jesus *
Which Jesus do you follow?
Which Jesus do you serve?
If Ephesians says to imitate Christ
Why do you look so much like the world?
Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the arrogant
So which one do you want to be?
Blessed are the poor in spirit
Or do we pray to be blessed with the wealth of this land
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness
Or do we ache for another taste of this world of shifting sand?
Cause my Jesus bled and died for my sins
He spent His time with thieves and sluts and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the rich
So which one do you want to be?
Who is this that you follow
This picture of the American dream
If Jesus was here would you walk right by on the other side
Or fall down and worship at His holy feet?
Pretty blue eyes and curly brown hair and a clear complexion
Is how you see Him as He dies for your sins
But the Word says He was battered and scarred
Or did you miss that part
Sometimes I doubt we’d recognize Him
Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and the least of these
He loved the poor and accosted the comfortable
So which one do you want to be?
Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet might stain the carpet
But He reaches for the hurting and despises the proud
I think He’d prefer Beale Street to the stained glass crowd
And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud
I want to be like my Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!
Not a posterchild for American prosperity, but like my Jesus
You see I’m tired of living for success and popularity
I want to be like my Jesus but I’m not sure what that means to be like You Jesus
Cause You said to live like You, love like You but then You died for me
Can I be like You Jesus?
I want to be like you Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!
Adveho quis may.
Come what may.
* From the album, Reflection of Something by Todd Agnew
The following is from RC Sproul, Jr. It is a wonderful reminder that sometimes God, in His sovereignty, has plans for us that we didn’t ask for nor desire. But they are His plans, nonetheless. Also, as a bit of background, RC’s wife has been suffering with a debilitating illness for quite some time.
Doing Great Things
We first learned that my little girl Shannon would always be a little girl, when we discovered about her first birthday that she was profoundly disabled. My father, a deeply compassionate man, asked how I was handling the news. I told him that I had been preparing for this moment all my life. If anyone should be able to rest in the sovereignty of God it is me. The sovereignty of God is the cornerstone of Reformed theology, which theology I have been schooled in from my youth by one of its greatest living proponents.
The sovereignty of God, rightly understood, was the very core of my father’s best known work, The Holiness of God. The doctrine came front and center in his next book, Chosen by God. I was a young man when those books were first published. Like many others I ate them up, drank them in, and like too many young men, spat out their wisdom with precious little grace and care. I reveled in God’s sovereignty, and delighted in nothing more than to argue for, to defend, to proclaim that sovereignty.
That all changed, however, when I read still another book by my father, this one born of a family hardship. Surprised by Suffering begins with the still-born birth of my niece, Alissa. From there the book explores not just the truth that God ordains our suffering but why. The point that has stuck with me over the years was this – suffering isn’t something that happens, nor it is just something God permits. It is instead a vocation, a calling. God does not merely say, “I’m going to make you go through this.” Instead He says, “It is My desire for you that you should go through this. Follow Me.”
All of us, when we are brought into the kingdom, in joyful gratitude for the grace of God, want to do great things for the kingdom. Having been rescued by His glorious grace, we want in turn to rescue others, to serve the body, to proclaim the Good News. God has called us to do just that. He calls out heroes who take the message to strange and foreign lands. He calls out pastors who feed the sheep. He calls out teachers, like my father, who explain to the broader body the fullness of the gospel. Some, however, He calls to suffer.
My wife, for this part of His story, is called to suffer. Her role right now is to do this great thing for the kingdom – to be Jesus to us, so that we might be Jesus to her. She is Jesus to us because as we serve her, we remember His promise, that serving the least of these is serving Him (Matthew 25). We, in turn, are Jesus to her, precisely because the church is His body. When we pray for her, she rests in Jesus’ arms. When we bring a meal, she tastes Jesus feeding her. When we dry her eyes, she feels Jesus wiping away her tears.
Hers is not an easy calling. It is, however, a great one. Being Jesus means walking the via dolorosa.
How blessed I am to walk that road with her, and with Him.