I find it easier to explain things in terms of a future conversation I may have with Rachael. So much of our world is a new place to the child that I’ve often thought about how I would explain it all to Rachael. Often times I think we get so caught up in our daily lives that we parents forget that little eyes are trying to learn all about their world from our example. And honestly, when God catches me and reminds me of that I wonder if Rachael could learn much better from someone else.
Pastor Steve preached a sermon today that touched my heart. Mom talked about it a bit at lunch today and I remained silent because so much of me was still processing it. Pastor spoke of suffering for Jesus. Now as soon as the topic arises I realize it comes with a bunch of groaning and moaning from those who have heard so many similar sermons. I too had to stop myself from brushing off the teaching as “not about me” or “not for me” since I am not some heroic missionary burning at the steak or spreading the gospel in Africa. Persecution is something I don’t claim to fully understand in terms of the severity of the persecution in the past and, despite hushed away reality, the persecution of today. Pastor explained that persecution is on a scale from a simple slander thrown at you for choosing righteousness all the way to death for the sake of Christ.
This sermon was not merely for the purpose of informing us that we now have a new addition to our list of complaints in all the times that we have been persecuted, but instead flipped the script. If we are not being persecuted in any way in our lives, where’s the proof for your righteousness? Righteousness in Rachael terms, which really help me to practically understand, can be described as working toward perfection in Christ (sanctification) or just resolving for today that you will choose Jesus when given every opportunity. Oh the flesh is given every opportunity to glorify itself throughout the day, from the small frustrations to the “why does this always happen to us” moments. But righteousness is choosing in each opportunity to glorify Jesus. In your mind, you have stricken yourself only to choose a path glorifying to Christ. Some days are easier than others.
You see, faithfulness is what we should hope to attain. When we stand before Christ someday what will He say? Will it be a powerful, yet merely “through the blood, you may enter” or will He say, “well done, good and faithful servant”? I think I often get overwhelmed by the thought of faithfulness, especially after I screw up yet again. I can feel that I have busted my track record yet again and wiped the slate clean of any accrued faithfulness and I’m back to square one. But I am sure those ‘old faithful’s and even Paul himself felt like utter failures in their lives. I know my motivation is what Christ would say, but Christ’s words are often so contrary to my feeble mind’s understanding that I have no idea if I am being faithful or not. So I find myself wondering what other Christians who really are wanting Jesus would say about my life. Would I be called a faithful follower of Christ? One who’s “on fire” for Jesus? Oh don’t get me wrong, my thoughts of what others would think of me do not consume my pressing on, but sometimes it’s just easier for me to understand success and failure in common sense terms. Ultimately I know that nothing I can do will change how God feels about me. Yet still a prize awaits us, a prize that will be thrown at the feet of Jesus because we still remain unworthy of the Lamb that was slain.
Righteousness includes so much more than just your gut reaction, though your gut reaction can say a lot about where your foundation lies. But righteousness is a daily choice – a daily mindset. Some days I find it easier to firmly plant my feet in righteousness. The environment is so loving and nurturing of my growth. The day just seems to steal my mind away to Christ. And then there seems to be “every other day” when righteousness is a fight. Choosing Christ is contrary to my sin nature. Choosing Christ’s mind is contrary to my selfishness and fleshly wants. Christ will always be contrary to the darkness for Light cannot have darkness in it. Light is the absence of darkness and Light exposes darkness for its ugliness. Yes it’s easier to hide away or “try tomorrow” to be righteous because suffering through persecution (no matter how minimal persecution may be) has a cost and hurts. But there is only gain ahead of us. Who else can say that apart from Christ? No one. There is only gain in all that awaits those who endure this world. For joy comes in the morning. And there will be those who “just barely made it” into heaven through the blood of Christ and then there will be those who God’s word describes in Revelations as the martyrs and those oppressed for the sake of the Gospel. No bragging rights come to those with extra jewels on their crowns to throw at Christ’s feet for all crowns will be cast. But who wants to half live? Who wants to spend their days here on this earth and have nothing to show for their efforts? Who wants to merely waste their time here? Isn’t Jesus worth so much more than that? Isn’t Jesus worth not only our obedience, but our willing and faithful service? Or has the cross become merely a casual conversation of the past? Has the suffering and dying of Jesus Christ for us “while we were yet sinners” become merely a Truth in which we can build our coach-potato lifestyles of comfort and ease?
Please don’t think that I am speaking only to others and not of myself as well.
Is Christ not more than enough?
Is Christ not more than worth it?