Be Christlike or Comfortable?

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

A few years ago, I toke a Spiritual Leadership class with Richard Blackaby and he made the following observation. Success often develops pride in our lives whereas failure and trials drive us to our knees and humble us. If God wants to keep us walking closely with him, which would he send into our lives?

We want God to do great things in our lives and take us to the next level, yet whenever God brings a cross of adversity into our lives the first thing we cry out is, “God take this out of my life!” We have to decide if we want to be more like Christ or be comfortable.

Richards comment was that it is not safe to follow Jesus. The world needs courageous men and women, who are willing to die to do what is right, not legions of complacent followers asking for God to bless them and keep them safe. When followers of Jesus actively do things that establish justice (or righteousness; making things right), peace, and joy in our world … many self-serving agendas will be threatened. People who pursue their own desires for power, pleasure, and riches often do so at the expense of those they oppress, abuse, and steal from. People who are on fire with God’s passion for justice will be attacked in order to protect the status quo. Consider Martin Luther King, Jr. as one of the most recent martyrs for opposing the status quo of racial oppression and injustice.

This brings me to my reflections on Romans 5. Paul starts out saying Jesus Christ brought us peace with God. I did a study on the Hebrew term for peace; shalom. It’s meaning is far deeper than simply an absence of conflict or some inner tranquility. It has the meaning of completeness of life, experiencing the fullness of life, or wholeness (like a stone that never has been marred or cut… it is perfectly whole). This is God’s desire for us. We have lost the full and abundant life He originally intended for us. Sin has entered our experience and now we experience pain and suffering as people oppress, steal, deceive, abuse, use, hurt and attack each other. Jesus came as a King to reestablish a world order where selfish living is overthrown and people begin to obey God’s commands to love others and do what’s right. As people follow Jesus Christ as their King, obeying his commands and doing his work will bring them in to conflict with the established social order. Suffering is inevitable even for those committed to peaceful reform.

Affliction and suffering produces the opportunity to either give up or turn to God to call out for help. God has a long documented track record of delivering people who call on him for help. When people persevere into doing what is right when the pressure of affliction comes, it develops a strong character. A weak character gives up when pain comes because all that person wants is personal comfort and gratification. So they retreat from the suffering until the pain goes away. But the person of conviction will endure pain and loss to stand for what is right. They will also call on God in the midst of suffering and trust that God will help them to have strength to get through the suffering or to deliver them from the suffering.

I have noticed in my own life that when persistent afflictions come, it often initially causes me to be angry at God because he does not seem to be answering my initial prayers. My initial prayers are often for God to fix the suffering (make it go away). But then I remember the faithfulness of God through the past twenty three years and all that I know of Gods love and desire for our good. So I do not stay angry, instead the fire of my anger moves me to seek God with a fiercer sense of urgency. It is in those times that I meet with God in a deeper way than I would have in times of comfort and ease.

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Comments

  • Cristhian  On October 16, 2011 at 5:24 am

    This is very true, I am experiencing this in my life, and yes it takes lots of courage to follow the Lord.

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