Thursday, May 14, 2015

Come What May...Deserving?

Good morning,

I always begin my posts this way, with the affirmation that the Lord has given me the privilege of living another day and that it is good.  However, I just spent a very fitful night and am suffering from an extreme case of "overcommittedness".  Yes, I realize that such is not a real word.  However, it very aptly describes my current condition.  Y'all, I covet your prayers.

Today's post is not about taking on too many good projects.  It is about meekness and how to face adversity.  The text is 1 Peter 2:18-23 (The Message).

 You who are servants, be good servants to your masters—not just to good masters, but also to bad ones. What counts is that you put up with it for God’s sake when you’re treated badly for no good reason. There’s no particular virtue in accepting punishment that you well deserve. But if you’re treated badly for good behavior and continue in spite of it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God.
21-25 This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.
"He never did one thing wrong,

Not once said anything amiss."
They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. 
If you have lived even a short time, you have experienced "push-back" - - - frustration, roadblocks, detours or worse (as described in this passage), undeserved punishment.  In fact, the greater good a believer tries to accomplish for the Kingdom, I believe the greater the resistance will be from the enemy, Satan.  Certainly, earnestly seeking to follow Christ does not produce a life free from trouble. And, when troubles come, our response is often, "What did I do to deserve this?"  Wrong question.

This passage is directed to slaves of Peter's day.  Slavery was very much a part of the society at that time.  However, the slavery of that day was not similar to the slavery Americans think of from the 18th and 19th centuries in our country.  I'm not going to dive off into those differences in this post.

The point is that we understand how we should respond in situations where things don't go as we believe they should.  The right questions are:  "How should I respond to this adverse situation? How can I glorify Jesus through it?" As in all things, our example is Jesus Christ, who never sinned.  So, when we consider whether or not Jesus "deserved" the treatment He received, our automatic answer is "Of course not!"

Let's remind ourselves that troubles are a result of mankind's original sin, our sins for which Christ came to die. Troubles are wrapped up in every aspect of this fallen world.  Therefore, "deserving" often does not enter into the equation.  Recently, a young woman in our community was killed in a head-on collision with an inebriated driver.  Did she "deserve" this?  Earlier this week a train derailment in Pennsylvania occurred (allegedly) as a result of engineer error.  Did the six who were killed and the over 200 injured "deserve" this?  In other parts of the world Christians are being slaughtered because of their beliefs.  Do they "deserve" this?  Remember Job - - - the most upright of the Old Testament early icons - - - did he "deserve" to lose his 10 children and all of his wealth?

Peter reminds us that by inviting Jesus into our hearts and following Him, we are then set on a course where we are being molded by the Holy Spirit to become more like our Savior.  One inescapable aspect of this following, this discipleship, is to "share in His sufferings".  We can't grow up in our faith until we learn how to deal with tribulations.

What did Jesus do?  He did not react in a sinful manner to unfair treatment.  He trusted in God to set things right.  In our vernacular He basically said, "God's got this."  So, this is our standard, our goal, our role model attitude.  Other scriptures that address the believer's response to adversity are:

Join with me {apostle Paul} in suffering, like a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  
2 Timothy 2:3

In fact, Paul's letters to Timothy, his "intern", are filled with admonitions concerning how to deal with persecution.  Look at this similar passage:

For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me, a prisoner for his sake, but by God’s power accept your share of suffering for the gospel. He is the one who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not based on our works but on his own purpose and grace, granted to us in Christ Jesus before time began
2 Timothy 1:7-9

We are not to respond in fear, but rather to trust in the Spirit's power, in His love, and by His power to control our response.  True meekness is characterized by submission to the will of God.  By God's power, we are enabled to accept our share of suffering, for the sake of the gospel, and in order to showcase our magnificent Savior!

Let's all thank God that we do not get what we "deserve", Christian brothers and sisters.  Due to our inborn, ingrained sin natures, we are totally deserving of an eternity in Hell, separated from God by our sin. Thanks be to God the Father, for sending us His Son, who has provided the only way for us to be reconciled to Him!  We are recipients of His amazing mercy and grace (vs. 9).

Remember:  "God's got this." To Him be all the honor and glory!

Dear Lord, I bring my whiney self and bow at Your feet.  Many of my troubles are due to my own imperfect (ok, ridiculous!) choices; others are allowed into my life so that I have the opportunity to bring You glory in this fallen world.  I know that nothing touches me that does not first have Your permission to do so, because I am Yours, and You are mine.  I think about David, that man who pursued You with his whole heart.  Lord, you know he just careened from trouble to trouble!  Yet, through his love for You, through his submission and (most of the time) obedience to You, You were glorified.  The world was radically changed! No matter what You "bring me to" today, I will plant my feet firmly in Your love; and, I will trust in You.  In Jesus' name, amen.

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