Worthy of the Gospel, Relearning Suffering, Finding Freedom

sufferingRelearning the place suffering has in my salvation.  Relearning how to be worthy of the Gospel, Finding freedom as I continue Losing My Religion, Finding My Savior. How many times I have to learn this same lesson? As many times as it takes for me to hear, understand and internalize it, I suppose.

Reading Philippians 1:  As per usual, I invite you to listen for yourself and see what Holy Spirit reveals to you.

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.  For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Worthy of the Gospel

Here I have it again, a gentle reminder of how my life is to be a reflection of the nature of Christ and what he has done for me.  I cannot make myself worthy of salvation, only he does it.  To be honest, I tended to view the fruit of the spirit as a list of character qualities I need to work on.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,  envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:18-23

Does my life match this description of belonging to Christ?  It’s pretty black-and-white when you read the text.  Jealousy is one I have battled, especially as we have suffered financially.  Well, the American sense of suffering, we’ve never been homeless or hungry.  Yet, if I belong to Christ, then I KNOW that God is in control. I trust he leads me where he desires. If I believe that, then what place does jealousy have in my heart? none. none.

Suffer for the Gospel

I’m not united with Christ so that I can have a better life.  It’s not so my marriage is better and I am healthier.  It may be the case, but following Christ is not about me at all.  It’s about God and his glory.

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Of course, my experience is that by following Christ and his words, I find peace in decisions.  Following him DOES make my life better in dozens of ways.  That can’t be the reason though, would that not make me  some sick form a a rice christian? I don’t come to Christ to avoid pain and suffering.

I took a class in my sophomore year of college called “Missionary Life and Ministry.”  It was one of the most emotionally challenging classes I took.   Thinking of missionaries whose spouses died, children died, or those who died themselves in service; I never reconciled to the decision to go, if it might endanger my family.  Yet, I wondered for years, why God never led me into missions abroad.

Losing My Religion Brings Freedom

Again, this that phrase is scary and bold. It does not mean I have abandoned Christ.  It does not mean I abandon my savior for my own selfish desires.

No, it means that I found the “Christianity” I claimed and clung to, was actually shackling me in behavior modification, something that can be manipulated by people.

Losing my religion has brought me freedom because everything is Christ at work in me.

My response to my children, how I act in stress, how I live my days is not about choosing joy, working harder, trying more, earning more, striving.  It’s laying down my life and saying, “God, work in me.  Lead me where you will, and help me to reflect your beauty, your passion, your love, your holiness, your power.”

 

 

 

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