Thursday, October 9, 2008

Affliction & Awakening

What will awaken and enliven a sleepy and fatted people?

It seems that suffering and affliction are the lonely remedies to such an apathy. The life of the Christian is to be a life of war! And yet the warfare is hardly anywhere to be seen. However, the warfare language of the Scriptures is inescapable, indeed even bordering on outrageously blunt. Here is a mere sampling of such language:

Php 3:11-14 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

1Ti 6:11-12 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1Co 9:27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Heb 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

2Co 10:3-4 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

Eph 6:11-13 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Rev. 2:10b
Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Luk 9:23 And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Luk 9:24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Col 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

2Pe 1:5 For this very reason,
make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and …

Joh 12:25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Back to the question. What will wake us up and shake us into vibrant Christ exalting life? The Scriptures are not scant on serious language, nor would the reading of such Scriptures lead one to conclude apathetic time wasting is wise nor prudent.

As I ask myself this question I cannot escape the thought that God has arranged many and various wake up calls. In fact it seems that this is one of the main purposes for, if not the main purpose for sufferings and trials. Without them we will simply sleep away and fatten ourselves with comfort upon comfort as we waste our lives into oblivion.

Thank You Lord for granting to us the mercies of sufferings and trials that we might awaken to Christ's glory and to Christ honoring, self-effacing service.

Psalm 119:67
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.

2 Cor 1:8-9
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

"God is kind in ways that will not fit your mind."
- John Piper, The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God

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