I am never one of the first to get a new electronic device or program. I do not want to deal with the “bugs”, glitches, or the “oops” factor that goes with the newest thing on the market. I wait to hear that it is tested, proven, and ready for general use.
So it made me laugh when reading Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church:
“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open.12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. 13 In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also” (2 Corinthians 6).
Today is the day! he says. You do not have to wait to see that this Christian thing is not a hoax…we’ve proven it! How? Well, by our actions when people did not like us, how we kept pushing through hard times, our character – and the Holy Spirit and power of God! Also, through everything, we were a contradiction. People thought we would be slandered, out of the match, and disgraced for good. But instead, we are honored by God, known by the King of the Universe, rejoicing in Him, and rich in things that will come later. We are living contradictions…and we are telling you exactly why!
The ball is in your court now – you can keep living with your head down, or “pedal to the metal” for Jesus?
Yeah, I’ve met one of these people recently. She is a spitfire grandma who runs instead of walks. And she loves everyone, holds no resentment, and does not envy anyone. That’s nice, I thought at first. And then I heard about her family struggles, what governments did to her, how she was cheated, treated like an object, snubbed, lost so many people, and never had love from others. She still loves exuberantly. Naive? Well, she has lived three times as long as me so I doubt it. Stupid? Oh no! A special individual? Yes…but there is something more. Time has honed her down to the essentials, and those essentials sparkle and shine with something unusual. Love. Grace. Mercy. She can point out miracles throughout her life to go with every hardship. God was there, and He got her through, and she has no doubt about it. I think she would agree with Paul that anyone who has doubts can see in her life that God is a proven refuge in trouble!
Well, where does that leave us? If this was a new thing on the market, it would be time to save up your money. You do have to count the cost. What changes will this make to your life? You’ll have to throw out the old to make way for the new…and the old ways are hard to give up. But this is an upgrade that will last a lifetime and beyond.
Sometimes, God, I forget what You have given me. The Christian life is not a walk in the shopping mall. You often pull me back on track, and I tend to fight you as I am going. God, I do want a changed life that sparkles with something unusual. I want to tell people with Paul that the Christian life is 100% worth it, a living contradiction. But God, I am not there yet…so please keep pulling me back, and helping me to move towards You. Thank You for the examples, the testers who have gone before me. Please help me to be the same for others; to Your glory, for Your kingdom. Amen.