Church, God, Jesus, Sunday school, prayer; these words have been a part of my vocabulary for as long as I can recall. I grew up in a Christian home and have stayed true to my Christian roots through the tumultuous teenage years and into adulthood. My relationship with Christ is ever evolving; I continue to mature and develop a deeper understanding of who Christ is and what it means to walk out my faith. Recently something has become glaringly obvious to me; we have white washed the gospel, watered it down and turned it into nothing more than a “feel good” message. Being a Christ follower is not all about being blessed, prosperous and happy. There are hardships involved, but few are willing acknowledge that aspect of the gospel.
Oh, you don’t believe me? That’s okay, I have proof. This year I have been journeying through the Bible via the Life Journal, it is a reading plan that takes readers though the scriptures in a year. The plan is unique in that it substitutes commentary for reflection. Quiet reflection can be a dangerous undertaking. That is, if you are seriously willing to allow the Lord to speak to you, to say what He wants to say, and not just skim over the hard things. In the last month, I’ve made some interesting discoveries, some hard truths that surprisingly, have brought me comfort.
Let’s start at the beginning: Genesis 31:12 God says to Jacob, “I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you.” That scripture suggests God allowed Jacob to endure hardship. Genesis 45:5 God permitted Joseph to be sold into slavery for His divine purpose. Psalm 10 Finds David lamenting, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Why indeed when we are going through great trials do we sometimes seem to be alone? Perhaps, that is by design, so that we will pursue Him relentlessly. Exodus 3 finds a once prosperous nation of Israel undeservingly enslaved in Egypt. Just like in Genesis 31 God says, “I have watched over you and seen what has been done to you in Egypt.” God knew of their enslavement, and eventually delivered them, but not before they suffered much & many of them died. But, wait, there’s more! Acts 5:41 The apostles were flogged, but left rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for Christ. I don’t recall ever being taught to rejoice over suffering. Acts 14:22 “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” What else can I say?
No doubt this avenue of thought will cause discomfort for some. Perhaps you may even dislike me for daring to speak such heresy, but that’s okay, the religious of the day thought the same about Jesus, so I’m in very good company.