Friday, February 10, 2012

spiritual adversity

"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’" ~ John 15:18-25

It is a most common teaching these days that turning to Christ is a turning to a life that is miraculously blessed. A life that will return health and healing, financial stability (as long as we tithe regularly), and unprecedented joy. This is not only unbiblical, it teeters precariously on heresy (that is not to say there is no Joy in Christ - for indeed there is). The fact of the matter is that turning to Christ is a rejection of the world and sin; it is an abandonment of self. This situation is not only unpopular by the worlds standards, it is abhorrent to Satan and leads to the World hating us because the World hates Christ. That's the part of a gospel presentation that often gets left out of the sales pitch;

"Follow Christ, He is God; the World will hate you for it." (it is an overlooked truth)

But the Bible is very clear about just what we are to face as Christians, and adversity is part and parcel with our plight as the fallen race of mankind. Certainly we are made new Creatures when we repent and trust in Christ;

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

But this only means we will respond differently to our adversity, not that the adversity will cease.

"and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." Matthew 10:22 (read Matthew 10:16-25 for context)

It is quite plain in this passage that it is our plight to suffer for the sake of Christ. We are told in Luke;

"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23 (read Luke 9:23-26 for context)

Being a follower of Christ is not supposed to be simple and easy – it is something we must actively choose to do daily, and labour at. Seeking after Christ daily in His word, in fellowship with other believers and in prayer is vital to our Christian walk - and will not only draw us closer to Him, but will equip us to face adversity when we are confronted with it. Adversity has many faces, it is not all blatant persecution, sometimes it is temptation, attitudes, habitual sin, abuse, the enemy of Christ will present adversity in every way possible.

No matter the source of our adversity, it is always an opportunity to learn both, how better to serve Christ, and how to be an example of Christ to the World. Think of this in terms of your own life, as I have been challenged to do the same. Do you face adversity for the sake of the Gospel in your life? Or do you make decisions that will keep you "out of trouble" with the World? There is nothing more important than the gospel, we are all commanded to go and make disciples and teach;

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." ~ Matthew 28:19-20

This is our command, and we must all be doing it to the greatest of our ability, daily. If we are not at odds with the World for what we teach, or how we live, then are we really living and teaching correctly? The World and the Bible are at odds, we've seen that in scripture already, so if the World is comfortable with you then you are either not fulfilling the commands of God or you are not teaching Biblical truth. If we as Christians are not confronted with adversity, what does that say about our testimony for Christ to the World?

I am not suggesting that we go out and stir up trouble - I am suggesting that, Biblically speaking, the Word of God is abhorrent to the World and when we preach it, teach it and live it we will be repelled by the World and the Devil.

There is hope, and there is peace and there is understanding in Christ. Just read over the Beattitudes for a beautiful example of how we should live before Christ, and just how He feels about it!
"And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." ~ Matthew 5:2-11
Christ came to Earth to redeem those who would follow after Him. He suffered much adversity, persecution, pain and death. He knows better than anyone the hatred of the World.

"If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you." ~ John 15:18

This may all seem very grim and not overly encouraging; your reaction might be "my Jesus would never let me suffer" (to which I assert you may very well serve a different Jesus than the one of Scripture - "For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many." ~ Matthew 24:5). But it is my hope that you will read this and receive it as an edification to Stand for Christ. It is so important that we, as Christians, understand the World as the Bible presents it. It is so important that we worship, pray and study together; and hold one another up through adversity and persecution. That is the only way we will ever be able to make sense of the lies and deceptions of a culture filled with glitter and sparkle. As Christians, we MUST suffer for Christ, if we are not, who are we pleasing? Ourselves or the World?

The time is now to stand for Christ in the face of Spiritual adversity.

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