Monday, April 04, 2016

Stress-free Christianity? Uh ... No ... (1 Thessalonians 2:1-2)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2

Some people seem to think that once you become a Christian, your life becomes calm, peaceful, and stress-free. Clearly, those people haven’t really studied the Bible. Troubles are pretty much promised.

James made it crystal clear when he wrote, “Consider it all joy … when you fall into various trials …” (James 1:2-4). Not if you fall, but when you fall. And Jesus Himself promised difficult times when He said, “In the world you will have tribulation …” (John 16:33). Again, it isn’t a maybe; it’s a will.

Paul knew more than most what it meant to suffer for the name of Christ. In his second letter to the church at Corinth, he described trials and tribulations beyond comprehension. He was beaten, stoned, robbed, imprisoned, and shipwrecked. He experienced weariness, hunger, and thirst (see 2 Corinthians 11:22-27).

Yet he was able to rejoice in the chains that imprisoned him. He was able to withstand pain and suffering. Why? Because he knew he was following the will of his God and that any suffering he experienced on earth meant nothing in the light of eternity: 
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).

More importantly, he was confident that nothing would ever separate him from the love of his Father:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:
      “ For Your sake we are killed all day long;        We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:35-39, NKJV)
Yes, we will have trials and tribulations, but we can be confident of one thing. Our Lord and Savior is the Victor. Or as Jesus said at the end of John 16:33, “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

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