Today in classes we talked about life, suffering, people, love........
Going through Philippians has been so very convicting as I see, especially in chapter 1 all that Paul was facing and his response to it. He was in prison at the time he was writing and yet, he was okay with that. He knew that people were coming to Christ because of his imprisonment and since the cross was being proclaimed, he was glad to suffer for Christ. It was all for the furtherance of the Gospel. If I was in a similar situation, would I be able to respond the same way? I wimp out at the smallest bumps in the road. It really is pathetic. If there is a tiny bump, my reaction is to start looking for some way to go around it so I don’t have to trust God to get me over it. Something my teacher said is "suffering is about God and how we fit into His purposes." He is sovereign and has everything under control. His purposes are far beyond anything I could even imagine!! This life isn't even mine anyway. I get so wrapped up in living my life for Him that I forget that it's His life to begin with. My life belongs to Him. My life needs to BE Him. Existence apart from Him isn't even life. Christ must be the source and motivation of all life! Then when we encounter suffering, we can rest assured that it is for Christ and for the furtherance of His message. Am I living for Him? "If what you're living for isn't worth dying for, then it isn't worth living for." (Mike Sullivan) Christ gave up everything to die for me. He is worth living for!! I say this so often and so easily. However, can my heart honestly say that He is also worth dying for? Can I say that and be ready to act on it at all times? Something that was said in class is "Only someone ready to die for Christ truly knows how to live for Christ." How often I fool myself into thinking that I'm closer to this than I really am.
We also talked about the value of people. It's easy to place a large amount of value on myself, but do I value others as I should? If I am to be in ministry, I think it is vital for me to recognize that all people are created in the image of God, He values them, Christ DIED for them......and yet I can often have such a bad attitude and lack of concern toward those around me. There is absolutely no reason to withhold love from anyone at any time. The example was given today of a man who was fed up with his wife. He hated her and wanted to divorce her. He sought counsel from someone at his church asking, "what should I do?! I can't stand to be near her! I want out of this marriage! How do I deal with her?!"
The man replied, "You must love her as Christ loved the Church. He gave everything to redeem her and loves her unconditionally!"
The disgruntled husband became angry. "Absolutely not! I can't love her like that. She doesn't deserve it."
His friend then said, "Alright then, treat her like a neighbor. How are you supposed to care for your neighbor? Love you neighbor as yourself."
At this the husband yelled, "I can't love her! I don't even want to be near her!"
His friend nodded as if he understood. He said, "I understand. In that case, you must resort to treating her as you should treat your enemies. Love your enemies."
I think we can guess that the husband wasn't happy with this answer either, but it really struck me that God makes it clear that we are to treat people in all levels of relationships with great love. Whether they are a spouse, family, friends, acquaintances, or even enemies, we don't have a choice when it comes to love. Love at all times. Love when it is difficult. Love when you aren't loved in return. Love when you are hated. LOVE!