Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Christian Exposed

The purpose of Christianity is not to avoid difficulty, but to produce a character adequate to meet it when it comes. It does not make life easy; rather it tries to make us great enough for life. ~James L. Christensen

The deliberate Christian lives by a code: he asks God's guidance in every deed and also considers his every action as something that affects how others will see the God he claims to believe in, have faith in, trusts. I talked with a very deliberate Christian last night, someone who has inspired me in ways I cannot fully describe; she just has been a personal blessing to me as I have come to know her thinkings, her soul.

She has come to a very rough spot in the sea of life and yet has held the knowledge of it close to her, not letting it affect her family and friends. The main concern she expressed was about how people, mostly the unbelievers and accidental Christians as I call them, would view her testimony, her witness for the Lord. It is human nature to place someone's life under the microscope to try to find what she is doing wrong or pick apart a person's believes in times of her trouble. The miracle she needs is considerable and I cannot say for certain what the Lord plans to do, but one thing I do know is that while she may not see it, I know she will still be an incredible witness for the Lord simply because of her faith.

As Christians, we tend to think our witness is only effective if things are going well for us. Even as we read about Job's losses and sufferings, the discouraging talks with his friends, and even his wife suggesting that he curse God and die, all while he had done nothing wrong! We marvel at all this and his frustration with the Lord knowing He had the power to give and take away. Yet...yet, here in the Western world, we think that God's provision means no suffering and no loss.

Not only do unbelievers miss the point, but we Christians do also. God did not consider Job highly because He had blessed him with prosperity, which caused people to consider him highly, but because He knew the real inner workings of his heart. Even Satan must not have understood this thing called faith. Satan equated the easy life in this existence with it being easy to devote one's heart to God. He believed that hardship would make people give up on God...and, unfortunately, he was right: some do. However, imagine his surprise to find some do not. In fact, the experience can strengthen and refine their faith.

Having faith during a hardship actually makes the person a better witness. The deliberate Christian should do things differently than the unbeliever during a hardship. That is not to say there will not be tears of discouragement at times, or fear of the unknown, or even anger at God (to be angry at Him is at least an acknowledgment of His existence), but the deliberate Christian chooses to humble himself to the Lord's will and tries to be a witness to others for the Lord he loves at all times.

It is easy to say I believe the Lord provides all my needs. I do believe that, but what does it mean unless it is tested? And, it requires difficult times to be tested. I have seen it all my life in various ways and those provisions did not always come the way I hope they would, the easy or joyous ways, but they came. I personally have felt a different aspect of testing recently as we dedicated ourselves to double our tithe for six months. We felt led by the Lord to do it. It has created some hardship and other believers have said to us that we could stop doubling it...yes, we could easily do that and I have learned it is like fasting food; one can just eat to stay off the hunger pains and weakness, but what of the purpose of the fast? You see, they miss the point because they lack the experience to understand the reasoning of it. I will fast food in a heartbeat, because I have learned that discipline, but familiarity does not make it all that easier, I just perceive it as more possible and as having purpose.

In honesty, giving more money to honor the Lord, not out of our excess but our necessities, is a discipline I personally did not want to learn. It takes far more discipline to do give money when you receive nothing of value for it. At least, when you pay a bill, you are getting something of value in return. Some would say it is a silly, self-imposed poverty. Some would say that I should be humble and do it quietly to receive the blessing of it; if the Lord led me to do so, I would. However, I believe very strongly in teaching discipleship, that Christians need to learn from each other in real life situations as they are happening. At times, God needs people to be brave and bare their souls at the time of their sufferings so that others can learn from it. Some seem to similize being humble with being silent, but we cannot teach much in silence. It is in the sharing, the baring of souls, that inspire unbelievers to realize that even in the worse of times we have what they are really seeking: the ability to have faith in the Lord, especially in time of trouble.

My Christian sister is keeping her secret in silence for now. I am sure she will share her hardship when it is the right time to do so, because she is braver than she realizes, because she has something special to share about the mysteries of faith, because she is an amazing witness for the Lord we love. In the meantime, I will pray for her, for the Lord to provide for her and her family. Will you pray with me?

~ My Lord, please provide what my sister needs and help her to continue to be a good witness for you throughout this difficultly that is placed before her. Give her peace and guidance and rest in You. ~

1 comment:

Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.