Tuesday is for Spiritual Challenge
I love my country. Flaws and all, I love it. I think, on balance, it has been a force for good in the world, even with all of its missteps and corruptions. But it is dangerous to live here. Dangerous to the soul. Our affluence, our comforts, and the long favor of the church in our history clouds our perspective. It causes us to think that what has been, is normal when in fact the experience of Christians for two-thousand years has been much more precarious. Persecution was their past and it is likely our future. (Image is of the famous Shackleton expedition to Anarctica — one of the greatest stories of human endurance known to man.)
Today I was rereading a book on endurance and ran across the three paragraphs below. They highlight one of the principle dangerous to our soul—the idea that we deserve a trouble-free, pain-free life.
“There is mind-set in the prosperous West that we deserve pain-free, trouble-free existence. When life deals us the opposite, we have a right not only to blame somebody or some system and to feel sorry for ourselves, but also to devote most of our time to coping, so that we have no time or energy left over for serving others.
The mind-set gives a trajectory to life that is almost universal–namely, away from stress and toward comfort and safety and relief. Then within that very natural trajectory some people begin to think of ministry and find ways of serving God inside the boundaries set by the aims of self-protection. Then churches grow up in this mind-set, and it never occurs to anyone in such a community of believers that choosing discomfort, stress, and danger might be the right thing–even the normal, biblical thing—to do.
I have found myself in conversation with Christians for whom it is simply a given that you do not put yourself or your family at risk. The commitment to safety and comfort is an unquestioned absolute. The demands of being a Christian in the twenty-first century will probably prove to be a rude awakening for such folks. Since we have not embraced the Calvary road voluntarily, God may simply catapult us onto it as he did the home-loving saints in Acts 11:19: “Those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phonenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word.'”
—John Piper, The Roots of Endurance:
Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton,
Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce, p. 18
I highly recommend the book by John Piper and its three short biographical accounts of the how the grace of God is enough. For my own book along similar lines see this link.
May God help us to live for more than our comfort, security and convenience. If we must endure hardship and suffering, let it be for the cause of the Savior and the love of our neighbors.