Membership (Part 2 of 5)

Membership

In the world that we live in, ‘Membership’ is a fairly common idea. We have memberships to libraries, sports clubs, magazines or journals, road service organisations, schools, clubs, gyms, churches and much more.

We pay, to secure some benefit – be it the ability to borrow books, or to secure good seats to watch our favourite sport, or to receive the magazine that interests us, or guarantee help if the car breaks down, or help for the school to give our children a better education, or a vote in the club that we belong, or cheaper entry to be able to use exercise equipment. You get the drift!

In many ways, the benefits of ‘membership’ in our secular world mirrors ‘membership’ in a church, but not completely – there is a difference.

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Obedience (Part 5 of 6)

Love, Truth, ObedienceWhat is love that is pleasing first to God? It has something to do with obedience in the context of truth. We have considered ‘Love’ (Part 3 of this series) and ‘Truth’ (Part 4 of this series), so this time let’s focus on ‘Obedience’.

 

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.  And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them (1 John 3:21-24)

A love that is pleasing to God is a love that obediently follows his commands.

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Truth (Part 4 of 6)

Love, Truth, Obedience

What does it look like for Christians to love the other? It has something to do with that which is true and something to do with obedience. We considered ‘Love’ last time (Part 3 of this series), so this time let’s focus on ‘Truth’.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence:  If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:16-20)

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Love (Part 3 of 6)

Without love, truth will not be valued. Without truth, it is difficult to know how to obey. Without obedience, it is impossible to demonstrate true love.

To understand Love, it will help to understand how it is integrally connected to Truth and to Obedience, such that you cannot separate the three. These three ideas intersect with one another at almost every point. Love, Truth, Obedience

Taking our lead from the letter of 1 John, we have looked at Perfect Love (Part 2 of this series). We turn our attention now to the relationships between Love, Truth and Obedience.

Let’s consider ‘Love’.

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Perfect Love (Part 2 of 6)

Love is a many splendored thing,

Love lifts us up where we belong,

All you need is love!

 

Love is just a game.

I was made for loving you baby,

You were made for loving me.

 

You’d think that people would’ve had enough of silly love songs…

So goes the lyrics of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge (2001). It is a mash-up of love songs that highlight how confusing ‘love’ can be and captures many of the different ideas that exist about that wonderful little thing called ‘Love’.

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Uncomfortable Love (Part 1 of 6)

I remember the call. Nothing seemed right about what I was being asked to do!

I was in Damascus. The gospel work there had been growing as more and more became followers of Jesus. The rumour was that Saul of Tarsus was on his way to Damascus. This was unsettling.

Saul had led the charge against many followers of the Way. He had issued murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples and had arranged permission from the High Priest to travel around the synagogues seeking out Christians to imprison for their faith. He was a piece of work. We all knew the threat he posed.

And then the Lord called out to me in a vision:

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How does a Christian become more resilient in suffering? (Part 6 of 6)

Living now in the face of Suffering.

How does a Christian become more resilient in suffering?

Some practical suggestions:

1. Pray – it is a brave person who prays that they may suffer for the sake of Christ! Prayer is one thing that you can do under any circumstance of suffering – and listening, is our Father in heaven. Don’t pray that persecution may stop (the Bible doesn’t say it will!). Don’t pray that you will be rescued (God may have plans for you in your suffering!). Don’t pray that those who make you suffer will be punished (that is not how Jesus prayed!). Instead, pray that you would be strengthened and obedient through your suffering. Pray also for other Christians who experience different degrees of suffering to you (Eph 6:18-20

2. Reset your expectations – The Apostle Peter suggests that Christian take the same attitude as Christ. Expect that a part of the Christian life (not all of it) will involve some tough stuff and that will be most acute when you stand for your faith. Peter’s strategy in the face of the suffering was to remember the Lord, recognise that standing for Jesus does not put you at fault, and realise there is no reason to be ashamed (1 Peter 4:14-16)

3. Proclaim Jesus – know what you believe so that when put on the spot you are able to stand firm for Jesus (c.f. Eph 6:14-17, 19-20). One of the best ways to defend yourself, is to continue to proclaim Christ (John 15:27).

4. Love those who make you suffer – Jesus in the Sermon of the Mount taught his disciples to ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ (Matt 5:44 c.f. Romans 12:14, 17-21). There is a humility that demonstrates a Christlike attitude which is on display whenever a Christian suffers.

5. Recharge – You have been given a Christian family who can be a wonderful support. Under God, use them to help you recharge and then return to continue standing firm for Jesus (Heb 10:24-25).

Christian suffering when put into a Christ-shaped perspective calls for a resilience that trusts that God will one day put all things right. Christians should live out the good will of God not just at times of comfort and convenience but also in the times of challenge, conflict or persecution.

‘And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen’.                              (1 Peter 5:10)

 

For more in this Series:

Resilient in Suffering

If you are going to live for Christ, are you willing to make a stand?

Living for Christ will involve Suffering!

Strategies for Resilience in Suffering

Suffering and Judgement

How does a Christian become more resilient in suffering?

 

Suffering and Judgement (Part 5 of 6)

Suffering and Judgement

Personally, I don’t really like the idea of suffering, even for a good cause. It is a brave person who prays – ‘Lord, make me suffer so that you will get the glory!’

I wonder, what the original readers of 1 Peter might have been thinking as they contemplated all the different kinds of suffering that might lie before them. Like us, I am sure they would have been uncertain.

Peter, seems to have understood that uncertainty and offers some perspective by looking at the role judgement plays in suffering.

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