15 June 2013

How Your Life Matters (Weekend Extra)

by Frank Turk

I have a friend who lives in a mostly-secularized state that is heavily populated by Catholics.  Like me, this person grew up nominally Catholic and became mostly non-religious by the time they were a young adult.  However, also like me, this person was found by the Gospel later in life and today clings to Christ -- sometimes by the barest thread.  Apply the "like me" to every clause in that sentence.

Anyway, I was having a conversation with this friend after a long period of really-devastating trial and bad turns for them.  I won't go into the details of the matter as they haven't really released me to make a spectacle of them for the internet, but let me say this: you haven't been through more than they have in the last 3 years.  It doesn't matter who you are or what you lost: only the martyrs globally have been through more than my friend.  So they said to me that, today, they were questioning what it is, exactly, that Jesus saved them for?  That is: doesn't God want them to do something Great for God's sake and the sake of the Kingdom?

Now, look: after this coming Wednesday's piece as part two of last Wednesday's piece, I'm going to review this essay by exceptional the Tony Miano, and this book by my friend Michael Belote, and I'll likely publish the text of my talk for the July Tulsa conference after that.  That is: I'm going to be blogging to an audience of about 5000 people on every continent of the world.  Some people would count that as somehow being "important."

That's complete twaddle.

If you have faith in God, this is the most important thing that has ever happened to you:
though [Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
And further still:
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
And since that is the most important thing that has ever happened to you, this is the most important thing you can do -- the thing with the most-serious and most-sensational purpose and objective of any of the things you can choose from:
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 
... Lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
If you are doing that, let this world -- this fallen place with its fallen goals and its tawdry charms and rewards -- do its worst.  The reason Christ saved you is the very reason He created the world, and the reason He died to save it.  Live for that; rejoice for that; and most importantly: suffer for that.


Tom Chantry said...

No comments from me on this post, but two from my friend Jim Bublitz (Jim from "Old Truth") shortly before his death:

"I just want to glorify God. This is a pretty tough way to do it, but I only want to glorify Him to the end."

""I just want to live out whatever time I have left as a testimony to God's ability to work His own plan."

Daniel Stephens said...

As a young man who is unmarried and failing to find a job, struggling with feeling worthless or pointless is common. The blog posts and sermons from others typically make me feel even worse and sometimes tempt me to walk away from the church. Thanks for this post it was timely.

graceandgraphite said...

Amen, and thanks again, Frank. My mother is often discouraged by her poor health, and I'm discouraged by my Barney Fife-level ineptitude at being a witness, so it's too easy to forget that, deep down, such "woe is me, I'm not doing enough" thoughts are just whiny, selfish navel-gazing. Everything collapses in the face of Jesus Christ, God Almighty.

Kathy said...

This is tremendously encouraging. I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about some of Paul's references to living a quiet and godly life...make it your ambition, he said. Quite different from what our culture, both inside and outside the church, tells us about ambition and goal-setting.

Daryl said...

Encouraging and challenging.

And needed for me.


Depressed Christian said...

I agree. I think the reason the message is less than comforting is that you usually hear messages of how we are supposed to be doing something like missions or using the gifts that God gave us to glorify him. Those are good messages. However, when you fail and you express frustration in the course of trying to find out how to do better, you are told that you just need to do whatever it is that you do at work or in your family in order to glorify God.

Now, we should desire to do all to the glory of God. However, we see the behavior that is honored among Christians as that which produces glory for God and we fail in trying to emulate it as an example of how we are supposed to glorify God. When we fail, we are told in essence that the best thing we can do to glorify God is to sit down, shut up, and be content when that behavior is never displayed as honoring especially when we were told to get up and do something to begin with. It's all perfectly frustrating in light of the fact that we are being told this conflicting message by the people who are most apparently successful at glorifying God.

At this point, it's very easy to become jaded. However, Frank is on the money in referencing Hebrews 12, particularly verse 15. It's a struggle that successful Christians aren't typically very good at helping unsuccessful Christians with. But we must continue to trust that God has some plan in not fully equipping us for successfully living the Christian life. His grace is sufficient.

Robert said...

Thanks, Frank. This is very comforting and encouraging. Put alongside with your link to "What God Ordains is Always Good", from a few weeks ago, it really warms my heart. That song really comforts my soul, as does this post.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

I don't know how I passed over this jewel! Thank you so much Frank. This year has been a hard one for my wife and I, and like Daniel, this post is timely. I'll be sharing it abroad. Thank you for stirring me up toward good works.