Put your money where your mouth is
Comparatively speaking, it is easy to sit in our “ivory towers” soaking in the mysteries of
God in the comfort of our western churches while allowing the more remote churches around the world to suffer through the trials of everyday life without proper instruction. Paul chose to even the score with the “super-apostles” by proving that his credentials were just as impressive but that he chose to live and work among them as a commoner rather than the academics of his day. His badge of honor was the suffering he endured personally while getting the truth into people’s hands. Was Paul credentialed? Of course he was, and more so, but where it really mattered; in the application of it. Was Paul learned? Of course, but he chose to get out there and give what he knew to those who did not have the opportunity. Was Paul an author? Of course, however his ivory tower was a jail cell in many cases. But where God allowed, he also followed up on those churches to see that it was applied. Paul could say to us all, follow me, as I follow Christ. Can we say that? Can our pastors say that? Do we need continual Bible teaching? Yes. Do we need continual discipleship? Yes. But what we need more of is to obey what we already have and teach to others what we have already learned.
So many western Christians know more of the Bible than entire populations of other countries that they could easily disciple believers around the world. Yet they don’t even teach their neighbors or their kids for that matter. Knowledge is meant to pass on and demonstrate. God help us spread it around where we can. See my post on Rom 1:11
Paul’s real credentials are his sufferings
2 Cor 11: 16 I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. 17 That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. 18 Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. 19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. 20 For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. 21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. 22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?without food; I have been cold and naked.
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who gives you the Divine nature to undergo hardships with my power, experiencing my comfort, and enjoy my peace through them. All who would be godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. If they hated me, don’t be surprised that they hate you too. The purpose of this life is to give you opportunities to live out your life for my glory, but that might cost you through trials. They are an exercise your faith in my sovereignty and to rely on my provision, care, and presence through them all. It doesn’t matter how much you know, what truly matters is how that affects your walk through this short life. How does knowing me affect your daily existence? Am I just a spare tire to get you out of difficult times? Am I just a genie in a bottle? Do you think that you can indenture me into servitude to you by your good works? Or am I the God and creator of the Universe who died to free you from your selfish, sinful nature and who desires to be your very life?
Knowledge- worldview- attitude- action yields testimony
Our knowledge of doctrine found in God’s Word determines our thought process regarding situations which we find ourselves in (e.g. choosing to take comfort in God’s sovereignty during hardships). We can call this our worldview. These thought processes determine our attitudes in those situations (peace vs. anxiety) by how they compare to our worldview expectations. Our attitudes are what determine our course of action vs. reactions to those situations. (Actions- reactions come from in our very souls, not our heads) Those reactions show others what doctrines are governing us. The world cannot determine why we respond to hardships with the peace of God because they cannot see the foundation of our doctrinal worldview. They only see the proof in the pudding of our lives. This is where they need to hear our testimony of God’s Word and our salvation, otherwise we are “just good people” like them in their eyes. “How shall they believe unless they hear, and how shall they hear unless there is a preacher.” You are that preacher. Tell them why you have a hope in you. When you don’t pass the information on to them about Christ in you, in essence you are keeping the glory for yourself, and since “pride comes before a fall”; you may not be so successful next time.
More to come,