Saturday, May 9, 2020

Paying Our Dues

For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.
Philippians 1: 29 NKJV

Growing up I was taught that I could not be a Christian and be happy and content.  See, I was always suffering at one thing or another for Jesus' sake.  Now, while I agree that we will indeed have persecutions and troubles in our Christian lives, I don't believe that we are any different from those around us in that category.  Simply put, everyone eats at the same trough when it comes to trouble in life.  Of course, this also doesn't mean that each and every Christian should walk around with a dejected expression all the time because that would suck.  What we, as Christians, can do is come to the realization that we do not need to be uncomfortable in order to somehow have that connection with Jesus.  Yes, Jesus suffered, but I am willing to bet that He was not miserable all of the time either.  I believe that there were many times where Jesus laughed, joked and generally felt good about His life.  Why would it be any different for us?  I believe that many of our misconceptions about Jesus come from the church teachings that Christ Jesus is somehow separated from Gods children in some way.  We're taught that Jesus was persecuted, died on the cross and rose three days later to ascend into heaven where He sits by the Fathers side.  I do not dispute this.  What I do dispute is the false narrative that Jesus is somehow removed from our presence.  The apostle Paul spoke to this when he recognized a crucial truth about Jesus...that Jesus lived in Him {Galatians 2:20}.  Yes, we're told that there is that separation between ourselves and Christ, but this does not fit into our Lords plan.  It is Jesus, in His prayer in the garden, who expressed His own desire that we would be one with He and the Father {John 17:21}.  See, I believe that it has never been Gods desire that we be separated from Him.  However, I also believe that it has always been mans desire to teach this broken theology.  We're taught that Jesus could never be in the presence of sin, so we suffer along simply trying to "be like" Jesus.  Well, Paul tells us that through Christ Jesus that we are now DEAD to that sin which once enslaved us {Romans 6:11}.  The sin roadblock has been dealt with by Jesus Himself.  What remains is Christ in us.

We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed-always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body.
2 Corinthians 4: 8 - 10 NKJV

I don't know about you, but I'm glad that I came to the realization that Jesus lives in me.  I no longer need to live my life wondering if there is anything more I can do to be more like Him.  The truth is, He was in me all along.  It is God who breathed into me the breath of life {Genesis 2:7}.  From my very first breath, I have had the very DNA of my heavenly Father in me.  And, if the Father is in me, then Jesus is in me as well {John 18:8}.  This is the truth of Christ Jesus that Paul spoke of in Galatians.  This should make each and every follower of Jesus very happy.  Sadly, that's not the case at all.  We are assured not only that Jesus lives in us, but that death now has no hold upon us.  For through Christ Jesus, death has been defeated once and for all {Romans 6:9}.  I no longer look at death as the end of the road, but as a continuation of my being in Christ.  This, indeed, should make all followers of Jesus happy.  So why aren't they?  Well, when your understanding of Jesus is based upon a failed theology, that will happen.  How can people have a happy outlook knowing that they will never be close to Jesus, will always be guilty of one sin or another or that they somehow might lose their salvation?  By the way, none of that is true.  Christians should be dancing in the streets with the happiness and joy of Christ, but they don't.  I get it.  I was once one of those sad Christians.  With each bad situation, I wondered why God was doing this to me.  Was I really that bad of a person?  One of the most ignored truths about Christianity is that God does not punish us...we punish ourselves.  We beat ourselves up with our belief that God is upset with us.  We punish ourselves with our belief that we will never be close to Jesus.  All of this is more than enough to make someone unhappy and dejected.  Like watching nothing but CNN over and over, eventually depression will sink in.  When all we see is a negative view of God, it will affect our emotions and behavior.  The truth of Christ Jesus is that we are now one with the Father.  Sin no longer defines us.  As a good friend of mine once said, when Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future!

Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us."  Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip?  He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'show us the Father'?
John 14: 8 - 9 NKJV


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