Paul & Silas were dragged into the marketplace, stripped naked and beaten severely…then thrown into prison…and then an earthquake hit.
Many of us, at that point might be tempted to think, clearly God is not wanting us here. He is closing doors all over! In reality, he was using this persecution (and even a natural disaster) to properly position Paul & Silas to be in the right place at the right time to demonstrate and declare the Gospel.
Do we see our circumstances through that lens? Or, do we assume anything bad happening to us is unfair or God’s punishment (because obviously what God wants most is for me to be comfortable)?
I am becoming less and less convinced that this category we have created of “normal Christians” is a real thing. What I see in Scripture, and what I have encountered around the world are people who have been radically transformed by the person and message of Jesus Christ, and people who have not. Trying to create and in-between category of people who like talking about Jesus but have no intention of being like him, trusting him, consulting him on any decisions, or obeying him only hurts us. Well, us and the people around us who are depending on us to live a picture of how good & great our Jesus truly is.
I am often struck by the reality that for many of us, the truth is that we do not WANT boldness. We want comfort.
We want status quo.
I want to work my job with minimal hassle—I want my family to get along and occasionally have some fun—and I want everyone else to either be exactly the kind of friend I want, or to leave me alone.
Minimal responsibility…minimal expectations…minimal effort.
We want God to save us, and then leave us alone—and then wonder why worship feels so routine, and God feels so distant. We forget or ignore him until we need him and then complain at him for not fixing our problem.
This is why our faith often feels stale and powerless—Why our worship feels so mechanical—why God feels so uninvolved—why circumstances feel so unfair or intollerable.
He may actually be giving us precisely what we want. Not what we said we wanted, or even what we prayed…but what we wanted in our hearts.
We want to be left alone.
...to do what I want, without his meddling.
Remember that comfort was not expected, and certainly not assumed, for the vast majority of human history—and is still not by the vast majority of the world today.
This attitude has become so normative to many of us that when we hear stories about families acting like Jesus said they should, we think that is extraordinary.
While that should seem extraordinary to the lost world around us, within the church family that should be normative mindset of every man and women rescued, redeemed, and adopted by the King of the universe for His own purpose and plan!
Remember what you have been called to, and Who you were called by.
Remember that we don’t have to figure out the specific purpose of our circumstances—be they good or bad—but should be ready to be faithful in all of them.
Remember Jesus promised, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Remember Jesus promised that he will never leave us alone, and that is the best news we could ever hope for.