Kia ora everyone. Rob here.
This has been a year where much of what I do, why I do it and how I do it has been challenged. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that it has taken me this long to truly welcome that challenge. At one point Paul writes that what “counts is the new creation.” We’re all being made new, but being made new is far from comfortable. It’s upsetting, disturbing, stressful and demanding. Think of what it takes to turn a lump of clay into a glazed pot with kneading, shaping, spinning, heating and, finally, being made beautiful and presentable and useful. It feels like I’m experiencing many of these things all at once, but I’m now seeing more clearly that God always has the end in mind. There’s a saying I heard at Wild at Heart Bootcamp that goes, “every man wants to be the knight but no one wants to bleed.” If we want the outcome of being made whole and holy, we need to learn to bleed. We need to welcome the purifying process.
We all want to be popular, liked, and even adored. It’s good for the ego and that’s the problem. An ego that’s full of self is not filled with Christ. Now, I’m not saying that I’ve been running around with a big head and an inflated sense of self, but I am saying that I’ve liked being liked, and if that’s been in the way of Christ ruling my life, I want it to die. I think, in our most honest moments, we could add many other things that get in the way of Christ ruling our lives. Money and comfort; safety and security; fear and trepidation; status and reputation; even family and friends, can stop us from wholehearted surrender to Jesus Christ and his call to follow him. Let’s face it the most vibrant churches, the most missional churches, are in the places where there is poverty, persecution and oppression. These are places where faith is the only thing left and it seems to be enough. The purifying process is ultimately good for our faith which is why we need to welcome it.
We may suffer, lose our jobs, be bullied or abused, harassed and mocked, but Jesus still asks us to follow him. Faith means that when hard times come we run to Christ and not away from him. Part of our growing up is to learn dependence on the Holy Spirit, and nothing teaches that more than when our security blankets and ego soothers are taken away. Jesus is always our friend, the Spirit is always the one who comforts and the Father is always ready to embrace his children. Sometimes we look to other things to provide what God wants to provide for us. They never can. We’re made for God, but so often we need tough reminders of that.
Casting Crowns sing in their song, “Just be Held,
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place.
I love that line. It reminds me that what I may write off as assault or hardship, is God training me, shaping me and moulding me for a much better future. Sometimes that shaping is done through assault, hardship or setbacks, but sometimes it’s simply me not getting my way because God knows it’s not good for me. May your training go well this week and may you come out stronger, more faith-full, and purer for the sake of God’s kingdom.
Grace and peace