If you are a Christian and have been for any amount of time then you know, life is hard. Our flesh causes us to do things we should not be doing. Now that God has saved us and gave us a new heart we have to constantly fight with old desires that we have had. We have to persevere through trials, tribulations, temptations but the struggle tends to come in figuring out what we are after we are saved. It comes from trying to understand and remember that God has a purpose for what we are going through. We have to remember that God did not save us and then jump ship leaving us to figure out where to go, what to do and how to clean the deck.
For a lot of Christians it is a foreign concept to them that Jesus after they are born again, is through the Spirit making them more like the son. There really is not much talk these days about how Jesus actually changes our life after we are saved. Most of us got caught in the teaching that all Jesus does for us is get us into heaven. He gives us a train ticket to paradise but the reality is if Jesus really died for you, and the spirit has come inside of you then he gave you a new heart, mind and soul so something should be different. Your life is now very different we just have to figure out how? How did Jesus really change my life? Because if we are honest with our selves. Our lives might not seem much different in some areas.(1 Corinthians 7:20-24)
There is a teaching out there that Jesus just wants what’s best for you. He wants you to be rich beyond your wildest dreams. He wants you living in Hollywood bliss never experiencing pain or trauma in your life. That financially, emotionally and spiritually you should be striving and if you are not then you are not really saved.
That teaching is interesting at best but definitely very far from what Scripture teaches us. We are told that we will struggle in this life. Persecution will come and that as Christians, our hearts may have changed but the world we live in has not yet been changed. Your life after you choose to follow Jesus may some days be a living hell. Cancer, death, decay, heartache, pain, trauma, depression and anxiety all some how find their ways into our lives and the question is not “Where is God?” instead the question is: “What is God doing in and through this?”
Stories can be told, I have told a lot of them through this series. The point though in this series was to point to the fact that God has bigger plans than what we in our finite state think of. Life is bigger than the 60-80 years we spend on this planet. Life is bigger than the previous generation or the next. Time is complex and we do not fully understand it compltely because we only see the here and now. God though has a plan from the beginning before we are broken and the goal is to glorify Himself through his created beings. God is complex though right? A good God in our minds would never allow pain and sickness to come on his child but what if God was more powerful and strategic than Satan, sin and death? How crazy would that be? How powerful would God have to be to have the ability to have sovereignty over terrible situations, remain good, and also bring good out of those terrible situations?
The fact is simply that God is way more powerful than Satan, sin and death so as a Christian in your life you need to stop looking at life in the here and now. That does not mean DO NOT be present. You need to breath and let things soak in but never lose sight of the bigger picture. That God even when it comes to the bigger picture of your life, is shaping and molding you to be more like him. The world right now is going through the process of reconciliation back to the Creator and that includes us. Through the cancer or the family drama, God is uniquely using those situations to mold you into the image of his son.
But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Jesus experienced intense pain but never lost sight. Jesus had friends betray him when he needed them most. He had lost family members due to sickness. He had been beaten physically and verbally yet through all of this Jesus was perfect. He perfectly displayed the glory of God. This is exactly what God is doing through you. Your life is a portrayal of what Jesus Christ performed on the cross and in the resurrection. Jesus became sin, you lived a sinful life. Jesus died to sin giving his old ways up, you likewise have died to self and have given your old ways up. Christ was raised three days later with a resurrected body in order to live a new life, and you also have been raised up with Christ to live a new life. That life is in a world where darkness still looms over the fields. That does not mean that God is somehow absent but rather he is slowly breaking the chains off of the people around you.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
2 Peter 3:8-9
He is causing his new creation to take shape, to work and build the Kingdom. You are becoming more like Jesus in this life. Hardship is gonna come but new better things are always on the horizon and frankly you can see it if you just stop looking down at the mud you had to walk through to get to the shore.
As you read a book like 1 Peter it is very evident that God is working in you as a Christian. The concept of being a Christian in this day and age where hopelessness is always around the corner, is continually addressed in this Epistle and yet so often we forget to look at the world through the lens of a book like 1 Peter.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9
Your faith is not your own. It is as Paul says in Ephesians: “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”(Ephesians 2:8-10) This means that through the days ahead, as you walk through pain and suffering, through good times and bad, you need to remember why God placed you where he placed you. You will not lose your salvation. God is a good father who sticks around through the hard times, not like a bad earthly father who lives before your even born. You are secure in his arms, but as you walk through this world you need to remember not to just look around hopelessly. God placed you where he placed you for a reason. Paul says that you were “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” So do those good works. Live out your faith. Live in the reality that Satan, sin and death have no reign and authority over you. You are free to follow Jesus. Remember Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
You through this life, have been born again to a living hope. You are now, becoming like Jesus and that means that when hardship comes you just need to remember and be motivated by the fact that God is sovereign even over the pain and struggle of this life. That you can make it through whatever this world throws at you because you know God orchestrated it to work out for good. In this you are becoming more like Jesus. Through this, your mindset is becoming more gospel centered. The mindset changes from hopeless running, to a chasing after whatever glorifies God. When you look around at the situations you face, though they can physically break you, you are able to walk through those situations resting in the fact that God is there with you. He has you in his arms and he is bringing you to completion. He is not done with you. He is working in and through you. You are part of his larger plan to redeem not only your soul but the world so do not worry, stress, and panic. Rest in His sovereignty. Rest in His grace and rest in the new identity our Father has given you, his son/daughter.
A Brief Note
This is the last post in the “I Am” series. Thank you for reading these past five weeks. Sorry for all the spelling/grammar errors that I missed over the series and I hope and pray these and future writings will encourage and strengthen you as you walk in the manner of the Lord. If at any point you find yourself reading me or any other contributors on this blog more than you spend time in the Word, I highly encourage you to get off the internet and bury yourself into the Scriptures. The posts on here are only to help you as you read the Scriptures but should never substitute or be put higher. Again, thank you for reading and I pray these and future posts push you to walk out your faith in the day to day of life.
By: Austin Neil Gregory