“Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” (1 Cor.6:7-8)
What do you think you deserve? What do you think you’re entitled to? What do you think people, society or the world owes you? In knowing our sinfulness by claiming unity with Christ, how dare we Christians assume such self-importance. Jesus warns us to count the cost of becoming a disciple and a Christian and part of that cost includes being wronged, cheated, persecuted and killed. This is our lot. This is our portion.
But in the end, this is not about you. This is never about you. This is about him and his name is Jesus. You weren’t wronged, you were convicted and by the grace of God, forgiven. He was wronged. The only perfect man of all creation, the beloved son of the living God was wronged. Your suffering is real and Jesus never taught that living in this world would be easy. However, your suffering is not like his suffering. It will never be like his suffering. To know Jesus is to first identify with his death as payment of the debt and death you deserved and deserve. He saved you. Not because you were owed it or deserved it. You are justifiably pronounced guilty and deserving of death without the blood of Jesus. You are not owed anything except the just penalty for your daily sins. However, thanks be to God for Jesus Christ. It is because he was wronged, cheated, persecuted and murdered so that you never have to live as a slave to such things.
You will experience all that Jesus did but never to the extent he did. Being wronged and cheated is not fun, easy or something that will ever lose its sting. But in Jesus the sting will no longer feel like death. In Jesus the sting of death has been overcome forever. Have you been wronged? Have you been cheated? Look unto the Christ. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look unto his suffering and be united with him in the suffering that he took upon himself for you. You have Jesus. Nothing in this world is of any more worth than him and you can never lose him. He is eternally yours and therefore in your time of suffering ask our Father to give you the faith that proudly proclaims that you will choose to lose ALL things in this world for the name of Jesus.
A new creation is not the same thing as a new chance. A new life is not an enhanced or slightly modified version of your old life. New is completely new. To be a new creation is to carry within you the spirit of Jesus Christ. His nature confronts and aggressively opposes the sinful nature of your old self. A new creation does not seek justification for sin nor does it seek to provide refuge for it. The new creation hates sin! Do you hate sin? Are you ready and willing to fight the recurring temptations of the sinful nature of your old self? Or, are you apathetic and quick to celebrate the benefits of Christ’s grace and forgiveness for you before lifting a finger to oppose what you naturally should, if indeed you are a new creation? The new creation is not subtle. The new creation is of Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit and therefore is one of power. Do you feel the power of the Holy Spirit warring with your old self? Do you feel the power of the Holy Spirit lifting your weak and feeble spiritual arms in order for the battle to carry on, allowing victory to be proclaimed for you and for Christ? Is there power in your faith? A new creation cannot be without it. The lack of power in your walk with Jesus Christ begs the question, “Do you know that your savior liveth?” To know that Jesus has saved is to know that your sinful nature has been uncovered and pronounced guilty, but by the grace of God has fallen on the head of the savior, Jesus Christ. To know that Jesus lives is to know that the nature of your old self has no more power over you. You no longer serve the flesh but Jesus. You are no longer mastered by sinful desires, for your Master has liberated you from the oppression of the old self, inaugurating the way of righteousness, truth and holiness in the name of Jesus Christ. Cry out to God for newness!
A relationship with Jesus is one of ongoing inquiry and curiosity. We are repeatedly confronted with questions concerning his sacrifice, his teaching, his person. Yet, it seems that for as many questions with comfortable solutions, more questions arise, and our search to know more continues.
The Christian’s pursuit of knowing does not arise out of a desire to arrive at a singular conclusion, thus completing our search. Our pursuit is a result of looking upon something that we cannot look away from. The glory of pursuing the living God is unlike anything we’ve ever known. It surpasses what we know to be beautiful and forces us to redefine the word beautiful itself. Love is redefined. Peace is redefined. Hope is redefined. Victory is redefined. You think you know, and you think you know, but then you realize that you will never fully know until you are with him, made like him in a place where there is nothing but him.
Protect and defend this childlike nature that persistently asks why and how. We were designed to learn, but we were ultimately designed to learn about all things in order to increase our love for our creator. To learn with any other motive or objective leaves us with information that we cannot take with us when we part from this world. Any knowledge but this will, over time, wither and fade just as the grass and the flowers of the fields. Knowledge is of this world, but truth is eternal. Open up the scriptures seeking to behold the glory of the Son. Seek to know truth and the truth will set free: not because it is moral, virtuous or logical, but because truth itself is embodied in the physical manifestation of the living God in Jesus Christ himself.
“We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will.”
Why does God engage with us? When we are so are egregiously out of line in our defamation of His holy name. When we are so frustratingly obstinate in our refusal to obey his will. When we so easily dismiss the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ in order to justify our own self-righteousness and promote our own self-worship. Why does God continue to engage within us? What does a Holy God have to do with sinners?
Bacteria and a sterile environment cannot coexist. Darkness cannot mingle with the light. Sinfulness is a direct affront to holiness. Why does God engage with us? What the healed blind man spoke is true. God in his righteous majesty is not expected or required to listen sinners like us. Yet he does. Why? He listens to THE godly man who does his will. And who has ever done his will in a way that honors the holiness of the living God? None but Jesus. Without the sacrificial lamb you have no chance. There is no hope. It is finished resulting in your eternal separation from the Father. Yet, because of his wounds and by his blood it is finished resulting in an entirely different and far more miraculous way. The condemnation of your sins is finished. The punishment for your iniquities is finished. The fear of death is finished. Hallelujah! It is by Jesus you have been saved, transformed, healed, welcomed back. There is none but Jesus.
The commands of Jesus are sweet but they must always bring us to cry out to God, “Increase our faith!” The commands of Jesus are beyond what we are capable of achieving. His ways are higher than our ways. The commands of Jesus are not comfortable and they do not fit nicely and neatly with our way of life. The way of Jesus is Holy and we are sinful. These two natures are incompatible and contradictory to one another. This is what we face when we read the words of Jesus and receive His proclamation over our lives. We are called to enter the narrow gate. We are called to count the cost. We are commanded to die to self. We are commanded to repent and submit our lives to the authority of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We are commanded to be reborn and to be transformed in the likeness of Jesus Christ. We are commanded to leave everything and to lose everything of this world in order to receive and possess the love of Jesus Christ in our lives. We are instructed to believe that with faith in Jesus even the most daunting and impassable obstacle in your life can be moved. Believing that we can live the life Jesus commands us to live requires a faith that can only be revealed through faith in Jesus and by receiving the power of the Holy Spirit. Beware of living a life following Jesus where you never utter the words, “Increase our faith.” We cannot follow Jesus without pleading every day for God to increase our faith in Jesus Christ. Christians who are loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled require faith and more of it that in Jesus all things are possible. Heavenly Father, increase our faith!