“In Christ…”: “… after you have suffered a little while…”—Part 2 of 5
Beloved of God “running the good race” (1 Corinthians 9:24-26; Galatians 5:7; 2 Timothy 4:7), welcome to the Training Table where the menu is carefully selected as a Feast of the Heart!
When any person has been given a glimpse of God’s absolute holiness and their abject unworthiness by comparison, repented of their sinfulness, and pleaded that Jesus Christ come into his or her life first as Savior (as the only atoning sacrifice from their sinfulness and sins) and then as Lord (to rule their life in every realm), a transformation of the heart (begun first by the Holy Spirit) begins to occur as Christ lives within—by the person and power of the Holy Spirit.
From this point on the course of maturing (being sanctified and persevering), of conforming to the likeness of Jesus Christ (in nature and of works to help redeem a lost world), is the modus operandi of the namesake of Jesus Christ, Christian.
The Christian’s life of ever-increasing maturity and effectiveness is a journey not to be taken lightly or squandered in any way!
God, as it were, is in the business of making little Christ’s! That’s the centerpiece of God’s redemptive plan before the curtain closes in the final act: The Consummation—when Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead, assign believers to their rightful, just, and rewarded place in heaven, assign unbelievers to hell (eternal separation from God… much worse than fire and brimstone) and make all things new.
Satan, God’s chief yet defeated enemy, is in the business of thwarting God’s plan by preventing unbelievers from believing, and making believers as ineffective as possible.
What Then of Suffering? Is the Christian protected from it all? Not hardly! Unavoidable trials are used of God to restore, confirm, strengthen, establish… To Conform.
“And after you (New Testament and all Christians…) have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).
As quoted in my book, “The Weeping, the Window, the Way”, Pastor Tim Keller aptly said, “Jesus Christ suffered not so that we might not suffer, but when we suffer, we could become more like Him!” (Sermon, The Sufferer)
Since I have encountered so many Christians who are confused about the same question most non-believers are, “How can a loving God allow suffering to occur?”, I wanted to offer you a reminded (from my book) about the three stages God desires we go through during any trial:
1) ALL WEEPING [restore, confirm… foundations]—All Weeping, all tears, all trials, and all freefalls of life while living in a horribly broken world are God’s infinitely yet intimately orchestrated offer for revealing, testing, and firming-up the foundations of our faith.
In a broken world, little and big freefalls occur every day. Without exception, everyone we come into contact with is in some sort of freefall.
Every human being has faith in something. Trials test the nature and worthiness of everyone’s faith foundations.
If we do not place our faith in God’s foundations of Creation, Christ, and Covenant promises, we will place our faith in the passing fancies and idols of a fast-decaying world. And these “trap doors” or false foundations will fail us every time… No human being can actually live a life of constant doubt and suspicion about his or her faith foundations.
2) OPENS A WINDOW INTO OUR HEART [strengthen… core beliefs]—The freefalling has slowed and stopped… Once on a foundation of Creation, Christ, and Covenant, we are assured no punishment is involved, only purification: searching our heart, discerning between the falsehoods and truths of our faith.
Every significant trial in our lives leaves us with feelings of true and false guilt. Each must be seen for what it is before we try and “move on”, or get back to life.
Purification of the heart is all about regularly replacing falsehoods with True Truth: What the heart was originally created to contain and live out of before The Fall.
3) TO LEAD US BACK INTO THE WAY [establish… the Christian as Priest, Prophet, King amidst the chaos of this world]—For the “co-redeemer in Christ”, the way back into the chaos of a fallen and broken world requires supernatural and human will power, purpose, and preparation. Don’t waste your tears!
The anticipation of moving back into the chaos of a broken world can paralyze or rush us. Do not allow the ways of the world to rush God’s heart transformation… conformation process.
“The Way” is Key: Purposely, passionately, more purified, more urgent, humble yet bold… moving back into the chaos—a wounded healer, comforted to comfort, more like Jesus Christ than before the weeping or trial began.
The Feast of the Heart Mission includes, REFORMATION, REVIVAL, CONSTRUCTIVE REVOLUTION: Please get this pattern of sanctified suffering down deep into your heart, beloved of God. This passing world of increasing chaos and wholesale confusion needs little Christ’s more than ever before!