Sunday, November 22, 2009
PSSSST, We Win!
1 Corinthians 4:
9For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
10We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
11Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;
12And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
13Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
People in the Church read these verses and almost despair. They bemoan the disappearance of prayer from public gatherings, the roadblock to the Gideon mission of Bible distribution to the public schools, the scarcity of Bethlehem images on the decorated windows.
They suggest that if we do not speak out against such discrimination against the faith, perhaps in a generation or two Christ will be a stranger to Canada. The inference is that if "We" do not act or witness in holy zeal, God's plan will be compromised.
Just STOP IT! He has limitless agents, words planted, refrains overheard, shining incidents of love shared and sacrifice offered. Peter even says in his first letter that godly women may win over the commitment of their errant husbands, "without the word" by their testimony of meek, reverent, gracious living.
The sovereign plan of a sovereign God is on track. The life-begetting influence of the Word is still in circulation. The convicting power of the Holy Spirit is still softening.
Now I am not saying that the Church is to stand by in idleness. Only this morning again in service I was reminded of "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things." (Romans 10:14,15)
I am just exhorting all to refrain from fretting over the state of things. If you are overwhelmed by surrounding callousness, unbelief, profanity, cynicsm or haughtiness you need only read again the message of Psalm 37 and FRET NOT.
I remember our children reading in home school a novel entitled "Martyrs of the Catacombs". Author unknown. Apparently it was found in a sea chest on a commercial vessel at port. Ancient Roman times. Authorities exasperated by the new influence of Christ followers, and rooting them out for public humiliation and death. The protagonist, a soldier of middle rank, has been given the assignment to discover these hidden ones and their strange ethic, and to gather them for public sport in the arena.
What he finds is simply that which was predicted by Jesus, that the love of the brethren for each other would convict the world that God the Father had sent the Son (John 17: 22, 23). The fellowship of the believers, their courageous martyrdom, the mutual respect in their gatherings, their harmlessness, the calm of their leaders. All such influences work upon the soldier, changing him from antagonist to brother in the faith, ultimately at the cost of his own life.
The Gospel of love and of peace is unstoppable.