Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June 2, 2010

"Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations." James 1:2
yesterday I put forth the premise that EITHER WE SUFFER FOR THE FAITH OR THE FAITH SUFFERS.
What do I mean by that?
To understand it you must have some insight into why these believers were suffering. They were being persecuted for their faith. Their choice was either suffer because they lived out their faith or deny their faith to avoid the pressure. This is why I say "either we suffer for the faith or the faith suffers."
The fact that they were being persecuted was evidence that their faith was being recognized by the non-believers. That was one of the reasons why they were to take joy in their suffering. Persecution was validation for their faith!
If you were arrested under suspicion of being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you? There was for these guys!
Much of the Book of James is written to encourage these believers to keep living out the faith despite the persecution it was bringing them.
Again, it is so hard for us to relate to suffering because we live in a culture that has the means and the motivation to avoid suffering at all costs. We value comfort and are able to protect our comfort at all costs. It doesn't make us bad people it just makes us very blessed people. But it does make it difficult for us to relate to the Book of James and the concept of taking joy in suffering when our quality of life is measured by our comfort level. These First Century Christians would have as much trouble relating to our level of freedom and financial security as we do to their persecution.
So, is God calling us to give up our comfort? Is being comfortable a sin? Should we feel guilty for our blessings? Only if our personal and material comfort gets between us and our faith. When being comfortable is more important than being committed. When pressure to comform to the world causes us to back away from our commitment to Christ - that is a problem.
Is God calling us to give up our comfort? No, but He is calling us to share some of our resources and to direct our freedom and our finances toward serving Him and building His Kingdom. Think how much more could be done for God if we valued commitment to Christ like we value comfort and convenience. How willing are you to do that? If you are more committed to your comfort or your convenience than you are to God - the Faith is suffering because of your unwillingness to suffer.