Let’s face it, the reason most of us came to Christ was because our lives were so screwed up. And that’s not a bad thing. After all, lots of people came to Jesus because they had oppressive circumstances that only he could alleviate. God has a habit of using our rough times to direct our attention his way.
However, continuing with that M.O. makes for a shallow Christianity.
Though I know better, I still hope for a premature happily ever after experience. Maybe we love the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament) because those salvation stories seem to end at the same place in the fairy tale where the slipper fits and Cinderella ends up marrying the prince. I think it’s Les and Leslie Parrot who write about how that fantasy doesn’t take into account the difficult road Cinderella will have learning how to be a princess, having servants instead of being one and, of course, being married to a guy she hardly knows. We want to be saved and slide right into our hunky-dory Christian experience.
But that’s not the way Jesus describes Christianity. And, after a closer look, you may realize that some of the stories in the Gospels are open-ended – we just assume a fantastic outcome. For instance, we never read that the long time invalid whom Jesus healed by the pool in John 5 actually becomes a disciple of the Savior. By standing up when instructed to, the man had shown at least a minuscule faith in Jesus in order to be healed. But after having been accepted into the Temple by the religious leaders later that day, he would have faced rejection again because of any association with the One who had healed him in the first place.
Being a Christian isn’t easy. To think otherwise is to live outside of reality.
And so we do things like read Philippians 4:13 out of context and then cram that round peg into the square hole of our circumstances: “For I can to everything through Christ who give me strength. (NLT)” What a set up for failure! You won’t be successful at everything. And that’s not what Paul is saying.
Paul is encouraging the Philippians because they have partnered with him financially, even though they had fiscal struggles of their own. Paul wanted them to know that their sacrifices brought him joy not because he needed the cash, but because it showed that they were really getting the whole Christianity thing. They were sharing in his sufferings. In fact, Paul says he knows how to be content in every situations, whether having plenty or being in want. So, the NIV says it better: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Paul preps this verse as the secret to being content in all situations. Contentment comes through Jesus Christ, not through control of our circumstances. So I figured it’s time for me to give up control, again.
I’ve challenged myself to not worry about things of this life through the next month and watch how God blesses me and my family. The Holy Spirit has been reminding me of this on a daily basis. Wanna join me?
Let your hope in him be your strength.