The Uphill Struggles of Life Walked Together
\It seems like every blog or devotion I read nowadays is dealing with unfair struggles we have to face in life. These writings tell the reader to “hang on” and let God have his way in the situation and then it ends. I mostly come up empty on most of these things I read, but I want to acknowledge that I do trust God and I do believe He comes through in tough situations. But what about when things go really well? What are we supposed to do then? I will have to say it is a little thin in my life in the area of things going really well, so I am probably not speaking from much experience in this area. But, when God does bless, we need to be ready to receive that blessing and grow in our faith as it comes.
Paul had much, what we would call success, in the establishing and growing of churches in his travels. In his letters we can see practical advice on how to grow in our faith, how to lead others to growth, and how to handle adversity as believers. He wrote these letters as he would hear from churches he had started and the many problems they were facing caused his letters to respond in very helpful ways. Paul was very transparent when dealing with the struggles of life and he was noticeably so in writing to the church at Philippi. That church fellowship had a tendency to lose focus and let past disagreements among members and disagreements with Paul’s teaching come to the forefront and compromise almost everything Paul and his companions had established. In Chapter 3 Paul is very specific in his instructions to the leadership of the church on how to deal with the Jewish Christians who were pushing the need for circumcision, even for the Gentile believers. This was no small controversy and the strong ties to past Jewish law was running wild in the midst of a growing fellowship. All in the name of tradition.
Here are the instructions Paul gave them in Philippians 3:1 And that’s about it, friends. Be glad in God! I don’t mind repeating what I have written in earlier letters, and I hope you don’t mind hearing it again. Better safe than sorry—so here goes. 2-6 Steer clear of the barking dogs, those religious busybodies, all bark and no bite. All they’re interested in is appearances—knife-happy circumcisers, I call them. The real believers are the ones the Spirit of God leads to work away at this ministry, filling the air with Christ’s praise as we do it. Paul was on task to keep distractions of the past from denying present and future victories and his focus was fine tuned on living the life of a dynamic Christ follower at all times. When he dealt with a problem he told them to let it go and walk away from it to a new day. He told them to walk from it together and change their focus from the past to the present and the future. That is what we must all do in our lives if we are to live victorious lives for Christ. We cannot let the struggles of the past keep us from the joys of the present and the hopes of the future. Later on in this chapter Paul fine tunes his message by saying
2-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. 15-16 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. Paul keeps on pointing those believers toward the “goal” and he even warns them about others who might try to influence them to give up the cause of Christ. This is a clear reflection of the church today. We need more encouragement among our ranks to “fight the good fight” and “keep on keeping on.” In verses 17-19 Paul writes 17-19 Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.
There will always be those who want to slow down to let the status quo catch up, so they can rest. When in reality they are doing little for the cause of Christ. Paul’s encouragement to them should undergird us in our faith to keep doing what he has laid out for us in the area of being a vibrant witness. We shouldn’t let the circumstances of life defeat us, but we should be victorious in how we handle the circumstances of life. If you live that kind of life, you will have others wanting to do the same. In the above verse Paul is referring to the strength of connecting your life with others who are focusing on God during the struggles of life. We do life “together.” Here is the new focus as he writes in verse 20-21 20-21 But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him. Can you figure out what just happened? You just read the full chapter of Philippians 3 and the truth is now in your mind and heart and you are totally equipped by the power of God’s Word to walk out of mediocrity into glorious victory. Wow! Now that is what I call awesome!! Now just keep reading God’s Word and let it speak to your mind and heart and respond to it by doing what you read. See….everything is beginning to look a lot different isn’t it? YES IT IS!!
The Pilgrimage continues…..’