Monday, October 5, 2015

Trials and Love

In the Bible there seems to be a direct connection between the presence of trials and the assurance of God's love.  Moses experienced God's love thru the trials of his calling to lead a stubborn nation through desert, battles, 40-years of time and numerous demonstrations of faithlessness.  Gideon bravely led the deliverance of his people but he did it through the horrors of war and battle.  Disciples struggled past unbelieving people, misleading Jews, harsh Pharisees and angry politicians to travel the road God planned for them.  This is part of the reason why I appreciate the encouragement God gives the faithful churches in Revelation.  They are the most praised and yet the most persecuted. Maybe God knows something we should know but refuse to hear.

Here is my take regarding the things we don't want to hear or just refuse to see.  First, I must repeatedly remind myself that (as God tells the church in Philadelphia) there is more on God's side of the open door than there is on the world's side of that door.  Jesus tells us He has opened a door that no person will shut.  What is on God's side of the door?  For Philadelphia it is blessing that is both the struggle of the life in Christ and the joy of sharing God's love in the dangerous world of the Roman Empire and the Jewish leadership.  It is peace in the storm of a messsed-up world.  It is having Jesus both now and later.  It is living in freedom and living toward an eternity that is filled with the beauty and vastness of God.  It is Job perceiving the love of God that is high, wide, deep and unfathomable.  There is New Jerusalem both now and in eternity.

Second, there is a certainty that God is bigger than my struggles and, in fact, is glorified by our perseverance.  Jesus is proud of this little church that has little power in worldly terms but has great power from God's view.  And I will bet that the people of Philadelphia find numerous and overflowing blessings in just doing the work of God out of the limelight, immersed in meaningful relationships, involved in worthwhile ministry and in tune with God's plan which happens on God's side of that door.

Finally, it is telling that all of the accolades above (Philadelphia, Gideon, Moses, Disciples) come IN (not preventing) the crises endured by the churches and people.  We ask, as we hear the news, "What is the world coming to?" That answer is, "Our world is coming to God.  It isn't ever about us.  It is always about how God's glory happens through God's people.  It is coming to a decision at an open door.  We can live and serve and love on God's side of the door (New Jerusalem), or we can complain, isolate ourselves, protect our stuff, dole out our doctrine and pine for the 'land over yonder,' as we live in Fallen Babylon." To the seven churches God provide a chance for a decision to serve and an opportunity to repent.  But remember ... that offer has an expiration date.  Hope to see you on the good side of that door!

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