Texts: Genesis 28:10-19a, Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24, Romans 8:12-25, Matthew 13:24-30,36-43
I was a competitive rower in high school and after college spent a year coaching the freshmen crew at my alma mater. During that time, my favorite t-shirt proclaimed, “Pain in temporary, pride is forever.” I grew up playing multiple sports, but never felt all of the muscles in my body scream the same way they did during a regatta. Your arms, back, core, and legs are all engaged to propel the boat down the race course. My coach used to tell us as we left the dock before a race, “I don’t want you to be able to walk when you’re done.” The shirt was right. After a few hours, or sometimes a few days, my muscles stopped aching, but I still am proud of our accomplishments at Nationals and the US & Canadian Championships.
Sometimes people think, or unfortunately are taught, that being a Christian promises a life of comfort and ease. There won’t be any struggles. You will be blessed financially. But that’s not what Jesus promised, and that’s not what Paul is suggesting in his letter to the Romans. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. One way to know that you are doing the will of God is that there is struggle. It is difficult. Jesus’ life to break the power of sin and death was filled with struggle, and it ultimately led to his death. Yet, Jesus was victorious. The stuff and success of this world is temporary, but God’s love and Kingdom is forever. Yes, there is tremendous work to be done and a huge gap between the way things are and the ways things should be. But through the gifting and power of the Holy Spirit, God allows us bear witness and be partners in narrowing that gap, bringing light into dark places, providing hope to the hopeless.
Questions to consider:
Do you expect the Christian life to be easy? How are you empowering and challenging your people to engage in the messy, challenging work of God’s Kingdom? Is your congregation content in their comfort or are you actively engaged in what God is doing beyond the walls?