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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Do Not Grow Weary

Sunday night I looked through all the Technorati listings under "Religion," and found my own blog on page 37 (that may have changed in the days since, but I don't care to spend all that time checking it again).  I surfed through many, many pages of atheist blogs, Islamic blogs, homo-Christian blogs, Wicca-Judaic blogs, Passively-Christian blogs, Cussing-Christian blogs, and also many Well-Meaning-but-Mislead-Christian blogs that zealously argued unarguable points (my family calls them Did-Adam-and-Eve-Have-Bellybuttons-Arguments).  I also had the nightly news on, and was listening to reports on "Christians" doing illegal things and getting arrested for them (inviting the mockery of all).  It all made my faith sound like a loud-mouthed, self-righteous, hypocritical, scorn-worthy religion. By the time I went to bed, I was feeling weary at heart and indulging in self-pity.

You see, all of that news just feels like bad PR for Jesus, and it sometimes makes me start to believe that being obedient to God and publicly dedicating my life to serve God is useless--as if my testimony is drowned out by all the negative voices and those who would make a mockery out of doing good.  Have you ever felt that way?  Perhaps you feel that way today.

So I was whining about this to God as I lay down to rest, and I guess you could say that God met me under my broom tree and reminded me of a few scriptures I should not have forgotten.  They helped me, so I thought it might be good to share them with you, too.
  1. We are not alone--God is with us. The Bible contains countless stories that support this, and we can draw strength from reading them again.  How about Joseph, who was wrongly accused and imprisoned for several years for obeying God and fleeing Potiphar's wife (Genesis 39: 7-23; 41: 1-14)?  Was Joseph's name ever cleared of this charge?  While it is true that Pharaoh released him from prison and made him the second-most powerful man in the kingdom, there is no record of Potiphar's wife ever taking back the false accusation she had made against him.  Joseph may never have received full justice in the eyes of man, but God rewarded him, again and again, for continuing to be obedient in the worst of circumstances.  Accusers beware, God's ways and God's people cannot be torn down so easily.
  2. We are not alone--God preserves a remnant. It is easy to wallow in self-pity and believe that good will be swallowed up by all the evil in the world, especially when people who claim to follow God are making a mockery of His commandments, but we deceive ourselves if we think that we are the last godly people on earth.  Consider Elijah's example in 1 Kings 19: 1-18.  He'd watched God's prophets mowed down by Baal worshipers (many of whom also claimed to follow the God of Israel), and then received word that he was next--so he ran.   God met Him and reminded him that He had "preserved for [Him]self a remnant" of people who still obeyed Him.  We should learn from this story that we aren't the "last one," and that it isn't our responsibility to preserve godliness by our own power.  I am convinced that if the truth of God had been left to human hands to defend, it would have been wiped out long ago. 
  3. Do not be deceived--the sinful aren't getting away with it.  Here's another thing.  Sometimes it seems like bad people always get away with hurting those who obey God.  We don't always get to see justice meted out to them in our lifetimes.  David felt this way when he wrote Psalm 73.  God showed him (and us) that no matter how prosperous evil seems to be, it is never secure.  Those who obey God will always be near Him and preserved by Him, but those who scorn God's ways but "lay claim to heaven" are toying with certain destruction at God's hand.  Punishment will come after death, even if it doesn't come in this life. 
  4. Remember why we're here.  The whole purpose of human beings is to obey God (Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14).  If we are not doing that, we are not living up to our full potential.  Christians have another purpose, not unlike the first--to teach others to obey God (2 Timothy 4: 1-3). These two goals should be at the center of our consciousness, even if the world goes mad around us.
  5. Keep the goal in mind.   Hebrews12: 1-3 reminds us that Jesus endured hardship, scorn, and death "for the joy set before him," that is, that one day we could be reunited with Him in heaven.  For this reason, we shouldn't get tired of obeying God.  If Jesus could endure worse because He valued our salvation so much, we should be ashamed of giving up easily, as if His sacrifice was not valuable.
Nowhere, in any of this, do I see that we should value our lives and our successes by comparing ourselves to what other people are doing.  This is just Satan's way of realigning truth and value based on a shifting, human model, rather than on the absolute, constant, and consistent example of Christ.  If we take our eyes off Christ's example and focus our attention on what others are doing, Satan can use this as a stepping off point to destroy our faith and lead us into rebellion.

This is my reminder to all of you, as God has reminded me, to take heart and stay with God--and don't let bad news from the world get you down.  Those of us who are saved are called to a higher purpose and led and protected by God in that purpose.  We can rest in this.