Hold steady and trust

Christianity in our Western culture puts a lot of emphasis on OUR acceptance and belief, our choices and decisions, our growth and responsibility, our free will and how we use it, and on us being good enough on Judgment Day to go to heaven, not hell. So much is up to us.

It creates a problem, then, when not much is happening. Perhaps our church isn’t growing, or it doesn’t feel like we’re growing much personally either. And what if people aren’t impressed enough with our Christianity to ask us about what we believe? It may even feel like we’re going backwards rather than forwards as our congregation gets smaller and we’re not having any impact in the community. What if we don’t bring anybody to Christ? Oh dear, we’re not doing our part very well, are we?

But what of the Scripture that says the Holy Spirit works everything out for good for those who love God? Isn’t that saying the Spirit has everything under control very nicely, thank you very much, despite appearances to the contrary? Well, it sounds good, but isn’t there an “if” in there somewhere, that the Spirit works things out for good IF we love God? So, do we love God enough to warrant the Spirit’s help? Oh dear, another thing to worry about.

But Scripture says it’s the Spirit that gives us the love. It’s the Spirit in our hearts that calls out, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6), and Paul said it was “Christ’s love” that compelled him (2 Corinthians 5:14). So it wasn’t his own love, or love that Paul had to come up with by himself. The love that drove Paul came from Christ, and there wasn’t anything Paul had to do to get the love flowing either. He simply found himself with it, and he couldn’t stop it coming either.

It didn’t mean that Paul was on an endless high of love and devotion, or that his focus was totally on God and off himself. It wasn’t. Life was extremely worrying at times, especially when people heard the gospel and wanted him dead, or a health problem threatened his effectiveness. He learned through those experiences, though, that even when it seemed like nothing was happening, or it looked like things were going backwards, Christ and the Spirit were still on the job.

He learned that God was up to something in everything, in negative times as well, so that rather than worrying, “Oh dear, not much is happening,” Paul said, “I press on.” He held steady and trusted, believing to the end that God was faithful and HE would make happen what needed to happen.

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