When we think about growing in Christ, it’s important that we draw this distinction. Is growing in Christ difficult? Yes it is. And Jesus wants us to know that it is. You can point to any number of times when the crowds were gathering around Him that He taught them to give second thought to what exactly they were signing up for.
Kevin L. Smith:
A prime example of popular civil rights rhetoric is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech delivered on August 28, 1963. The speech reflected King’s criticisms and hopes for America set in the language of the prophets of the Old Testament. For example, he said satisfaction would not come until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream” (Amos 5:24). This was familiar language in the Bible-literate America of that day.
Somehow we’ve imbibed the message that broken people don’t get married. This notion attaches a greater burden to the struggles of unmarried women than it does to their married counterparts. In this economy, our sanctification becomes a weapon aimed at the moving target of finding a husband.
Stop and ponder that last line. Let the irony tug at your curiosity. Christian parents of prodigals often bear a peculiar shame over their child’s unbelief. It sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? We believe Christ bore our shame (Hebrews 12:2). The gospel unshackles us from sinful disgrace (Romans 5:5) and “everyone who believes in Christ will not be put to shame” (Romans 10:11). So why do Christian parents bear such a heavy burden of shame?
The problem isn’t God. It’s his people.
Have you ever known that one person who is always negative? They may not mean to be that way, but it seems as if they suck the life out of even the best situation. They are the person who literally makes the mountain out of the mole hill. If their thoughts were a movie reel, the title of the film would be “Joy Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.” Yet, this same person knows how to instantly turn on the smile, say the most encouraging words, and see people lifted out of the darkest places. Pastor, does that describe you? The ebbs and flows of ministry can lay a great burden for any pastor to carry.
Many people—even Christians—who are struggling with some difficult circumstance in their lives often look to God and feel the same way my daughter did. They wonder, “When will this end? Why is this happening to me? Why would a good God allow this bad thing to happen to someone he loves?”
The world often doesn’t seem like it’s being ruled by a loving, all-wise, all-powerful God, and so we cry, why don’t you do something, God?
A favorite from the archives:
No, the words I’m thinking of are, to some degree, as equally terrifying as these ones, though. These are words that, in the right context, can be life giving. They’re an invitation, a call to respond. But when they’re used wrongly, they have the stench of death upon them:
“Here is what you must do.”