Bible read, check. Book read, check. Prayed for needs, wants and desires, check. All this and I still feel empty. They say that practice makes perfect, but often practice leads to monotony. I have always puzzled over Paul’s statement in Philippians where he said that all that mattered in this world he would count as rubbish compared to knowing Christ. I desire to desire Christ in that way. I ache wanting to know what it would feel like to be in a relationship with God in that way.
Recently I have been reading through a long biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor theologian who led German churches to stand against the Reich church. He was a man who when given the choice of honor in America as a college professor or martyr under the hand of Adolf Hitler chose death. He is the embodiment of Paul’s statement “I want to know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share in His sufferings, becoming like Him in death.” Seeing the conclusion of his life makes me realize how small a commitment I have and how little I actually suffer for Christ.
How do you get to the point of surrendering everything to know Christ? How do you rejoice while sitting at the mercies of men who like Hitler care only care for their empire and fame? How do you delight in the things of God, when often a life lived in pursuit of God leads you to suffering and earthly shame?
Here are my thoughts…
1. When all you do is soak in God’s word, but never live it out, you are left spiritually rotten and empty.
2. When you begin to serve God, you serve him knowing that your service will lead to persecution.
3. When persecution comes you realize that it is not your end, but instead the proof that you are living for Christ.
4. When persecution comes you count it as joy, knowing that you are living a life worthy of God.
5. As persecution comes, you lean not on yourself, but on God who upholds you and strengthens you.
6. As you depend on God, your desires change to become His desires, your strength moves from your strength to his, and your joy is found in pleasing God not pleasing yourself.
In a day where church is the center for self help, easy preaching, and marketed services, what would it be like to be body that serves in such a way to draw persecution? Perhaps the solution for the church is not another marketing campaign, music style or service offered, but instead a genuineness lived by each member that points to God and draws the attention of a persecuting world.