Aim or Complain

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Several years ago I was reading an update from a popular Christian ministry. They were complaining that a certain judge had called evangelical Christians a bunch of whiners and complainers. I suppose that the appropriate Christian response would have been for me to be outraged by that judge, but as I considered the statement, I realized that his was a fairly accurate generalization.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not supporting anti-God policies and I am all too aware that the whine potential in our country increases on a daily basis. There is much to be upset about! At the same time, the world is simply being the world, with people saying and doing what Jesus predicted they would do.

Early Christians had a very different perspective of persecution and other difficulties related to being a Christian. They recognized persecution-based suffering and difficulty as an opportunity to identify with Christ.

The Apostle Paul put it so well: “My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11 (NET)

Acts 5 records the story of how Peter and some of the other apostles were arrested and beaten for healing people and preaching about Jesus—two of the most horrible crimes against God and humanity. Did they get their whine on in response to this injustice? Not at all. “So they left the council rejoicing because they had been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.” Acts 5:41 (NET)

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Of course we want to share in the fullness of God’s joy, but do we aim to know Him to the point that we consider it an honor to share in His sufferings? It seems to me that we either aim to know Him and all that entails, or we complain about a world that is becoming increasingly unjust and unlike what we want.

To be identified with Christ—there is no greater honor no matter what form that identification takes. And in the midst of any circumstance, we can always identify with Him. No matter what we go through I don’t think that there is any pain we can face that He hasn’t somehow already experienced in His life or in His death on the cross.

At some point we really must ask ourselves if we truly desire to know Him or if we just want the benefits that come with having a god in our lives. If we aim to know Him and to be identified with Him in every way, our tendencies to complain will suddenly begin to disappear.

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world by holding on to the word of life so that on the day of Christ I will have a reason to boast that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.” Philippians 2:14-16 (NET)

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7 thoughts on “Aim or Complain

  1. Yes, yes, yes. too often, my brother, we focus on the salvation of our souls and we isolate ourselves as if it weren’t worth living in this world. We discount this life while we wait for the afterlife party. “At some point we really must ask ourselves if we truly desire to know Him or if we just want the benefits that come with having a god in our lives. ” It has been said that the early gnostics would easily exchange the promise of heaven for a greater knowledge of the Lord. I don’t ascribe to many of the ideas of the gnostics but when heaven is really a given, shouldn’t we focus our attention on the goal that we can yet attain? Great blog, Bob.

  2. Wow, that was a good blog. I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of Catholic devotional material lately, because my fiance is Catholic, & they have not forgotten this key component to being a Christian. There are many difficult circumstances in life, but it is as we learn to surrender to Christ in the midst of whatever life brings, that we become more like Him, & this process is often in itself what brings about the change we actually need to experience the joy & abundance God has promised. Too often with Christians in the circles I grew up in–including myself–the focus was more on what God can do for us than being transformed into His likeness & experiencing His fullness. I need to comment on the blog just before mine…the gnostics were heretics, so I don’t think they would have too much useful to say. The kind of knowledge they were seeking was not the kind of knowledge that would help people draw closer to the Lord. Also…an interesting point I have come across recently in Catholic theology is that heaven is not quite as sure as we Protestants sometimes like to think (ie. the term ‘fire insurance’ comes suddenly to mind). Yes, Jesus is our Savior & it is He & He alone, not our works, that brings us to heaven. However, if we aren’t bearing the kind of fruit in our life that is worthy of heaven, such as good works, the fruit of the spirit, etc…one might wonder if we truly are saved or will find someday a home in heaven. Jesus said many would say to Him, “Lord, Lord, I did this & that in your name,” but He would say to them, “depart from Me, I never knew you.” He then will ask us if we have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, etc. Good blog, Bob, it encouraged me not to whine this day, as I tend to be besetted by this particular sin on occasion:)

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