Monday, January 24, 2011

Traveling through the Bible (Philippians 1) Part 4...

4. For Christ's sake...
I "accepted Christ" when I was 3 years old... or so my parents say, I really don't remember it. I think I was actually saved when I was 8 years old at Church Kid's Camp. It wasn't in a chapel meeting or cabin time with my leader, or anything like that... it was on a walk through the rain.

We had gone for a hike to a place along the creek where there was a water fall of sorts. There was a huge group of us and it was a hike organized by the leaders at camp, so we were led by counselors through the woods and along the creek. On the way back it started to rain and as we reached edge of the campgrounds it started to thunder, lightening, and hail. I swear a bolt of lighting hit mere yards away from me (in all honesty it couldn't have been that bad, but to an 8 year old, it was terrifying). I remember walking with some other girls and one was crying cause she was scared of storms and I legitimately started to wonder if we would survive the storm (again, I was 8 years old).
I vividly remember looking around the woods and seeing the rain and hail and getting completely drenched and thinking, "I'm really scared and I have no idea what to do with that..." Then a thought came to me - I have been told all my life about God and Jesus and said I that He was real, but is He really real? This is the type of stuff He is supposed to take care of... God, are you really real? And in that moment I became convinced of the reality that there was a God and it wasn't just stories or stuff my parents talked about. God was real... and by extension everything that people said about Christ was real too.
I consider that the moment of my salvation.
"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10
There are a lot of reasons why Christ came into the world, but namely it was to save us from sin and eternal separation from God.
It is amazing and humbling to think that Christ died on the cross for me. He suffered the eternal wrath of God on my behalf... for my sake.
But Christ continually said that the reason He came into the world was because Him father sent Him and He was doing His Father's work and will. So if that is true, then Christ died on the cross for God's sake... for His own sake.
This is not to say that God needed saving or reconciliation, but Christ death on the cross, in the end, was in order to glorify God and bring glory to Himself.
Self-centered? self-focused? Heck yes!! He's God and deserves all the glory, reverence, praise, etc that I am capable of giving Him - that the UNIVERSE is capable of giving him.
"For to you it had been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake..." Philippians 1:29
I believe, was saved, live, and die for Christ's sake - in other translations it says "on behalf of Christ", but I like "for Christ's sake".
Everything Christ gives to me, shows me, teaches me, grows me in - all His love, strength, peace, comfort, joy, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, etc, etc - all of it! Is in order to bring glory to Himself. All my talent, hope, ambition, dreams, goals, suffering, pain, etc, therefore should all seek to bring glory to God and worship him.

I love how Frances Chan says it in his book Crazy Love:
"The crux of why we are [half-hearted Christians] is because we have an inaccurate view of God. We see Him as a benevolent Being who is satisfied when people manage to fit Him into their lives in some small way. We forget that God never had an identity crisis. He knows that He's great and deserved to be the center of our lives. Jesus came humbly as a servant, but He never begs us to give him some small part of ourselves. He commands everything from His followers."
I talk to God, seek His guidance, seek His protection, wisdom, and discernment in my day. I thank Him for the things He does for me, apologize for the ways in which I have failed. I also scream and cry and pour out my anger, anguish and frustrations to Him. I would say God and I have a real and genuine relationship. I know I can come to Him with anything and trust in His mercy and grace. It is beautiful and messy and hard and fulfilling and wonderful.
But I realized that I viewed God as being there for ME. What Philippians 1:29 points out is that my entire life - joy, pain, hurt, hope, everything - is for HIM. In everything I go through, I want to turn it back to Him as an act of worship and praise for Him, because that is why I was created... to bring glory to God.
This fact does not make me want to run out and do more things for God as a means of striving to fulfill my purpose in life. I have no desire to contrive things that will please God and make Him happy. That is not what God is asking of me...
"Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." 1 Thessalonians 5:24
"He who began a good work in you will continue it..." Philippians 1:6
But God calls me to seek Him in my hurt and my joy and everything in between and recognize that He has brought me through this time in order to glorify Himself and to show the world His majesty through His work in me.
Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians while in jail, chained to a prison guard for 24 hours a day. He was in a moment of suffering. But he writes:
"Now I want you to know, bretheren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ had become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the bretheren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear." Philippians 1:12-14
Paul saw his suffering and imprisonment as being a means to glorify God and declare the truth of the gospel. It was not in spite of his imprisonment that the the name of Christ was declared, but BECAUSE of it.
My believing in Christ and suffering in Christ and everything else in my life is all for the sake of Christ and all in order to glorify Him more and more and in that I experience life, and life abundantly.


Abi said...


Anonymous said...

Hey Miranda!

I think I lost your address since I had it on facebook and you're gone...but anyway, I finally have your bday/christmas present (yay!), so could you send it to me when you get a chance?

Hope you're doing well!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! This was really helpful for me. It gives me hope to know that God will use my current “suffering” to bring Him glory, and that it’s all part of His plan for me. Also, to take the focus off me, and to focus on God. Now, I just need some patience!