Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Fine Print

I was cleaning out some old files (actual pieces of paper in my hands, not our modern day files found with a mouse!) and came across several treasures...anyone out there remember the Women's Leadership Retreat from 2006?  Yup, I still have those notes, that was a moment in my life that will stay etched as a true deepening of  my faith.  I also found the following and wanted it saved so here it is...
The Fine Print
by John Fischer

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10 ESV)

These verses are what I call the fine print of the Christian life.  When you sign up, you sign up for this, but unfortunately, not too many people read that far into the contract, and not enough leaders point it out.  So when bad things start happening to us, we think something went wrong with our faith.  Not necessarily, if fact, it's an honor to think that your faith is worthy of being tested.

It's a reverse spiritual principle that nonetheless is true: we get beaten down so the Christ might rise in us.  It's the whole idea God has of avoiding confusion.  See, He doesn't want people confusing human power and achievement with His power and what He is achieving in and through our lives.  If all Christians were super-Christians, people would be impressed with them. As it is, God wants people to be surprised at us, not so much impressed - surprised that we can keep on believing, given what has happened to us.  Surprised at us - impressed with God.  That's the way it should go.

It's important to know this so that the things that happen don't throw us into a tailspin.  Paul wrote in the passage above that troubles, confusions, knock-downs and drag-outs, are all to be expected in the life of faith, and they are not just something to suck it up and endure, they are what will actually release the power of God in our lives.  We encounter deathlike experiences so that Christ's lifelike nature may clearly be seen in us, despite what is happening.

Let me try and say this again.  This is not just endurance training through tough times.  This is God's strategy for ministry through us.  There is no other way for it to be done.  His strategy for ministry through us.  There is no other way for it to be done.  His strategy is His power and strength through our weakness - His life through our death.  This doesn't just happen to some Christians; it happens to us all if we desire to be effective in our faith.

So don't forget the fine print today, and allow the troubles you face to springboard you into finding God's purposes even in this.  He had this planned all along.  It's even in the contract!