1 Peter 1:6 (New International Version)
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
John 16:33 (New International Version)
33"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
I wonder how God feels when someone turns away from him, not because of who he is, but because of a person who said they were his follower; someone who called themselves by his name; but who was so harsh, abusive, condemning or legalistic that the person said, "If that's what Christianity is about, I want no part of it."
2 Corinthians 3:2 (New International Version) says this:
2You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.
Rightly or wrongly, people judge God by his followers. This scares and sobers me. I am often such a poor representative of him. It also makes me realize how very important it is to know who really God is.
It's a dangerous thing to choose selectively from God's Word--using it like a grocery store from which to pick up parts that are to our taste or what fits our carefully packaged worldview.
I've heard it said by some that constant victory, perfect health and abundant financial blessing can and should be our expectation as children of God. That is a seductive and appealing view, but does it represent what Jesus said?
The verses for today, from the Daily Light, say that our encouragement comes from facing difficulties with rejoicing and peace. It doesn't say they'll necessarily go away. After all, we are following someone with nail scarred hands and feet.
The only way to know who God really is, is to read the Bible from cover to cover, and then start all over again--dig into the book that holds the whole truth about God. Don't ever just rely on what someone else says. Check it out. What did God really intend when he said this thing or that? Talk about it with friends, pray for insight, meditate, and remember that Jesus was always counter-culture.
Lord, I long to know you and for your image to be formed in me. All that I know of you is so wonderful, but I confess that there are parts I don't understand. Please help me to know you better and to reflect you with greater integrity to the world.