Well, today was one of these days that was not great for me.I didn’t have the energy to get up until lunch time, went out and about but was glad to come home and rest again. However, I did feel the Lord was with me, that in the deepest sense everything is OK and there is no need to be unduly alarmed. Furthermore as I lay in bed in the early evening just resting, I felt the Lord speak to me. Verses from 2 Timothy came to mind. Paul is speaking to Timothy and he has to tell his son in the faith this: ‘Do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.” (2 Timothy Chapter 1 verse 8) That is actually an astonishing verse. Effectively Paul was telling Timothy that as he proclaimed that Jesus is Lord, the one who has conquered sin and death and hell on our behalf and is now seated at the right hand of God in the place of highest honour, he wasn’t to be embarrassed or find it awkward that one of the chief representatives of Jesus’ reign, namely Paul, was an ambassador in chains awaiting death. Can you get the idea? Ambassadors in chains are hardly a good advert that Jesus was the Christ on the throne of the universe, that He is indeed Lord!
In a world where learning and physical or military prowess seemed to count for a lot, someone in chains would be despised and certainly any philosophy or deity he stood for would be despised. So, Paul could have been seen as an embarrassment to the cause, a liability. His condition could be used as an argument by the opponents of the Christian message to pour scorn upon the idea that Jesus once crucified was now “Lord.”
Sometimes, not often but sometimes, I have met people who are anything from mildly confused to red-faced embarrassed by the fact of my ill health. I have stood for the fact that healing is a sign that Jesus is Lord and His already here not yet fully here Kingdom is real, but I am not healed. It is no embarrassment at all to me because I really do believe that the Kingdom is already here but just as truly not fully here. Biblical faith is believing what the bible says rather than believing what we wished it would say. However to those who believe that in heaven there is no sickness now therefore on earth there should be no sickness now, well I do sense the embarrassment they sometimes feel talking with me. I would have hoped rather the fact I am not healed, as yet, might make them question whether the argument no sickness in heaven now so no sickness on earth now is indeed true, but ideas are hard to budge especially when they have charismatic people behind them endorsing them.
I thought it was really sad a few years ago to see that one of the foremost proponents of “health and wealth” secretly had an operation on his knee. He didn’t want anyone to know about it. I am not accusing the man of being hypocritical. I don’t think he is and there is much about him I admire, but does what he did mean he was embarrassed or ashamed of himself or feared being a cause of embarrassment?
Dear blog readers, the fact that at the centre of our faith is the Son of God on a cross should make us aware that one of the central beliefs of Christianity is that we are called to go through things which allow the world to mock our claims for Christ and our faith in Him. “Where is this God of yours” is a taunt that will be thrown at every genuine believer sooner or later in the face of suffering or injustice of some sort that they are experiencing in life. I am sad though if you have experienced a similar taunt from your brothers and sisters in the Lord speaking with insensitivity to you.
So today, I praise God for those of you who are ill and have not been healed; I praise Him for those of you who know that your Heavenly Father provides and yet still find your bank account needs month to month resuscitation, and needs it just after the end of week one of the month; I praise God for those of you who believe God makes promises to believers and their children but have seen your children going completely off the rails: you are not an embarrassment to the Lord, He is not ashamed of you, nor am I if that is any small consolation. Please do not be ashamed or awkward or embarrassed about yourself. Thank you for putting the shame of the cross in the place of highest honour and for challenging a cheap understanding of the Lordship of Christ. You are my heroes! The Kingdom needs you. Your King needs you!
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