Sunday, August 24, 2008

Afflicted

Last Sunday, Chad finished up chapter one of Colossians and started getting into chapter two a little bit. The scripture reference is Colossians 1:24-29 and 2:1-3 in which Paul talks about being afflicted for Christ; suffering for Him as well as for all his brothers and sisters in the faith.

Chad talked about how Paul willingly embraced suffering for the sake of Christ and His church. He was willing to carry the weight of the burdens of others as God opened and sensitized his heart. He always strived to see others through God’s eyes; knowing the Father’s heart for those he was trying to reach.

Chad further illustrated the kind of life Paul was living by giving a modern day example of a woman he met in Guatemala who had a passion for the people there. She started hanging out in nasty and undesirable trash laden dump areas where people would scrounge for whatever they could salvage and use. One time, she handed out 500 coupons to the people and told them that on a certain day, they could come and exchange it for the blankets she was giving out. Chad said that she ended up having thousands show up - and they all had a coupon. They made one out of whatever they could find; the need and desperation was that great!

The story didn’t stop there. Chad also talked about how she was willing to be afflicted for Christ in the orphanages. She stayed with the children and comforted them. These orphanages are so bad that children look for any way out of there that they can - even if it’s by killing themselves. If they can get to the roof, they jump. If they can drown themselves in a bucket of water they use to help the toilets flush, they do so. So, she made every effort to love and comfort them, even if it meant that she contracted lice while sitting on their beds and holding them in her arms. Chad said that she could even feel the lice just moving into her head. Still, she sat there and didn’t do anything about it. Holding, loving, and comforting those children in the safety of her arms was more important to her. She said it was humiliating to suffer the judgmental looks and stares as her lice filled hair was cut off bit by bit. Yet, she would have done it all over again if she had to. No cost was too high for her to serve others.

How willing are we to be afflicted in inconvenient, and possibly humiliating ways, for the sake of those we are trying to reach? How willing are we to get our hands dirty? How willing are we to humble ourselves and serve? Paul says in Philippians 2:5-8 that we should have the same attitude of service that Jesus had. We do that by humbling and submitting ourselves to the will of God. We must deny ourselves, pick up the cross, and follow HIS lead (Luke 9:23-24).

I’ll close with something I just seen a few days ago. It was in the movie “The Second Chance” (starring Michael W. Smith). In it, he plays an associate pastor and singer who is sent to a sister church to learn humility and help out. I think the movie did a good job of showcasing some of the problems that the church has today with serving (and with the right attitude and motivations). It also points out the fact that we just try to throw money at a problem, rather than actively participating (and being “afflicted” like Chad’s sermon and Paul’s words suggest). Michael W. Smith says in the end of the movie that for a long time, he served Christ, but only if he could be “comfortable.” Though, through truly serving and getting involved in the ministry and mission of the church, he started realizing that true love and outreach is about getting personally involved; even when it’s “uncomfortable” or the cost is high. After all, isn’t that what REAL LOVE is? (See May 25th’s sermon blog “Getting Off Your Donkey”).

I pray that the church will be revived and refocused. I pray that we will function in unity and that we will all be truly led by the Holy Spirit; and not out of our own wills while using the “Holy Spirit” as our justification. May we all be of one mind and one Spirit - HIS Spirit!! Grace and peace to you all!! May we all venture out of our comfort zones and learn to endure persecution and affliction for Christ!! Amen!!

[This sermon is now available online. You can listen to it by clicking on the link provided.]

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