There are definitely times when the struggle to just continue on mount and mount. The pressures seem to be unnecessarily complicated and kind of like weights around our necks. When it comes to standing up for Christ, we often just don't have the stamina to face it because all the other stuff just gets us so overloaded, we think one more thing will be our undoing. Paul was an apostle in the New Testament church, founding new churches in the first century just after Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. His mission was to be "on-duty" for Christ 24/7. He was a tent maker, but he didn't fall back on this trade unless a church he was working in could not help to support him while he was there getting them established. I can only imagine he faced many a day himself when the mounting pressures of balancing work life, church planting, making disciples of new converts, and the like were just about to overwhelm him. He has an interesting attitude though - he calls himself a "servant of the church" because God "gave him a special work to do". I wonder if we might have our faith bolstered, energies renewed, and attitudes adjusted if we developed a similar perspective wherever it is we are planted today.
I became a servant of the church because God gave me a special work to do. This work helps you. My work is to tell the complete message of God. This message is the secret truth that was hidden since the beginning of time. It was hidden from everyone for ages, but now it has been made known to God’s holy people. God decided to let his people know just how rich and glorious that truth is. That secret truth, which is for all people, is that Christ lives in you, his people. He is our hope for glory. So we continue to tell people about Christ. We use all wisdom to counsel every person and teach every person. We are trying to bring everyone before God as people who have grown to be spiritually mature in Christ. (Colossians 1:25-28 ERV)
I am grateful for Paul's work in the New Testament church, because I think he may just be reason many of us are believers today! In fact, had he not been faithful to reach out to the far reaches of the earth with this message of hope, we might just be living in spiritual darkness right now. He was a pioneer of the faith - a founding father of the church - and a faithful disciple of Christ. He wasn't in the "inner circle" of Christ's twelve, nor was he a consistent follower of Christ while he was alive on this earth, but from the moment he made his decision to put his faith in the finished work of the cross, Paul's life changed. It took on new meaning and he pursued his calling with passion and determination.
There is something in Paul's message we all need to appreciate - he opens the door for us to understand the truth that Christ lives in us - this gives us hope for glory. To some, this may seem like a trivial thing, but for just a moment step into this picture of what it might just be to experience Christ's glory fully within us. I might begin by explaining the significance of light - for without light, darkness prevails. Where darkness prevails, growth is stifled or limited to something which dies when light reaches the recesses of these dark places. When I spent some time underground in caverns deep beneath the surface of the earth, I am amazed to find "life" within the darkness. Cave crickets and bats can survive deep within the confines of the cool caverns. They are made for the darkness - bring light into their midst and they don't really know what to do with it.
Christ's glory within us is kind of like that at first. We find our lives are kind of like the cricket born into the darkness of the cavern. We live our lives well-adjusted and well-suited for the darkness which invades every area of our lives. When light begins to come into our lives, we can be almost "blinded" to what is happening around us at first. Why? It takes away what we are accustomed to "seeing" around us. We are accustomed to the darkness - something which becomes a comfort zone for us. When light comes, we skitter and hide. Why? It isn't because the light is bad - it is because it is something we are not accustomed to. At first, the limited light of the flashlight in the cavern seems blinding to the tiny cricket. As more and more light is introduced, he develops a sense of 'acceptance' of the light and doesn't flee from it quite as much. He might need to adjust to it, but he isn't as frightened by it as he once was.
God's glory within each of us is made known little-by-little because we need to adjust to the "brightness" of that glory. We need to develop the capacity to stand in the presence of the fullness of the "light" he brings - instead of skittering away to hide from his revealing light. Glory isn't just something God "radiates" because he is a supreme deity. It is something he brings into the lives of those he meets with on a regular basis until they become more and more saturated with that light. I liken it to the reflective dial on my watch. It only glows at night because it has soaked up the light around it in the daylight. We only radiate God's glory because we spent time in his presence. Glory is reflective - it is life-altering - and it is life-giving. We should not run from his glory, nor imagine life without it, but rather bask in the light his presence brings and the liberty which comes from darkness being driven far from the recesses of our lives. Just sayin!