Friday, January 20, 2017

Resistance isn't a bad thing

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.  (John 16:33 NLT)
As I was coming through Bible College, the "deeper" the theologian, the "greater" the writing of that author was deemed to be - but did it always affect my heart the way it needed to? No! In fact, although the truths were spot on and accurate as all get out, they were "too deep" to affect some of the spaces of my heart where I just needed to trust Jesus. I tried to apply those principles taught by those great theologians, but they just didn't make much of an impact. What did? When I just honestly stopped for a moment and realized I am a pretty simple person, so simple solutions and principles were going to be the things that changed my character, not the deeply profound theological principles! For example, it wasn't that I had to figure out "what faith is", I just had to remember that faith is demonstrated more than it is understood. The heart demonstrates faith when it reaches out for grace, or is embraced with overwhelming peace that supersedes the mess you are in at the moment. That demonstrated faith is trust - trust correctly placed not in one's own efforts, but in the overcoming power of Christ who indwells you the moment you say "yes" to him.
When Jesus taught about trials or sorrows, saying they were going to be part of what we'd have to deal with as long as we walked on this earth, I never really understood how a loving God could allow kind of ugly stuff to happen to good people who put their trust in him. Another one of those things that just "don't add up" when you think about God as "good", "kind", "loving", etc.  When you think of him as the giver of grace and peace, then why isn't it that we can avoid these awful things? I think it might have to do with something called resistance. You see, when resistance is applied there is a little bit more which happens than if there was no resistance at all. Endurance is developed. Strength is increased. In terms of medical science, when an organism develops resistance it is said to be "incapable" of being affected by the "normal stuff" which would otherwise affect it. The strain of organism develops "super-strength" and resists the intake of the stuff that could otherwise destroy it! Where resistance doesn't exist, the organism is said to be "susceptible" to the impact of what is applied to it. This is why antibiotics work to kill some organisms - they are susceptible - they allow input of the medicine and that medicine counteracts the effects of the organism.
Maybe this is a "simplified" way of understanding the purpose of trials and sorrows, but I think it might just make a little sense. The things we "resist" and become less "susceptible" to are probably good for us in the long run! The things we are supposed to be susceptible to are his grace, peace, and love. The things we are supposed to develop a resistance to are things like sin, hatred, envy, bitterness, and the like. Those things exist all around us and they provide just enough "impact" in our lives to allow resistance to be built to them when we get enough of the stuff into our lives that make us strong to "fight against" them! The more of God's grace we embrace, the more resistance we exhibit toward the things of this world trying to impact our lives in a negative or harmful way. This brings us back to the topic of faith - for faith is simply stated as trust. What is it we lean into - rely upon - hope in? That will be the thing that we have faith in. It could be our own intellect, but when it is, we usually find ourselves trying to reason our way through some of the most awkward circumstances that really aren't "figured out" with the mind at all. It could be our emotions, but when we are trying to work through things on an emotional plane alone, the ups and downs can be dizzying indeed!
Jesus doesn't want us to be unknowing or oblivious to the things around us - he warns us there is evil - it exists. He also reminds us that to counteract evil he gives us one very powerful weapon - peace. How can peace serve to build resistance or help us counteract the attacks against us? When we lean into Jesus more, his peace becomes that wall of resistance that isn't easily penetrated by those things working to tear us down and gain access to our inner man. His peace surpasses human understanding, but is a great indicator of how closely we are relying on him (leaning into him) rather than trying to figure stuff out all on our own. His peace then is like a barometer - giving us a good indicator of how "susceptible" we are to attack! Just sayin!