Life is tough. We all have stories about how our lives have been turned upside down and made difficult. When I look at the world, and at my life, it helps me to remember that there is an Enemy out there who hates us. He hates God and fears what we can become when we faithfully follow Jesus.
John Eldredge in his book Waking the Dead wrote:
“Until we come to terms with war as the context of our days we will not understand life. We will misinterpret 90 percent of what is happing around us and to us. It will be very hard to believe that God’s intentions toward us are life abundant; it will be even harder not to feel that somehow we are just blowing it. Worse, we will begin to accept some really awful things about God. That four-year-old girl being molested by her daddy--that is ‘God’s will’? That ugly divorce that tore your family apart--God wanted that to happen to? And that plane crash that took the lives of so many--that was desired by God?” (p. 17)
War is the context of our days, and the brutal assault that has been carried out against us is evidence to this fact. It is tough to follow Jesus. Life isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean God has abandoned us or that Jesus isn’t worth following. It means that we are being attacked and opposed by someone who hates us and wishes to see us dead.
Because we live in a world, a universe, at war adds value to our lives. Who we are and how we live is how we fight this war. Consider what the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 1:
27 The only thing that matters is that you continue to live as good citizens in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come to see you or whether I stay away, I may hear all about you—that you are standing firm in one spirit, struggling with one mind for the faith of the gospel, 28 and that you are not intimidated by your opponents in any way. This is evidence that they will be destroyed and that you will be saved—and all because of God. 29 For you have been given the privilege for Christ's sake not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him. 30 You have the same struggle that you saw in me and now hear that I am still having. (Philippians 1:27-30; ISV)
We are in a struggle and Paul tells the Philippians that in order to be victorious in the struggle that they have to live right, as good citizens of God’s Kingdom. When we remain strong, when we don’t give up, and when we bring honor to Christ through the way we live, then we show the world that God’s victory is insured. Our enemies will be destroyed, and we will be saved. Make not mistake about it, this is not easy. That is why Paul uses the word struggling.
If we are honest with ourselves at times it seems like it would be so much easier if we just gave up. I don’t know you, but I have been to that point. Not because I don’t think God exists, but tired of the constant struggle to do right and live up to expectations. I wanted to throw in the towel and follow the path of least resistance. It was only through the grace of God, the encouragement I received from His Word and follow believers, that I didn’t.
That is part of what is behind John’s writing which we have looked at through this series (1 John 2:28-3:10). He wanted to offer his readers a reminder of why they should stick it out, why they should continue to struggle to do what is right. That reason is Jesus. The promises of Jesus give us hope that this struggle is just temporary and that better days await us when Jesus returns and makes all things right. The mission of Jesus gives us an example to follow. It helps us understand the dangers of sin and provides us with a purpose to give our lives away to as we follow Jesus into the unknown of the future.
Here is what I want you to remember from this series: To know Jesus is the only way to live righteous lives. Without knowing Jesus there is no way we can live lives that please God. This isn’t about living up to a certain morality, but it has everything to do with living a life of faith. Giving our lives away to doing good rather than just avoiding evil. It is joining Jesus in His mission to proclaim the Gospel and set the captives free. We can live a “moral” life without Jesus, but we cannot live a righteous life, a life set on doing God’s will, apart of Jesus.
Right now your life is being opposed. Jesus said that the thief has come to steal, kill, and destroy. Don’t be surprised if you are struggling right now, because Satan wants nothing more than for you to suffer. Yet we also have to remember what Jesus promised, I have come so you can have life, and have it abundantly. Our lives may be opposed, but the promise of Jesus is when we stick with Him we will find a life beyond our wildest imagination. It starts here today and contains into eternity. It is time to live right. It is time to follow Jesus.
- Point to Ponder: To know Jesus is the only way to live righteous lives.
- Passage to Remember: Philippians 1:27-30
- Question to Consider: How can you receive strength to continue to struggle to live right?