Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus… – 1 Cor 1:1
..as you wait for the revealing of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless…God is faithful… – 1 Cor 1:7-9
I am in this season where it seems I am being reminded of my character flaws every day; primarily brought to the surface by normal routine circumstances. While this is anything but an enjoyable exercise, I do know that if it is Spirit-driven, then it is ultimately for the glory of Christ, for my good and for the good of those who are in my community. With this as my background, I read through 1 Corinthians chapter 1 this week and was greatly encouraged by what I saw.
I imagine that Paul was often bewildered at the change he had experienced. One moment he was passionately working for the destruction of the Christian movement, angered at even the mention of the name Jesus. Then in an instance, everything changed: now for Paul, Christ was glorious and the growing movement of Christianity was his purpose. Not only was he changed, but he was changed into one of the great leaders of the church. How could there be any other explanation for what had happened except that God had rescued him? I also imagine that Paul was constantly tempted to fall back into his previous way of life. His heart, His passion had been changed in a moment; but he was not yet made perfect. He was bringing with him a lot of past baggage. The battle against who He was, while striving for who He wanted to be – was fought daily (Read his words in Romans 7:21-25). How could he maintain the strength and confidence to press forward? It appears that Paul reached this conclusion: if God had rescued Him to begin with, then surely it was God who would sustain Him until the end.
These are glorious truths for us, when we find ourselves in those moments where it seems we cannot get anything right; where all of our efforts and desires to ‘do good’ are burned up in a moment of weakness or stress or attack. The words from our morning devotion, the peace of an afternoon prayer or the silent determination to not make the same mistake again, are lost in a split-second reaction from our flesh. And all that is left is frustration and disappointment. So where do we go? Where is our hope in those moments of utter failure? Well, It is found in these words: ‘God is faithful’. The kingdom of God is unlike the kingdoms of earth, where your position and standing is determined by your merit; your accomplishments; your performance. No – our position in His kingdom is found in the accomplishment and performance of Jesus. Your standing is based on God’s call. Your place is held by the sustaining power of Christ, the one who loved you and the one in whom the Father is greatly pleased.
So – we try. We strive for what is right. When God reveals to us our rough edges, we allow Him to smooth them over. We repent of sin; we ask for help. We pray His word. We seek the ever present help of His Spirit. But in all of this effort we know, that ultimately we are upheld by His grace, His call, His sustaining. So in that – we can assuredly rest. Amen.