The Lord is able to make his people to stand. We cannot stand in our own strength – we have none. But God has the power that raised Jesus from the dead, and we can live in that strength and excercise it in our lives. Christ can make us stand and he can make us stand together. We do not naturally want to stand together as a body of his people and we carp and nitpick about our perceived differences.
We are different and we are meant to be – God does not make copies. Therefore we have to learn to bear with each other and be large hearted and loving and kind. God gives plenty of room for us to choose options in life and to think freely, so we should encourage each other in the gifts and abilities that God has given us, without illwill or favouritism.
It is very hard to stand in the company of this world. The workplace can be such a testing environment, and can cause us much pain, but God has put us there on purpose. It is God’s testing ground, to build Christian character and an arena of witness and testimony.
The church environment can also be a difficult place. Christians can be just as judgemental as anyone else and it can seem that we, as rescued failures, are the first to point fingers and blame each other. It should not be like this at all, as we are all guilty of a host of sins and have needed the most costly act of sacrifice to pay for what we have done.
Judging others hurts them and us. It makes us bitter and insular and small-minded. It separates us for other people and we loose the opportunity to be gracious and truly generous and to learn from them.
Perhaps the idea that our sins are not quite so bad as other peoples, comforts us. In our minds we construct a heirarchy of wrongdoing. Our faults and failings are not really as bad as other really big sinners, who have fallen into worse things than we have. We grade sins in order of our ideas of badness, and people who succumb to the bad ones are less deserving than better sorts of people.
All sins are wrong. All sins should be avoided and fought against, and our aim is personal holiness, as Christ lived his life on earth among us. Our desires should be to walk with God and serve him whole heartedly. Outward sins are seen, but perhaps the worst sins are those of the heart and mind, where no one sees -our bitter thoughts and selfish attitudes.
If we should harbour such states of mind, then the thougths will become words and deeds of spite and jealousy, fuelled by resentment.
These are the real rotteness within. We become white-washed graves which look clean, but inside all is rottenness and death.
It is easy to find ourselves going down this road, indeed, it is our natural condition. The end product leaves us with ugliness, mistrust, gossip and insincerity.
To change our hearts require the greatest miracle of all, and we require daily miracles of grace to sustain us and keep our hearts God-glorifying. God himself had to enter the world, walk among us in sorrow and grief, and allow himself to be killed to pay for our wrong ways and morally dead hearts. This is our state of being. It is not attractive, and unbelievers see it and stay away from church. They see what we are like, better than we ourselves.!
Let us not be fooled. We are rotters, through and through. This world can build us up and make us think we are something, but it is a dupe. We read our theology and think we are better than most.! It will stop us humbling ourselves before Christ and each other, and prevent us witnessing meaningfully to other people and ultimately keep us away from walking with our God and enjoying all he has for us.
To stand up requires backbone we don’t have, love we don’t have and stamina beyond this world’s reckoning. Anyone can have these qualities. We have to want them more than anything. Pray for them, ask for them, set our hearts towards Christ and follow him. It’s easy…. and yet so impossible…!
Jesus said to us, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Matthew 9:23) This is the universal crunch. Do I want him, or not? How far will I go?
He wants everything and when you give it, you will receive more than you could ever imagine. This is how we stand up.