"You are but a poor soldier of Christ if you think you can overcome without fighting and suppose you can have the crown without conflict."
- John Chrysostom
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Saw this on Ray Ortlund's blog
“From Scripture we know that God has deliberately limited the number of Christians He has chosen to be successful. In the latter part of the first chapter of I Corinthians and in the first part of the second chapter the Apostle Paul explains why. He says that not many wise, not many influential and not many noble have been called by God. Then he gives two reasons why. The first is that there is a tendency, even among Christians, to glory in their accomplishments. Yet God does not want any of us to do this in His presence. The second reason is related to the apostle’s own experience with the Corinthian church. He said that he came to them in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. This was because he did not want their faith to stand in his wisdom but in God’s power. Far too frequently successful Christians tend to attract others to themselves rather than to the Lord. . . . From Scripture we know also that God’s people down the centuries have stood adversity far better than they have prosperity. That may be another reason why few of us are successful.”This Armerding quote verbalizes a gut-feeling I've had for a long time, particularly when I've heard or read Christians (generally bloggers) lament the general low-brow culture of Christianity or the artless nature of the Christians they know (present company, always, excepted). There is usually an added, unspoken lament: "If only Christians were more [fill in the blank], the world wouldn't think we were such losers". Even more often unspoken is the follow up thought: ". . . and I wouldn't be so embarrassed to be associated with those people who call themselves Christians."
Hudson T. Armerding, “The Challenge of Success,” Baccalaureate Address, Wheaton College, 21 May 1978.
My rejoinder: what did you expect?
This isn't a cop-out for things I have done or other Christians have done that were in the flesh and dishonoring to God, but, scripturally, Christians are not expected to be the cream of the crop. The early church was roundly and rightfully criticised for its low-class occupants.
God is building his church, his Bride. Yes, reform is needed, constant refining, further beautification. But have faith that this work of art is, and is indeed becoming, beautiful.
"But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;" - 1 Corinthians 1:27