Who Has Suffered

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God (1 Pt.4:1-2).

The writer of Hebrews tells us, "In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood" (12:4). There is a willingness to forego earthly desire for the sake of Christ, and there is a willingness to suffer for the cause of Christ. It is a willingness that puts aside human want to follow the will of God. It is a willingness, however, that escapes the largest portion the Church as we know it.
It is a stiff necked people who stand tall and proud and refuse to bow to the Lord. It is a deceived people who bow heads to give thanks for three full meals a day, yet refuse to bow to the will of God if He would ask them to give up some of what they have grown accustomed to. The majority of the Christian Church of the United States is such a people. May God have mercy on us all, and no longer withdraw His Hand, for we are in need of His discipline.
We gather each Sunday to praise Him with our lips, but our hearts are far from Him. We sing songs of worship being more concerned with how much we like the song's tempo or familiarity rather than whether it is offered as a vocal sacrifice to the Lord. We listen to sermon after sermon, only to pick at the preacher's oratory abilities afterwards and behind his back.
We are they who have a form of godliness while denying the power thereof. Trusting our human appraisal of things and our reasoning abilities to deal with difficult, or even daily, circumstances; while claiming that we trust God for everything. We trust our own hands for provision of sustenance. We trust our financial fortitude for the promotion of church growth, building programs and organized activity. We enter into business discussions about the church with little mention of God's will, with the exception of a brief, traditional opening prayer.
We are they who cling to our ways, our lifestyles, our likes and our wants, refusing to let go without a fight (or perhaps, without a church split). And somehow within it all, we have deceived ourselves into believing that we are living as righteously as is humanly possible, and that we are making valiant efforts to carry out the will of God.
Woe to us. For we have become so blinded by our selfish desires that the truth of righteous living has escaped us. We have become blind leaders of the blind. For we mix our desires from this life with our desires for the next, and hope we can keep from slipping too far in either direction. For the one side of the fence would mean that we are godless, and no better than the lost world and all their godless lusts. And fully dwelling on the other side of the fence would mean giving up those things we treasure of the world--the same world we think to live above. We are a selfish and bratty people who want our cake and eat it too.
We are a people who want to be entertained. We want church to be an enjoyable experience that will keep people coming back. It would seem that fellowship with other believers and with God is not enough. We must gear functions and services to a level suitable to the liking of the majority or else they might lose interest and stay home and watch television where they are sure to be entertained. Rather than the church setting the standards, it has chosen to bow to the world as if to say, "If you can't beat'em, join'em." We reason that a church needs money to function, and therefore needs members to have money, and so it makes perfect sense that it should be formatted in a fashion that will attract the most people--or at least the ones with money. And if that means bringing football into the church on Superbowl Sunday--why not? After all, we have determined that we can't compete with what the world offers.
And so in our efforts, out from our human reasoning and in order to sustain what we desire, we have modeled the church after the world. And in essence have limited the choices of the world around us. For once upon a time, people saw the distinct qualities of the local church. It was a place where, when they finally grew up and got serious about life, they would come to discover truth, purpose and the will of God. Now days, what does the church have to offer anyone who is searching but more of the same?
It is time the church remembers what it means to set the standard and stop trying to compete with the world in order to grow a membership.
It is time we stop deceiving ourselves to think that we can have our cake and eat it too--having an eternal inheritance with Christ in Glory; while partaking of earthly delectables.

Day by Day Devotionals: www.daybyday.org