Pastor Vince gave a passionate presentation this week of the key principles of Christian life, and life more generally. He then expanded this general theme by noting the example and attitude of the Apostle Paul.
Philippians 4: 10f reads, “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” A central factor in the key to life, is accepting the circumstances that we are in and making the most of the situation.
Pastor Vince then expanded this with the observation, that each of us has a different ministry, different lives, and different callings. All too often, we fail to find “the peace beyond understanding,” because we are judging our own lives by the standards, abilities, and callings of others.
Paul had in several places spoken of the different gifts of the Spirit, and of the different parts and functions of parts of the body. We are meant to function corporately. Think in secular terms. Could we function as a society if everyone was a lawyer, or doctor? Who would build our houses or grow our food? We need to find the gift and vocation God has prepared us for, and then be the best at it we can be. Not spending our time wishing we were something else, someone else, or that things were different.
Luke 22 shows us this. Jesus told the disciples of trials ahead. Peter took the view that that can’t be the case. He was after the “making things different than they are” approach. Verses 31 and 32 tell us how Jesus then prophecised, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Essentially it is saying “Peter, you are going to be tested, and tried. The chaff will be blown away, and what is left will be stronger for it.”
Tested, proved, completed. We have examples of this as well, notably in I Samuel 17. Young David had already killed a lion and a bear before he ever saw Goliath. God had tested him, proved him, and perfected him to the task of facing giants.
We like Paul need to be open to the good and the bad. We need to grow in the times of want, and to praise in the times of plenty. We need to not seek to accept that we have a role even when times are difficult, and wishing them away is not an option (like Peter had to learn). And we need to take those opportunities to grow and be tempered as Peter and David were.
The key to life, is to trust God who is guiding us, and to take the world for what it is, in the good and the bad.