Monday, March 11, 2013

An Uncomfortable Peace

It would seem that the title of this post is an oxymoron but it asks an important question. Can you be at peace and yet be uncomfortable? Or another question is; 'Are we seeking comfort by God or peace with God?'

How do you understand the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12)?

He said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
In most cases these appear to be saying that happiness belongs to those who are experiencing some kind of discomfort. Am I wrong?

Consider Acts 5:41 - rejoicing at disgrace, Romans 5:3-5 and I Peter 5:10 - glory through suffering, James 1:2 - joy in trials.

I have heard and read this story about John Wesley (I am not where this story came from, I cannot find it in his Journal http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/journal.html).
 
One day John Wesley was riding along a road when it dawned upon him that three whole days had passed in which he had suffered no persecution. Not a brick or an egg had been thrown at him for three days. Alarmed, he stopped his horse, and exclaimed, "Can it be that I have sinned and am backslidden?"
Slipping from his horse Wesley went down on his knees and began interceding with God to show him where, if any, there had been a fault.
A rough fellow, on the other side of the hedge, hearing the prayer, looked across and recognized the preacher. "I'll fix that Methodist preacher," he said taking a brick and tossing it over at him. It missed its mark and fell harmlessly beside John.
Whereupon Wesley leaped to his feet joyfully exclaiming, "Thank God, it's all right. I still have His presence."

Many use this story, however true, to teach that we should expect persecution, and in fact if we are not being persecuted, we are not experiencing God to the fullest! I think the point of it is in the last sentence when Wesley says, 'Thank God, it's all right. I still have His presence.'. 

Peace in discomfort. A lot of people are living in discomfort right now, for a myriad of reasons, myself among them. Right now I don't think God is concerned about my comfort, He is more concerned about my relationship with Him and if a little (by comparison) discomfort will expand my faith in Him, I can greatly rejoice.

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