About 3 weeks ago our pastor, Wyman Richardson, preached on Romans 9:1-3. I'll probably butcher it bit, but I'll try my best to present it as well as he did. Hopefully, I can adequately verbalize the main point. The basis is that Paul's heart is breaking over the Jews lostness. This was just the introduction to the battle that would rage within my heart over the nest week. I could blame Wyman for my discomfort, but I know well it was the Lord's conviction that left my heart hurting. So here goes...
"I am telling the truth in Christ. I am not lying, my conscious bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsman according to the flesh". Did you catch that? Yeah, me either. I've read the Bible through a couple of times and never caught it. However, as presented this particular Sunday it came barreling through my consciousness like a ton of bricks.
Paul is so concerned for his "kinsman" he says he wishes he could trade places. He states if he could be "accursed" and give up heaven, take their place in hell for their sake, he would. I have to admit when Pastor Wyman asked "can you say that?" My immediate thought was an emphatic NO WAY!!! For a person that has never had the experience of a healthy body, I'm kind of looking forward with great anticipation the new, glorified one I will be receiving. I have imagined myself on occasion skipping along on the streets of gold chatting with Mary and Martha, looking to Jesus and praising him in person.
First of all, it is hard to imagine something that isn't possible. We know that once you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you can't trade heaven. You are sealed once for all, Praise the Lord!! So imagining that scenario is difficult given the fact that it isn't a possibility. However, the truth behind the point is profound and left me in conflict. Wyman stated (as I sent him a text later. I am a slow processor and this would not leave my mind until I had it settled in my heart). This is the heart of Christ and we should be, need to be willing. Willing to have such concern over our "kinsman" that we would do whatever it takes to point them to the cross.
I can't say I am there. In my flesh I still wrestle with thoughts. I do believe wholeheartedly though that the Lord brought out a point directly to me in my current life situation. Those that know me well know there is a particular situation and two particular individuals that I struggle with on a consistent basis. I have to confess, they are not the problem. I am. This was part of my lesson.
The sermon brought so pointedly by our pastor was the Lord's way to get my attention. I'd let my circumstances dictate my happiness. It became about me. My attitude stunk. I wallowed in self pity. I wrestled with this message. I told the Lord, he couldn't be serious. As He began to soften my heart, I realized I am in this particular time and place for a reason. Honestly, I do not wish hell on these people. Really I just wanted out! I wanted rid of them, move me, move them I didn't care I just did not want to have to deal with them anymore. I asked the Lord, why me? It was like he pressed my heart and said "why not you?"
You see I can't trade heaven for you or anyone else for that matter. Only Christ in His perfection can do that (and did)! However, I can be in a place, situation, class, etc...to be a light and to point people toward the Savior. So what if they are mean to me. So what if it is uncomfortable. So what if it is challenging. Oh my goodness, look what Christ endured for me and for you. I have no right. I had quit caring for lost people. Seriously, what can I expect from people who do not know Christ as their Lord and Savior. Exactly what I was getting.
The word says it is easy to love those that love you but the challenge is to love those that are unlovable. Luke 6:32 & 35 "If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the most high. For He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." I know the challenging people in my life to not know Christ. So why was I expecting them to behave as if they did? I had quit praying for them. I had begun to despise them. Ouch! That is purely and simply, sin.
I can tell you as I began to pray and repent and tell the Lord I didn't like it but I would be obedient, He was faithful (and I am still a work in progress). They still pull punches and throw low blows, but the Lord is giving me strength. It's certainly not me! I often joke that the Lord made me small for a reason. In my flesh, I can be a little terror. I have a temper! I can say though that I certainly ask Him now on a daily basis to change my attitude and help me be willing to be His vessel. Oh, I still struggle, but the desire to get there is real. I truly want to be willing to say I'll do anything Lord. For now, for me that means sticking it out in this situation. I can do all things in Christ who gives me strength.
So where are you today? To whom is Christ asking you to be "His vessel"? What situation has you so beaten down that you are willing to throw in the towel? I challenge you, don't ask God to move you ask Him to sustain you and work through you. This last week, though busy, has been a breath of fresh air compared to the last couple of months for me. i have to give God the glory cause it is not me.They have not changed, but my attitude toward them has. I ask that you continue to pray for my attitude. Ask me about how it is going. i want to be His light while I am here!