Monday, February 11, 2013

No Chance to Repent, Though Sought With Tears

We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also. (2 Corinthians 6:3-13 ESV)

To me, this piece of scripture (in and of itself) touches my heart greatly and speaks volumes! I feel it relates the walk with Christ to phrases of which I can take hold and comprehend. Each time I read it the words sink deeper. "Great endurance" - the battle is long, tiring, and at times overwhelming. God's word describes it as a race...I can put it into terms of a kickboxing, grappling, or mixed martial arts bout. One gets winded, beaten, exhausted, yet it continues. There is only one winner.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV)

This vapor (James 4:14) of a life consists of "afflictions, hardships, calamities," "imprisonments"...(physically or perhaps oppressively like a master/slave type relationship), "labors, sleepless nights, hunger"...(either for food or lust like temptation of the flesh), yet we are called to live "by purity, knowledge" (of God), "patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love" (though this world is full of false love); "by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise."

All the while experiencing "treat[ment] as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything." Doesn't that just blow your hair back? Do you see your own life described here?!

An athlete has to train HARD and, likewise, we are called to be in God's word EVERYDAY! Others who drill and condition intensely are soldiers. In like manner, we are instructed to put on the full armor of God each day. Being a follower of Christ is thoroughly engaging, demanding of discipline and a great deal of effort, tough labour, and requires persistence. (And, of course, the Holy Spirit...which goes far beyond a "conscience"!).

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. (Hebrews 12:12-17 ESV)

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