I want you to know what a struggle I am going through for you, for God’s people at Laodicea, and for all of those followers who have never met me.
As believers and especially leaders, our struggles are never for ourselves alone: the honor of Christ and the faith of others is in our keeping.
I’m reading the brief yet powerful letter to the Colossians and as I started reading chapter two…Bang, like a bolt of lightening, verse one struck my attention. When we think of Paul, we thing of a great Christian leader, a spiritual giant, perhaps the man who lived as close to Jesus as any but here by his own confession, he was struggling. I don’t know about you, but this is encouraging to me. Why? Because I struggle in many ways with many things. Granted, my struggles cannot be compared to Paul’s: he was in prison at Rome, awaiting trial under Nero the lunatic and pervert. Paul was almost certain to be executed but there was a way out if he choose to take it. All he had to do was compromise his convictions and deny his faith in Christ. Perhaps you are thinking: “I’ve never been tempted to deny Christ.” Have you ever faced a firing squad knowing that a denial of Christ would get you off the hook? Self-preservation is a very powerful instinct.
Paul refused to take the easy way out for more than one reasons: not only would he have to violate his conscience and destroy his peace but he would be setting a horrible example for the folks in the Lycus valley association [three churches, Colosse, Laodicaea and Hierapolis]. If Paul were to play to coward in order to extend his life, their faith would be damaged. Actually, our faith would have been damaged because Paul is an inspiration to us.
Although our struggles may not be as intense and wide-sweeping as that of Paul, we do struggle nevertheless. In preparing for a message last week; the LORD gave me a new definition for ‘hypocrite.’ A hypocrite is not a person who fails: we all fail. A hypocrite is a person who pretends not to fail. They gloss over their sin with pretense and no, most of them are not sitting in church buildings. Practically everyone you meet outside the church pretends to have it all together. When you asks them about their relationship to Christ or their spiritual need; they respond with something like…“I’m good.” But they are not good, no one is other than Christ. All Christians have struggles. This leaves us with two types of people in the world: the ones who are honest about their struggles and the ones who pretend to have it all together–that would be your hypocrite and the world is filled with them.
On the way home Sunday night I hit heavy rain in Hartselle. It was raining so hard that I had to drive 40 MPH. When I turned on to Iron Man I could barely see so I thought, “surely we are getting some of this.” I was wrong: it stopped raining before I got to the creek, that is less than a mile. When I got home, we were getting wind and a few sprinkles. I remain optimistic. It is not as dry as it was a few weeks ago and football season is less than a month away.
I had to spend the morning at the Court House but I got sent home at lunch. I have to be back at 1:30 today. I thought of several ways to get out of it but the judge made me feel guilty when he gave the speech about patriotism. He ask if anyone suffered from mental illness: I started to raise my hand. The good news is I am on a civil case.