August 30 I Sunday
1 Corinthians 11:1-16
“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.” —Philippians 4:12-13
C. S. Lewis once said, “If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” As Christians, we will find ourselves in difficult situations facing trials and persecutions. Yet, the comforting thing as a Christian is that the Christian life is embodied in the life of Christ at work through us. Just as Christ walked, we are to walk in the power of who He is, and that influences every part of our life.
The Apostle Paul serves as a great example on what it means to live a life of loving God, loving others and sharing with them the message and reality of Christ. Locked up in a dungeon in Rome and about to be beheaded by Nero, Paul writes his final letters to Timothy. Paul says, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near” (2 Timothy 4:6). In the Old Testament, the drink offering was one of the offerings where none of it was reserved for the priest; a drink offering is poured out on the altar in its entirety. What Paul is saying is, “I have given everything and I am ready to enter eternal rest.”
Looking back on Paul’s life, he was beaten, stoned, whipped and persecuted for the sake of Christ. Paul did not experience a safe Christianity; he experienced a dangerous Christianity. And this man who has been faithful to what God has called him to do––who has given his whole life to it––is sitting in a prison cell and about to die alone. In fact, he knew this day would come when he said farewell to the Ephesian elders: “I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me––the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:23-24).
Paul is ready to die and leaves Timothy with these final words: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Paul’s final words give us some sobering clarity. Even though the Christian life is not a comfortable life, it is a rewarding life because it is a satisfied life with God.
Prayer: Dear God, keep me steadfast upon You. Strengthen me as I run this race, completing the task of sharing Your gospel message to all the world. Thank You, God.