Daniel Fast Day 16

Is It Worth It?

Endeavoring to live a Christ-like life and helping others to do the same can sometimes seem like a challenging task. Paul talks about the hard work it takes to preach Christ’s message. He also talks about the struggle to help people grow to maturity in their relationship with Christ Jesus. This struggle to help people grow in their faith can only be accomplished by relying on God’s power. “So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.  That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.” Colossians 1:28-29(NLT)

Considering our own insufficiencies and even our inadequacies, we often quietly ask the question, “Is it worth it?” However pure our motives are, or how skilled our approach might be, to help people understand the importance and need for change is quite difficult. Think about change in your own life. It is hard to change a habit even when you want to. Having a desire to change something or even a need to change something does not automatically guarantee change. The challenge of change sometimes seems like an insurmountable task.

We all have a need for change and we all should desire to change. What are we supposed to change? Anything and everything that is not a reflection of Christ Jesus needs to change. As much as we would like to focus on ourselves, we must grasp that we are not created to do life on our own. We are created for community, and it is in that community where Jesus has called us to love and serve one another. The challenge with community is that people are involved. I don’t know if you know this, but people can be taxing. If you think people cannot be taxing, you are probably the taxing one or maybe you’re a hermit. Regardless of the difficulty in building community, we must strive for it and be part of it. 

Community is God’s plan. It is so much God’s plan that we are called the Body of Christ. We are called the family of God. We only have brothers and sisters. There aren’t cousins, nieces, or nephews. We have One Father, and we are all heirs of Him and joint heirs with Christ Jesus. We are born again by the same Holy Spirit and cleansed by the Blood of Jesus.
We must awaken within us a desire to stand together, kneel together, pray together and be together. Peter writes and says: “The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.  Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.  Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.” 1 Peter 4:7-9(NLT) These words are as true today as when they were penned. If the end of the world was coming soon in Peter’s time, then we can logically conclude the end is now closer than before. We must increase in the earnestness and discipline of our prayers. Praying is the lifeblood of our communication with the Father. We must be a praying community. When we truly reflect our Father’s character we become a loving community. Love in the community of faith is not a shallow mantra that we repeat because it sounds good, it is a deep fundamental way of living. This love is reflected in how we treat one another, how we forgive one another, and how we are willing to sacrifice for one another. We joyfully open up our hearts and our homes to one another because this love is practically expressed. 

It is within the Body of Christ that God has given us certain gifts so we can serve one another. “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.  Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11(NLT) What a beautiful picture Peter gives us. We must allow the Holy Spirit to paint this picture of Christ’s community on the canvas of our hearts. We must be willing to let go of our so called “culture norms” that have fashioned our unbiblical behaviors towards one another. We must do the hard work of helping and supporting one another. We must use our spiritual gifts as a basis of serving not bragging. Whatever we have received, we must freely share to build up Christ’s church, our spiritual family.

How do we do it? With the strength and energy that God supplies. Relying on God’s strength and energy is the only way to accomplish this. Because loving and serving others is taking a risk. Loving and serving others can be agonizing. Being part of a community naturally exposes us to being hurt, misunderstood, or even overlooked. It does not make these things right but it necessitates us to deeply love one another because that love covers a multitude of sin. “I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally.  I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.  In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments.” Colossians 2:1-4(NLT) 

Here’s the reality, growing in Christ is not optional and helping others grow in Christ is a potential struggle. But just because something is difficult does not mean it is not worth it. Some people will thrive and grow. Others will grow for a season and then just as suddenly as they came, they will go. Some folks will make any and all excuses and present these excuses as valid reasons of “why now is not a good time to be connected.” Some will make promises they do not keep. Some will demand a lot and give very little. Some will gripe and complain. Some will find fault in everything that is said and criticize anything that is done. Some will look for position without service. Some will show no regard for community and no sign of getting any better. Some will hold on to their pain and refuse to make themselves transparent and vulnerable. They would rather stay in their pain than press into their purpose.

Regardless of any of the aforementioned things, our focus must be the same as Paul’s. He agonized over a group of people he did not even physically meet. He was concerned for their spiritual development and growth. Yet he prayed for them, encouraged them, wrote to them, instructed them, and even sacrificed for them. Paul knew that despite the challenges of helping them grow and the potential of them lacking in their development, it was worth the investment. The result of them understanding the truth of Christ in them far outweighed any and all agony he would have to go through. He knew that helping others can only be accomplished by relying on Christ’s power. 

Building community takes hard work. Building community requires sacrifice. Building community takes massive doses of God’s love. Is it worth it? Just ask Paul: “For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.” Colossians 2:5(NLT)  

“Is it worth it?” Paul would say, “Absolutely yes!” What are you waiting for? I promise you it will be worth it.

Prayer and Reflection:
  • How committed are you to the community of faith that God has called you to? Is this commitment seen in your serving, your availability, and your giving?
  • If a Biblical community is God’s idea, why are so many Christians reluctant to engage in it? What can we do to help others be more engaged in community? 
  • How can we help those who have been hurt by other believers, to re-engage in community?
  • How willing are you to sacrifice for the spiritual growth of others?
  • Helping others could be very taxing. Are you relying on God’s energy or your own? How do you know the difference?

Father, thank You for adopting me into Your family. I will forever be grateful for Your love towards me.  I know that community is Your idea and Your desire is for us to be a spiritual family. I ask that You would give me the strength and energy to be fully engaged. I pray for the strength of my brothers and sisters that together we would grow in Christ Jesus.

Help us to focus on what You have called us to do and help us not to be distracted or discouraged by the actions of others. Where I have failed my fellow believers, please forgive me and remind me that we are stronger together. May You give all of us a desire to know You deeper and to build life giving relationships with others.

I pray for our communities of faith, that You would make us one, and that the prayer of Jesus for us would be fulfilled. Thank You Jesus for growing me and growing others together in Your love. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen!
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