In our lessons lately, our pastor has been teaching from an outline of five basic principles that encapsulate living the Christian Life. They are…
1. Knowing the angelic conflict
2. Knowing how to glorify God (there are specific criterion)
3. Know no man after the flesh
4. Live for others
5. Continually take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
We just spent a week or so on knowing the angelic conflict — not an indepth teaching on the entire doctrine, but rather emphasizing how it answers some of the deep questions many people ask and few can answer. Why sin? Why did God create any of us, angels included, knowing His creatures would rebel? Why suffering and chaos? Why disaster, especially when it comes into the lives of those who are making good decisions and going forward in the plan of God?
The timing of this in concert with what’s been going on in my own life has been… well, certainly not coincidental since I don’t believe in coincidence. Before the moment needed, God provides His word and its answers. He also provides it after the moment needed, just to confirm. And, come to think of it, in the moment, as well. I guess He’s got all bases covered.
Why suffering? Why disaster? It’s getting clearer for me. Here’s a section of my notes from a recent lesson that really resonated:
You were doing all the right things, you’d made positive decisions, had kept going forward in the Plan and you were waiting for the promised blessings to be dropped in your lap. And they were. Except they didn’t look at all like you expected them to look.
They were the blessings of adversity and undeserved suffering. Not prosperity, going through success and having business propositions coming in that made you look like a great business person. No. What matters isn’t whether you are successful in the world’s eyes, but did you stick with the Plan? Did you keep going forward, reaching for what lies ahead? Or did you come up with an excuse to give it up and go back to the world’s ways?
God has a way of having something come into your life that you didn’t expect. It may be physical suffering; it may be problems in relationships — problems in the marriage, in the family, in friendships. It may be problems with success or money. All seemingly negative things, yet all for our benefit. But if you go forward, regardless, you’ll receive real divine blessings, of the same nature as our Lord received.
When He was on the cross, that didn’t seem at all like blessing according to the world’s view, but look at where He is now because of it: King of kings, Lord of lords, seated at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places. One day every knee will bow and He will rule forever in righteousness. But He had to go through the Cross first.
I think too often people expect the world to be heaven. They want everything to go right, they want success, money, pleasure, good relationships, good health, etc. I know I did. But if you understand the angelic conflict, then you know that’s not it at all. The world isn’t heaven, it’s fallen. It’s a battleground. It’s a theater. The angels are learning things from us. We’re not here to have things go our way and have a nice life. We’re here to bring glory to God in the angelic conflict. And that takes suffering, as the book of Job so clearly illuminates.
This world is also temporary. What matters is the eternal, but unfortunately I think it takes a lifetime to really believe that.