Friday, December 8, 2023

Three Things to Remember about Jesus

I had a delightful time in Hebrew Matthew again this morning. More on that later. After my Bible study I went to the gym for a cardio workout. 

I exercised in place with light weights for about 45 minutes. 

The music that happened to be playing during this video clip has these lyrics:

Don't be afraid to fall, cause I won't let you. If it gets worse before it gets better, don't be afraid to fall. 

We all feel like that at times, don't we, like we're going to fall, like we can't find the strength to cope with our weaknesses and problems. There's an idea in some Christian circles that all believers are strong and omnicompetent and able to do anything and everything. The truth is that none of us feels like that all the time. I know I don't. We feel weak, we feel frail, we are afraid to fall. But the gospel isn't only for the strong. This came home to me while writing my doctoral dissertation in Basel. It was eventually published under the title, Paul, Apostle of Weakness. If you've ever wondered if the gospel was for the weak or not, rest assured, our weaknesses and infirmities are no surprise to God. I think the older we get, the more we recognize this. I mean, here I am getting my bi-weekly B12 shot at my doctor's office today. 

The lack of (or in my case, the total absence of) this essential vitamin is common among older men and especially among marathoners. Without my shots I wouldn't be alive today. In each of our lives, there are areas we're strong in and areas we're weak in. And we all need encouragement, someone to tell us, "I won't let you down. Things may be hard but they will get better. Don't be afraid to fall. Don't be afraid to take risks." 

I think most of us struggle in our Christian lives much more than we care to admit. There's no shame in that. There's no shame in admitting that I began exercising as a means of coping with grief after Becky's death. The point of the Christian life is that it's supremely an exercise of faith in God's sovereignty. Often we go to him only when we know there's nothing we can do ourselves. Perhaps that's why I love exercising so much. Every time I go to the gym I'm reminded that none of this is possible without the enabling of God who is at work in me -- in my mind, in my intellect, in my emotions, even in my physical body. The real power comes, not from me, but from him. God is the one who is sanctifying us and making us holy and Christlike. And that very power of God helps us to keep persevering to the end. It's a wonderful thought, isn't it? Christ won't let us go. Christ will help us up again when we fall. "The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it" (1 Thess. 5:24). 

Someone once said that there are three things believers should remember about Jesus. First, he will never let you down. Second, he will never let you off. And third, he will never let you go. He will never let us down because he's always faithful to us. At the same time, he will always hold us to the highest standards. Yet even when we fall short, he will never cast us off because we are his forever. 

Believer, rather than focus on the weaknesses we see in ourselves, let's remember that they are God's platform from which to speak to you and to me. So show up. For me, that means showing up at the gym. For you it might be someplace else. Either way, it is holy ground. God is here.