More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance … Romans 5:3
Monday, November 30, 2015
Crash and Burn Edition
I was watching an episode of some science fiction-type, post-apocalyptic television show, of which there seems to be a plethora these days. One of the more villainous – but, of course, villainous “for the greater good” – characters challenged the main protagonist, accusing him of being a “cowboy” who enjoyed living in the death throes of civilized society.
Isn’t one of the reasons we like to ice skate is that we stand a better chance of falling? Isn’t the true beauty of ice skating learning to be graceful in our defiance of gravity, balancing on a knife edge while moving over the slipperiest surface we can find? The Lord does not call us to follow Him to safety and security in a bubble-wrap heaven. He calls us to live dangerously, to follow Him boldly out onto the thin ice of obedience in the very face of suffering and death.
Right now, like the fictional heroes we admire in westerns and adventure stories, we face the challenge of a post-Christian world. A true Christian is in open rebellion against the world and its standards, its rules and its laws. We are bound to be obedient to a higher law – the law of love, and love is and always has been dangerous. Like ice skating, downhill skiing, skydiving, skateboarding, bicycle or motorcycle riding, bull-riding, rock climbing, etc., the whole game of the Christian life is to defy the Fall, to challenge the world’s gravity and defeat it using its own power against it.
For once, the ESV fails us slightly. A better word for “rejoice” in the verse above is “exult” or “glory”. We do not merely overcome the corruption and suffering of a fallen world system. The real trick is to gracefully glory in our defiance of the pull of sorrow, regret, and fear, to laugh in the face of death and despair.
We should not kid ourselves. The champion figure skater does not perform without paying the toll of many falls, bruises, pain, and frustration. Grace grows by stumbles, struggles and tears. As Bunyan’s Pilgrim learned, there is no shortcut that avoids the trials of life in this sphere. We, too, will come to cross the Slough of Despond. We will be hindered by snares. We will face defeat. Yet defeat is not permanent unless we refuse to get up and try again. Each time we slip we get up stronger, making one more minute adjustment to our balance. Each failure is one failure closer to perfection, i.e., maturity.
And, if the ice is getting thin, remember that Jesus walked on the water, and Peter walked with Him.