Monday, December 08, 2008

I'm a Christian ... Get Me Out Of Here? (2)

So Joe Swash of Eastenders has been crowned king of the jungle in the latest series of I'm a Celebrity. The trials are all finished for him, and he can revel in the satisfaction of winning and defeating the other celebrities.

I've been thinking a bit more about what I wrote in the last post, and am convinced that the I'm A Christian, Get Me Out Of Here just wouldn't wash with the Apostle Paul. Do you remember what he said in his second letter to the Corinthians?

So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. (2 Corinthians 12:7-8)

Do you hear Paul crying out - I'm a Christian, get me out of here - or else get it out of me! Elsewhere in the Scripture we see the tremendous depth and fervency of Paul's prayers, so we can be sure he was pleading fervently with the Lord on this matter. But what is the Lord's response? Why does Paul have to plead three times, and still not have the thorn (whatever it was) removed?

But he (the Lord) said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me... For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

No special privileges, no exemption from suffering. It doesn't sound so great to be a Christian, or in Paul's case, an apostle, does it? And yet, as we pass through suffering, we are strong, not because of ourselves, but because we depend all the more on God's grace to get us through.

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