February 15, 2016

Abiding in Christ and being here for others

After yesterday’s traumatic event, I came to this devotional time asking what God wants of me today. Chambers starts out with a challenge in his title: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” He points out that I am responsible for keeping my own life right before God because if I don’t, everyone about me suffers. This isn’t to say that I cause all their suffering, but that I am without the spiritual resources I need to help them, and that adds to it.

Ministry with the fullness of Christ in my life is sometimes difficult because the person needing ministry may not be open to it, but that does not let me off the hook. I’m supposed to keep my spirit in tune with God regardless of how others respond to me.

It is true that in the body of Christ, we “sit together in heavenly places” and “When one member suffers, all the members suffer with it.” If a Christian close to me is suffering in any way, I feel their pain. If that person is out of fellowship with God, I feel that too. Either way, abiding in Christ is needful. If I am not, I cannot help them and may harm them.

I know what it is like to be on the receiving end. A Christian called tonight and went off on a tangent about a conspiracy that he thinks is at the root of all our problems. He had definitely forgotten that God is sovereign. Nothing happens apart from His control and purpose. Those ‘problems’ even could be His means of bringing people to Himself. Just hearing his unbiblical rant felt like a smack on the side of my head.

There are other reasons why I need to abide in Christ. For instance, no two Christians are alike. We have different experiences and views which can be barriers to togetherness and to serving one another. But our common denominator is that we belong to the Lord.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. (Romans 14:5–9)

Because I belong to Jesus and rely on Him, He can lead me and give me what I need to help someone who is struggling with anything or who has turned their back on God. I may or may not be able to identify with their situation or understand what is happening to them, but God does. I must pay attention to Him, and I can do that if I abide in Him. This goes both ways for I need others to do the same for me.

My worst response when encountering people and problems not like me and mine is judging them instead of seeking the will of God concerning them. For this, God says: “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” (Romans 14:10)

Right now God asks me to care for my husband. I also need to consider our Christian family member who has mere days before he meets Jesus face to face, and another one who is recovering from two surgeries and also adjusting to news of a long-distance move. Being ‘in Christ’ and ‘there for them’ takes every ounce of nervous, mental, moral and spiritual energy I have. Yet this is for Jesus too, and certainly possible only because of His amazing grace.

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