Celebrity!

I love celebrity. I mean real celebrity.

A celebrity is someone who is publicly known for something distinctive – something that others can look at, write about, or admire. A celebrity is someone who others want to follow, or know, or be like. Maybe they can move faster, or jump further, or climb higher, or dive deeper, or hit harder. Maybe they can sing louder, or act more convincingly, or dance more expertly, or write more creatively, or speak more persuasively, or make people laugh more hysterically. Maybe they can make more money, or invent more things, or manage more people. There are many reasons why someone becomes famous and stands out in a culture.

When we follow celebrity, there is always a cost – it may be our time, money or energy.

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Bold in Mission (Part 1 of 7)

What an incredible city. As I look around, Athens was imposingly magnificent. Over there, the massive harbour of Piraeus – helping make the city a centre for trade. Over there the Temple of Zeus with its imposing columns scaling up to the high ceilings and with statues everywhere, one to this god and another to that god – they like their religion! Over there at the entrance to the city stands the beautiful Hadrian’s Arch, on one side it dedicates the city to Emperor Hadrian and on the other side to Theseus! – there is politics behind everything and this city was no exception. Over there the huge two-tiered covered colonnade called the Stoa of Attalus, the largest marketplace around – making this city a centre of culture and fashion. The Epicurean and Stoic philosophers would sit day by day in the marketplaces and argue about ideas – there is so much idealism just pervading this culture. And all of this, sitting in the shadow of the Acropolis. Many Greek cities have some kind of citadel constructed on hills overlooking their cities, but none were as formidable or as famous as the Parthenon perched high above Athens – making this a city of power and a tourism gold mine.

But it was at the Areopagus on Mars Hill, just a few hundred feet down from the Acropolis where the governing body of the city met and it was there they brought me. You see, I had been preaching the good news about Jesus and his resurrection and the people of the city thought that I was advocating for a foreign god and so, interested, they asked me about this ‘new teaching’ – I guess I was presenting an idea which they wanted to postulate about!

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How does a Christian become more resilient in suffering? (Part 6 of 6)

Living now in the face of Suffering.

How does a Christian become more resilient in suffering?

Some practical suggestions:

1. Pray – it is a brave person who prays that they may suffer for the sake of Christ! Prayer is one thing that you can do under any circumstance of suffering – and listening, is our Father in heaven. Don’t pray that persecution may stop (the Bible doesn’t say it will!). Don’t pray that you will be rescued (God may have plans for you in your suffering!). Don’t pray that those who make you suffer will be punished (that is not how Jesus prayed!). Instead, pray that you would be strengthened and obedient through your suffering. Pray also for other Christians who experience different degrees of suffering to you (Eph 6:18-20

2. Reset your expectations – The Apostle Peter suggests that Christian take the same attitude as Christ. Expect that a part of the Christian life (not all of it) will involve some tough stuff and that will be most acute when you stand for your faith. Peter’s strategy in the face of the suffering was to remember the Lord, recognise that standing for Jesus does not put you at fault, and realise there is no reason to be ashamed (1 Peter 4:14-16)

3. Proclaim Jesus – know what you believe so that when put on the spot you are able to stand firm for Jesus (c.f. Eph 6:14-17, 19-20). One of the best ways to defend yourself, is to continue to proclaim Christ (John 15:27).

4. Love those who make you suffer – Jesus in the Sermon of the Mount taught his disciples to ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ (Matt 5:44 c.f. Romans 12:14, 17-21). There is a humility that demonstrates a Christlike attitude which is on display whenever a Christian suffers.

5. Recharge – You have been given a Christian family who can be a wonderful support. Under God, use them to help you recharge and then return to continue standing firm for Jesus (Heb 10:24-25).

Christian suffering when put into a Christ-shaped perspective calls for a resilience that trusts that God will one day put all things right. Christians should live out the good will of God not just at times of comfort and convenience but also in the times of challenge, conflict or persecution.

‘And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen’.                              (1 Peter 5:10)

 

For more in this Series:

Resilient in Suffering

If you are going to live for Christ, are you willing to make a stand?

Living for Christ will involve Suffering!

Strategies for Resilience in Suffering

Suffering and Judgement

How does a Christian become more resilient in suffering?

 

Suffering and Judgement (Part 5 of 6)

Suffering and Judgement

Personally, I don’t really like the idea of suffering, even for a good cause. It is a brave person who prays – ‘Lord, make me suffer so that you will get the glory!’

I wonder, what the original readers of 1 Peter might have been thinking as they contemplated all the different kinds of suffering that might lie before them. Like us, I am sure they would have been uncertain.

Peter, seems to have understood that uncertainty and offers some perspective by looking at the role judgement plays in suffering.

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Living for Christ will involve Suffering! (Part 3 of 6)

Here is a truth that is hard to swallow: Living for Christ will involve suffering!

Peter puts this truth into perspective in his first letter. First he spoke of a a Christ-centred hope (1:3-2:10), then he taught his readers how to live with a Christ-centred hope (2:11-4:11). In the final section of his letter, Peter wants to ensure that his readers understand what it means to suffer under a Christ-centred hope (4:12-5:11).

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If you are going to live for Christ, are you willing to make a stand? (Part 2 of 6)

‘The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy.’ so said Martin Luther King Jnr, the great American Black Civil Rights Leader and Preacher at a Nobel Peace Prize Recognition Dinner on 27th January 1965.[1]

It is a profound statement and one which many Christians should be able to relate too. Christians can say what they believe, but that belief is most clearly tested, most obvious, when Christians have to stand firm through challenge, conflict or persecution.

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Resilient in Suffering (Part 1 of 6)

My job was to care for the widows. Our church was growing so quickly and it was a joy to see that together we could care well for those who were more vulnerable. I would help distribute food particularly to our new Christian sisters – Grecian and Hebraic Jewish ladies who had come to faith and needed material support – we wanted to make sure no one was overlooked.

It was privilege to serve in this way, because it meant that the apostles were freed up to focus on what we all knew was a priority – prayer and the ministry of the word of God.

I got myself into a little bit of a fix, I wish it didn’t happen – a fight that was blown way out of proportion.

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Praying the Lord’s Way (Part 5 of 6)

So how do we pray?

Jesus taught his disciples to pray in Matthew 6. His instruction came in the middle of a sermon, called the ‘sermon on the mount’ (hardly surprising as Jesus often withdrew to a mountain to pray). His concern is that the disciples conducted themselves in a way that was pleasing to the Lord as opposed to pleasing before people (6:1, 18) and he offers three areas of concern: Giving (6:2-4), Prayer (6:5-15) and Fasting (6:16-18).

This is what he says about prayer:

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