September 6, 2013

Christian Living:Don't Get Played

**I originally wrote this for my church's blog last year. 
I still love it so much and wanted to share it with the readers of my personal blog! Enjoy!**

I’m not one that’s big on keeping up with the every move of celebrities. However, there are a few that I’ll lend an ear to when they have a radio interview or television appearance.  One of the celebrities I’m semi-interested in is Will Smith. We saw him start as a rapper turned actor on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and now he’s one of the Hollywood elite. I may not like all of his projects or totally agree with his theology but I respect his insane work ethic and his thoughtfulness. When I saw the quote pictured above, some questions came to mind. What if I didn’t know you during your struggle? Technically I was absent. Does that mean I don’t have the chance to know you during your success? Call it being facetious but I felt inclined to ask!

The more I thought about the quote, the more I thought about people who were absent in my struggles but front and center, oddly enough, when things were going well. I remember the hurt I felt.  I became less likely to trust those people.  They had no loyalty. Their love and support were conditional in ways that were too painful to ignore. It was okay to call me when they needed a dollar but if I needed a dollar, they were nowhere to be found.  My thoughts fell more in sync with Will Smith’s approach; leaving those “friends” in the past along with their lack of support.

Feelings aside, is this a biblical concept? Would Jesus agree with Will and say, “If you were absent in my struggles, don’t expect to be present at my success”?

The Christian walk is filled with struggle. We each have a cross to bear. Pastor Billingy recently reminded us that if we are to be called one of His own, we must learn to rejoice in suffering. She pointed to Philippians 3:8-14. Verse 10 in the Message Bible translation says, “I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, BE A PARTNER IN HIS SUFFERING, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.”

If you are brutally honest with yourself, can you say that you are willing to participate in Christ’s suffering even unto death? When Pastor Billingy asked that question in a recent sermon, you could hear the uncomfortable murmurs throughout the congregation. What’s unsettling about that is the fact that we are in the last days and we can’t honestly stand up and say that we would take a bullet for the same Man who died naked on a cross for us. He suffered so that we could live again. Even if you take out the concept of dying for him, many of us can’t even deal with temporary pain joyfully on his behalf. This is upsetting to God. How do I know? I know because he makes it very clear that if you can’t deal with it down here on Earth, you will have no part in the greatest success of all: Heaven and ceaseless fellowship with him.

The Message translation of Matthew 10: 32-33 says “Stand up for me against world opinion and I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven. If you turn tail and run, do you think I’ll cover you?”  Mark 8: 38 says “If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels.”

So basically, Jesus agrees with Will Smith 100%.

Think about how it cuts so deeply when you feel abandoned in your suffering. Friends and family that you thought would be there for you are nowhere to be found. Now, think about how many times you do that to Jesus…on a regular basis. It hurts Him too! It hurts Jesus so much to the point where he’s technically saying (21st century translation), ‘You want to play me and act like you don’t know me? Okay fine! But at the end of the day, you are NOT welcomed to my house and if you even try to act like you know me, I will play you in front of my Father and all the angels.  I’d say that classifies as a “don’t expect to be present in my success” moment. Wouldn’t you? So will you play spectator to Christ’s sufferings and then when He comes back ballin’, try to act like you know Him? Here’s a word of advice: don’t get played.

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