Following Jesus is supposed to be hard? – 1st Corinthians 15:51-57

8 Oct

hardtofollowAfter the sermon this past Sunday, our sermon discussion group had a lively conversation about how hard it is to experience Victory in Jesus.  Some even suggested that it is supposed to be hard!  What do you think about that?

Have you ever felt that it is difficult to be a follower of Jesus?  Why is that?

Jesus said “my yoke is easy, and my burden in light” but it can feel super hard to follow him, to do what he did, to have self-control, to fight temptation, to restrain our lusts, our anger, our indulgent hungers.  When we’re cursed, we want to lash back.  When we feel empty inside, we want to bully others.  We see friends succeed, and our eyes turn green with false injustice.

There are times when it doesn’t seem following Jesus is possible.  When Paul talks about victory in Jesus maybe he was just talking about life after death?

When we feel like this, we need to take into account what Paul has said in all of 1st Corinthians so far.   To do that, we must go back to the first verses of the chapter where he said that receiving the Good News of Jesus is to believe the content and make a lifelong commitment to the Gospel.  When we do that we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. Our bodies will die, yes, but the Lord will raise them again to new life.  That is victory! Jesus won that victory, and now we have hope of eternal life victory with new bodies in heaven! Praise the Lord.

But remember what we talked about last week? That victory isn’t just for heaven. We can experience victory in Jesus now. He wants us to experience what he called his abundant life now! We can experience God’s resurrection power in our lives now.

The question is, are you experiencing the victory of Jesus in your life now? Are you experiencing the life-changing power of God now, such that you are seeing him transform you, seeing him give you victory over sin?

I did a Google image search on the world victory, and what do you think came up the most? People on a mountaintop with their hands raised, Victory motorcycles, victory in sports, victory in war, victory in politics, and of course victory in Jesus.

Not a single picture of Nike shoes, or the Nike swoosh.

Nike? Yes, Nike. The Greek word for “Victory” as well as the name of the Greek goddess of victory. Nee-kay.

But here is victory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ejh_hb15Fc

That boy experienced victory because some other caring guys on his team wanted him to experience victory. And you know what? By giving him the chance to experience victory, they experienced it too.

You might be feeling like life is less than victorious for you lately. Perhaps you need to help some others experience a bit of that victorious life.

Or maybe you are struggling so deeply with the stuff of life, you feel like you just can’t overcome it.

I would encourage you to bring it up. Don’t hold it in. Get together with a trusted friend and talk about it.

Definitely pray about it. Tell God everything. And read through the Psalms. When is the last time you read in the Psalms? They are loaded with people who are struggling with life. King David (the guy who once had victory over Goliath) had lots of victory in his life. But he also struggled quite a bit, and in many of his Psalms, he puts his anguish out there. At times he takes me aback with how blunt he is with God. But, yes, you can be blunt with God. God can handle our pain. Learn from David in the Psalms how to talk with God, how to let it all out, how to hope for victory in the midst of suffering.

Maybe there is a sin in your life that is so difficult you don’t know what to do. Then go to professional counseling. When Michelle and I came home after only a year of church-planting in Jamaica (we planned on a lifetime in missions), feeling less than victorious, actually feeling like failures, we needed help. Admittedly skeptical, we went to professional counseling, which I thought up to that time was never something that I would need. I was wrong. It changed my life.  Through counseling I found victory in Jesus.

If you live near Lancaster or Lebanon Counties in south-central Pennsylvania, and you need professional counseling, even if you are unsure about it, I urge you to check out The Marriage and Family Centers.  They are incredible people who have many others experience victory.

Even at your lowest point, there is hope! Because Jesus won the victory over sin and death and he wants you to experience that victory with him!

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