I faced these dangers with hard work and heavy labor, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, and in the cold without enough clothes…Who is weak without me being weak? – 2 Corinthians 11:27, 29a
There are times in following Christ that you have to stop and ask, “Is it worth it?”
When a young pastor, I remember asking this when my fantasy of what pastoring would be like burst against the sharp reality of congregational life. Every clergy who’s survived the first decade or so of pastoral life has their share of times when they’ve asked that question. Get a group of us together and reminiscing, and we’re a lot of fun to be around.
Yet there’s no difference between what we experience in discovering the reality of church life and what any Christian experiences in discovering the reality of life itself. Following the Christ who embodied the non-violence of turning the other cheek, along with the self-sacrifice on the cross in protesting injustice, and there’s no escaping it: “hard work, heavy labor, and sleepless nights” are expected and required of disciples.
Not only required, but needed.
How else do we experience the transforming power of Christ’s teachings unless we actually try to live them out?
How will we know the power of forgiveness unless we forgive?
…The power of liberation unless we advocate for the oppressed?
…The power of community unless we welcome those different from ourselves?
…The power of peace unless we persevere?
Our Christian faith has to be played out against the realities of this world in order for us to realize just how special it is. It also has to be played out in order for Christ to change the realities of this world through us.
It’s a good thing he said, “Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”