> 16 God His reward
15. How did God instruct the people now about joy and suffering?
Christ endorsed his disciples with the Spirit of the Father, and they multiplied more disciples for the Father. He invested those with the same Spirit of God, and sent them out to places where he had never been. He sent them to the ends of the earth. They grew more places for Him. He was present in the most awkward, the most evil, the most unlovely, the most dangerous and the most unlikely places. He is there still, and we see Him in the face of His church. The temple is no longer a structure of bricks and mortar, like Solomon’s Temple or Herod’s Temple. It moved in the first century into “the body of Christ”. Paul reminds us, “don’t you know, that you yourself are God’s Temple, and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” It is impossible now to destroy this edifice which God has set up for we are not our own. “Destroy it, and I will raise it up in three days”.
If we are of God, He requires us to do His work. He can do it perfectly, of course, if He wants, but He assigns us His work, because He wants us to learn more about Him. What better way to learn about him, that to do His work. “The foolishness of God is wiser than men”, yet He accepts the frail, inadequate worker who with his/her free will, makes wrong choices and foolish decisions, to represent Him as Holiness upon the earth, and guides him to righteousness. What other employer would do that?
Paul equates our misguided tendencies with prostitution, and asks, “Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with prostitutes. Never6.1 1 Corinthians 6. We cannot, with any conscience, just leave problems up to God to solve. He requires some effort on our behalf. We need to see His will, and let Him work through us, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God, who works in you”.
As Saul went about persecuting Christians, it was Jesus he persecuted, as Jesus told him on the Damascus Road. Jesus’ own body was in those Christians. It is Jesus in them/us who work the works of faith. Hurt those who Jesus loves, and hurt Jesus. Support those who Jesus loves, and we support Jesus. Be one who Jesus loves, and others will see Jesus. Work in the church for their salvation and it is a work of God. That is why Saul became Paul and never forgot the lesson that those Christians he persecuted were Christ ones, and that he was persecuting Christ, in persecuting Christians. The responsibility is awesome, that if God does a work in us, and that if He is present with His son in our lives, then others may see Him and know Him and understand. If we do not struggle to be like Him, then we might deceive others, and we might deceive ourselves, but of course, never Him. We, with our freewill and wayward ways are the greatest cost to God. Here is the disappointment for God. When outsiders look at the flawed humans who represent God, they are disillusioned with God and cannot see His face. God does not need us to fulfill His purpose, but He does want us, and offers us the way to be part of His plan, to be “members of his household”, brought near from “faraway places”, in “a dwelling in which God lives by His spirit”. But He does not need us. God is not now in His tabernacle tent, or the Temple of stone, but He will be in us if we invite Him.
It is the manifold wisdom of God, the divine manifestation that is now manifested in each one of His people. They in turn dwell in Him, and that is how we are His Temple.
There is no doubt there is no risk for the ungodly, for without any faith they are never confronted with any disappointment with God. They are safe in their ignorance and will pass away. The ignorant is sure in his mind where he is in the scheme of things. If we keep in sin and evil, we risk God’s allegiance to us. We can, with His gift of freewill, at anytime remove ourselves from Him. However He keeps on trying with us, giving us opportunities to make way for Him. The risk to the believer is to bear the hurts and the tragedies and the flawed responses to any goodness in life, and the disappointment that God is apparently silent or hidden, or not even listening. That burden bearing means that we are left only with faith in a future hope.
>> 16 God His reward