First, let me set it up. I’ve tended to look at the first disciples and believers in a different way than I see us—modern day believers. I’ve made the assumption that they were more empowered and focused, because many of them actually walked with Jesus during His life, learned from Him directly and had these amazing encounters with Him even after His death and resurrection.
I guess I kind of looked at them as superheroes. (Feel free to laugh.) But as I was reading through first and second Corinthians recently, I came upon this:
We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. — 2 Cor 1:8-11
Paul is open here about what they have suffered, and indeed they faced the very threat of death in persecution. But what I want to focus on is what he says about how they persevered.
But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.
My friends, as I read this line, I saw the very same challenge in our own faith journeys today. Though their trial was great, Paul says they learned to stop relying upon themselves and to rely only on God. Don’t we often have to learn this same lesson? More than once most likely. And I think it is a lesson we learn in different areas of our lives as well. We so often have to reach the end of ourselves to grab hold of God.
But Paul goes on to say more about this process.
And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.
The result of God’s rescue brought an increase in Paul’s faith and those with them. They now can see their future confidently in God’s protection and trust Him to do it again. Such confidence and trust!
Here’s the equation I see in this:
Relying on and trusting God + God’s rescue = Increased faith and confidence in God to do it again
The disciples and early believers did this and we do too. Paul continues to show the full effect of this outward ripple not only on him and his team, but also how it affected those praying for them.
And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.
Paul is pointing out how all this worked together, that he, those with him and those praying for them were acting together as the body of Christ. It’s a beautiful example of how even our trials when shared can strengthen and unite a body of believers.
My friends, again, I will say we are an amazing community here. I see our SUM community operating in the same way as Paul and his fellow believers did. And I find that greatly encouraging and inspiring.
And we are continuing the legacy of these early believers even today, my friends. I find that astounding and very powerful. We are more like those early believers than I realized. In a way, they are superheroes in that they inspire us to imitate them as they imitated Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1).
SUMites, you are superheroes in the faith!
Share your voice, heart and love in the comments.
Marching Around Jericho is a spiritual guide. As you read through the pages, powerful and transformative instruction and equipping takes place. We follow Jesus as he leads us around the walls, imparting kingdom truths with each passing, finally arriving at the gates of the walled-off city, our spouse’s unbelieving heart. After the circles in prayer are complete, we arrive fully prepared to command the walls to crumble and be removed, making a way for our spouse to step from the rubble of lies and captivity, into faith and freedom!
Available January 2020