If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. 2 Cor. 11:30
This is undoubtedly one of the most profound statements in the Bible made by a man apart from Christ.
It is impossible for a person who has not suffered in the flesh to bring life into the Church. He may preach and do many things in the Church; but he will not bring life. I am not talking about this physical life. There are many things that we do, even in church, that bring life to us in the natural. And it is a man’s right to boast in whatever they have accomplished.
Today there are born-again Christians who have been ‘perfected’ in the flesh. They can therefore boast in the things of the flesh. A man was speaking at an open-air evangelistic meeting in one of our major towns and he said, “I have more than one degree. I have more than one car. I am not a thief. I am a big executive in one of the biggest banks in this country. My car that you see parked there is brand new, as you can see; I just removed it from its wrappings!”
Unbelievable, but true. He went on to say that his certificates had been prayed upon by anointed men of God, and that was how his journey to glory began. He was trying to point out that we born-again Christians are not supposed to live low-class lives; that we are to live the high life because we are blessed!
It is unfortunate, but the Church of Christ has been brought to the place where it believes that that is the life God has for them. Today, you are expected to apologise if you touch negatively on this aspect of the Christian life. You are supposed to say, every time, “God is not against us prospering materially, but…”
It is time to stop saying that. It is time to boldly reproof a Church that is clearly becoming more and more materialistic-minded.
When the Bible talks about life, it talks about the life of the Spirit, the life of Christ.
The Bible says we are to be “living stones” (1 Pet. 2:5). That means we have died with Christ and risen with Him. There are no short-cuts to becoming a “living stone” in the Body of Christ. The Bible also says that “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Mat. 7:14. I have asked this question here before, but I will ask it again: How can we believe that the many masses in churches today are truly following that narrow road? Jesus Himself said that “few there be that find it”.
The Apostle Paul was as human as you and I. When therefore God decided to work in him in order for him to become an effective vessel for Him, Paul instinctively tried to resist. It was painful. He says he prayed three times for God to remove the thorn from his flesh. Three times! For a man of the calibre of Paul to pray three times for God to set him free from a certain situation, it shows how difficult it will be even for us to accept the will of God in our lives.
But God was adamant. He told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”(2 Cor. 12:9). In other words, God told Paul, “No, my friend, I want to use you; and that is the only way you can become of any use to me. I have no alternative but to break you down.”
The Apostle Paul received much grace from the Lord. Why? Because he came to understand what the Lord wanted to do and he agreed to align his life with what God wanted to do in his life. He obeyed God. Immediately thereafter, Paul says, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Cor. 12:10
It is not easy to obey God. It needs the grace of God. I have heard of people saying they obeyed God and He blessed them with this and that material blessing. That is so easy! If someone tells me to “plant a seed” of so much money so that I may “harvest” a hundredfold, that is so easy and comfortable to do.
But it is time to believe and obey God in enduring suffering on His behalf.