What Kind of Sign is Your Life?
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)
In the previous article (Life’s Not Fair!) we looked at the life of Joseph, and saw how he was treated unfairly. He had to live many years as both a slave and a prisoner, suffering for wrongs he never committed. But he never abandoned God’s calling in his life, and the dreams that God had given to him as a youth. The result was that he prospered in everything he did, and people were drawn to him, and trusted in him. His life was like a giant billboard, testifying about his faith in God, and people looked to him for help.
What kind of sign is your life? When the difficulties of life overwhelm you, what do people read in you? Do they see a person of faith trusting in the love and grace of God, or do they see someone who complains and gets angry over the trials of life?
The church in Thessalonica was a shining example of believers facing adversity in the days of Paul. They faced tremendous persecution for the stand they took for Christ, and their faith was like a big billboard proclaiming who they were trusting in, as Paul wrote: “among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.” (2 Thessalonians 1:4)
Paul prayed for these believers in Thessalonica the prayer that is recorded above. When God calls us out of the kingdom of darkness and brings us into his kingdom, it is not something we have earned or deserve. We simply receive his calling in our life by faith. But once he brings us into his kingdom, it should be our goal to become worthy of his calling. It is not something we can do in our own strength, which is why Paul prayed that the Thessalonian believers would receive God’s power to accomplish his purpose in their lives, and that their actions would be prompted by faith instead of fear, or anger. They faced tremendous persecution and suffering for following Christ.
He then goes on to give the reason why he prayed for this: “so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him.” Our lives are to be a sign to others that the message of Jesus is real. The strength by which we are to face trials and suffering to display this sign is “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The grace of God is a power that nothing in this world can overcome. Paul goes on to write later in the letter: “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)
Facing loss of family, job, and even life for the result of believing in Christ is not something most people in America have to face (yet). However, many Christians around the world today do face these kinds of trials on a daily basis as a result of their faith in Christ. Their life is a sign to others that the gospel of Jesus is true, and that it is possible to forsake the ways of the world and fully trust in God.
One of the places where this kind of persecution is currently happening today is in Nigeria. Here is a letter from a believer in Nigeria as posted on the Christian Aid website this week:
I want to give you the following story, just told me by Pastor Darlington Elekwa, who was discipling the boy. Darlington was one of my student leaders in the early ’80s:
“I learned just this morning how my beloved boy, John Nfon Nsima, was murdered in cold blood by terrorists at Gada Bako, Nasarawa Gwom. He was only 20 years old. One of John’s colleagues was taking him home on a motor bike. About 100 Muslim youths waylaid them, demanding that they declare that they have become Muslims. The rider of the motorbike did, but John refused. He maintained that he was a Christian and would die a Christian. Right there, they cut him down on the spot with axes and machetes. They gave the other one some cuts and let him go.
This surviving colleague of John’s who rode the motorbike told us the story. We have gone round all the hospitals in search of his remains, but to no avail. Unfortunately his body must have been among hundreds of others given mass burial. We are obviously proud of our late brother who stood gallantly and refused to deny Christ even in the face of death.”
You can read more here.
John Nfon Nsima’s life in Nigeria was a sign that pointed people to Jesus. God made him worthy of the calling in which he was called. And through God’s grace, the name of the Lord Jesus Christ was glorified in him, and now he is glorified in Christ.
How about your life? What kind of sign are people reading in you? Is the name of Jesus glorified in you? Or do you look like the majority around you in the world today, walking in the kingdom of darkness?
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9-14)