Not Struggling? Not Following!

Sometimes I surprise myself. When I am teaching or preaching or sharing I occasionally say something that makes me think “That’s pretty good!” In moments like that I know that the Holy Spirit is speaking to my soul.

I had just such a happening this week as I was reviewing Romans chapters seven and eight. I think that chapter seven, where Paul describes the battle within, describes an everyday occurrence. Our carnal (fleshly) nature leaves us in a struggle. We know what is right and good. We agree that that is the thing we ought to do or pursue, yet we often lose the struggle and wind up doing the very thing we do not want to do. Whether this is speaking harshly to my children, eating too much of the wrong thing, dealing with addiction of some kind or a myriad of other human tussles, so often we do the very thing we do not want to do. Into this terrible human dilemma steps God’s one true answer. Paul ask the question “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” and then answers “Jesus Christ.”

Chapter seven feels very familiar but the Good News is that there is another chapter to be written. We are a people of hope because our story has another chapter to be written.

Chapter eight begins with a definitive declaration, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Paul moves on to describe both the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, and Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity as interceding for us. I imagine an old fashion tag team wrestling (wrassling) match, in which our protagonist is battered and beaten but reaches out and tags in a partner. This partner leaps over the ropes and soon dispatches the antagonist and snatches victory from the very verge of defeat!

If chapter seven describes our life of struggle then chapter eight offers us the recipe to be more than conquerors. We simply admit our inherent weakness and ‘tag in’ the power of God! If the former chapter’s experience is normative for all humans then chapter eight can be normative for all Christ followers.  A few obstacles keep us from this though. We can settle for losing our battle and excuse ourselves. We settle for justification, that is being saved from the penalty of sin and so never experience the transformation promised in sanctification, that is being saved more and more from the power of sin in our life. This settling is not the following that Christ calls us to! We can also battle our chapter seven struggle in our own paltry strength and live lives of continuous loss. We wait patiently for Heaven and the glorification, that is being finally saved from the very presence of sin, that that moment provides.

If we long to be “more than conquerors” then we must be engaged in the battle. Denial or deferment do not cut it! If we are not fighting then we are not following. I have different struggles today than decades ago, but I have them. I live in the nexus between chapters seven and eight and my daily decisions make all the difference. “If God be for me who can stand against me?”

This week K. one of our residents, shared his testimony at church. The entire Threshold gang showed up to support him. He was very nervous but did a marvellous job! After he was done his buddies stood and cheered for him, the whole congregation joined in. It was beautiful!

On March 18 we are hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast and three of our guys will get to walk in the example of K. as they share their stories.

Mondays some of guys help cook and serve a meal at the Salvation Army.

Tuesday some guys pick up boxes of surplus pizzas from the local Little Caesar and these are directed toward the hungry of the city.

Saturday they help with an East Side Community dinner served at the local Anglican Church.

Two of our guys have found meaningful employment and others are actively looking.

Please keep Threshold House in your prayers.

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