A good friend shared a philosophy about church with me that he had heard: Church should be enjoyed, not endured.
I have been thinking about this a lot ever since I heard it because while it sounded good, there was something that didn’t sit quite right with me. I believe 2 Corinthians revealed the truth to me.
2 Corinthians 4:11 “For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
This is why church will not always be an enjoyable experience. If a church is being faithful to Word of God, faithful to Jesus, and faithful to proclaim the way of the cross there will be times when church feels like death. We are worldly, carnal people as a whole, even in the church, and as a church and a pastor are faithful to teach and preach what God has said about life and godliness there will be conviction of sin and worldliness, and a confrontation with our flesh. That confrontation that comes from faithful preaching will cause us to be uncomfortable as the Word of God works as a mirror to show us who we are, how carnal we have been acting, how full self we are. The confrontation of the Word of God and the claims of Christ will put us to a decision: Will we die to ourself as we submit to the Word and follow Him? Or will we choose to ignore the tough words as we indulge the flesh?
“For the time will come when THEY WILL NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE, but ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN DESIRES, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will TURN THEIR EARS AWAY FROM THE TRUTH, and be turned aside to fables. But YOU be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, FULFILL YOUR MINISTRY.” -2 Timothy 4:3-5
The time will come when they will not ENDURE. In the end times people will look for teachers, for churches, and for a message that appease their own desires. Churches will be built on the foundation of never saying anything that causes discomfort, confrontation, or Godly sorrow. They will supremely look to make an enjoyable experience and entertain the flock. God says that is turning away from the truth. Turning away from the reality that when we choose the cross, we will have to die. The flesh does not want to die, and it cries out, and tries to convince us not to endure.
There is no resurrection without the crucifixion. There is no pentecost without calvary. There is no life without death.
The secret is that when we choose die is when we truly find life. We can never find an abundant life if we are constantly looking to appease the flesh.
Death to self will not be enjoyable in the moment, but we can rejoice all the same knowing what God is going to produce within us through that death: Resurrection life and a character transformed into the image of Christ. Create a person who truly is the fragrance of Christ, and someone who has a depth of character that will truly be able to minister to people.
As Paul said, therefore WE DO NOT LOSE HEART.
The author of Hebrews said, YOU HAVE NEED OF ENDURANCE.
Jesus said, I GO TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU… I WILL COME AGAIN AND RECEIVE YOU TO MYSELF; THAT WHERE I AM, THERE YOU MAY BE ALSO.
Be faithful, don’t change the message, fulfill your ministry, look to eternity, hope in God. Amen.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” -2 Corinthians 4:16-18