Sunday, October 16th, 2016
Suffering (Part 20)
If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Philippians 3:4-7 (NASB)
Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees. He was tutored under Gamaliel, Israel's most legendary teacher. Paul showed unparalleled exuberance: a zest to arrest disciples of Christ. He was a rising star of Judaism.
Add in his legal rights as a Roman, and Paul was positioned for great power: a multi-platformed player of promise. The world's best recruiters might fight for him. But when Paul met Jesus, his whole life changed.
In a non-precedented turn around, Paul moved from Jerusalem's top team to 'Less than the least of all of God's people' (Ephesians 3:8). In real-world values, Paul was demoted, and through this demotion, Paul suffered:
'Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure' (2 Corinthians 11:24-27).
Actors, models and talent for Christ: If Jesus left His throne in heaven to lie helpless in a lowly barn, if God's Prince became a Carpenter to reconstruct earth's poorest people, if the eternal righteous High Priest became a homeless circuit Preacher, if Judah's Lion became a Lamb to suffer silently on a Cross, then Jesus understood demotion.
Because what people consider low, the Lord considers a launching pad. So by His reverse economics, man's demotions bring God's promotions.
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Suffering series.