Lessons from 50 years of life in Christ

Best I recall, I was baptized 10 January 1971, on a Sunday afternoon, in Gainesville, Arkansas. The following lessons are a few of those that have been impressed upon me during my life in Christ.

God provides

I’ve have gone through hard times, financially, emotionally, spiritually, and in our work. Difficulties are often present. Life is much easier than it was for many in past days, but it is never a bed of roses. I’ve learned, however, that God provides all we need for life and godliness, 2 Peter 1.3. This truth tells me to take one day at a time, not worry about tomorrow, and pray for daily bread — basic Sermon on the Mount lessons. Fearmongers abound, so I shut them down and tune them out.

Don’t go beyond the Sacred Text

I’ve heard preachers tell the story about Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac with great emotion and pathos. However, the text itself is devoid of all emotion. There is only prompt obedience and divine providence. Often, what’s not in the text can nearly be as significant as what it actually says. Speculation is not our field. “Nothing beyond what is written” 1 Corinthians 4.6 CSB.

Accept the struggle

The apostle Paul wanted to be rid of his thorn in the flesh, 2 Corinthians 12.6-10. Again, it’s significant that he did not mention what it was specifically, so let’s refrain from speculation. God wanted to keep him humble and dependent. Probably, all of us have some sort of thorn in the flesh that God leaves us to struggle with. We don’t have to broadcast what it is to the world, but neither ought we let guilt or remorse overtake us. This is not to say we justify or minimize the thorn we bear, but to realize that God has a purpose for its presence.

Keep Jesus in sight

As Peter walked on the water toward the Lord, he looked at the strong wind and begin to sink, Matthew 14.30. His goal was Jesus, but he got distracted. That sums up much of our life in Christ. We have four gospels to fix our attention on the Lord. Apostolic preaching and writing started and ended with Christ. Immersion brings the effects of his crucifixion to our souls and gives us new life with the risen Lord. Eating the Lord’s supper weekly transports us to that dark Friday of death as well as to the glorious day of the Son of God. “Let us look only to Jesus” Hebrews 12.2 NCV.

Never run from fellowship

You can be a teacher or preacher and still close yourself off from the help of good brothers and sisters in Christ. In the last week, I’ve helped several evangelists and servants in their difficulties, sometimes by just listening and praying together. I also have difficulties. Nobody is too spiritual or mature for the comfort, encouragement, and correction that God’s family offers. Even Jesus took three friends with him to pray in Gethsemane. He shared his feelings of agony with them. “Then he said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me’” Matthew 26.38. The Lord wanted them near him. He sought strength in their presence. (That they failed miserably is another point.) Christ works through his people.

Too many to mention

Life is a learning experience and a preparation for eternity. I’ve learned a lot, too many lessons to mention here, and still need to learn more. One thing I learned on that Sunday afternoon of my immersion, however, that makes it all worthwhile: There is no feeling equal to that of feeling totally cleansed and ready for the Lord’s return.

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