“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[a] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”
When St. Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians he was jailed on Rome. He had an inkling that his life was forfeit, but he still had hope of getting out alive. That didn’t happen.
The Jews were God’s chosen people. It was rough duty. There was slavery in Egypt, the tortures of the Exodus as their joy of freedom was replaced by brushing up against death at the hands of the Egyptian army, killing thirst, and starvation. They were told to do ridiculous things, like going into the land of Canaan and defeat giants to take possession of that land.
Quite reasonably, they said, “Are you kidding? They’re huge! No way!” For that they were all condemned to die in the desert, leaving a trail of bodies and graves for 40 years until those naysayers were purged from the nation.
Jews have suffered throughout history for no other reason than that they were Jews! Christians these days suffer everything from bullying to rape, imprisonment, torture, and death for no other reason than we are Christians.
Being a believer, whether B.C. or A.D., is tough duty. We’re told to step out on faith and do ridiculous things: love your enemies, suffering is good for you – builds character, turn the other cheek, mercy and not judgment…the list goes on.
In the movie “Defiance” a group of people are living in the forests of Germany, having escaped the Nazi sweeps. Their leaders sneak into the Jewish slums and offer to lead them out. The older men resist, not wanting to antagonize their captors further. One rabbi sums up his experience, saying, “I know ve are da chosen people. Forgive me, but I vish God vould have chosen someone else.”
I’m sure more than one Jew has had the same thought over the centuries. Being chosen is rough duty.
For those who stuck it out in the Sinai wilderness, it ended up being cool ride. It worked out because they learned their lesson as a people.
Joshua: “OK. Here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re going to get into formation around Jericho, and march around it once a day for a few days. On the last day, we march again, but this time we make a lot of noise at the end. The walls fall down and we go in and kill everyone. Whaddaya think?”
Having watched their elders drop in the desert one by one, their response was pretty much, “OK. Sounds good. I’m in.”
“14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’”
Being chosen can sometimes be a rough deal. Sometimes it’s the Jews bringing it on themselves in the Old Testament. Sometimes it’s Satan coming after us like he did with Job. Sometimes we aren’t sure what it is coming from. But here’s the thing…
Stick with it and you’ll know His peace here on earth, if not prosperity. Christ warned us that we should expect trials; the students are not beyond the teacher. But we will have His peace, we will have eternity with Him.
Life in general is full of things that require effort, but are worth that effort. It’s rough being involved in greatness, but greatness is a pretty…great…place to be.