The Truth, The Whole Truth & Nothing But the Truthby Ben Kinchlow

"In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Or so says the Apostle Paul, who proclaimed himself an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. In other words, this was a man who was specifically designated as a special messenger by the Lord of creation. This man was, according to him, chosen from his mother’s womb and selected by God, in spite of his deeds (which included torture and perhaps murder), and he was assuredly at Steven’s "execution".

It is important to identify the Apostle Paul, because some of the things he says grate on the "last nerve" of a lot of Christians. In fact, for many Christians, some of the things that the Apostle Paul said really irritate people. For example, Paul is the guy who talks about women preachers (I’m not), submissive wives, and giving thanks in everything. Can you imagine giving thanks for losing your job, sickness in your family, financial crises, or a multitude of other things which we encounter in life?

Well, the secret is what the Apostle Paul said. He didn’t say "for" everything give thanks, he said "in" everything give thanks. Sometimes we think we are not to resist circumstances, or to be angry at certain conditions, or to make definite determined efforts to free ourselves from these conditions or circumstances. As a result, we sometimes have the feeling that God expects us to simply roll over and accept whatever comes down the pike. Nothing could be further from the truth, as even a cursory examination of the Scriptures reveal. These were men and women who were vigorous, vital, passionate, alive individuals who got angry, who wept, who loved greatly (and sometimes not wisely) but who epitomized living life fully. It would be impossible to reconcile the flesh and blood Jesus who walked on the water, became frustrated with his disciples, got angry with hypocrisy and physical with defilers of the temple, with the "gentle", "meek" "mild", "bloodless", "totally lacking in passion" individual He’s portrayed as today.

You often hear people saying how they wish they could have been like Peter and Paul and some of the apostles, forgetting that they are just like these men who made mistakes, said dumb things, lost their tempers, "chickened out", and even lied under stress.

While, I’m not a great fan of bumper sticker theology, you’ve seen the bumper sticker… "Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven". That’s great theology, a great truth, and perhaps helps us understand now that the Apostle Paul was not saying "for" everything give thanks, but "in" everything give thanks. We should be prepared to fight vigorously to possess the kingdom of God, which Jesus says, "…suffers violence and is seized by force" (Matthew 11.12 paraphrased).

This is not to imply that the crusaders were those men on the right track in taking "the kingdom by violence". In fact, nothing could be further from the essence of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Jesus reminded us succinctly of this when He upbraided His disciples when they wanted to call down fire on the Samaritans. Not that they couldn’t, but that they shouldn’t. This, He said in effect, is not the essence of the Spirit of this Kingdom.

We are to tear down the kingdoms of darkness, and with great boldness take this Gospel of the Kingdom to the uttermost parts of the earth, remembering that "… our warfare" is not "… against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities, and spiritual wickedness in high places".