by 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 mothers womb and selected by God, in spite of his deeds (which
included torture and perhaps murder), and he was assuredly at Stevens
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 (Im 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 didnt 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 Hes
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, Im not a great fan of bumper sticker theology, youve
seen the bumper sticker
"Christians arent perfect, just forgiven".
Thats 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 couldnt, but that they shouldnt. 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".