On the surface it looks as if not much good has happened this year.
The economy has tanked. Many friends are out of work or under-employed. Friends that were living in 6000 sq. ft houses are in single-wides. Some are homeless.
Cars and homes almost pay for are now owned by banks that seem to be waiting for a chance to kick people when they are down.
Stress yields altered health and with no job, and thus no insurance, we fold under the weight only to be swallows whole by sickness and debt.
We do not suffer these things because we are Christians. We suffer them because we are living in this world.
Yet, there is another layer of suffering that is brought upon us because we are Christians – that is if we live like Christians.
You see, there is a much misunderstood concept we must seek to comprehend. That is the “fellowship of His suffering.”
Let me first tell you what it is not.
I have met many, many people who, after attempting to convert people by force, encroaching on their personal space, challenging them, or taunting and degrading them, received anger and hate for their attempt to “save the lost.” When they are called down for their proud and heavy-handed attempt to save the lost they claim to share in His suffering for trying to spread the Gospel. No, this is suffering for being an ass to others and not because the Gospel was shared. So, if sharing the Gospel in this way is not taking part in the fellowship of His suffering, what is?
It has nothing to do with others. It is a condition gestating within you. It is the process of birthing Christ within you by turning your focus from the world to the Lord. Why is this suffering? Ask those who struggle through worry for money, housing, food, and clothing.
Paul had it all – He was a man of the law – Well known – admired by others. He had a high station in life. His future was set. He would never have to want for anything. Then God spoke to him and he had to make a choice. Paul had to decide whether he would ignore the words of God or continue being a respected doctor of the law. A future in the world, or one in Heaven…
7But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Christmas is not just about the birth of our Savior. It is also about our birth in Him and His birth within us. Here, I preach also to myself when I tell you, though we suffer because we live in this world, if we keep a heart of gratitude beating in our breasts, and if we keep our eyes on Jesus, emulating His love and kindness toward others, we will have fulfilled His commands to Love God and Love others, and we will have done well.
More than that – We should look at the kindness of others and see that Jesus is alive and well here with us in the hearts of others. See Him in others. Bring Him forth within you.
Peace – peace He gives to you. His peace He gives to you, not as the world gives, give He to you. May your hearts not be worried nor afraid. He is with you always. Then Christmas is with us always.
Merry Christmas To all Shinsei Hapkido Teachers and Students.