Do you really understand the meaning of adversity and what it looks like? If you have thought like I have for a number of years, I put anything that hurt in the category of adversity. If it hurt-it was adversity and I didn’t like it! Even going to the dentist! My apoligies to the Dental Comunity out there that takes care of our oral hygiene. We are glad you do what you do….except when we are the ones sitting in that chair! 🙂
On a serious note….let me see if I can clarify our thinking. An adversity or trial is anything designed to break our control-our reliance on our fleshly strategies. You know, our New Testament friend Paul exhorts us to walk in the Spirit and not after the Flesh. Just in case you are wondering what flesh is…flesh is more than just “smoking, drinking, carousing and hanging out with those who do.” Yes, that is Flesh, but it is more than that. Flesh is any way that we are living independently of God attempting to get our needs met in our own way. By needs I mean Contentment (peace, fulfillment satisfaction in life, happiness, forgivenss), Security (love & acceptance, emotional connectedness with others, safety) and Significance (identity, worth, value, feeling important). We have these needs and it is not wrong to have them. God created us with these needs but His intent was that we would look to Him to meet them. Our problem comes when we look to others and other things to get these needs met. Things like other relationships-a girl/boy friend, a spouse, a parent, a friend, a boss, other employees etc…. and things like careers, materialistice things and money. That is flesh! Often times these “fleshly strategies” or “flesh patterns” as we call them are outside of our awareness. For many years I sought out love and acceptance-security from relationships from others and I sought out Significance from my career-ministry. I had no idea that this was fleshly living. I mean, by all outward appearances I was doing the right things and even being consistent in church and Bible Study for many years. Guess what….when others didn’t respond to me with that love and acceptance I felt like a failure. When suceess in ministry seemed elusive for many years, I felt like a failure. As a matter of fact, up until just a few years ago if you would have asked me with regards to my ministry if I felt successful, I would have said, “Absolutly not-I am an utter failure!” My “stinking thinking”, as my friend Phil Mason would say…didn’t always produce productive behavior. As a matter of fact, it made me quite insecure and insecurity breeds all kinds of fleshly controls and that in turn reeks havoc in our relationships.
It is interesting to me when I see in Scripture that the very nature of the flesh is that it produces trials/adversity in our lives. It leads to our death and destruction. So….as our fleshly ways naturally bring on adversity, we see that it is uniquely orchestrated by God to break our control-our reliance on our Flesh so that we might rely/depend on Christ in us to meet all our needs. FYI…you know how a lot of people say, “Oh, yea…I’m a control freak for sure!” Well, we all are control freaks! Attempting to make one’s fleshly way work to get needs met, makes everyone a “controller”. I know….sounds like a lot of bad news. Well….let me see if I can give you some good news.
We all want relief from our pain and struggles don’t we?? It is when we receive our trial/”take up our cross” and surrender reliance on our fleshly strategies that relief will come from our pain and stuggle. I will talk more about how to receive the trial/adversity next time and what it means to have the attitude of Christ, but it is through all this that we are conformed to the image of Christ. You want to know what the will of God is?? Well, that is it – that we would be conformed to His image. We seek so hard and wonder what His will is for our lives – well, we make it way too complicated. The bottom line is that we are to be conformed to His image being broken of our reliance on the flesh. If that is His will it sounds like we all will have some adveristy and trials from time to time.