Icebreaker – When you were at school, how quickly did you respond to your teachers’ questions? Were you quick to put your hand up in class?
Text: 1 Peter 4.19 “Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful
Creator while doing good.” (ESV)
Last night I watched a movie called “Brian Banks”, a story of a man who faces a false accusation and of his fight for justice. As this fight progresses, he almost loses himself and is almost destroyed, but then he remembers a phrase that someone said to him "All you can control in life is how you respond to life."
In life many things will happen to us, and to those whom we love. Sometimes it is harder to forgive people for what they have done to our loved ones, than for something that they did to us. However, we cannot control what life, or people, will throw at us. But "all you can control in life is how you respond to life." Let’s remember 5 things that we need to respond to life in God’s way:
1) Be one who forgives
In the Lord’s Prayer we say ‘Forgives us, as we forgive’. We might not have thought about those words, but actually, we are asking God to use the same measure with us that we use with others. That is bold!
The fact is that we know that forgiveness is God’s will, and that it is the best way. But how are you responding to this truth? Are you forgiving people who have wronged you? Forgiveness is a process that begins with a decision; today you can take the first step, by telling Jesus that you want to forgive or even that you are finding it hard to do that – He will show you the next step and help you to take it.
Remember that forgiveness is not the end of the process, it is not the conclusion, but rather is a door that opens the way to a better life, and to a heart that is free from resentment and grudges from the past.
2) Stand against injustice
God is against all forms of injustice whether it be racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, or any other form of injustice. Christians cannot ignore the problems of the world. Whether an issue affects me, or my brother/sister, it must be a concern for me and it is my responsibility to speak out against it. This must be enough to lead me to PROTEST! Please do protest, but the first protest to make is to speak to the One who can change people from the inside out and to listen to Him about how to respond in a Godly way. Pray and fast, go to the Lord. Our goal is not to make unjust people a bit more just, but to lead them to Christ and to transformation.
3) Pursue joy
How different is your response to the question “What is happiness?” from everyone else around you? People who don’t know God, often think that happiness is to have wealth, health and success in different areas of their lives. What about you? If our response in life is to pursue the same things as the world does, then we still haven’t understood the gospel.
Happiness is something that is very unstable, and it can be very shallow, what Jesus promises is joy rather than happiness. This joy does not depend on everything being good, or everything being as we think it should be, it doesn’t even depend on the absence of war, or on our feelings. But it depends on a person, and that person’s name is Jesus; responding to life in God’s way, means pursuing joy by following Jesus.
4) Focus on Jesus’ victory over death
In this time of pandemic, I have really noticed how desperate people get when they are facing illness or death. Before you think it’s wrong for me to say this, let me say that I don’t want to get ill or to lose anyone in this life either, but our response to illness and death must reflect what we believe, and what is reality with God. The problem is that knowing the theory is one thing, but applying that theory when we are faced with illness and death is another.
God doesn’t promise an earthly life without illness or death, but He is the solution for it! Through Jesus we have already defeated death and will live with God for eternity and this assurance can help us to change our response to these inevitabilities of life.
5) Trust in the reality of God
Our response to life must include the fact that God is real and that He is present with us and in us. Unfortunately, many people live a life without any real sense of God’s presence, with no relationship and no impact from having God in their lives.
We need to remember that God is real, His presence is real and that truth produces fruits in our day to day life. This is not to burden people that they must produce fruit, but to fill them with joy to know that no-one is alone. Even in the midst of difficulties, when you live with Jesus, life is a lot lighter.
Conclusion: You cannot control what will come to you. But you can decide to control your response to the world. Would you like to respond in God’s way? So, let’s pray…...