Friday, February 17, 2017

LEGACYouth: Distress & Declare

Inspired by John Piper's John 3:30 series
What does it mean to 'distress'?

When we drill down in Hebrew and in Scripture, we find ‘to distress’ is to be tightly bound (Hebrew – “metsar”) in godly sorrow particularly to those being persecuted in Jesus' name. So it's important we note ‘distress’ not only as an emotional reaction, but a call to action...a means to proactively extend the hope of the Gospel.

Sometimes, we think: Well, the Bible says, 'Blessed are the persecuted for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven'...so what' s the point of feeling sorrow if they have a guaranteed reward? To me, this comes down to how we perceive sorrow in the context of distress. When we ponder the Beatitude, Jesus is not suggesting the persecuted don't need support. Rather, he's saying blessed are those who have the Kingdom of Heaven to bring to the dark and desolate places...who've been given the call to set people free from the prison of sin at the cost of being thrown in one themselves. Thus, we can deduce not only is there is a reward in heaven to those who bear the Gospel and are persecuted for Christ's name sake, but to those who commit themselves to distress on their behalf.

Perhaps you're sittin' there thinking this particular 'D' is one big 'Catch 22'. While I don't blame you if you think this, truth is: the Bible says the more we approach the end times, the more persecution there will be; however, with more persecution comes more opportunities to increase in distress, more specifically, to remember in sorrow, to wrestle in anguish, and to pray unceasingly for suffering saints. That, to me, is what 'distress' is all about: it’s not just lamentation; it’s determination.





What does it mean to 'declare'?

First off, it’s interesting this ‘D’ has an opening ‘decrease’ in its statement. You’d think ‘distress’ would have the ‘decrease’ with ‘declare’ having the ‘increase’; however, when we talk about declaring as God intends, it’s important we create room for boldness first – an idea the early Christians understood well in their approach to community and evangelism. While God’s grace is certainly more than the sum of our weakness, in most cases, the more fear we bear, the less boldness we declare. On the flip side, when we increase in boldness, we also increase as effective communicators of the Gospel.

Note how in Acts 28, declare is emphasized both in a proclaiming context, but also in a teaching and hospitality context. This not only reminds me how the Spirit gives different gifts for the sake of helping one another (1 Cor. 12), but also why our motto is “your life speaks” as it ties into our lives are always worshipping and declaring something as God intended. What we believe and how we live it? Again, we have that free will. All I know is that I want my free will to free others by His will. I don’t want to tolerate fear and be complacent towards boldness. I don’t want to risk my ‘distress’ being compromised with subjective faith and blinded eyes as opposed to objective faith with Christ as the prize. You following me?

My encouragement to you: use ‘distress’ to broaden your prayer horizon, then use ‘declare’ to speak into that horizon. At the same time, don’t forget to dis-stress and to surrender your fears allowing God to free you as you free others. Remember if we’re trying to advance the ball down the field, we must be willing to put our faith in motion.'

Down. Set. Hut.



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Cover photo creds: RCNBF
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