Can you experience rest without obtaining it? It turns out you can, if you know your ultimate rest has already been secured. Even when life becomes hard, you can rest in the awareness that things at the very end will turn out well.
So, you committed your life to Christ. Did you expect a bed of roses? If you did, think again. While there is no greater joy than salvation in the Lord, the road that fallows Christ is marked with suffering.
At the end of the letter of 1 Peter, the Apostle Peter sends greetings to his recipients from “She who is in Babylon (1 Peter 5:12).” This is an odd phrase, especially when one considers that the city of Babylon was little more than a byword, when Peter wrote. However, this brief phrase speaks volumes to those who suffer in Christ.
Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People remains one of the most influential leadership books in recent times. Though things have changed somewhat since he published it in 1989, his conclusions regarding leadership trends in America continue to carry weight. Covey concluded that the prior 50-years of American leadership literature was primarily concerned with superficial, quick fixes. However, the unanimous trend in American leadership literature during the first 150-years of our nation’s history was primarily on character ethics.
Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institute of Health, gave the commencement address at Southern Methodist University a few years ago. In that address, he mentioned the difference between what political commentator David Brooks calls resume virtues and eulogy virtues. Resume virtues are the things you put on a job application, resume, or CV. Eulogy virtues are the things people will say about you when your work on earth ends. Resume virtues tell the things you did to advance yourself, your position, and your finances. Eulogy virtues tell not only how you handled your successes but also your failures, not only how you treated your peers and coworkers, but how you treated your spouse and children. Collins asked a question to those graduates that we ought to ask ourselves, “Are you spending your time on resume virtues or are you spending your time on eulogy virtues?”
In out last blog we compared the leadership style of a shepherd to that of a wolf. A shepherd puts the interest of the flock before his or her own. The wolf ravages the flock and leads for their own advantage rather than the care of the flock. If the leadership style of a wolf can be marked by vices such as sloth, greed, and power, the leadership style of a shepherd offers a cure for each of these maladies in the form of a virtue. Let us first look at sloth.
There has never been a greater need for upright leaders in our country than now. It ought not surprise us that the greatest lessons in leadership come not from the latest leadership books but from the Bible. Harvard, Princeton, and Yale were originally founded as training centers to produce godly, Christian leaders. They took their lead from the Good Book.
No one likes to suffer. When given a choice between suffering or maintaining a sense of peace and tranquility, almost all will want to choose the latter. This makes sense. We were never meant to be at home with pain and suffering. Pain and suffering did not exist in Eden (Genesis 2:4-25). Nor will it exist in the New Heaven and New Earth, where there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain (Revelation 24:4). Our hearts naturally desire to be in a state of peace, harmony, and tranquility, where suffering and pain are eliminated.
How you view the future dramatically impacts how you live. If you view the future as bleak and hopeless, you will live as if nothing really matters. You will have no motivation to do good, because your dismal efforts carry no lasting weight. On the other hand, if you believe the future depends solely on your actions, you will become frustrated – even violent – if things do not go your way.
There are many behaviors that Christians adhere to that society at best views as peculiar and at worst as worthy of ridicule. Times have not changed much since Peter wrote his First Letter nearly two thousand years ago. Roman society viewed such things as unbridled sexual behavior, drunkenness, and disorderly party culture as undesirable. However, most of the people back then, like people today, felt such ideals out of touch, or at least out of reach. Peter called his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to resist such urges to follow the culture, “They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you (1 Peter 4:4).”