Hardship today, glory tomorrow
A comforting letter for the suffering church then, a comforting service for those who are suffering today: God is active there where people experience need. But sometimes this occurs in a way that is completely different to what we expect.
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4: 19). This was the Bible text the Chief Apostle used for his divine service on 30 June 2019 in Oberhausen (Germany).
“The epistle to the Philippians is a very special one,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider said. Paul wrote it while in prison to thank the members of the congregation, which he founded, for their support. “Paul’s gratefulness was even greater because he knew that this congregation in particular was experiencing great difficulties.”
“It is no different today,” the Chief Apostle explained. “There is much affliction, many trials, and much suffering in the congregations. But the members are there and support one another with their offerings, through their prayers, and their hands-on help. And the Apostles are very grateful for this today, in the same way that Paul was thankful in his day.”
Caution: danger !
„“In his love, the Apostle also made a point of admonishing the congregation,” the Chief Apostle said and mentioned three aspects.
- Don’t doubt! Trials are normal. It is normal that we are tried. This is part of being a Christian. Already in Paul’s time it was an unpleasant message. And it hasn’t changed. Following Jesus Christ is never a walk in the park.
- Careful, don’t complain! Even today things don’t always go as we would like them to, the way we think they should be. Let us be vigilant. Things must not come to the point where the mood among the people of God is sullen.
- When things become difficult in the congregation there is the danger that people withdraw to their own position, have only their own interests in mind, and think that they have the solution for everything. And before you know it the unity in the congregation is in jeopardy.
Everything that is necessary for salvation
In his letter, Paul expressed his love and care and comforted the congregation, Chief Apostle Schneider said. Simply put, he said: “My God will use his wonderful riches to give you everything you need.” This includes the following.
- • We have wonderful choirs, great orchestras, a great youth group, and most of the time we don’t have far to drive in order to get to church. However, it could happen that this will not always be the case to the full extent. However, let us never forget that God will always give us what is indispensable for salvation: His word and the sacraments.
- As ministers we make every effort to preach as well as we can. We do our best to execute our tasks well, and we are careful that our conduct does not offend anyone. But we don’t always succeed. We are not perfect. And yet God says, “Through earthen vessels I can give you everything, and through them I give you everything that is necessary for salvation.”
- However, the Chief Apostle said, we cannot say: “If you are a good New Apostolic Christian, bring your offering, serve the Lord, then God will give you everything you need on earth.” Think of the brothers and sisters who cannot have children, who feel alone, who need long-term care, who are critically ill, and those who live in poverty. Where is God? God gives them the guarantee that their circumstances do not affect their relationship with Him, and that they can still have an intimate connection with Him.
- Paul still had something else in mind. God will not come to everyone personally to relieve them of their individual needs. Instead, He gives everything to the congregation. That means that those who have received an abundance have the task of helping others to remedy their need and compensate for it. This is how Paul saw the congregation.
- God wants to leads us into His glory, into the kingdom of heaven. All need will have been eliminated there. There will be no more suffering, no more tears, no need whatsoever. Everything will be perfect, and we will no longer even remember the need we may have experienced on earth. What we will receive then is so great that everything is settled. That is our future.”
“This is the message of the Holy Spirit for us today,” the Chief Apostle said in summing up. “Yes, we do experience need, but God will take care of it: through His word today, through the sacraments, and soon in His kingdom of glory.”