"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." - James 1:2-3
James is one of those books of the Bible that, at times, I wish didn't exist. It almost hurts to read the book of James, especially when I know I am wrong, I know I am unholy, and I know I am sinful. But I turn back to this book more than any other, because its words are True and its message is compelling.
Our pastor, as a part of a Christmas series, read the above verses from James today. What a weird passage for a Christmas message, right? I laughed when he started to read the verses, closed my eyes and whispered the words in Blake's ear. It's a passage I've memorized, for the most part, because it is such a hard thing to comprehend. "Consider it pure joy..." to suffer. What a conundrum.
It is a joy to be tested, a joy to be taught, a joy to face trials, a joy to learn, a joy to be refined, a joy to be stretched.
Philippians 3:10 says, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him, even in His death."
To know Christ is to suffer. To know Christ is to be tested. To know Christ is to be like Him, battling the works of Satan and pouring compassion on the lost.
This Christmas, I want to know Christ.