Summary: Whether we are believers, or not-yet-believers we all face a life which is full of adversity, difficulty and struggle. In this sermon we explore two questions. 1) What sort of people will we be, when we face adversity, difficulty and struggles? 2) Can w
About ten years ago a movie came out called “Courage Under Fire”. The plot of the movie was to demonstrate that people will respond differently when they find themselves in adverse and difficult situations.
In the movie these people had some sameness about them:-
· they all had military training.
· they all had an ethos to serve.
· they were all committed to the cause.
But when each character was placed in a situation of pressure some could not handle it and crumbled, while others rose to the occasion.
Whether we are believers, or not-yet-believers we all face a life which is full of adversity, difficulty and struggle. Indeed, I think it is fair to say that quite a few of us are going through these sorts of issues right now. So there are two questions I want to explore this morning.
What sort of people will we be, when we face adversity, difficulty and struggles?
When it comes to the crunch will we crumble, or will we rise to the occasion?
Can we equip ourselves to stand firm when we face adversity, difficulty and struggles?
Is there are way to be better protected as we go through life?
To help us answer that question we are going to have a look at a passage in Philippians.
Paul’s situation is described for us in verses 12-18. From these verses it is pretty evident that, at the time of writing the book of Philippians, Paul was in prison … in fact he was in prison as a result of preaching about Jesus I am in chains for Christ says Paul in verse 13.
Well how bad can that be?
Being in prison is bad at the best of times. You are not your own person. You are separated from loved-ones. You are together with others who have been cut off from society. Even modern day prison is difficult. In the days of Paul it was much worse.
Prison was basically a hole in the ground.
To keep you secure you were constantly chained to a guard. You would have no privacy what-so-ever, and no times of peace. If the guard wanted to make your life miserable he could do all sorts of terrible acts.
In addition there was no such thing as prison food, or the provision of needs. Each prisoner had to rely on the support of family and friends to provide the basic needs such as food and clothing. You wouldn’t get a bath unless they brought water - and you remain hungry until they bring food.
And remember, Paul is in chains because of his religion. Those who came and helped him would also become suspects - so visiting Paul while he was in prison was quite dangerous.
When we have this perspective we can see that Paul’s life was pretty miserable - full of adversity, difficulty and struggle. But here is the amazing reality. Paul does not need to be here. You didn’t have to go to prison for being religious.
At the time the Roman’s were in power. They allowed a lot of freedom when it came to the locals following their own religions. In fact the Romans accepted that there were many deities.
If you wanted to avoid getting into trouble and follow your own religion all you had to do was acknowledge that the religion of the Roman Empire was also an acceptable religion. To do this all you need to say was “Caesar is Lord”.
That doesn’t seem to difficult does it. If you were asked you could just say “Caesar is Lord” - even if you didn‘t mean it. You know in your heart that Jesus is Lord, so why not just play the game. That is what Paul could have done - but it would have been a compromise. Paul is in prison because he is not willing to compromise. In fact Paul is in prison because he knows that compromising on your faith - even a small compromise - can lead to disaster.
Most of us have heard of the Titanic, even if it is only because we have seen the movie with heart-throb Leonardo Dicaprio. In 1912 this 300m “unsinkable” luxury liner sank on its first voyage, from England to New York. 1500 people died.
The most widely held theory about this disaster was that the ship hit an iceberg, which opened a 100m gash in the side of the liner. In 1997 an international team of divers and scientists discovered that the damage was surprisingly small.
Peering through the mud with sound waves, the team found the damage to be astonishingly small. Instead of a huge gash they found a series of six thin openings; the total area of the damage being about 1.2 square meters.