Summary: As a believer I am complete in Christ, and I should be enjoying all the privileges He offers. # 4 in a 4-part series.
Title: Discovering A New Way Of Living
Series: New Beginnings for the New Year
Text: Colossians 2:10-23
Introduction: Handicapped But Complete
About two years ago my wife Kay was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease, mainly characterized by inflammation of the lining of the joints. It can lead to long-term joint damage, resulting in chronic pain, loss of function and disability.
Because it is a chronic disease, RA continues indefinitely and may not go away. Frequent flares in disease activity can occur. RA is a systemic disease, which means it can affect other organs in the body. Early diagnosis and treatment of RA is critical if you want to continue living a productive lifestyle. Studies have shown that early aggressive treatment of RA can limit joint damage, which in turn limits loss of movement, decreased ability to work, higher medical costs and potential surgery.
RA affects 1 percent of the U.S. population or 2.1 million Americans. Currently, the cause of RA is unknown, although there are several theories. And while there is no cure, it is easier than ever to control RA through the use of new drugs, exercise, joint protection techniques and self-management techniques. While there is no good time to have rheumatoid arthritis, advancements in research and drug development mean that more people with RA are living happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives. (From the Arthritis Foundation wed site. http://www.arthritis.org/conditions/DiseaseCenter/RA/ra_overview.asp.)
Because of her battle with the disease, her doctor approved a handicapped parking decal. This enables her to park closer to the entrance of most shopping places, but she still has trouble trying to walk extended distances. She often requires the assistance of a walker or cane, and soon will face the indignity of using a powered chair. Many of her daily activities, including holding a job, are affected, but have not become impossible at this point, and for that we are thankful. She takes one day at a time, and enjoys the days that are not filled with severe pain and discomfort.
Most importantly, Kay has not lost her sense of fullness in Christ. Though she may weep because of the physical abilities she has lost, she still rejoices in the Christ who saved her. Her physical life may be disabled, but her spiritual life is as glorious as ever. If anything, in fact, her physical limitations have caused her to draw closer to Jesus, and her spiritual life is still thriving.
Sadly, many Christians live as though they are spiritually handicapped. They live every day without hope, without power, without confidence, and without witnessing victories in their lives because they do not embrace the fullness of their salvation. Some live in daily fear that they can somehow lose what Christ has gained. Some live in bondage to a particular sin, and simply surrender to it without a fight, thinking that they cannot overcome their temptation. And regrettably, because they have no confidence in Christ, they do not inspire others to come to Christ.