Everyone has a story to share and a testimony to tell. This is not because of the stories themselves, but because of the One who has intersected their story. When Jesus meets one where one is their sin is exposed, their lives are changed and they are given knowledge and understanding of who He is, and what He has done in His death, burial and resurrection. When one reads the Gospel this becomes clear especially in John 4 where Jesus goes out of His way to meet the woman at the well in order to open her eyes to her sin and to who He is. Once her eyes were opened to who Jesus is; her life was not the same, she was transformed by meeting Jesus, and became a worshipper of Jesus. After encountering Jesus, the woman at the well went out and told others about Jesus. Stories such as this one could fill the libraries of the entire world, and our own stories have been added to this list, as Jesus meets His people, saving them through His death, burial and resurrection.
While every believer has a story there is no greater story than that of Jesus Christ. Jesus is redeeming a people through His death, burial and resurrection for the sake of His own name and the advancement of His kingdom. The one thing that often gets missed in this work is how Jesus injects Himself into our own story. Often times the emphasis in our sharing our testimonies is to emphasize what Jesus has done for us lately rather than simply what Jesus has done already in His death, burial and resurrection. There’s a subtle difference here that is often missed but it has the ability to change how we share our testimonies, and thus how we deal with adversity.
Focusing on “what Jesus has done for us lately” often leads to a faith that is built upon our experiences rather than upon the bedrock of what Scripture calls “the faith”. The phrase “the faith” emphasizes the foundation upon which Christianity is based, which is the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The faith is based upon fact but “what Jesus has done for me lately” is based on our feelings of what Jesus has done for me lately. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not diminishing thinking through what Jesus is doing in our lives. The problem with the “what Jesus has done for me lately” is that it often doesn’t end at just thinking through what Jesus has done for me lately, but often leads to the believer basing their lives around how they think or feel Jesus is working in their lives, and this undermines the ground upon which their faith is built. This in turn affects how the believer deals with adversity.
Romans 5:1-5, “1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Paul in Romans 1-3 has just set forth the doctrine of sin and depravity, and then in chapter 4 justification by faith. Here in Romans 5:1-5 Paul sets forth the fact that “since we have been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice what Paul does in vs.2 he grounds the believers’ faith in Jesus and His work, which gives them “access by faith into this grace” and by this grace “we stand,” and “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” As a result of this Paul says we can “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Understanding how Jesus meets one in His death, burial and resurrection is vital. The Gospel is the focal point of the believers’ faith and provides the ground upon which they stand in Him, and grow in His grace. As the believer grows in the grace of God, they will be able to deal with adversity, because they know what Jesus has done on their behalf. This “knowing” what Jesus has done provides the basis for growing through adversity because as the believer grows in knowledge and understanding of how Jesus suffered, bled and died in their place for their sin they will increasingly be able to reflect His glory in situations involving adversity.
By growing in knowledge and understanding of how Jesus suffered the believer will grow in being able to stand in and grow through trials not in their own strength but by the grace of God. Our stories are important but they are not ultimate. The story of Jesus redeeming people for the sake of His own name, and for the advancement of the Gospel is primary. Understanding how Jesus is redeeming His people and how He is intersecting His story into our own lives will change the way we share Jesus with others and also in how we understand His work in our lives. Understanding this work of God will help the people of God to stand in awe and anticipation at what God in Christ is doing in our lives as He uses each one of His people to advance His gospel.