Hope with Contentment and the Body of Christ
A monthly devotional from TEC Team
As we continue to ride in the saddle of Hope with Contentment as our 2021 theme, in this issue we will be looking at the way God’s plan for sowing hope with contentment into the lives of others involves His people being willing to participate in His redemptive work across the earth, through service to others.
Today’s world is self-driven. The disconnection from God’s truth that has resulted in the world’s ‘dethroning’ of God and enthroning of humanity is counter-cultural to God’s design. Humanity has been placed on the central seat and the world revolves around mankind rather than God, our maker. There is a self-propelled drive towards contentment that is like shifting tectonic plates that rest on the cracked shell of philosophy’s mantle. Contentment is more a quest for happiness and achievement that is driven by the need for more. Ultimately, this results in discontentment. The quest for happiness eventually collides with the reality that any pursuit outside of God’s grand design for our humanity will be an encounter of increasing restlessness and unfulfilled expectations. To pursue self-driven contentment, outside God and the Body of Christ is to embark on a course that will implode; selfish ambition that turns in on itself.
God has designed us to be in relationship with others and to participate in His community where each person in the Body of Christ is equipped for acts of service. 1 Corinthians 12 gives us a comprehensive picture of the way the Body works together to enact the purposes of God. Hope with contentment is outworked as the Body of Christ mobilises for the greater good of others. God-shaped acts of service become the channel through which God puts hope on show as a living reality that results in others experiencing the sovereign grace of God firsthand, in all seasons of life. God meets others in times of hardship through His people who live to serve God and others.
We see this enacted through some of our modern-day heroes of the faith, whose circumstances of horror could have left them hopeless and certainly with a sense of discontent. But the common denominator in all the stories of our modern-day heroes is God and the Christians he raises up to partner in His rescue plan for His creatures. We are so precious to God that He takes His bride, the Body of Christ, presses in on the spirit of His church, prompting their acts of service for the redemption of His treasured people who are trudging through hardship. Let’s take a look at a few of these heroes.
Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) is the first group that caught my attention as I travelled through some of the recent stories of modern faith-heroes. VOM started through the influence of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand who was imprisoned by the communist authorities in Romania for being a Christian Pastor, leading the underground church. He was imprisoned and tortured for 14 years. Several years ago, I heard Richard Wurmbrand speak and he testified to the brutality of his torture but the deep hope that came from the presence of God and the knowledge that fellow Christians were praying and standing with him in His call to Christ. He could echo the words of the Apostle Paul, “I have learned to be content in all things” Philippians 4:11. Pastor Wurmbrand was eventually freed with the help of the Christian Alliance organisation and he went on to be the voice of the underground church. He distributed one million Gospels to Russian troops, bringing hope through his acts of service. Today, VOM continues to bring God’s hope to persecuted Christians across the globe, where so many testify that the only hope they had was knowing that Jesus was with them and that the Body of Christ was standing firm in their commitment to pray, encourage, provide and be a voice for persecuted Christians in the world.
The second group of modern-day heroes of the faith who are champions of Gods hope is the ministry of Watoto. This ministry is truly the Body of Christ in action, bringing hope and healing to vulnerable women and children in Uganda and South Sudan. One arm of their ministry is the Watoto villages, providing homes for over 3,000 children. The orphaned children receive everything they need to grow up to become who God designed them to be as they journey from rejection, poverty and abandonment and into a family of love and acceptance. Whilst they receive food, clothing, medical care, and education, they all receive the love of a mother who is assigned to be their mum during their time in the village. When the Watoto Children’s choir came to my church one Sunday, I was so moved by the hope and sense of contentment expressed in the testimonies of the children. One by one they stepped forward to express how they had hope because of God and the Christians who stepped up to serve in sponsoring the Watoto ministry, helping them through such devastation in life. These children had a genuine hope and a God-shaped sense of contentment, despite their circumstances.
The third group of modern-day heroes of the faith is the ministry of Compassion. As the Body of Christ in action, they bring hope to children living in extreme poverty. Their mission statement is “we rise as one”, an expression of the unified Body of Christ. As a Christian organisation, Compassion recognises that poverty robs children of their dignity, their rights to learn and become educated, engage with play and reach their God-given potential. Their claim is that the hope of Jesus is more powerful than poverty and that is demonstrated as the local church enacts global care through their sponsorship programs. I sponsor a Compassion child who periodically writes to me. Her letters are full of thankfulness, hope and a sense of contentment. Through my love as a participant in this Kingdom ministry, she is receiving an education and experiencing life in better circumstances which will open her world up to greater possibilities in her adult life. That fuels my own sense of hope with contentment.
All of us have journeyed in the trenches of suffering. In our Western society, however, it is virtually impossible to comprehend living life in the face of such horror, the constant threat of death, lack of resources, poverty, sickness, no access to medical supplies or education that our Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world suffer. Surely, this could equate to a deep-rooted sense of hopelessness. Yet the testimony of the precious souls in these desperate situations who are the recipients of God’s love through His faithful Christian servants produces hope with contentment in the midst of dire and unthinkable circumstances. Each of these three examples are pictures of the Body of Christ in service to the living God. Hope is delivered from God through the love of His people.
So, friends, we pray these stories of abject hardship that are stories of hope and transformation in Jesus as a result of the Body of Christ participating in God’s plan to redeem His creation will inspire you in your own journey and show you the heart of God to bring everyone hope with contentment in all things.
TEC Christian Education Consultant