Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says: In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you. Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Prawdą, Pracą, Walką – the motto of our Holy Church. It stands for Truth, Work, and Struggle – and by these we shall succeed or be victorious.
In our Epistle St. Paul writes to the Corinthians and calls them to conform themselves to the gifts they have received from Jesus’ sacrifice: namely justification and becoming God’s new creation in but apart from the world. Paul doesn’t stop there. He provides concrete instructions on how to accomplish this conformity. It is done through becoming God’s righteousness in real and lived ways, by living for others, not themselves, and by being reconciled where there is division.
Calls are time dependent and Paul notes that now is “an acceptable time.” God is bestowing favor and salvation at this very moment, as He is this very moment for us. Paul is saying – do it now.
Lent has begun and we must start living our justification by being God’s new creation in but apart from the world. We are to be righteous, living for others, and reconciling ourselves with all we are in conflict with.
Brothers and sisters, we know that our Church’s motto is a call to all things that will lead us to establishing the Kingdom of God on earth at which time we will have the ultimate success or victory. It is a call to use our Church life as the guide to our personal success in living as God asks us to live. Of course, Lent is a perfect opportunity to realign ourselves to God’s way of life.
If we take the motto apart, we see that a couple of the statements in the motto are straight forward. Truth – we can all get onboard with God’s truth, rejecting the world’s version of things. Work – we all know work is required to conform to God’s way, and especially in Lent where we pledge to do the work necessary – fasting, prayer, devotion, and charity. Then we get to struggle. That is a far harder concept and seems daunting.
What is it about struggle? If we look at its synonyms we can easily see that it is the taking of the much harder road: To fight, grapple, engage in conflict, compete, contend, contest, vie, fight, battle, clash, wrangle – and most perfectly in our case to strive, try hard, endeavor, make every effort, spare no effort, exert oneself, do all one can, and do one’s utmost.
Those definitions and synonyms are key to understanding our journey along God’s way. We have a call, we know the time is now, and if we are perfectly honest, we recognize it will be a struggle.
This is the part that is most difficult for us as Christians, the struggle to live in conformity to God’s will for us. The struggle to accept God’s love for us in a simple act of faith and confession. We have this great, all powerful, awesome God Who only desires our love, yet we struggle to give it fully. We want unity with God, to be His righteousness, to live for others, and to be symbols of reconciliation to all, yet we fail to do it. We try and try and try and come up short. We think this over and over and wonder if we should give up. We often get exhausted in the struggle.
In struggling we reach a point where we consider giving up.
This Lent we will consider the stories of those who have struggled to the point of giving up – most especially giving up on God and faith in Him.
In those stories we encounter difficult struggles, some who perhaps gave up for a time, and in the end were fortified because of their struggle. What you may notice is I did not mention whether they overcame their struggles.
In the end what we will find is the realization that the struggle itself is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. The Holy Spirit moves in us and because of that we struggle against the things that separate us from Christ. We will find that the struggle itself and our not giving up is evidence of the Lord’s work in our lives.
As we walk with Christ through Lent, and reflect on the struggles He faced, we will recall Jesus’ promise that those who followed him would face constant struggle (ref. John 15:19 and John 16:33). As we face our struggles now and, in the future, let us acknowledge that the struggle itself leads to ultimate success and victory and resolve to keep pressing on with faith and hope.