The Seasons of the Christian Life

      When I was a young believer, someone told me that one of the reasons why God created the seasons was to illustrate the spiritual seasons that a Christian will pass through in his or her life.

      After living in Body life for awhile, I came to believe that the earthly seasons not only represented the spiritual seasons of a Christian’s life, but they equally represented the spiritual seasons that an organic church will pass through.

      As long as I’ve been gathering in organic churches, this has held true. The seasons come and go like clockwork. Genesis 8:22 says, “While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.”

      Paul told his young apprentice Timothy to “be prepared in season and out of season” 2 Timothy 4:2. In other words, be ready to do the Lord’s work—not only in the good seasons, but also in the bad ones.

      To borrow the title of Robert Bolt’s play about Sir Thomas Moore, Timothy was to be “a man for all seasons.” That is, a man of principle who lives by his conscience at all times rather than someone who is carried by the mood-swings of life. Timothy was to be a man who stands in the face of every season—great, good, bad, horrible, and unmentionable. A man wherein no season can change his resolve.

      Paul was such a man. Consider his own description of the seasons that he passed through during his ministry:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed . . . But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love . . . by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity . . . I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10; 6:4-7, 9; Philippians 4:11-12.

      Like Paul, every church is to be “a man for all seasons.