Monday, January 23, 2012
Is Christianity a pleasure trip?
Even our Christian culture has bought into the idea that as followers of Jesus, our lives should be blessed, comfortable and happy, right? I mean the Bible is full of such promises:
Jesus himself said in John 10:10 "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
And the Psalms are full of verses about blessing and prosperity!
But in truth, I don't believe the blessings in these promises are the kind of blessings we think about today. They are soul and spirit blessings: peace, joy, love, hope. Things this world cannot understand. Does God bless you with money and success? Absolutely, He can and often does, if it fits in with His plan. But that's not His focus.
In fact I believe that Christians should expect to have an even harder life than those who don't believe. Whoa, that's a controversial statement! When I say harder, I don't mean a bad life or a life of defeat. I just mean harder.
Jesus' own words: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Listen to what Paul told the new converts spread throughout Asia . . .strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 4:21-22
I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound very strengthening to me! Here's a another lovely description of the Christian life
But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one Hebrews 10:32-34
Endured a great conflict of sufferings? Accepted joyfully the seizure of your property? Are you kidding me?
I could list Scripture after Scripture telling Christians they will suffer in this life. Why Christian more than others? I don't believe it's simply because of persecution. (which none of us here in America have had to endure. . .yet). I believe it's also because we have committed our lives to a higher standard. We have committed to following a God who is about the business of making us more like His Son.
In other words, we've signed up for the voyage. We've put our signature on the articles and are now on the ship, but the Captain, Jesus, the One who will steer us across the sea to Heaven, He has to now take us bunch of whiny, lazy, spoiled, selfish kids and make strong, courageous, disciplined seamen out of us! What a task!
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope. Romans 5:2-5
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance James 1:2
Jesus wants you to be able to weather the storms of life. He wants you to survive and in your strength and wisdom, to help train others. He wouldn't be a good Captain, otherwise.