Pain and Christianity
Without question, the Christian life is the greatest life you could ever live.
And why is that? I can’t even count all the ways!
God takes a life that was empty, aimless, and headed toward certain judgment, and turns it around and transforms it. He forgives us of all of our sin, and if that wasn’t enough, credits the very righteousness of Jesus Christ into our spiritual bank account.
He removes all of our guilt, and fills the void in our lives with Himself, as He literally takes up residence in the very center of who we are.
Most importantly, He changes our eternal address from a place called hell to a place called heaven.
This all comes as a result of the power of the gospel proclaimed and believed. And when we do believe, we are gifted with a new desire to glorify God with our lives.
“But wait, there’s more!”
It’s absolutely true that when you trust Christ as Savior, God removes a whole set of problems you used to have—including the nagging guilt and that empty sense of aimlessness in life that used to haunt you.
But we need to understand something else. There will be a whole new set of problems that will take the place of your old problems.
That is because the day that you put your trust in Jesus Christ, you enter into a battle—warfare that will last for the rest of your life.
Why? Because not only is there a God who loves you and has a plan for your life, there is also a devil who hates you, and fiercely opposes God’s plan.
Some are surprised to find that the Christian life is not a playground, but a battleground. And that is why the apostle Paul said, “Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
The watered-down gospel
I bring this up because some have believed in what we might describe as a watered-down gospel. This diluted version of the true gospel promises forgiveness, but rarely tells you of the need to repent of your sin.
It’s a gospel that promises peace and plenty, but never warns of persecution. It’s a gospel that says God wants you to be healthy and wealthy, and never have any problems to speak of. It’s a gospel that says you can so wrap yourself in God’s favor that there will always be a parking space available for you at the mall.
My friend, that is not the gospel of the New Testament. I can assure you, the last thing on Paul’s mind was “How can I find a great parking space?” He had other objectives that gripped his heart and soul.
What am I saying here? That God wants you to be sick, poor, and miserable? That He doesn’t want you to be happy? No, that’s not my point.
I believe that happiness will come as you really follow the Lord. But it is a byproduct, a fringe benefit of belonging to God in Christ.
The essence of the Christian life is knowing God and walking with Him.
It’s about sticking with Him when the sky is blue and also when it’s filled with clouds or choked with smoke. It’s about walking with the Lord through thick and thin, and pressing on through every heartache and trial that happens to come our way.