Thursday, October 24, 2013

It Is Not Always Easy

It is not always easy to follow Christ. This sounds like something that should go without saying. But it is not. I am not here speaking of just the health and wealth gospel, though it is an extreme case. I am speaking of the more subtle atmosphere that gives the impression that if you become a Christian, you will always feel happy and satisfied with life. If you have trials, you will always come through them joyful and wearing a smiling face. This view may even concede that we will experience trials (John 16:33; 2 Corinthians 4:17,18; 1 Peter 4:12,13). It can accept that we are tempted to sin (1 Corinthians 10:12,13; James 1:13-15; 2 Timothy 2:22) and that we are in the midst of a state of spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-13; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; 1 Peter 5:8,9). It can admit that there is a growth process involved in progressing in the Christian life (1 Timothy 4:7,8; Philippians 3:12-16; Hebrews 5:11-14). But these can be seen as being incidental to an underlying attitude that is as hard to pin down as it is to refute.

God does promise us joy and peace (Philippians 4:4-7; Romans 14:17; 15:13). But I am not convinced that this is opposed to any real internal struggles. If we read Job or the Psalms, we see a record of people who honestly struggled with God and what He was doing in their lives. Jesus Himself knew struggles and sorrow when facing the cross ( Matthew 26:37,38; Luke 22:41-44; John 12:27). Paul spoke of his many struggles, both external and internal (2 Corinthians 4:7-12; 6:3-13; 11:21-29). And while there were some, such as Job and Joseph, who received ultimate vindication, there were those, like Jeremiah and Elijah, who saw no clear-cut end to their struggles in this life.

Now it is not my purpose to oppose the genuine joy and peace that is in God. But there is the danger of it becoming an artificial feeling that opposes an honest perception of the real world or our real hearts. Both Job and Habakkuk questioned God, and they were not struck by a lightning bolt; instead, God responded. No, the Christian life is not always easy. I am convinced it is the only thing that really makes sense of the world that is. But by making it a too easy answer, we can drive away those who see past the facade and are looking for reality.   

No comments:

Post a Comment