Thursday, February 18, 2010

Difficulty Brings Life

The best teachers we had in school, at least the one we learned the most from, were the teachers who expected the most out of us. While we were in school we may not have liked them, but as we look back on our eduction we realize these teachers were the teachers who actually got us to learn something.  I am indebted to teachers like Mr. Vige, my high school history teacher, and Mr. McCoy, one of the professors I had at Nebraska Christian College.  They expected a lot out of their students and that required that we work if we were going to get a good grade in their class.  While their classes were tough, they were also the classes that I helped me the most.

Following Jesus is not the easiest way to live life.  At times it is hard and difficult,  which can lead us to question if it is really worth the effort.  Part of the reason for this is because Jesus’ way of unconditional love and complete truth go against they way of the world.  The easiest way to live would be to allow our lives to be pushed along by the currents of the world, but following Jesus requires us to be intentional in the way we live life. 

Young people in High School and College face the unwelcome problems of teasing and rejection when they commit to following Jesus.  Adults face the realization that the Way of Jesus doesn’t shield us from the evil in this world.  It is difficult to remain faithful when our dreams are shattering around us.  “After all,” we reason, “the people in the world experience these problems too, so what good is there in following Jesus?” 

In Seizing Your Divine Moment Erwin McManus points out; “We should not be surprised that a lifelong journey with God might bring us suffering and hardship.  If the Cross teaches us anything, it teaches us that sometimes God comes through after we’ve be killed!” (pg. 65)  This is not a big selling point for Christianity is it?  For every Daniel who is saved from the lions there are thousands of faithful people who are eaten.  For every David who experiences victory over Goliath there are millions who are defeated their giant opponent.  To be a Christian is not to embrace a life of ease and success, but rather it is to embrace a life that is filled with hardship and failure.

So what is the point of being a Christian?  Peter wrote:

So be truly glad!  There is wonderful joy ahead, even through it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while.

These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure.  It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold.  So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
(1 Peter 1:6-7; NLT)

There is a purpose behind the difficulty of the Christian life.  Just as a good teacher knows that hard work will produce the type of person who will benefit society, God knows that difficulty in life will produce the type of person who will fully trust Him.  Trials and temptations provide us with the opportunity to lay aside those things which bring us comfort and security and so we can learn to put our trust in God alone.

Being a Christian isn’t easy.  There will be times when we will want to give up and do our own thing, but if we persevere we will discover that God is not only worth trust but He is worth loving as well.  The reason we follow Jesus isn’t because He promised to make our lives easy, but because He promised to give us life and make all things new.  In the end we will know that all the pain was worth it as we experience life the way God meant for it to be lived.

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