Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The life of faith isn’t a picture-perfect life

Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

Very many people converting to Christ in God expect their life to improve, for the fortunes in life to unfold, and it just isn’t true.
It’s a hard lesson, then, when they do wake up on the proverbial Day 2 of the journey to realise it is a journey — that none of us ever quite ‘get there’ — to that halcyon place of a living heaven on earth.
Perhaps we’re troubled more and more in our social media world where most people insist on posting only moments on their highlights reel. Maybe it’s the innate desire within us to experience ease and comfort in life. Possibly it’s the fact we feel we deserve a break, especially in our comparisons of others (notice how you never compare with people who are worse off than you.)
What we actually need to do is repent
of the desire for the world’s concept of prosperity.
It’s understandable that we would want a picture-perfect life, filled with awe, joy at every turn, willing and able to worship God from a heart quickened by praise. The truth is we’ll always want these things.
But the opportunity we have as Christians
is to differentiate our desires from the way life is.
There is a mismatch between our desires
and how life works, disappointing as that is.
The very first task of a Christian in living their life is to live it steadfastly committed to the truth. If it’s hard, we acknowledge it’s hard. If it’s terrific, we weigh the fact that it won’t remain that way. If it’s that we’re just going through the motions, or we’re in a problematic relationship, or we’re stressed beyond coping, or we’re overwhelmed with grief, we must be honest. God is pleased most when we’re honest. Most of the time life can be ho-hum, and it’s good to be honest about it.
The Christian life of bearing our cross — the resemblance of the cross Jesus bore for us, for our sin, fear, guilt, shame — is centrally about understanding that this life is no bed of roses, but that as we draw near to God, He can satisfy us in a way the world simply cannot. Jesus is a better way. When we’ve experienced Jesus we quickly determine He’s the only way.
This process of drawing close is no easy process,
for it involves us willingly dying to our desires
that morph quickly into demands.
But it is possible…
if God is important enough to us.
I feel sad for Christians who constantly put on a show about how successful they are. They’re not living a true life if that’s all they present to the world. And they create envy in others, which is a sin they ought to avoid. Why would we willingly put others in harm’s way of temptation?
Why be purveyors of misery
when we’re supposed to be loving one another?
We need to appreciate the influence we have
and use it for good and godly purposes.
We can do this by living authentic lives, unafraid that someone might doubt the tenacity of our faith because we struggle. Jesus struggled. He faced temptation. He faced rejection. He faced persecution. He faced being misunderstood.
Converts to Christ ought to be well warned that their lives aren’t going to radically improve; if anything, they’ll be radically challenged. But at least they’ll be endeavouring to live for truth and can grow in love. At least they’ll be well on their way to the restoration of their identity, their integrity, their relationships. And at least they’ll finally come back to the place where life starts — with Jesus.
The Bible is a book littered with accounts, concepts and wisdom about suffering. That’s intentional.
Very truly, God shows you depths of caverns more about Himself when you’re brought to your knees in life. When you’re compelled to pray, to seek His face, to rely on Him, for your life, like us all, is a crushing reality sometimes.
Life is designed to crush us.
Until it does, we’ll have no stake in God.
Until we have a stake in God we waste our lives.
And a picture-perfect life is a waste of a life.
A picture-perfect life misses God.
There’s nothing more encouraging to your peers than for them to see through you a real life lived, enduring the hardships as best you can. This is because deep down inside all of us we feel unworthy and alone in our inadequacies — even the most confident people face this if they’re honest.
When we’re honest,
it’s as if we’re saying to all those around us,
‘See, I’m just like you.’
Humanity needs to see our humanity.

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