Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ponderings for an Autumn Evening

            A friend of mine messaged me a week or two ago with a link, and a comment that the article was another reason why he liked being a member of his particular religion. I won’t mention the friend’s name, nor the group he belongs to, as the purpose of this blog post is not to come across as slamming what he believes or his group. I mention his part in this because his message started me thinking about what I liked about being a Christian.
            As I considered this, I realized something else. I hear a lot of songs, and see a lot of comments, regarding what is great about being a Christian, but rarely do I see anyone mention what we don’t like about being a Christian. Frankly, there are quite a few things I don’t like about being a Christian.
            First, being a Christian means accepting the concept that God is sovereign. When the Law was handed down, it was not put to a vote. God didn’t propose the various statutes, and ask for our approval on each one. He didn’t leave it up to us to decide what was okay and what was not okay. He gave us only one choice in the matter – to accept that He knew what He was talking about, and to exercise the wisdom of obeying Him, or to reject His wisdom and trust our own inclinations instead, and endure the consequences of our foolishness.
            I don’t like that I am responsible for how I live His Word, while I don’t have the calling to enforce it on someone else. It’s certainly much easier to tell others how they should live, instead of demonstrating each and every day how I am supposed to live.
            I don’t like that God expects things of me. There’s a popular mantra that “God loves me just the way I am.” That’s true, but it doesn’t end there. Just as parents love their children just the way they are from the moment the child enters the world, so also God loves us just the way we are when we finally realize that love. But just like the parents expect their children to grow up, God also expects me to grow up. It’s one thing to have a child in diapers, needing to be fed, changed, and taken complete care of when they’re an infant, but what would we think if our children thought, “Mom and Dad love me just the way I am, so I’m going to stay this way forever”? Would my parents have been happy changing diapers on me when I was sixteen? Twenty five? God loves me when I’m immature and know very little about living the Christian life the way I should, but He doesn’t want me to stay that way.
            I don’t like that Christianity isn’t all about me. I want a God that caters to my whims and desires – a Heavenly Father that dotes over me and spoils me, but that isn’t what I have. Jesus said, “If any man comes after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” Instead of indulging myself, I’m supposed to deny myself. Worse yet, I’m supposed to take up my cross. Let me make this clear. I’m not being pressed by the Roman guard to carry Jesus’ cross up the hill. I’m carrying MY cross up the hill, and there was only one reason to do that. The condemned were expected to carry their own cross to the place of their own execution. Jesus is telling me that I’m supposed to follow Him to my own death.
            It should go without saying that I really don’t like that part. Instead of a God that blesses me with long life and an abundance of good stuff, I have a God that expects me to willingly give up my life for what I believe.
            As if that wasn’t enough assurance that this life isn’t going to be smooth sailing, Jesus also said, “In this world you WILL have tribulation.” He didn’t say I MIGHT have it, He said I WILL have it. I don’t see a lot of Christians joyfully claiming that promise, and I don’t blame them. I don’t like it, and I don’t want it. I don’t want tribulations and troubles. I want those wonderful, happy times that Christians sing about so often.
            I don’t like that I have to love other people, even if I don’t find them particularly lovable or nice to be around. I don’t like that Jesus commanded me to forgive them when they do something that hurts or offends me. I’d rather have a front row seat to that “vengeance is Mine” part, and gloat when God strikes them for what they did to me.
            I don’t like that there seem to be a lot of other Christians determined to make us all look bad, and that I get lumped with them.
            Most of all, I don’t like the fact that being a Christian isn’t something I chose because it suited me. I wasn’t sold on all the benefits and advantages it presented. I am a Christian because I came to the inescapable conclusion that I needed Messiah in my life. I am a Christian because I realized that, without Him, my life was nothing but a long series of days ending in a lonesome grave. I am a Christian because God is Holy, and I am not, and without the sacrifice on the cross, there would be no way I could enter into the presence of Holy God. My sin and His holiness cannot coexist. I am a Christian not because I like it, but because there was awareness that I was created to have fellowship with God, and there would always be a missing piece in my life without it. What I could not do on my own, God provided the means to accomplish.
            I am a Christian because, when God called, I stopped to listen, and nothing was ever the same again. I heard that it had nothing to do with what I liked, because, when it’s boiled down to its essence, it’s all about Him. It wasn’t about what I liked, it was all about who He loved, and He loved me enough to send His Son to die for me.
            That, my friends, is the only reason that mattered.

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