There is a HUGE lie that is going around in regard to the picture people are painting about Christianity. “Come to Jesus, and you will find rest!” “Let Jesus into your heart because He loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” (skip to the bold to understand why I am writing about this.)
These benefits sound amazing right!? Well, truth be told, and you know I love me some truth pills, all of that could not be further from the truth. In fact, it is the exact opposite! Jesus GUARANTEED we would have troubles in our earthly life if we chose to follow Him. I will concede, however that those statements above about finding rest, and there being a wonderful plan for your life are 100% true and 100% taken out of context. Your rest will happen in eternity. Yes, there is great peace in trusting in Jesus and knowing our final destination, however actual physical rest here on this Earth was never promised. Yes, He does have a wonderful plan for you, but it won’t be what you think of as wonderful. You won’t get the perfect job, marry the perfect person, and have a perfect life. As a Christian, that just won’t happen. Sure there will be times of great joy in this life. Be sure that God not only loves you, He also LIKES you. He will give good things to you. He will shower love on you. HOWEVER, He wants you to GROW! You will not grow unless you suffer and experience hardships. There are over 100 verses in the Bible that talk about hardships and suffering specifically for God’s children. At the end I have listed a few to give you an example.
But get this! Not only are there hardships and sufferings that God allows and sanctions in your life to help you grow, degree by degree, but there is another, quite infuriating hardship that we must endure. If you are a sideline Christian, you most likely will not experience this. If, however, you are an “all-in” fully sold out for Jesus kind of person, then you better bet you will experience this and if you don’t you should worry and question why you are not.
WARNING: This may be upsetting.
If you are a sideline Christian, I am going to challenge you to figure out what that means. Sideline Christians typically consider themselves sort of lukewarm. They may call themselves “Cafeteria Christians” or “Carnal Christians” or my favorite, “Cussin’ Christian.” My heart breaks for you if that is you. There is no room for this type of Christianity ANYWHERE in the Bible. If you consider yourself a sideline Christian, consider with all your being your actual salvation. Really study this and figure this one out. You may not be a Christian. Please read my testimony to see what I am talking about. I considered myself to be a “Cafeteria Christian.” While I did not use that phrase, when someone described it, it made perfect sense. I cherry picked all the stuff in the Bible I liked. The stuff I did not understand or felt was antiquated (really just meant for people back then, and couldn’t possibly mean for me, such as women not being able to be pastors) all this “stuff” I literally shoved out of my self-created religion.
So, where am I going with this? The closer you are to the Target, the more you will get hit. By whom? Satan and his henchmen. The Target: Jesus. All those fallen angels are wildly upset with the fact that their fate is sealed. Their one and ONLY goal is to get people messed up. They have a very skilled two-pronged approach.
- Get people to THINK they are Christians when they actually are not. (see Matthew 7:21-23 ESV) No really, LOOK IT UP, this may be describing you!
- Get the actual Christians so distracted with trial after trial, persecution after persecution, that they will not be as effective witnesses and therefore less people will come to Christ and obtain the very thing they are no longer able to get: eternal salvation.
I am writing this today because in June of this year I decided to go to a different church with my husband that was more his pace. After an entire summer being away from my church and not really involved in the new church at the request of my husband I can tell you not only was it the worst spiritual growth I have had over a 3 month period, but it was also the easiest from the spiritual battle perspective. No major trials, no major suffering, after a full, and I mean FULL 2 years of major trials, one after another every 2-3 weeks something new hitting me hard. It was exhausting, but I was also ON FIRE. I was witnessing to everyone, serving in any capacity I could, I was growing, and thriving in Christ but being beaten up literally by the world.
I even questioned why I was getting off so easy this summer. I was nervous at the fact that God was being so silent in my life. I knew in the pit of my stomach it was because I was not as close to the Target as I am when I am at my old church. The spiritual battle is palpable at that church. I even started getting nervous about the possibility of going back because I knew I would be starting the battle again. I would be growing more and Satan does not like that, so I am sure I have some new henchmen assigned just to me. Then, on Sunday, I declared to two of my friends that I am coming back to my church since my husband has not been coming with me to the new church as promised and I never want to force him to do anything. That is not my style. Monday morning I start a potentially life-saving Periscope daily broadcast going through 1 John, one of the most convicting books in the Bible and then later that morning, I get hit with some major tax news that put me into a tail spin. Tuesday, today, my son got punched in the eye and sent to the principal’s office (soooo not like Jacob AT ALL) and I got hit with a lawsuit for imagery infringement (those of you who know me, know I am a big contender for image usage rights, but this one was an honest mistake and I am now facing legal action.) Needless to say, here we go again. Pile it on! In this life, as a sold out servant of Christ, you better believe I am going to be bombarded with distractions and suffering from Satan’s minions. But I will COUNT IT ALL JOY! I know I must endure. I must learn. I must grow. And soon, YES, very SOON, I am going to see Him face to face and for that I hold my hope close to my chest. For THAT my hope is secure.
If you find that your life is pretty easy and things tend to always go your way, I would re-evaluate where you are with your salvation and your relationship with Jesus. We are all on different paths and all have varying degrees of faith and ways in which He teaches and leads us. I look around at my friends who clearly are not Christians based simply on their lifestyles, yet they claim Christianity. Guess what? They have it pretty good. Their life is not spiritually attacked and they may be blessed in ways you and I will never be. Just remember, this may be the best they ever have it. I really REALLY want you to take time this year and evaluate your life. Evaluate your sanctification. Do a fruit audit. Get right with the living God. He may come back way sooner than we all expect!
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, (Philippians 1:29 ESV)
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5 ESV)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.(Romans 8:18 ESV)
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13 ESV)
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, (2 Timothy 3:12 ESV)