Saturday, January 21, 2012

better life? guess again.

Am I the only one who has a dislike for church signs? For some reason they're usually filled with cheesy quotes or misspellings or Christmas wishes that are still up in February. The other day I saw one in particular that made me do a double-take. It read:

"Follow Jesus for a better life."

Last time I checked, this isn't what the Bible taught about the life of a follower of Jesus. If I remember correctly, it talks about being hated. About giving up everything that you have. About taking up your cross. About being persecuted and cursed.

2 Timothy 3:12 says, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

John 15:19 says, "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."

Matthew 5:11 says, "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake."
(Note that He says, "when," not, "if".)

Luke 9:23-24 says, " Then He said to them all, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.'"

A few more are Luke 9:57-62 and John 16:1-4. (Note that in the second passage He says, "...when the time comes," not, "if the time comes.")

I don't know about you, but to me this doesn't sound like a "better life." I don't know what kind of life you have right now, but being hated and persecuted and giving up your life and taking up your cross probably doesn't sound much better than anything through which you are going.

Now, life with Christ is not horrible. It is in fact wonderful to be persecuted for the Lord, knowing that it is for His glory (click here and here for verses about this). But, it is not wonderful to someone who is only seeking a better life.

I would conclude that getting someone to follow Christ with the incentive of a better life is false advertisement. The incentive to be a follower of Christ should be because you love Him and want to honor Him and glorify Him in everything that you do, because, after all, this is what we were created for. If you come to Christ for a better life, you are not only coming for the wrong reason, but you will not be capable of being a true follower of Him. If you didn't come to Christ because you loved Him, what on earth would make you want to give up your life for Him? If you only "got saved" for your benefit and so that your life on earth could be improved, why would you be excited to be persecuted for Him?

It doesn't make sense. No one seeking a "better life" would want to be a follower of Christ if they have a correct understanding of the term. No one. Absolutely no one.

If you're looking into the things of the Lord because you think He might help you through exam week, or because you think He might heal you of your cancer, or because you think He might bring you Prince Charming, think again. Because that's not what the Lord is for. Yes, He might do these things for you. But only after you take up your cross. And after you deny yourself daily. And after you forsake all things for Him.

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