Thursday, October 18, 2007

So What's In It For Me?

Before we become Christians the very thought of loving God or committing our lives to God seems like a idea that should be cause for our committal to a mental institution. How on earth could God (one who we are still a long way from thinking of in terms of being a loving God) do anything positive in my life? Why would I chose a way of life that is sure to drain my life of fun and shackle me to the walls of boredom?

Well, I know that before we get to know God in a personal way, His ‘rules’ do seem constraining. Before we’ve taken the time to consider the possibility of His nature being one of Love, all we can focus on is the side of His personality that deals with Justice. Before we are freed from the power of sin, we simply can’t see that the do’s and don’ts of following Jesus actually bring freedom (see my 2006 post ‘Freedom - Glorious Freedom).

Anyhow, to make a long post shorter, here is some of what’s in it for anyone who allows Jesus to become Lord, Savior and Master of h/his life.

. Confidence - Once I got to know Jesus, once I realized that I really could trust Him in every single circumstance, once I became convinced that He really is alive, insecurity pretty much became a thing of the past. There is a line in the Bible that reminds followers of Jesus, that we don’t need to “fear what they [nonbelievers] fear.” And that is true. For those ‘things’ don’t hold the same consequences for believers as for others. Another line talks about “a thousand may fall at your left hand, ten thousand fall at your right,” and Jesus just walks me right down the middle without a hair on my head being mussed up. That doesn’t mean that nothing difficult happens in my life. It means that my emotional stability is maintained, my spiritual status remains quo.

. Incomprehensible Love - I’m not sure how to describe it to someone who hasn’t experienced God’s love. It’s a presence, a filling up, a warmth, a security, a comfort, a knowledge of ok-ness, a certainty of acceptance, a peace, a Love that is totally other, a love that nothing and no one in this world can replicate.

. Joy - The love that comes from being part of God’s family has created in me a joy that changes my outlook upon every aspect of life. This isn’t a joy that is dependent on circumstance. In fact, it’s a joy that seems suited for the very circumstances that in pre Christian days would have made the experience of joy impossible. Most people spend so much time trying to squirm out of their troubles that they miss any type of learning that is made possible by fully experiencing the trouble. With Jesus in one’s being, troubles seem to take on a whole new dimension. While becoming a Christian doesn’t remove troubles from one’s life, the presence of Jesus virtually removes the negative emotional impact of the troubles. That doesn’t mean that Christians don’t grieve. It means, as the Bible says, “that we don’t grieve as those who have no hope.” It means that while life can hurt us, it can no longer destroy us. And the knowledge of that, my friend, produces in a person a deep and abiding joy.

. Peace - Some have said that religion is the opiate of the people. It makes people so dull of mind and so insensible to tragedy that they mindlessly put up with whatever tragedy befalls them. Well, people who say things like that, do so out of complete and utter ignorance. I know the effects of opiates intimately and the calmness that Christians experience can in no way be compared with the dullness of mind that opiates and narcotics cause. Opiates cause people to not care. Jesus causes people to care intensely. Opiates bring anger and irritation. Jesus brings peace. Opiates bring a longing for death. Jesus brings a longing for life.

Similar to joy and confidence and God’s amazing Love is the peace that comes from knowing that the Creator of the Universe is kind and gentle and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in Love. I sometimes require of my children a duty or task that they may not like. I know, while they may not know, that I’m doing it in order to train them for ‘real life.’ When my children are old enough, they will finally realize that there was purpose to what I was asking of them. So too with those of us who have come to know God well enough to trust Him, to trust His wisdom and grace. I experience peace because I have come to trust that there isn’t anything that this life can throw at me that God can and does turn into amazing personal growth, strength and faith. This growth is not something that I need to strive for. It is given to me as a gift. I receive it effortlessly almost as an out-of-body experience. There is no grasping and working for personal change. Instead, I observe from a distance God granting me inner change. This change is simply a natural part of my growing relationship with my kind and gentle heavenly Father.

So what’s in it for me? Everything that I always wanted in life is mine through a healed and forgiven relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am truly a lucky man.

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