Were you one of those who thought that the Christian life would be a breeze? Did you think being a Christian would mean all your hassles and all your problems would end? Your marriage would be restored as soon as you became a follower of Jesus … your financial difficulties would all go away … the tensions at work with those colleagues or the boss would disappear?
Many preachers and churches promise these things … “Turn to Jesus and all your problems will be solved!” Some try this out. They have tried everything else, so why not give Jesus a “chance” and see if He is able to help?
Truth be told … there are many joys and happinesses as you walk with the Lord … but there are equally as many trials, hardships and battles. Christian life is hard. It is not easy. I have always maintained that it takes a real man and a real woman to be a real Christian.
I’m certain that by now you realise that as a believer you walk a tight rope most days, because you are within God’s Kingdom, yet live in this world. Your nature is to be holiness, yet your environment is unholiness. For those who want to “try” Jesus out by giving Him a “chance”, they will fail to get off the mark. But for those who are serious and intentional, following Jesus will be rewarding … yet difficult.
Status and Behaviour
Just because you enjoy a certain status does not mean you will produce good behaviour. Many years ago, I worked for a large fishing company. We had five huge wooden trawlers going out to sea. Three were owned by the company, and the other two were privately owned.
One of the men who owned and captained his private trawler under contact to the company was a godly man. He treated his crew well, was an upright man in the society and was an elder in his church.
The other owner who captained his private trawler under contract was an ungodly man. He too was an elder in his church, but few people trusted him because his life revolved around money. He expected the last bit of energy and time from his crew at the cheapest price.
These are two examples of status versus behaviour. Let me share another one … on a Saturday night, men would be in the cowboy bar playing cards, darts and snooker whilst they drank. It was a rough place where the language was undesirable and fighting a possibility due to drunkenness … yet many of these men would be in church the following morning, sitting in the front with their white ties.
Only the first man I spoke about produced the behaviour to accompany his status. The others wanted the status, but their behaviour showed the society whom they really were. For the one, Christianity was difficult living in a rough world yet practicing the Gospel. For the rest, their so-called Christianity was easy … because it was not true Christianity. Status does not produce real Christianity!
Doctrine and Conduct
Now we take status and behaviour further by discussing doctrine and conduct. True Christianity means doctrine. You cannot divorce the two. They belong together, because Christianity is expressed through Biblical doctrines, and Biblical doctrines are lived out in Christian conduct.
Right here we find a caution! You might know good, healthy, wholesome doctrine, but it does not necessary translate into good, healthy, wholesome Christian conduct. Many people are extremely articulate in doctrine, yet their conduct does not express godly living. The academic has not affected the heart. As some would say, “They don’t walk the talk.”
Many pastors and Christian workers know what the Bible teaches. They are able to explain the deep doctrines of the faith, yet their walk reveals “darkness”. There is a very old saying … “For people to listen to your words, they first need to see your life.” It’s at this very point that, at times, pastors, Christian Workers and “mature” Christians are seen as hypocrites!
You see, all Christians are on the stage. People are always watching and seeing and judging and gauging who we are and what we are. They are constantly looking for contradictions in us! Here’s the great challenge … “Can you undo with your mouth your bad (sinful) conduct? Are you able to talk away your sin by quoting correct doctrine? Can the Truth spoken cover up the contradictory conduct?”
Christian Life and Hardship
I chatted to a dear Christian lady yesterday. Her life had not been an easy one. She has a room in an old aged home. Because of COVID, there is no contact with anyone … no visitors and no going out. A trip to the doctor results in seven days in quarantine. Life is hard. Has does she cope? “I love Jesus”, she says.
Another dear lady I chatted to today says she and her husband thank God for salvation. These two dear souls might be seasoned Christians, but they have learnt to walk the talk … to take their Christian status, based upon healthy doctrine, and translate what they believe into practical Christianity that includes living for and loving Jesus. Compare their doctrine and their life, and you find the one compliments the other!
Gospel and Comfort
You cannot face this world and be on the defensive to all it throws at you without being a Gospel man or woman. Being a Gospel person means to have the Gospel in your heart and to live its requirements. Jesus never promised us a rose garden once saved. He promised paradise after this life, but right here and now life will not be easy, irrespective who tells you it will! Jesus said:
Jn 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Our Lord says we will have trouble in this world. The reason is that we are not of this world. We have been set free from the prince of this world, the devil, and he tries to make our environment as uncomfortable as possible hoping we will desert Jesus and return to him. How foolish he is! Jesus says He has “overcome the world” … and this includes the devil. This is the reason he tells us to “take heart”. If He is in our hearts and we are in His heart, then we can be encouraged and take heart and live life wisely in Gospel comfort … that pleasures our precious Lord.
Dear Lord, thank You for Your great victory over the enemy. Help us to take heart and live courageously for You day by day as we dress ourselves with Biblical doctrine that translates into healthy Gospel living. Amen.