Post by Pastor Tim Dillmuth – Does life get easier when you follow Christ? I like how John Piper (and Paul the Apostle) answered that question. John Piper said,
The answer seems to be that the Christian life for Paul was not the so-called good life of prosperity and ease. Instead it was a life of freely chosen suffering beyond anything we ordinarily experience. Paul’s belief in God, and his confidence in resurrection, and his hope in eternal fellowship with Christ did not produce a life of comfort and ease that would have been satisfying even without resurrection. No, what his hope produced was a life of chosen suffering. Yes, he knew joy unspeakable. But it was a “rejoicing in hope” (Romans 12:12). And that hope freed him to embrace sufferings that he never would have chosen apart from the hope of his own resurrection and the resurrection of those for whom he suffered. If there is no resurrection Paul’s sacrificial choices, by his own testimony, were pitiable.
This not only dispels the notion that the more we “reign with Christ,” the better our earthly lives will become, but it also dispels the notion that the goal of the Christian life is earthly success. Anecdotally, this appears true for many successful Western Christians, but it certainly wasn’t true for Paul, Peter and a host of other early Christians.
But maybe we are reigning with Christ to a much greater extent than they did, maybe we have progressed spiritually beyond our forefathers . . . or maybe we have simply forgotten what those who have come before us endured.
The words to that old hymn by Isaac Watts entitled “Am I a Soldier of the Cross,” bears mentioning. It says,
Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?
Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.
Watts reminds us that we should not only be sharing in Christ’s suffering, but that as Paul did so many years earlier, we should be choosing to endure suffering willingly. And this endurance is actually a qualification to reigning with Christ.
As we close out the month of reigning, I want to challenge you to examine your own Christian walk in relation to Christian success, suffering and reigning. Here are a few questions to get you started.
- Does life get easier when you follow Christ? How would a Christian from Nigeria, North Korea or Iran answer this question?
- Have you found yourself avoiding “Christian Persecution” at any point throughout the past month?
- What Christian messages do you hear the Western Church proclaim that would be opposed to this theology of persecution?