You’ve certainly heard the commercials on TV where we’re told how much we need a certain product. Then, just before the commercial ends, the announcer talks fast, giving a series of disclaimers, risks that are possible when using the product. Sometimes the disclaimers are pretty awful, including the possibility of DEATH! After the disclaimers, the announcer changes tone with an upbeat invitation to buy this product. But is makes you hesitate!
When we invite people to become Christians, do we give a list of disclaimers? Or do we just tell the good stuff, promises of a good, happy life. I’m not saying this is wrong. Jesus, in fact, promised “life abundant.” But (and here comes the disclaimer) there is also the cross. Jesus even said “take up your cross and follow me.” Being a Christian is simply not always a “happy feeling.”
The bible promises that a life of faith is wonderful, even joyful. But faith is simply not always “happy.” There are troubles. St. Paul even boasted in the troubles and suffering he was experiencing. He was persecuted, threatened, mocked, imprisoned. Jesus himself was executed for his faith!
The trouble and suffering, Paul said, are worth it. “Suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces a hope that will not disappoint!” Being a Christian isn’t easy. I suppose it’s probably easier not to bother. But a life with Christ, I believe with all my heart, is the way to be truly fulfilled, and certainly the
way to ultimate fulfillment!
Oh yes, we can get very disappointed, even depressed in our troubles and suffering. But people of faith believe that God’s love will never fail. God’s love is ALWAYS our outcome.
The difference between the Bible and the commercials I mentioned is that the Bible isn’t talking about risks (things that MIGHT happen.) The Bible, Jesus himself, PROMISES trouble, the cross, suffering, hardship. The Bible promises death. Life itself promises death. Death cannot be avoided. But, in Christ, death is the final word. Faith in Christ is the assurance of eternal life. In Christ, we are made right with God. In Christ, we’re friends of God. In Christ, we’re God’s beloved children.
So let me close with a “commercial” for “the church of your choice.” But let’s read slowly, and not rush through the hard parts like the TV commercials: “Being a Christian means taking up your cross and following Jesus and his teachings. It’s a call to sacrifice and generosity. It’s a call to keep the 10 Commandments strictly, and then some. It’s a call to change your life. It’s a call to die to sin, self-centeredness, and wrong-doing. It’s a call to love and serve others. These aren’t risks or mere disclaimers. They’re an essential part of being a Christian. They will happen when you’re a Christian. And if Jesus himself invented CHURCH as a way for us to be Christians together, that’s good enough for me. How about you?”