John Piper quotes a story about a monk who was asked a form of the question, “Would you want to live the Christian life even if it weren’t true, that is, if there were no resurrection?”
What would you say? Of course, the truth is that there are benefits to living a Christ centered life. You can avoid a lot of pain, some STDs to be sure. But still, really?
So that said, here is how the monk answered…
“Holiness, silence, and sacrifice are beautiful in themselves even without promise of reward. I still would have used my life well.”
Whatever you say, sir, but you’re living in a different world than me, and for that matter, a different world than the Apostle Paul. We happen to know how Paul would have answered that question…
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 1 Corinthians 15:19 (ESV)
Of course! Who in their right mind would choose this life if there were no resurrection? Not Paul! After all, look at his life – because of Christ, his existence had been incredibly, stupendously hard…
…far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
What an incredible life, and what a painful one as well! So here’s the truth: if you are living as God would have it, you will have pain and suffering, hopefully not to the extent of Paul, but certainly to one extent or another, and more and more as our world rejects Biblical living and the Christians who espouse it. But it goes beyond sexuality. You see, even if you are not confronting people in their sin (which, of course, brings pain) Paul said we are still the smell of death to those who are perishing. And you know what people do with bad smells. Moreover, God often asks his children to do difficult things…for Him.
You see, the Christian life was never designed to make us comfortable, and we do well to remember this. For, as the author John White said once so memorably in his book, The Cost of Commitment…”For Christ did not call you to suburbia and a mortgage, but to a gibbet (a cross) and a crown of glory.”
For Thursday, June 11th: 2 Corinthians 12