Growing up playing sports, going to military school, and being a gym rat, I can’t tell you how many times I heard the phrase; “no pain, no gain."
The saying is true as far as it is put into practice. Many men want to say this any chance they can as a means of motivation to other men or boys. They have no problem imploring this mindset when it comes to the things that build up the body, yet fail to take the same mindset when it comes to their walk with Christ.
We want it easy. Don’t talk to me about theology, exegesis, hermeneutics, liturgy, ecclesiology.
That stuff hurts my brain, speak to me smooth words, and scratch my itching ears. Show me the easy road. Make the scriptures about you and me so I can grow in my understanding of just how important I am and how Jesus really came here to help me fulfill my destiny and prosper me and grow me and ultimately reveal the truth about me.
Whatever you do, don’t speak words that in anyway sound mean. Because Jesus NEVER did, don’t you read your Bible? You better not question my favorite pastor either, that is a man of God if there ever was one. He has this anointing from the Lord to make the Word relevant and come alive to me. I have never been more excited go to church, and the worship team is off the chain. The whole experience is just straight fire.
If this is you, maybe you need to take a step back and challenge yourself to go through some of the hard work of being a disciple of Christ.
What does that look like?
The obvious answer to that question is to look to “the founder and perfecter of our faith”: KING JESUS
He was despised for preaching a message of repentance and forgiveness of sins. He was rejected by those who were closest to him, spit on, mocked, shamed, dying a murderer’s death. Jesus suffered the wrath of God for the sins of the world. For your sins and mine.
Each one of his disciples parlayed living there “best life now” so they could enjoy the eternal spoils of being faithful servants of the Son of God and in so doing, they were crucified upside down, beheaded, hanged, stoned to death, skinned alive, and the list goes on.
Today we have inherited a Christianity that is all about the 11th commandment, “thou shall be nice”.
We have inherited a Christianity that cares more about feelings, than faithfulness and obedience to Christ. We have inherited a Christianity that allows decisions about faith and practice to be made based on the cultural norms rather than Biblical orthodoxy. We have inherited a Christianity that has forgotten about the pain through which we have gained eternal salvation.
I don’t want it. “No thank you” to a Christianity that says you can achieve a crown without a cross. “No thank you” to a Christianity that says you need no repentance. “No thank you” to a Christianity that says it is ok to compromise the essentials for relationship with others.
Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter in-law against her mother in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
I am not, a prophet, apostle, pastor, worship leader, or some spiritual guru. I am a man who wants to follow Christ. In doing so I have noticed gross errors, misrepresentations, and heresies that have been allowed to overrun our churches to the point where it is hard to distinguish them from a community center. They are no longer a place for believer to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, but a place where we make sinners feel not so bad about their sin. To make sinners realize that sin isn’t something that was inherited through the fall, rather it is because of circumstance. The church has become a place for sinners to realize that they have had a spark of divinity all along and that is why Jesus came, to show you who you have always been.
While we may be the images bearers of God, we have inherited the fallen condition of Father Adam and Mother Eve. We shouldn’t see the best in people, we should see them as the Holy Scriptures tell us to see them; dead people who are headed for eternal destruction, people who are apathetic, indifferent, oblivious, and in love with their sin, people who need the truth of their dyer situation. Yet the very mention of sin, repentance, obedience to Christ, and doctrine is cause to labeled, “religious” or “Pharisees” from the “loving” Christ followers who care about “relationship over religion”.
So next time you are evangelizing or witnessing to someone, talk about how you realized you were “dead in your sins and trespasses” and without the grace and mercy of God, you were headed to hell and well deserving of God’s righteous judgement. Yet another, took the wrath of God on Himself so that you could be made new, so that you could be made righteous and justified before God, and see how long it takes for that person to tune you out. To hear the Good News, we first must know the bad news.
No pain, No gain.
“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”