“Christians should be exhorted to follow Christ, their Head, through pains, deaths, and hells.” – Martin Luther
Some may be wondering, weren’t there 95 Theses? While we may not have been successful with a lot of the things that Martin Luther wanted to discuss, and hopefully correct, 500 years ago, we really have done a hatchet job on number 94 with watering down the Gospel and the prosperity gospel peddlers.
We will follow Christ as long as there is no pain and definitely no hells. We have to die, but thank you very much for arranging it on a Tuesday when I peacefully die in my sleep.
Mark Batterson, in his book All In, challenges that notion on the first page of the book. “Jesus didn’t die to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous. Faithfulness is not holding the fort. It’s storming the gates of hell. The will of God is not an insurance plan. It’s a daring plan. The complete surrender of your life to the cause of Christ isn’t radical. It’s normal. It’s time to quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. It’s time to go all in and all out for the All in All.
Look at the book of Job. Job was very successful, a large family, and good friends. He loses everything except for his health and his wife. Then he loses his health. His wife wants him to curse God and die. There would be less pain that way. His three friends, and then a fourth, all examine his life to find the hidden sin. God would never let this happen to a good man.
Yet, Job continues to deny any sin. He continues to ask God, “Why me?”
Job is finally restored, but that doesn’t mean that we will be restored in this life.
Does the life of Job remind you of your life? If not, are you doing something wrong? After all, the discussion between the Devil and God was that Job was the best of the best. Then the Devil asked if you took things away, would Job falter? If you have had everything go perfectly for your entire life, could it be that God never expected much growth from you? That sounds harsh, but any personal fitness trainer will tell you that you only grow muscle with resistance. The old phrase of “no pain, no gain” comes to mind.
When everything is going great, as it did in my life for several years after becoming a Christian, it seems that you can do great things, but then when things go sour…
That’s when you learn what you are made of. You run through the same questions that Job asked. Why do evil-doers get ahead, and I am suffering at the bottom of the totem pole, doing their work for them? Does that sound familiar? Maybe instead of asking what you did wrong, ask what you are doing right?
When things go haywire, do you cuss and fuss? Or do you say to God, “That didn’t work. Do you have any new suggestions?” We need to progress forward and give God the glory. Any grief process has a little angst involved. Personal hells aren’t easy to take, but if you love Jesus, there will be personal hells.
Woah! Time out! I didn’t sign up for that. But meeting personal hells head on with Jesus in your heart, with Jesus firing up your muscles of faith, you can see it through those personal hells. You emerge on the other side a stronger person.
For those who love Jesus, can you imagine a lesser adversity in your life without Jesus’ strength to see you through? Do you know people that are going through personal hells and they don’t know Jesus? They could grab for the life-preserver of Jesus, but they hang onto the anchor of the sin in their lives. Do they put up barriers of anger and resentment, forbidding you to tell them about Jesus? Are they crumbling inside because they have so much guilt that they can’t go on?
Yet, the answer is in Jesus and His Love. If they just surrender control of their life and turn their life over to Jesus, Jesus will in some cases heal the person of the pain. But if the pain still remains, there are two people doing the heavy lifting. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Jesus calls those, whom the Father has given him, his brothers.
Remember the motto of Boy’s Town, “He ain’t heavy, Father. He’s my brother.”