It is not the destination that concerns most; it is the cost required in getting there.
There is something inherently disturbing to be told that the ride is guaranteed to be painful. What is worse is that we are expected to be glad about it.
Who invented this ride anyway? Better yet, who in their right mind would willingly climb aboard?
No wonder many Christians try to turn back and claim old promises given to the ancient nation of Israel: perfect health, no wars, plenty of healthy kids and bumper crops every year.
Compared to New Covenant promises offered to Christians like guaranteed suffering, guaranteed family division, guaranteed rejection, and guaranteed persecution, it is little surprise that some want to exchange their tickets for a train ride in the other direction.
Oh, I know, those are not exactly the classical promises we often hear touted, but when Jesus warned his followers to “count the cost”, he was not suggesting that the options were between winning the lottery or receiving beachfront property in the Bahamas.
According to our Wineskins family study, Christians are encouraged with “better promises” than those formerly extended to Israel: a new body, a redeemed nature, the joy and treasures of Heaven, and eternity in the presence of God. The path to inheritance, however, travels through the valley of the shadow of death.
“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” (1 Pet 4:1-2)
The promise is that “those who want to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer”. That suffering may come in various forms, but come it will. As a result, Christians are advised to take heed, to consider the full cost of professing faith in Jesus, to firmly set our wills to endure to the end, come what may.
Our call is to willingly give up our agenda, our love-affair with attractions of this life. To choose to live for his pleasure, rather than satiating ourselves. To humble ourselves before the arrogant, to submit ourselves to irreverent authorities, to turn the cheek to those who offend us—that is part of the cost of being Christian. It is our lions den, our ark in the desert, our Mt Moriah sacrifice, our premature death.
It is bearing our cross. It is how we are commanded to identify with what Jesus accomplished for us, and it is how we are expected to develop the character and nature of our Lord.
But these are all temporary promises, bound to the dust from whence our fleshly existence arose. These we endure. In these we rejoice. And yet it is the eternal promises that we set our sights upon: our hope of glory.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
How are you doing at embracing all the New Covenant promises offered to you through Christ?