Following Christ is hard.
It really is, and sometimes life can suck when you follow him.
Please don't misunderstand that - it's undeniably worth it to follow Him, the joy of doing so easily makes up for any displaced temporary happiness that would come from living for yourself, and the eternal reward is unquestionably awesome, but...
sometimes it sucks.
sometimes it's hard.
sometimes it's overwhelming.
I've been chewing on this thought for a couple weeks. I started to write about it a few times, but nothing took because, well, writing a post called "Why Life Sucks" is hard and kinda sucky in and of itself. But over the weekend, we had an event here and one of the speakers helped fuel some thoughts about the suckyness of life.
He preached the prosperity gospel.
I had heard lots about it, thought about it, heard John Piper rail on it, seen it from a distance on the internet, held it as an abstract, seen it on television, but never encountered it in person.
Have you heard it? It's the teaching that it's God's will for you to be wealthy...
and living in luxury...
here on this sucky, broken, sinful planet.
It says you have the dominion and the power that whatever you proclaim, it will come back to you. But only if you've got the faith.
The problem is that most of the heroes of faith were incredibly poor.
And that Christ makes it abundantly clear that if that's the kingdom you live for, you'll have no place in His.
And that it fuels a pessimism and despair amongst those who are dealt terrible circumstances, a perspective that God is not in this, whatever this circumstance is, instead of a hope that God has something better ahead.
...Something that didn't roll off an assembly line in Germany, something that wasn't printed by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving in Fort Worth or Washington, D.C. The abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10, and the glorious riches from Philippians 4:19 have nothing to do with a BMW or a stack of cash.
There should be nothing more appalling than the idea that coming to Christ will lead you to riches, to circumstances which, in Christ's own words, make it more difficult for you to enter his kingdom than for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle. Christ doesn't need to come with a bonus offer.
On the contrary, being a disciple of Christ comes with a heavy load. It makes life harder.
Look at every hero of the Bible. We overlook the fact that essentially every one of them endured a desert of some kind. Moses' desert was literal. Joseph was a slave. Jeremiah cried all the time. Others were thrown into lions dens or furnaces, spent years on the run. Jesus himself went through a literal desert too, 40 days facing any temptation that man could experience.
I'm sure their struggles didn't come for lack of faith.
We shouldn't overlook this.
Come to Christ and you'll inevitably find yourself in a desert.
Life can suck. Life is allowed to suck.
"God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him in the midst of loss."
- John Piper, in the video I not-so-sneakily linked to above. Not sure he's the original, but we'll run with him for now.