To many, the Bible is just highly divisive book of fairy-tales used to oppress and keep people subservient. For those of us who know the truth, the Bible is a guidebook for living a good life. Not an easy life, mind you, or a perfect life, but a good life.
I thought that being a Christian meant that I would never have any problems, but as soon as I got baptized (making my declaration public), the depression began. And then the anxiety. And the pneumonia. I started having nightmares all the time. Then a lot of other issues came up, both with me, and my extended family.
So much for life being better.
In my later years, I actually read the bible–outside of church–and found out that being a Christian attracts more trouble, not less. When Jesus called his disciples, one of the first things he did was give them instructions about what they could expect as they spread his message.
Excerpts of his advice:
“Be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Because you are lambs among wolves, and they will eat you if you are not smart.)
“Be on your guard against men.” (Because they will accuse you of things you didn’t do)
“When you are arrested, don’t worry about what to say or how to say it.” (Because you will be given what to say)
“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm in the end will be saved.” (Trust me)
“When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.”(Don’t hang around where you are not welcomed)
“Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Trust me, not people)
The disciples made a lot of enemies. Some followers of Christ were thrown in jail. Some were executed. They were constantly harassed, and one even committed suicide (more on that at a later date). Every disciple had to leave their families and material possessions behind, even the wealthy ones.
That doesn’t exactly sound like a picnic in the park.
There are lots of verses that tell us the cost of following Christ, but thank God that there are more telling us of the benefits.
The Benefits of Following Jesus:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Rest)
“Everything is possible for him who believes.” (Endless possibilities)
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; Do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Courage)
“No weapon that has been made to be used against you will succeed. You will have an answer for anyone who accuses you. This is the inheritance of the LORD’s servants. Their victory comes from me,” declares the LORD.” (Protection)
“Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” (Victory)
“Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Enlightenment)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.” (Peace)
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Joy)
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. “(Hope)
“We love because he first loved us.” (Love)
“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” (Prosperity)
“O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.” (Healing)
“I, the LORD, have spoken! The time has come, and I won’t hold back. I will not change my mind, and I will have no pity on you. You will be judged on the basis of all your wicked actions, says the Sovereign LORD.” (Vengeance)
“God didn’t give us a cowardly spirit but a spirit of power, love, and good judgment.” (Power)
Being a Christian does not give me the right to believe I am better than anyone else because I’m not. I have the same flaws, struggles, and issues as everyone else. The only difference is that when I feel angry, sad, or depressed I don’t drink myself into a stupor, or yammer on to all of my friends.
I pray. I read my Bible. I meditate. I remember that God is in control, not me.
I know I’m not better than anyone else because I don’t compare myself to anyone else. I follow Jesus, so I’m trying to be more him, not Lily from down the street.
Another thing that my belief in Jesus and this elaborate “fairy-tale” has given me is protection from anyone who makes the unfortunate mistake of becoming my enemy. I’ve read the book, so I know that not everyone is going to like me. In fact, some will hate me, and try everything they can do destroy me.
Fortunately, I have a multitude of angels working on my behalf, contending with anyone who decides to contend with me. I can be confident, not in my own ability, but in the God who created me. He will fight all of my battles for me. All I have to do is be still, and not complain.
Whether we like it or not, the world will be hostile toward us. They won’t like us, or our message. We will be called self-righteous, hypocritical, arrogant, and smug. We will be ridiculed, rejected, and scorned.
“Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.”
I can walk with my head held high because my trust is in the Lord.
I can succeed–no matter what the obstacle is– because my faith is in the Lord.
Besides, I don’t have enemies.
I have unintentional allies.
“Defeat? I do not recognise the meaning of the word.”
—Margaret Thatcher, Former Prime Minister of the U.K.
Live Well Everyone,